G Scale in Thirds Advice

I put so much work into memorizing the G scale patterns only to be told by Justin in the next course to memorize/practice them in 3rds.

For some reason, the thirds pattern has not been sticking and personally does not sound as musical when I try to incorporate it while playing along to a backing track. Is this like everything else with the guitar? I keep practicing it, and a year from now, it will make sense? It’s still in my practice routine, but I’m wondering if I should give it the boot.

Jesse. You write patterns. Do you mean you have learned fived major scale patterns?
If yes, have you gone way beyond memorising the patterns and playing them ascending/ descending in linear sequence? Have you been using them musically?

The idea behind practicing the scale pattern in 3rds, and in other ways also, is to break out beyond playing the scale up and down to make your actual playing more musical. Skipping notes, skipping strings, change of direction etc.

It is not that you are meant to play in 3rds to a backing track. Chords are stacked in 3rds. If the backing track is on a G major chord and you play in 3rds from the note G that will sound good. If, on the other hand, you play in 3rds from the note F# that will likely sound off because you would be playing the notes of an F# diminished chord.

Do not take it literally that your improvised play uses only 3rds.
Mix them in with other moves.
And do not spend one year practicing scales in 3rds.

Hey Jesse,

Im only a few years in the journey, but the playing of the major scale in thirds I think helped me alot musically. As Richard says, triads/ chords etc are built on these 3rds, so it is the musicality you need to lock into, not the pattern, as you mix it up with other stuff.

Eventually, you can also run across the entire fretboard in 3rds, as an exercise, as you connect up positional patterns; and eventually utilise other concepts and techniques as well. This is great practice for lead,
/ improvising etc. You can do it in 5ths as well etc.

Strictly playing in 3rds I’ll only use nowadays sometimes as a warmup etc. The important thing in all this I think is ingraining the actual scale, whether its major/ minor/ pentatonic etc, rather than strictly any pattern. Any pattern is just incidental.

Cheers, Shane

I’d say that the purpose of practicing the major scale in 3rds is to start thinking about the intervals, and not just the “pattern” of the scale. The important notes (i.e., chord tones) are often a 3rd apart, which is one reason it’s good to be able to quickly move up or down a third from the note that you’re on.

I’d also say that it’s beneficial to start trying to think about intervals, especially the chord tones, any time you’re doing scale practice. That is, don’t just think about the scale’s pattern, also try to think about where the most “important” notes are within that pattern. Those would be the root, the third, the fifth, and lastly, the seventh. If that seems like too much to try and absorb take it in steps. Learn the pattern and then learn where the root notes are in the pattern. Then add the third. And so on.

1 Like

The first time I tried playing these alternating 3rd’s I found it really awkward and confusing (and really frustrating), especially when going in reverse order. I could manage pentatonic and full scale patterns pretty fast, but not these. I think it is a really good exercise (for me) and I incorporate it almost daily as a warm-up to other playing. With so many daily repetitions over time, I can now anticipate the sound of the ensuing notes without thinking about the pattern. It helps with finger dexterity, rhythm and evenness of sound. It’s taken me about nine months to get this sorted out and my speed/accuracy has markedly improved. How long does it take to practice a two octave scale each day? I have no capacity to create music so I enjoy these types of exercises.

1 Like

Now that’s the honest answer! Yeah I got so pumped after locking in the g scale regular pattern. It was so easy. Then I got hit with the 3rds and I was suddenly lost. Justin’s website people made a snarky remark to my comment about practicing it for a year :roll_eyes:. This is clearly something that could be rotated in at 5 minutes a day for a year. At least for the brain of a 44 year old like myself.

I will keep at it!

@Jmccall80 Scales in Thirds - I feel your frustration. Especially played in reverse order!
I decided to learn Riders on the Storm and Justin does the piano ‘rain drops’ part on guitar, explaining its E Dorian (D major scale) played in thirds backwards. It sounds beautiful to my ears.
Well it’s a great challenge, at least for me.
I found it really helpful to tab it out in my songbook first. I’m getting there slowly but surely, gradually developing the finger muscle memory and speed.
Still a way to go to get really consistent. So, chin up and keep at it😀.
PS. I (apparently) rebelled too, and learned all 5 positions before becoming ‘expert’ in one. Personally I enjoy now being able to move freely up and down the neck while improvising.