Categories

Using the Minor Scale to Play Major Scales in The Same Key

Scales – Part 6

Take a look at the two scale diagrams below. At first glance, the G minor and G major scales at first look completely different from one another.

G Minor Scale

G Major Scale

Look at the pattern of notes between frets 1 and 6 of the minor scale, and compare them to the shapes between frets 10 and 15 of the major scale.

Although the notes and root positions are different, the patterns that the notes are spread across are the same. Below you can see the pattern with all the notes and root notes removed

Blank Pattern 1

Blank Scale Pattern1

You can recognise this pattern as being identical to G minor scale position 1 you learned in the first part of this no nonsense guide. It also happens to be G Major position 6 of the patterns needed to play the G Major scale.

G Minor Position 1

G Minor Scale Position 1

G Major Position 6

G Major Scale Position 6

Divide

Now take a look at frets 3 to 8 of the G minor scale, and frets 12 to 16 of the G major scale.

Again, the notes and root positions are different, but the patterns that the notes are spread across are identical. Here is the pattern with all the notes and root notes removed.

Blank Pattern 2

Blank Scale Pattern2

This pattern is identical to position 2 of the G minor scale and also position 7 of the G major Scale.

G Minor Position 2

G Minor Position 2

G Major Position 7

G Major Scale Position 7

Divide

Just to prove the point once more, take a look at frets 5 and 8 of the minor scale, and frets 14 to 17 (or 2 to 5) of the major scale.

Again, apart from different notes and roots, you have already learned this pattern as position 3 of the G minor scale and also position 1 of the G major Scale.

Blank Pattern 3

Blank Scale Pattern3

Position 3 G Minor Scale

G Minor Position 3

Position 1 G Major Scale

G Major Scale Position 1

As you can see, by learning the 7 positions of the minor scale earlier in this guide, you have already learned all the necessary shapes required for you to play the major scale.

Major Scale
Position Shape
Same as Minor Scale
Position Shape
1 3
2 4
3 5
4 6
5 7
6 1
7 2

Below are all 7 positions of the G major Scale. You will find if you’ve done your homework, you will easily recognise and be able to play them all already.

7 Major Scale Positions

Position 1

G Major Scale Position 1

Position 2

G Major Scale Position 2

Position 3

G Major Scale Position 3

Position 4

G Major Scale Position 4

Position 5

G Major Scale Position 5

Position 6

G Major Scale Position 6

Position 7

G Major Scale Position 7

So apart from the positions of the root notes and where the patterns are played on the fret board, you should already know all 7 shapes. They also progress up the fret board in the same order as the minor patterns. It just so happens that when sticking to the same key, the major scale patterns happen to be -3 frets behind the minor scale patterns (or +9 frets in front, if you prefer).

Divide

Test this out for your self.

Play any minor pattern on the G scale. Now move down the fret board -3 frets and play that same pattern. Then check the G major scale at the top of this page and you will find (apart from the root notes) you are following the G major scale pattern.

Do the same again, but this time move up the fret board +9 frets. You also end up on the G major scale pattern.

Divide

So using the knowledge that our minor scale patterns are interchangeable with the major scale patterns, there are two ways we can play the major scale in any key using our minor scale knowledge. Method 1 moves you up or down the neck a few frets, and method 2 will keep you in the same place on the fret board. Use both methods at your will.

Method 1 – Play 3 Frets Lower or 9 Higher

Let’s say you want to play a major scale from a specific root note, i.e the C note on string 6 – fret 8.

Simply…

1. Think of the minor pattern that you can play in that spot. e.g. C minor pattern 1.

2. Now move down the fret board -3 frets and play that same pattern again. Remember where your C root notes are, and you are now playing the C major scale.

Alternatively you could move up the fret board +9 frets and play that same pattern to hit the C major scale.

Here’s another example.

Take this G minor pattern 4, with it’s G root notes on frets 10 and 8.

G Minor Position 4

If you want to play the G major scale, just move this pattern down -3 frets and play it there. Work out where your new G root notes lie on the fret board, then you are done. See the result below.

G Major Scale Position 2

Check this against the G major scale at the top of the page.

Divide

Method 2 – Stays in the Same Area

If you want to play a major scale on a specific root note, say the G major on string 6 fret 3, simply

1. Think of the minor pattern that you are used to playing in that spot. e.g. G minor pattern 1.

G Minor Scale Position 1

2. In your mind either a) picture moving up two positions, or b) imagine moving +3 frets up the neck, still following the minor shape patterns. You should end up visualising G minor position 3 as below.

G Minor Position 3

3. Take this pattern, and move it back three frets to your original spot i.e from G major, on string 6 fret 3,

Blank Scale Pattern3

4. Now find your new major root notes. If you aren’t sure where they are you can find them by remembering the positions of the old root notes in the blank pattern and moving them forward 3 frets or 3 notes (inclusive of the root)

5. Now you should be playing the major scale with the right root notes as shown below.

G Major Scale Position 1

Divide

So there you have it, two easy methods of playing the major scale in any key by using the minor scales you already know.

If you practice running up the major scale starting from position 1 to 7 like you did with the minor scales earlier on in this guide, it will solidify your knowledge of these patterns, and as you practice jumping between major and minor scales using the above methods and the relative minor and major theory, you will will soon find it becomes so easy you don’t even have to think about it.

If you’ve managed to complete all the sections from 1 to 6 in this guide, you should now be well on your way to mastering the fret board, and it’s time to head for the pentatonic’s and blues scales.

By the way, if you already know the major and natural or pure minor scales, then you also know the major and minor pentatonics as they are derived from using only 5 notes of their parent major and minor scales.

You also know half of the melodic minor scales (the descending side) as it is exactly the same as the natural minor scale.

And to top it all, the blues scale should be pretty simple from here, as it too is simply a minor pentatonic scale with an added note. If you have ever stuck your nose in a guitar book before, you are probably familiar with a few positions of that scale already.

Divide

Now you have got the hang of scale and pattern learning, just take a quick look at the few scales I have mentioned above and have a go at them. By the time I post the next part of this course in the weeks to come, you should already have a good head start.

Part 7 – Major & minor pentatonics, and the blues.

Part 7

If you want to solidify your knowledge of the scales you have learned and increase your speed across the fret board in all directions, check out my new pages on scale runs.

Other Posts of Interest

Scale Runs and Exercises
Chromatic Scales and Exercises

Posted 01.02.09

Back Home

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>