This is a public version of the members-only , at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of .
Join Now

Basic Guitar
Intermediate Guitar
Advanced Guitar
The Improv Workshop
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Major Scales - 2nd Position Closed

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Quizzes
information below Close
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Basic Guitar

+Intermediate Guitar

+Advanced Guitar

+The Improv Workshop

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Bluegrass Guitar

This video lesson is available only to members of

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from . This is only a preview of what you get when you take Bluegrass Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
we are moving on to more single note
playing concepts,
lead playing for our inter, intermediate
And if you look at any of the basic stuff
we covered major scales,
pentatonic scales.
And the reason I think these are
Especially for a flat picker.
Are the the way practice, practicing these
the right way improves strength, muscle
And just overall approach to good
And so, the way we're gonna expand now in
the intermediate levels.
And I would, if you haven't done this you
should you know, go back and
review all the other scale forms that we
that we have in the basics level.
And so, what we're gonna move to,
from here we're gonna start opening the
door to the rest of the neck.
We've played a lot of open string bass
kinda things and
one of the one of the things about guitar
playing you know in jazz.
You have players that don't want to use
open strings.
Because, they, everything needs to be,
mobile, and that's,
that's sorta the beauty of playing in
closed positions we're gonna call 'em.
Is that you can, you know, you can do the
same thing in one key and you can,
you can just move around in different
As you learn the notes and you know,
suddenly be playing in different keys.
Kinda like the way the capo allows you to
play in open strings.
And so, in light of that in Bluegrass and
flat picking these
kinda leads the, the goal is, is sorta an
all encompassing idea.
Of maintaining solid tone and you know,
the full resonance of the guitar.
And, you know, we get a lotta help from
open strings.
And so, one of the ways I like to put it
is that, for,
for Bluegrass guitar playing you don't
want to avoid open strings.
But I think it's important to learn how
not to be dependent on them.
I see I think that's one of the, the
plateaus that a lot of people reach.
At, at an intermediate or, you know, early
advanced level of,
of this kinda guitar playing.
Is that the, the, the rest of the
fingerboard seems like a big mystery,
you know.
It all sorta makes sense down here around
your, you know, normal cord shapes.
And, and hopefully we, you know,
we're building muscle memory about where
those shapes are.
And we're, you know, we're gonna try to
add a bit of complexity to that as we
sorta close down.
We're gonna use less open strings now or
none at all and,
and we're gonna uncover some things.
Some things that I use on a daily basis
anytime I play as far as the way I think
about the finger board.
And and discuss things and so we're just
gonna jump right in with some scale forms.
And again, I think scale forms are
You know, the traditional way to, you
know, scales can sorta
seem boring because it's just sorta
running these patterns of notes.
And, you know, obviously, you know, you
can learn the notes and
learn how the scales sound.
And how, and and you know, their position
on the fret board.
But, but, really and truly, especially
when you get into these closed positions.
It's gonna tax your left-hand technique on
a steel string acoustic guitar.
It's, it's one of the most physically
demanding ways to play guitar.
Especially if you're, you know, not
taking the fact that you might be trying
to actually deliver a solo.
On top of a, you know, two or three other
instrumentalists you know,
your, your technique just has to be as, as
good as it can be.
So, these scales that we're going to look
at here are things to learn,
just, learn the music of the scales, learn
how they lay on the fingerboard.
But also, we're gonna talk about how to
practice them to further
further kinda move your technique along.
And to take this foundations that we
hopefully already have and start,
start building strength and muscle memory.
And and all of those things you we're need
to keep moving on.
So the first scale that we have here is in
these closed positions.
Still kinda basically, we've talked about
our left-hand technique.
Four frets, four fingers.
We're gonna, we're gonna stay within that
basic concept.
And it's, technically would be the third
position on the guitar neck whe,
when we start, put our G, this is gonna be
a G scale.
[SOUND] And so, we're gonna start there
with the middle finger on the G.
[SOUND] And an, and another way I, I th,
I think it's important for flatpickers to
learn notes on the guitar neck.
And the way they run these scales is what
I'm calling, you know, beyond the octave.
And using, using all six strings to, to
practice these scales.
So, in the interest of no open strings,
we'll start along the scale note below the
G here, the seven.
We talked about one, two, three, four,
five, six, seven.
We're gonna refer to these, scale degrees
as their, as their numbers a lot here so
starting on the F sharp which is the
And then, the A here.
We're keeping in our, this is where, you
your if your left hand technique is still
developing this could be taxing.
