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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: The Major Scales

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What we're gonna work on first we're gonna
isolate what I,
what I consider to be the basic framework
of most fiddle tunes that we'll all play.
And it's essentially the major scale.
And if you notice, most fiddle tunes, I'll
show you here.
There's a tune, Building The Low Ground.
And I'll show you, just quickly, here's a
C major scale.
And here's Building The Low Ground.
That's just the basic
first few sections of that and it's all,
all in that same, in that same form there.
So, what we're gonna do is I'm gonna show,
we're gonna break down some different
major scales and I'm gonna show you how
to, the best way to practice some, that
sort of builds a strong foundation for
flat picking and, and a lot of the tunes
that we're gonna work on the site here.
And, it all sort of comes back to the
basics sort of shapes and, and then again,
these are kinda things to practice.
I'm gonna show you how to, how to practice
and different ways to involve the pick
with this to, you know, to, hopefully you
know, make the progression quicker.
You know, different calisthenics and
So, we're gonna start with the, with the G
And a basic major scale is seven steps
which most of us know as
For, for the guitar, for this style of
playing we're gonna use all six strings.
We're just gonna go ahead and jump to
And so what, the way the G scale starts is
we'll start on a G for this purpose.
then we're going to move move up the
And we can, we can go through that slowly
What I'm doing with my pick is alternating
down, up.
And what we're going
to apply here is also all the stuff we
talked about with the left hand approach.
Where there's there's, with our,
starting on the first fret we're going to
work on that four fret access.
That concept there where we've got our
left hand technique that's solid.
And so the point is to, is to keep your
fingers curved.
and once again I'm going to encourage you
just to, just to sort of find it.
You know, it's one of these beginning of,
of your training, and
beginning of, of feeling these things is
actually, I think it's,
it's important for a person that's new to
this, new to fiddle tunes, new to,
new to playing these things to experience
learning these scales sort of on your own.
I'm going to show you where they are,
start where they start
So that's G scale
And these use open strings.
A lot, a lot of, a lot of guitar, general
guitarist direction sort of
discourages the use of open strings, but
that's as,
as in Bluegrass and flat picking guitars
we want to use open strings.
We want to be able to utilizes them as
much as possible in some cases.
So that's, that's a G scale using using
open strings and also our,
our left hand approach.
And then down.
And so that, that, that's the,
that's the G scale.
We'll do the same thing for a C scale now.
C major.
And just may, go ahead and
make the the chord form there.
And here's the, here's the scale there.
Steps up.
We're gonna use all six strings and
we're gonna use, I'll show you how to use
all six strings.
That was five strings there.
Here's a, we worked our way up to the G.
Just continuing to, continuing the scale
basically within our,
our concept of how to use our left hand
Finding all the notes in the C scale.
We'll go down here too.
You go,
you can work your way down to the the open
E right there.
So here's a C scale using all open, all
six strings with open strings.
There's your C.
Letter C.
We work our way back to C.
The reason it's important I think to do it
that way again all of this is sort of
building toward playing tunes, it's not
just about running scales, these,
to me anyway, it's, you can run scales all
you want.
But our goal here is to make music.
So, its more about muscle memory,
more about ingraining certain things about
where, where these notes are.
Because as soon as we move into playing
tunes we're going to use all
these same notes.
And the scale exists as a great great way
to practice where those notes are and
a great way to practice building your
Building building your sense of where the
fingers need to go.
And, and the pick too.
Its important when to learn as far as your
left hand goes in building
strong foundation of tech, flat picking
to learn the basic shapes of these major
scales in G you know.
I encourage you just to run those back and
forth Until you, until your hands sorta
understand where they are and
it takes time.
But also with your pick it's important you
know, as far as delivering these
the concept of delivering a strong sorta
flat pick sound.
You can, you can involve some of the
earlier things we talked about of,
of some of the picking patterns and of
these things too.
Like our straight eighth picking pattern.
Or in the key of C with the,
with the dotted eighth.
And what's happening here with
these scales is we're just building slowly
but, but surely is the is the,
the, the foundation that's being laid here
is the concept of your hand,
the right hand, the picking, and the left
hand all sort of working together it's,
in some sort of, you know, it's a rhythmic
kind of fashion.
It's, it's it's a way to be in sync, if
you will.
And, I think, what's powerful about these
not only does it sort of physically build
these sort of things, but it's also,
at the same time, when it comes to playing
tunes, you know, your hands and
your pick will be a lot, the foundation
will be laid for, for really, for
really making these tunes work, that we're
going to learn later on.
And so now we'll work to some other keys,
and I'll show you how all this applies in
other scale forms and other, other keys.
We're going to move into some two
new shapes now for major scales that are
important for every flat picker to know.
And the first one will be D.
And again, we're gonna maintain our
concept of four fingers.
Four frets four fingers.
And I'll show you the first thing I'll
show you is the basic single octave.
