[Lesson] An Introduction to Seven String Scales

Discussion in 'The Sevenstring.org Workbench' started by Drew, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">Lesson: An Introduction to Seven String Scales</span>
    </div>
    It's amazing how something as basic as simply adding an extra string to a guitar can make the once-familiar fretboard seem utterly incomprehensible. When first making the transition from a six to a seven, this was (in my experience) the biggest hurdle to overcome: that all of the familiar scale, chord, and arpeggio shapes I'd been playing ever since I first picked up my dad's acoustic suddenly didn't apply any more (as an aside, this is still one of the biggest little-known perks to playing a seven - handing your guitar to an unsuspecting six-stringer. A good 90% of the players I've tried this on immediately reach for an open E chord, and get this horribly out-of-tune sounding tangle of notes somewhere in the neighborhood of a B. The look on their faces as they try to figure out what the hell happened is absolutely priceless). This is both a good and a bad thing, as there is a lot to be said for getting a chance to approach a familiar instrument that you already have a decent amount of technical aptitude at with a completely blank slate. But at the same time, when someone calls out “blues in E,” you want to be playing blues in E; at some point, you're going to have to bite the bullet and learn some seven string scale patterns.
    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">Part One: Fixed Position Scales</span>
    </div>
    Luckily, you can apply a good portion of what you already know with only the slightest of changes. As the top six strings of a standard-tuned seven string are still the same as the six strings of a six string, any scale pattern on a six-string can be played on the top six strings of a seven. Additionally, in the case of a fixed-position scale, as the low B string mirrors the high B two octaves lower, it's a simple question of playing the same sequence of notes on the low string as you would on the second highest, when you want to include the low B in some of your scale runs. Take a look at the following two patterns:

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">7th Position B Minor, six string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Bm6.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">7th Position B Minor, seven string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Bm7.gif">
    </div>

    Or, in fretboard diagrams (picture courtesy of www.jemsite.com, used and modified by permission)

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">7th Position B Minor, six string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Bm6diagram.JPG">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">7th Position B Minor, seven string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Bm7diagram.JPG">
    </div>
    Pay special attention to the two B strings in the seven-string fretboard diagram; much like the low E and high e patterns mirror each other on a 6-string, the low B and high b patterns are also parallel on a seven. In a pinch, this method of “stretching” a six-string pattern you already know across one extra string will allow you to include that low string in your melody lines.

    The same can be done for scales with a root on the 5th string. Worth noting here is that the note an octave below will be located two strings below and two frets back from it's position on the A string, so it will be possible to play an additional octave here:
    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">7th Position E Minor, six string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Em6.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">7th Position E Minor, seven string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Em7.gif">
    </div>

    Not too bad, huh? If you start on the 5th fret of that low B string, shift positions up to the 7th, and ascend conventionally from there, you have four complete octaves of the E minor scale comfortably within seven frets. Also worth trying is the relative major of E minor, a G major scale based on this shape. This one falls quite comfortably under your fingers without any position shifts:

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">7th Position G Major, seven string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/GMaj7.gif">
    </div>

    From here, it makes sense to begin looking at seven-string scale patterns not as derivatives of six-string patterns, but rather as scales laid out first and foremost as seven-string scales. Open position scales are probably the easiest place to start:

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">Open Position B Minor, seven string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/BmOpen7.gif">
    </div>

    Or, in a fretboard diagram (again from jemsite.com,with permission):

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;"> Open Position B Minor, seven string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Bmopen7diagram.JPG">
    </div>

    This pattern can be transposed up and down the neck fairly comfortably. Useful to note is the way it overlaps with the 6-string pattern with the root on the 5th string:

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;"> Open Position B Minor (extended), seven string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/Bmopenextendeddiagram.JPG">
    </div>

    This gives you a great minor (and relative major, if you treat the b3 as the root) “box” position that can be transposed freely up ad down the neck.

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">Part Two: Three Note Per String Scales</span>
    </div>

    Box patterns are useful, but lead guitarists, especially those favoring legato or economy picking techniques, have a fondness for three-note-per-string patterns. So, once the box position scale pattern above begins to feel comfortable, give these a try:

    <div align="center">
    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">C Ionian, three notes per string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/C_Ionian_3NPS.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">D Dorian, three notes per string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/D_Dorian_3NPS.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">E Phrygian, three notes per string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/E_Phrygian_3NPS.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">F Lydian, three notes per string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/F_Lydian_3NPS.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">G Mixolydian, three notes per string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/G_Mixolydian_3NPS.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">A Aeolean, three notes per string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/A_Aeolean_3NPS.gif">

    <span style="color:eek:range;font-weight:bold;">B Locrean, three notes per string</span>
    <img border="0" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/lessons/SevenStringScales/B_Locrean_3NPS.gif">
    </div>

    Mess around with these a bit - by the time they start to feel natural your fretboard knowledge on a 7-string will have improved tremendously. Note that each pattern resolves to the minor 7th degree of their respective scale - if you jump up either a half step or a step (whichever is appropriate to the scale in question) you'll be able to cover 4 octaves. That's a bit over a half octave more than a 6-string, which can make quite a difference when you're jumping around the neck on faster runs.