But again, we're talking,
we talked about the space between the
bottom of the fingerboard and your hand.
And so, you know, the pinky comes into
play here on the, on the on the A,
fifth fret.
You know.
And now we're moving onto the third degree
of the scale the B.
Moving on up.
That's one octave, I'll show you again.
This one's from the seven.
We're gonna continue to climb.
Now we've got, still with our four fret
access here.
Up to the C note.
Let me show you all that one time and, and
I'll show you one of the sorta neat things
about the guitar neck.
Cuz if you notice, you have a, a couple
patterns to find here now.
If you start from the F-sharp and this is
one of the reasons I think it's important
to look at these scales from all six
From low to high and back again.
Is if you start from the F-sharp you have
these three notes together.
You have a half step and then a whole
step, two frets right there.
And then the same thing.
So, you know, as you're,
as you're building left hand technique
It kinda repeats itself there, so
there's no big change.
So once you can get set there, it's,
it's a good place to sorta help burn that
in, and it may burn.
And now our next two strings.
This will be, there's a fret jump, a whole
The F-sharp and then there's your G on the
And that same, same look again.
Within, within those four frets.
It's the same.
And then, so now we're up to a C note, and
will continue to climb.
And that's their high G.
But we've still, we've still got some
extra fingers that we can use.
And, and again, we're trying to, these are
As much as they are anything musical these
these are here because I really want you
to, to get used to how these things feel.
As we, as we move into soloing and
And you know and trying to build the most
solid technique possible.
The more of these shapes and, and feels.
Of the neck.
And kinda get ingrained.
The muscle memory gets built.
The more the better.
So what we're gonna do
As we climb,
we got, we could, we can use the A note
And so that's all, all the notes of the G
scale within, starting on the second fret.
Our G's on the third fret.
Makes it the third position.
But we've got all the notes that we can
On a G scale within those, keeping with
our four fret, four finger kinda concept.
So one more time from low to high slowly.
And we'll go back down.
And you come back home to G right there.
And one of the important things to as
you're running these things just one note
after the other what's you're really
looking for here.
Again is you know the, the fullest tone
possible on, on each note.
And you know any flaws in your left hand
technique will be obvious.
You know if, if,
if you're having to feel like you're
having to move around to just grab a note.
You know, as, as you build this thing, you
can see my left hand,
hopefully is set up to where I don't, it
doesn't look, it looks fairly efficient.
It looks pretty good, you know.
Everything looks.
You know I can,
I have pretty decent access to everything.
But, you know, that kinda, that's the
kinda thing that's developed,
you know, and not just, it doesn't just
We'll move the same concept of trying to
grab as many C major scale notes within
this closed position.
We'll stay basically in that same form,
working off the second fret.
We'll start with a G, we'll notify, we'll
figure out, here's our C.
We're going to start there.
I'll show you that.
There's C.
And in keeping with our six string concept
in our axis here,
we'll start with this G below it.
there's your first little group of notes.
And so as it climbs.
Scale degrees.
There's root one.
Now we have a bit of a
choice to make right here, and we're gonna
note some of these, we're gonna stretch.
But let's not move past our pinky right
now, you know,
gonna add a bit of a stretch to get to
this F note.
Then I go back to the first fret so
there's one of the strengths that is
developed from playing acoustic music,
steel string, you know, acoustic guitar is
that these stretches like this.
You know, it's going to hurt for a while,
but I mean,
it's such a powerful thing to be able to
do and maintaining, you know, a big,
powerful, you know, Bluegrass guitar
And we move on our way up.
So from here again.
And now our way back down.
And the reason that I'm choosing to
do that stretch right there as it, because
this is how these things sort of apply
directly to solo ideas and things that'll
happen later.
If you're soloing in the key of C
And you go to an F
And our idea that we still want to be able
to use open strings along with these
closed positions.
You know, there are so many ideas that you
can grab.
So, and it's just, you know,
little noodlings, you know, with that
basic kind of shape right there.
And so that's, you know, that's really,
you know, a very important,
kind of, aspect of why these scales are
You know, just adds to the overall, sort
of, sense of where notes are and then,
we're actually, we're gonna use these down
the road.
So, you know, continue to ingrain these
things and we'll move on.
We've got a few more to show you on the
next group of lessons here and
we'll move on.
So good luck with working that out.
Take your time.
If you feel a lot of muscle stretch and
burning there, just make sure, again,
that's why we talked about our technique,
you know, have a good starting spot.
Take breaks, we're building muscles here
it's gonna pay off a good tone and
efficient playing.
And so, as you get that, you know, take
your time and we'll move on.