An octave is from one note at the bottom
of the scale to the top.
Is one octave.
And, slowly you start on open D.
We'll move to the second fret.
Open second string.
There's two open strings in that form.
And then open G.
Open B.
And the way we're going to expand
that now is to, with our four frets, four
fingers concept,
all the notes in the D major scale that we
can get in this area of the finger board.
First open position here.
So, if we work our way up from
there we have an open E to G
We're going to lay back down.
And now we're down to the C sharp or the
seventh degree.
That's the form.
So, starting on the open E string, it
looks like this.
The D scale using all six strings.
And then down slowly.
This one uses more of the pinky.
Then we notice in the other two.
So, it's important sometimes.
One thing we'll do later on when we're
learning these tunes or as you send video
submissions, one thing, some of the things
that I'll notice and what I notice in
a lot of players out there is the strength
of the pinky is not what it ought to be.
So, this is another way to kind of work on
those sort of things.
And we get again,
we'll apply different picking patterns as
we practice these things.
That particular move right there.
It would be pretty challenging for a new
flat picker.
Then again,
it's the same left hand concept that we
want to do, that we want to maintain.
And that'll lead us straight into the A.
So, we're gonna work out of A and the
basic single octave A scale in
its open position, open in these four
four frets our basic left hand approach
goes like this.
Starts with an open A
That's just with an alternate picking
And, so, now, I'll show you these are all
the notes that you can access in an A
scale within the first four frets using
four fingers.
It's gonna go there, so I'm gonna go all
the way up.
You can, if you want to, you can jump up
there if you need to finish it off.
once again, there's a lot pinky used here.
You could actually use one there.
Let's use the open B.
And even for some intermediate and
advanced players that those particular
moves right there can be fairly difficult
if you've, you know, started a bad left
hand technique early on.
You know the point is to work on getting
your left hand around there.
And so and also employing again more right
hand work on these kind of things.
Here's the.
We'll work our way up to that top A there.
So that's a lot to work on, and, once
again, you know, just take your time and
work through these things.
And encourage you just to look for them
and memorize them.
You know, as we build all this stuff, you
you're gonna have this great sort of
vocabulary of note choice.
And all this is going to lead to playing
tunes and improvising.
And, you know, the goal is, you know, to
learn a lot of this stuff, and eventually,
you won't have to think about where your
pick is or where you left hand is.
You can just think about making music.
And we'll learn some more stuff.
Here we go.
two more major scale forms that I, I want
you to learn.
That I feel are so important to building a
strong foundation for flat picking.
And the first one here is I'm gonna add to
what we already know but with F.
And we have our F.
Chord form there.
you can get your hands kind of used to
wear those, the F, these, those notes are.
So we'll start we'll start down here,
start with the low F.
So again we've got four fingers,
four frets in the first position here.
We op use open strings.
So start on the F.
And you'll notice.
notice that you don't really use the pinky
on this one.
That's why, you know, you learn all these
different positions, because you know,
there's like A, D, and we're going to
learn E in a minute.
It's important because it, it really
forces your pinky into play right there.
So here's the F scale again, slowly, going
from low to high.
There's one octave.
We'll move on beyond the octave.
There's your low F down there.
The next one we're going to look at is E.
here's its scale form using all four
strings, I mean, all four,
all four frets, all four of the first
frets on all six strings.
There's the first octave.
this'll be another stretch for your left
And I know it would make it a lot easier
for everybody if these were sort of tabbed
out and you had a way to read this, but
what I really want you to do is, is learn
it from watching me.
It's gonna enter your memory.
It's gonna enter,
it's gonna affect your muscle memory
quicker if you're not reading it.
You're gonna have to think about it a
little more and that's a challenge but
I'm gonna, you know, I'm putting that
challenge out, out there to you.
So that's, that's all, that's all the
basic major scale forms that, that.
You know there's, there's, just like we
learned all those basic chord shapes for,
you know, blue, a solid bluegrass rhythm,
these are, these are basic scale shapes
that it's thousands of fiddle tunes and,
and bluegrass, you know,
melodies that you're gonna be able to play
out of, out of those basic shapes.
And they're, they're gonna build, they're
gonna add strong foundation,
you're playing muscle memory.
And it's just, it's you'll, it's hard to
realize it as they are.
It might seem a little bit boring to
practice just scales but
I feel like what I've done with the beyond
the octave and using, we're
using technique builders at the same time
with our right hand picking techniques.
And then the left hand, how the left hand
technique builds as we're using scales to
further enhance and further, you know,
just solidify those concepts.
And, and not only are the major scales, do
they exist to lay the foundations for
technique, but, and again as the music
grows in this site as we learn tunes.
You know, you learn a song in the key of
If you've run the run the major scale
like that.
your hands you know playing in the key of
C, it's gonna use all those notes.
And most fiddle tunes will.
It's, it's, you're, you're gonna realize a
quicker, a quicker progress.