I can play almost anything on electric guitar. The problem is I have the hardest time getting from point A to point B using a fast run and it's not a matter of speed. I just don't know the technique. I see a lot of musicians deploy a fast run to "get to" the intended notes. They do it almost as a fill between important parts of the song or chord changes.

Is there a particular scale run most musicians use when moving about the fret-board?

P.S. I found this tutorial but the examples given don't sound very musical and I don't think I could use it on any song.

  • What kind of scale are they playing? Pentatonic? Diatonic? Chromatic?
    – Dekkadeci
    Oct 29 '18 at 23:56
  • ANY scale, it's abut getting from A to B. The scale is just the stepping stones. I see a lot of musicians have a "canned" run. I want to know how that works and maybe make my own run. Oct 30 '18 at 2:28
  • I think the canned run heavily depends on the desired scale. I've even seen a video of an electric guitarist simply running his hand along the fretboard for a chromatic scale glissando. That obviously won't fly for a pentatonic scale.
    – Dekkadeci
    Oct 30 '18 at 4:58

If I'm reading your question correctly, I think you may be asking about melodic patterns and sequences, but there isn't just one or two, there are a lot of them. If you take the time to learn them, they can be selected and used as runs and can be played at whatever speed the music calls for in ascending and descending forms. I play in a country rock band, but I study some beginning jazz books that go into melodic patterns and sequences, and it's done wonders for my improvising skills.

  • Yes! I struggled to find the right words for what I wanted. This sounds like I'm what looking for. Any idea how/where I can further my studies on this? Oct 31 '18 at 15:15
  • @user3704920- I shop used bookstores and find some great books on the subject, but a lot of them are out of print. One that is still in print is Mel Bay's Encyclopedia of Scales, Modes, and Melodic Patterns. by Arnie Berle. Oct 31 '18 at 15:52
  • well you got me far enough by providing me with the right words. "melodic sequences/patterns". Thank you so much. Oct 31 '18 at 15:54
  • @user3704920-not wishing to nitpick, but you may have better luck looking for melodic patterns, sequences studies usually come next after you've worked on the patterns. Oct 31 '18 at 16:10

Dependent on a few factors. How long the run needs to be - half a bar, a bar, a couple of bars. What key it's in - as in what sort of scale notes are already used. It could consist of pentatonic notes, major or minor notes, or chromatics. Could be, and most likely will be, a mixture.

For faster playing. legato works well, where notes are hammered on and pulled off. Some prefer to play each and every note picked, in which case a decision has to be made as to whether it's alternate picking, hybrid picking, or a mixture.

As far as actual notes are concerned, without a chord sequence and a specific gap to fill it's not easy to say 'do this' 'do that'. You need to look at the last note played before the 'fill', and the next one needed that's the target. Then work out how long, in beats the gap is. Decide if you want really fast notes, or slower ones - the faster ones will, surprise, need to be more in number! Count your way through, find out how many - slowly - then see what's available. Because it's going to be a bit of a flurry, 'out of tune/key' notes will still work, although when played slowly will sound odd. Find a line which fits - it may go in one direction, or change a couple of times, before the target is played - louder than the flurry. Work from there.


You seem to be assuming what all guitarists do and then want us to answer "how to do it". The fact is that any and all scale runs can be done with blazing speed. When you say it's not a matter of speed but technique I would say you are mistaken as the two are deeply connected. There are different picking techniques, alternate versus consecutive, and different ways of organizing the notes in a way that makes note groupings symmetric, e.g. three note per string groupings versus the standard scale patterns. As Tim pointed out, legato techniques that use hammer on + pull off and sliding make long runs up the neck smooth (but not necessarily faster). Some guitarists simply make use of pentatonic patterns to avoid developing all fingers. Even when playing diatonics they default to 2-finger patterns and move up and down the neck rather than playing three and four note patterns in one place.

But I would say that one approach is not better than another and that any particular picking technique and scale pattern can be mastered and played "fast". The key to speed is in fact good technique. In any case, to answer your question directly, no there is not a specific scale or pattern that most guitarists use. Most guitarists I am familiar with use them all.

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