I’m playing 3.5 years and in last month I start to learn scales so first I learned all major scale positions. So now before I will learn more scales like minor,pentatonic, harmonic minor etc What I need to do with the major scale? I’m feeling like stuck with patterns.

  • Do you mean that you've learned lots of scale patterns, but haven't played any songs or melodies with them? Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 19:35
  • Hm yeah, I learn all the major patterns but now how can I use it? Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 19:49
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    Out of interest, what have you been playing/learning in those 3.5 yrs?
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 7:14
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    @Pyromonk - Get handed increasingly difficult pieces to play. Rather like being handed "Mary Had a Little Lamb", a more difficult arrangement of that, then eventually that famous Minuet in G Major.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 11:02
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    @piiperiReinstateMonica - I had to learn scales from my piano teacher, and even then, I kept mucking up the fingering. I only started noting what scales (not just keys) music was in after I stopped taking piano lessons.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 11:04

3 Answers 3


One thing is to take a simple tune in a major key, and sticking initially to one key, try to play it all over the neck, using the shapes and positions you say you've learned.

Then play it in different keys, all over the neck again. Not from the dots - which will only be in one key, but using your fretboard knowledge.

Another is to use 1,3,5 (and maybe 7), to play arpeggios up and down. But here, you can elongate them by starting in a low position, and moving, perhaps a couple of times, to the next set of notes - and back again.

EDIT: an introduction to modes. Try starting each scale pattern on different notes, and go up ato one or two octaves above that before returning. By starting on the second note, you're playing a Dorian mode, third note gives Phrygian, etc.

That should keep you busy for a good few months! Good luck!


Beside scales what have you been playing for 3 years? You should try to have a mix of drills, memorizing pieces, sight reading... and IMO improvisation. All of which can be geared to the beginner level. The reason for the question has to do with application of scale studies...

What I need to do with the major scale?

In most real music full or multi octave scales are not used. The typical thing is for a portion of a scale to be used.

Also, in real music you won't find scale passages starting and ending with the fingering given for scale drills.

When you work on scale drills you should be thinking about finger groupings on the strings and the various ways your hand moves in and out of positions. The point isn't so much to literally learn the scale (as I said before you won't find a lot of music of just full scales) but the point is about learning good fingering and position.

If your scale drills are feeling good, start to play pieces with prominent scalar passages. If the music includes fingerings, compare groupings and position changes to scale drills. For example, you might see a five note scalar passage - starting on the tonic - but it may or may not have the same fingering as the start of a scale drill based on what comes before and after the passage.

You can also try simple improvisation. Instead of playing up and down the whole scale as in the typical drill, play portions of the scale into important harmonic notes. Hold the harmonic notes with a longer rhythm as "targets" or "goal" notes. So, for example, you could play down the scale, from the dominant, three times, targeting in turn the tonic, then leading tone, then back to the tonic - DO TI DO. (It will outline the basic harmony I V I.) You can play flexibly with rhythm to get your target notes hitting on downbeats. Something like that is a way to make a basic musical statement from a simple scale. But, if improv interests you, find a method book appropriate to the style you like.

Also, depending on how you have been practicing you can up the level of your drills. If you have only been playing up and down the scale, and additional musical elements. Firstly, play metrically (some scale patterns don't really fit barline/meter) and count time aloud. Play scales with various meters. Alternate ascending/descending the scale. "Rotate" the starting note. If you have only been playing from tonic to tonic, play the scale starting on each tone of the scale. If you play the scale only as a straight, step-wise motion, play it in broken third, fourths, etc. You can also play the scale in thirds by skipping every other tone, like 1 3 5 7 2 4 6 8. There are lots of ways like that to vary a simple scale drill. And, in fact, a lot of those linear variations become the building blocks of melody/improv.

  • Ok, so in these 3.5 years I learned songs and solos by ear or tabs, learn and improve my techniques (right hand, timing, finger picking, little flamenco techniques etc) for studio recording, learn guitar neck notes, learn music theory, chord progression and CAGED Now my playing is smooth and I’m on the beat so it’s time to learn the scales and not only the solo Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 13:23

Here's a video that gives you something to do with the major scale in all 12 keys.

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    Great, but if and when link-rot sets in, this will be ineffective.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 10:25
  • @Tim I suppose it's true, but out of of all possible external destinations, YouTube videos should be lasting much more than average. Perhaps in a few more years, with costs of storage going down, and transfer speeds going up, StackExchange will be able to host its own videos too, but until then I think YouTube is not the worst solution. Do you have other ideas or alternatives in mind?
    – MMazzon
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 11:31
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    No, sorry. It's just that previous posts with only videos have been commented on similarly.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 12:13
  • @MMazzon - I've personally found that YouTube suffers link rot at an incredible rate. On average, I'd say a third of the YouTube videos I link to become unviewable 3 years later.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 12:24

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