So good luck with that.
We're gonna move on no to to the D scale.
We're still gonna work in our, basically,
what we're gonna call second position.
The index fingers on the second fret.
And idea continuing is, we're gonna grab
as many notes as
we can with the D major scale with this
four-fret access in order to build
strength and solid left hand techniques.
So moving on first thing to do is locate
where, where D is, so I'll show you first,
it's fifth fret of the fifth string,
With the pinky.
And so, you know, but once we're diving
right into what might feel like some
some serious burn, some serious new muscle
usage at this point.
And this, this is why the scales are good
to use in, for, you know,
technique building and muscle building.
But also music, music awareness.
Cuz, you know, we've said before fiddle
tunes are based out of major scales and,
and the more familiar that you are and the
more familiar your hands are with
how major scales feel, then the more music
you're gonna be able to play.
And because these positions are closed,
once these start you know,
feeling set into your, into your, into
your muscle memory.
Then, you know?
If you can find a major scaled-based
fiddle tune in a closed position then
you've, you know,
you could play it virtually anywhere on
the neck.
So that's where a lot of this is leading.
So if, you know, if it feels like this
hurts and
you wanna stop and, and where's all this
That I promise, stick with it and and
we'll get through it.
And you'll, you know, ultimately realize
that this is,
this is going to really help.
And so starting again with the D.
Here's our D, and we're gonna have all
the notes in this, in this range with our
fingers that we can get with the D scale.
And so, let's you know, since we're sort
of in the,
in the meat of the neck right now.
Let's just kinda work our way down a
little bit.
So there's, here's our, our one root note
and we, down 7/6ths.
Working our way down to this low F-Sharp.
And now we'll work our way up.
So that gets
us up to the high A there.
All right there's, there's all the notes
in this second position that we can grab,
to make the D scale happen.
Basic one, two, three, four, five.
Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, and back to
There's the form there, out of that.
We're, we had this C position.
Notice that this basic form that's at play
here now, as far as, you know,
some of the music.
You know, you can think about where this
is going.
It's this position here, we're gonna refer
to some of these in just a minute.
This is a very important, this powerful
position for
this kind of music on the acoustic guitar.
So, one more time, slowly, low to high.
And high to low.
And there's the D scale.
Just remember to keep, keep your notes.
Try to maintain a consistent a tone as
That's, that's really the ultimate goal
here is to, is to build you know,
practice these things in a way to where
the, the all the notes you know,
share kind of equal, equal tone value and,
and length and, and you know,
you should feel the box resonate with each
And so good luck with that, and we got two
more to cover.
We're gonna take our
idea of playing major sta scales in closed
positions to the A major scale now.
And one of the great things about this
scale in the form as it, as it,
you know, works its way up and down the
the finger board.
Are the strings on the guitar is, it
introduces a concept that we're going to
cover, a little bit later on in this
intermediate level, of,
of how positions can actually kinda shift
and change.
We've talked about transition points from
rhythm to lead, and within that,
transition points of string changing, and,
and, and things that sort of isolate.
And there's there's a point midway through
this A scale to where we're gonna look
at how now our left hand positions can
kinda you know, work smooth transitions.
That can kinda start taking place and you
being aware of, of how to make those
And so starting what we'll find our A,
which is, fifth fret low E string.
And so using, again, we got six strings
we're working with our, four fret, four
finger left hand technique builder.
We'll start with a low F sharp.
And six seven and back to one.
And now we're climbing.
Now when you get up to this F sharp.
Do it one more time.
The G
sharp in order to finish the the major
scale form is down here, so
we're going to shift a little bit.
that's one of the first things to think
about when you're when your kept
bringing up you know the idea of
maintaining consistent tone through all
these scales so at, at that point,
There's a bit of a stretch to get to
that G sharp,.
again if we don't, don't forsake the
F-sharp right there.
Don't forsake the, the, the note previous
just to get to that.
Part of the way this builds and you know,
we're isolating something down to you
know, from one note to the next.
Which for a lot of people you know,
manifests itself through you know,
a whole range of repertoire and it may be
just one simple issue like this.
And so we're you know, this is where we
can break things down here and
discuss what's going on.
So once again from the A.
We're essentially back into our
first position.
what we're going to do is just slide back
into A for a minute.
This is going to be our first transition
And that gets us back into our.
Our four fret space there.
Now we're back.
And so
the basic idea is there is that we, we
shifted to another position but used.
Use basically we lift but in order to keep
the note value as a, and the, and
the note strength as, as, as as full as
We didn't necessarily do a slide but
keeping our hand on the fingerboard.