    So, that's a crash course on trying to make sense of the wider fretboard now looking up at you. There's about as many ways to arrange scales onto the neck of the guitar as there are guitarists, so these are by no means set in stone; if you find something that works better for you, then by all means, do it. But, at the very least, these patterns will give you a quick “vocabulary” to begin building melodic ideas from on your seven-string guitar. Enjoy!
     
    ohoolahan, Evergrey, FYP666 and 15 others like this.
  2. Soupy

    Soupy Soupy

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    This is alot scales. These will be great to practice.
     
  3. Stretchnutz

    Stretchnutz The Destroyer

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    These are great:shred: ! I'm have a blast with my new seven!:hbang:
     
  4. telecaster90

    telecaster90 Smokestack Lightning Contributor

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    I dig the tnps patterns:yesway:

    I'm gonna check those out for sure.
     
  5. Pete

    Pete SS.org Regular

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    Yup, that'll help, for sure that'll help
     
  6. Wolfster

    Wolfster SS.org Regular

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    by the way just so you know, u spell locrian and aeolian like how i just typed it.

    Dont mean to be an arse, im just saying is all.
     
  7. fatfinger

    fatfinger SS.org Regular

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    hey....you can make your own diagrams that show the notes within the dots at virtualguitar.net's 7 string guitarbuilder. Just go there then click on "switch to 7 string guitar" in the lower right then click GuitarBuilder. Make what you like then print it out or take a screenshot and save it......post it or whatever. See attached example.
     

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  8. childofthekorn

    childofthekorn SS.org Regular

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    Thanks this make things a lot better
     
  9. razcasket

    razcasket ss.org Irregular

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    Thats a whole load of useful information right there! Its actually the post that came up in google, which is how I found the site! Thanks
     
  10. mrBIG

    mrBIG SS.org Regular

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    not baaaad
     
  11. Stench of Necropsy

    Stench of Necropsy SS.org Regular

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    Hi everyone!

    Drew: Even though this thread has been posted a while ago, I'd like to thank you for making it. You helped me and many others get oriented on the fretboard.

    I've got a question. Would it be possible to get used to the fretboard by using interval formulas like whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half (Ionian) and applying it to the 7-string guitar? I guess that should work, right?
     
  12. Enkiseenkidu

    Enkiseenkidu SS.org Regular

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    It might help to know that under Part 1 the second set of fixed scales is listed as 7th position b minor. But it starts 7th fret of the B string making it an F# Phrygian mode I believe. Now it's the same set of notes but if played from the root note F# it won't really sound like B minor anymore it will sound like F#phrygian as each mode has it's own characteristic sound. I just wanted to clarify this in case it meant something to someone trying to make sense of it.

    Great Work!
     
  13. ttr398

    ttr398 SS.org Regular

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    Nice one, really helpful!
     
  14. metalmania408

    metalmania408 SS.org Regular

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    +10000000 :yesway: :hbang:
     
  15. FarBeyondMetal

    FarBeyondMetal SS.org Regular

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  16. Ascension

    Ascension SS.org Regular

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    Cool stuff. Although I no longer own a 7 ( changed music styles so --) I still think in root 7 scale patterns on my 6 many times. Having that extra low B for a while helped me think differently about and the scale patterns on the fretboard even playing a 6.
     
  17. tuneinrecords

    tuneinrecords SS.org Regular

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    If you've got a good grasp on your 6 string scales, just remember that you already had a B string as your 2nd string so whatever you did on that string you can now do on your low B 7th string. That simple thing right there can go a long way. Pentatonic scales can be a breeze too.

    I've also gone back to playing more 6 than 7 string guitars mainly because I teach and the kiddies need me to play a 6 so they don't get confused as they're just learning 6.

    But yes playing a 7 definitely opens your mind up to more possibilities and how the fretboard fits together.
     
  18. Master D

    Master D SS.org Regular

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    man that is awesome, many thanks for this it will help me out a lot with my playing :)
     
  19. mphsc

    mphsc lover of fine woods

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    Dude, thanks a ton.
     
  20. MatthewLeisher

    MatthewLeisher Ghostmaker

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    Is there something special I should be doing with all that code? Or is it all broken or something?1
     

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