You know.
The more you can keep your
finger down as a pose.
You know, it's disjointed.
But we're, and we're smoothing these
So if we're here.
That's the move.
You know, so the index,
index finger never comes off the
Cuz I, I'm looking for
the fullest notes possible.
So anyway, there's our transition.
We'll move on a way up.
So that's climbing from low to high.
I'll show that to you one more time.
And, you know, once again to, to isolate
it like that it really, I mean even for
me, it, it taxes, I can feel the muscles
in my left hand kinda stretching.
And you know,
it's not the kinda thing you wanna do for,
you know, four hours in a row.
So, just take your time with these kinda
When you descend this A scale.
There is a yet another sort of transition
idea that kinda be introduced too.
So working our way back down the same
So our next note is B.
here is the way we are gonna make this
You know, for building flat picking
technique is we're gonna
go to our pinky in order to get to this A
and G sharp down here.
So here's the transition from the top
See that, the shift happened.
We left our four finger access there for
one note, so
that's, that in a very smooth kind of way
set up,
set up the notes that your going to and
that's one of the keys in a,
moving up and down the fingerboard,
transitioning from position to position.
Is is finding fingerings that basically
set up new positions.
And the smoother that can happen then the
smoother you know,
all this grouping of notes connects to
this grouping of notes down here and
it's you know, it's one, one small little
transition move.
But when it's set up the right way then
everything is smooth, and there's not a,
you know, not no disjoint in the note.
So once again from the top.
So now we're down here.
And to make a shift we're, we're keeping
with our fourth fret concept we're, for a
minute, we're down here in first position.
So we're gonna grab the F sharp with our
pinky, and then shift,
it's a real easy shift because we're
essentially in first position,
just gonna move the index finger in to set
up the new position.
So that's what we're trying to do is make
these transitions as,
as easy as possible and as subtle as
You know with just one finger kinda moves
not, not major if you think of these
things it's sort of daunting to think you
know these, might see some jazz players or
these massive groups and grouping of hands
and it looks, looks kinda weird but
when you're playing at speeds that you're
gonna be playing at in Bluegrass and
playing at some of these fiddle tunes.
You know,
that the idea is to keep things effi,
efficient by, by these closed groups here.
So [COUGH] anyway.
Move the back down again.
We gotta shift there.
And shift again.
And moving our way back down.
here's the whole thing again, from the
And if you want to isolate that one.
That shift is pretty easy right
there because it actually brings your hand
a little closer together.
You kinda, kinda reduces the amount of
stress and stretch that's right there.
And notice,
notice that when I make that transition
I'm not just throwing my finger in there
like this, I'm actually shifting my whole
hand to set up for
that next position which is back to this.
There see the whole hand shifts.
And again it's the left hand technique.
Is, it starts here at the shoulder and the
And when you, and when you can keep that
loose and you know,
remember your starting spots.
There's that shift.
You can see the whole arm, and it's
prepared, and
because every note needs to be full.
And that's, that's one way to start
building your awareness of that and
you can actually feel it happen.
there's a lot of information just with,
you know, how major scales can be so
important to building technique and, and
awareness of how to get around on
the finger board and we got one more to
get through.
The last
scale we're gonna look at here, in these
closed positions is F.
And, if you're, if you're comparing this
these workouts to lifting weights, this is
gonna be
maximum weight here this is really gonna
to stress our left hands here.
But again,
the idea is to really build a solid
approach to playing this way on guitar.
And at this point F, F stands for not for
the faint of heart.
And after you play this a few times, you
may have some other
choice words that you've think why the why
he's trying to get us to do this.
So anyway, but I encourage you to stick
with this kind of stuff.
So again we're, we're talking about
accessing the four frets,
four fingers, all, all six strings with
the F scale here so, starting with an F.
Our next option
we don't wanna use open strings.
So A is our next note, the third degree F,
G, A.
Which is, so we basically were like we got
out of our, a little bit out of our four
finger position with the A.
[COUGH] And we're gonna stay out of it for
at least few strings here on the way up
with F.
This is because it's just the way the, we
got whole steps and, and and
a whole step on the fingerboard of the
guitar, is there's a fret distance between
each step so
That's your first move which is,
that's gonna be, that's a fairly advanced
left hand technique to be able to make all
those notes
Ring as, as, as full as they can and so
once you get through that, you just do the
same thing on the next string down.
finally you get a bit of a break again,
we're shifting somewhat.
This pinky move here, allows us to get
back into a four-fret kinda sense for
a minute.
We're shifting our hand,
our whole from elbow sorta comes inside a
little bit.
Moving on up.
we have two notes here, for the D and the
E and then back to F.
And they continue up with all, all the
notes that we can access from this hand
position, we're gonna get tin, continue up
to the G and the A above F.
[COUGH] So working our way back down.
Now we're back to stretch.
notice one of the things I did on the way
Once I got past this note.
Again, in, in my effort to try to keep
things as solid as possible, and
plus, you know, at this point,
it hurt, you know, I can definitely feel
the, the stretch and the strain.
And, this isn't, this is, you know, again,
this is heavy lifting here so,
it's nothing you just wanna do over and
over again.
If you practice with other scales three
times each,
you may practice this one once.
Just as you, as you play through these
things over a period of weeks or
months as you build, build slowly.
And I'm actually bringing my whole hand,
back here to the F, just because.
Once I get past this point I'm kinda free
to go back down here, to get this note as
solid as possible, so
one more time from low to high.
Back down.
One thing that may
help as you, when you
really work on these stretches like this.
And, there's gonna be [COUGH] tunes that
we play, tunes in the,
in the flat picking repertoire that, that
use that five kind of stretch,
the way that most people play the B part
of Salt Creek,
As part of that melody, and,
and that's that stretch.
And just, I, you know, I can tell just
from running that a few times, that's,
that's pretty easy for me to do right
And that's, that's a,
that's a real useful form when you're
You know, you can see how,
you know, this is more about muscle
training than it is anything.
And, and applying what, what happens, what
the strength that's developed with doing
those things, applies directly in your
ability to, to really, you know,
make the best music possible with these,
with these fiddle tunes.
But one thing I wanted to show you within
this stretch,
and you'll notice as doing this a while
for you.
You know, take a minute, like we talked
way early on.
As far as just establishing a good
starting spot again, because,
if I keep, if I'm hurting and I just keep
doing it, I'm just gonna injure my self,
so you really do have to take breaks.
This is this is very athletic here, again,
it's heavy lifting.
One thing you may do, and, and it's, it's
a good idea.
As we talk about shifting and, and
the way our left hand technique is really,
really starting to kind of
get settled at this point especially down
here in these lower notes.
You'll notice I'm starting down here,
and the idea is we talked about we want as
much of our finger against the fret for
the, for the real solid note.
You know it's not, it's not here and it's
it's not there either other half that note
is muted if I'm past the fret.
The big note is right there.
So, as we move up.
You notice my elbow I mean,
I'm stretching my fingers, but my elbow is
moving in to kind of support.
The whole hand kind of supports the pinky
as it stretches over.
And it's, that's, that's something to work
A slight move like that, and you,
you know, if you just wanna isolate those
first six notes
you know, back to this.
As you,
as you build this, that's a way to kind of
get into it that may help you start.
You know,
and once again I mean this, this is,
that's a,
I'm, I'm you know, definitely feel like I
gotta take a break now from my in,
my left hand and, and if and that's you
know, that's me after,
after playing for 30 years so so just take
your time with these things.
And and just work them but just always
remember to keep keep your notes as,
as solid as possible, and that's, that's
the ultimate goal, if you feel yourself
straining to get notes, I don't want you
to push past that point.
You know, the goal here is to get to this
to build this strength so we don't and,
and you know, missing notes in a solo and,
and, so
this, the, these are muscles that are
gonna be used.
A lot later on down the road, as you play
and play strong Bluegrass.
And and so you know, good luck and, and
keep a glass of water, stretch and,
and and you know just keep, keep at it and
and you'll, you'll get through it.
Now it's time for you to submit a video
we've covered
major scale forms in closed position in
this group of lessons, and
I'd like to see how you're progressing
through, and so I'd like you know,
pick a scale, there's obvious ones that
we've covered that are harder than others
on your left hand, but what I'm going to
be looking for is the same in all of them.
And that's, a good, you know clear access
to each note.
And that'll be obvious the, the, the tone
value the, the, the clarity and
the fullness of each note, within this
Because this is, this is you the main
reason why,
I'm showing you all these different scale
Not only just to get your hands familiar
with the finger board,
that's an important part but but
we're trying to deliver strong acoustic
music and it's building blocks like this
that are extremely important before we
move on to the next levels of of music.
And so I can get feedback as I, as I see
how these things are progressing, or if I
see that it looks like you know, you need
this that or that or I can give you hints
and guidance on how to move things up to
the next level, or how to review things.
And so I look forward to seeing you,
seeing how you how you can you know,
get through these scales and good luck
doing that.