Linking Scales

I have been practicing major scales using four patterns as shown by Justin. Is there a lesson demonstrating how to link these patterns in a fluid manner over the length of the fretboard? The individual patterns are clear to me, but I get completely lost switching (combining) patterns midstream. Thanks for any guidance.

Hi Dennis,
Somewhere a mistake has crept into your way of learning (it happened to me too before I found this site in the month before :blush:), because if you start with pattern 3 you should already be able to make good music with the 1st and the 2nd and you will then also learn to combine them and etc with the rest , so I say back to start (of the pattern learning lessons) and take the lessons as offered, at least that’s what I had to do.
Greetings ,Rogier

I am not going to give an answer to your question.
Rather, I am going to ask a question.

RE: Pattern 1 of hte major scale … have you spent time, a lot of time, using it to make music, to be creative, to find melodies you know, to invent melodies, to improvise over major backing tracks?

If the answer is yes, great. FOllowed by the same question for Pattern 2.

If the answer to that is yes, great. Followed by …

Have you spent time, a lot of time, learning to link only Patterns 1 & 2 together musically, creatively, freely?

Have you seen this video?

I wonder if you are trying to look at too much and are being stopped by having too big a blank canvas to try to paint on.


So, maybe what I’m asking for doesn’t exist. I only have my prior experience with the violin as a basis for comparison. With that instrument, there are many books with countless exercises to facilitate playing up and down the fretboard.

How much time have I spent creating music? Well, none to be honest. However, I have spent a fair amount of time noodling within scale patterns. Can’t call it soloing since it sounds awful, except when I resolve on a root note. I can play notes within the scale, but it is just so random sounding. It just seems unrealistic to learn a scale pattern and then have the expectation to “go make music” without some other intermediate guidance.

I completely agree.
Having a small and structured focus on what and how and why and where is important.

G major scale pattern 1.
G, B and E strings only.
Key of G major backing tracks only.

Justin has guidance in several places.
This is a good starter:

Here is the exact backing track Justin uses:

Here are lots of JustinGuitar students try to ‘make music’ over the same backing track:

Good luck. It takes time and a willingness to explore and enjoy what you’re doing. :slight_smile:

Thanks for helping me. The video cited is good and I have watched it previously. In the first part where Justin picks up the guitar, it all sounds pretty random just like when I try it. At the very end of the video, he plays in a much more melodic style. Whatever he is doing differently, I can’t begin to determine as he plays very quickly in this section. There’s probably no answer, but I would think there would be some guidelines to follow when learning to improvise other than just do what sounds good. Whenever I lucked into something, I couldn’t even recall how I got there immediately afterwards! I’ve had better “success” just playing chord progressions to backing tracks since this adds strumming features.

Hello Dennis,

Thought I’d just offer some input, encouragement from someone who’s gone through this process in just the last couple of years. I am not someone with innate musicality, or any special superpowers. I just use structured, focused practice, and repetition. Plus, keeping the fun in it, and laughing at myself occasionally. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I had the same questions you have about improvising, along with similar frustrations. There is a method forward though, and it works. Justin progressively details it in his teachings. Of course, I’m still developing, but am considerably further down the track than when I started this about 2-3 years ago.

In a nutshell, framing your improvising/ lead playing with the notes that belong to the underlying chords is how you get it to ‘sound good’. You then use the colour and variety provided by surrounding notes in the scale etc to move melodically between the chords. The other crucial half ( perhaps more important) of the equation is the rhythm, or phrasing. It is not a quick journey though. It takes time, and is an ever developing thing. Thats basically it, at its core.

A couple of things that have stood out for me;

1.Really learn that scale (major, minor, pentatonic etc), rather than just the pattern. ie. The sound, the interval structure, the interval relationships, the chord tone structures. Learning more patterns prematurely is not going to develop your playing. It will actually slow you down. Really learning the scale will.
I spent a few months on the first ‘pattern’ of the Major scale. For some reason, I listened to Justins sage advice. And it has paid off considerably, as I felt I really learnt and experienced the scale. Learning the other ‘patterns’ became much easier. Learning the pentatonics was much more accelerated. In fact, the need for diagrams/ charts largely disappears, as you start to find them on your own. What also starts to happen, crucially, is that your ear becomes increasingly attuned, and you start to ‘hear’ notes before you play them. You will start to find your own scale patterns all over the fretboard, that are not constrained by these box patterns.

  1. What also really helped my improv/ lead learning was learning triads. These treasures are the basic chord tones that you’re after in your lead playing. Plus, learning triads will really accelerate learning the fretboard.

  2. Practice improvising over single chord progressions. Plenty on Youtube. The benefit of this is considerable. It eliminates the difficult task of ‘chasing’ chords while you’re learning. It will really hone your focus on one task, allowing you to find the chord tones, attune your ear to the chord/ scale relationship, and crucially, develop your phrasing. If you’ve never done it, you may be very surprised at just how melodic and musical it can be.

Hope some of this may be of some help.
All the best.

Cheers, Shane


Dennis, I’ve just started learning to use triads and chord tones. Shane has hit the nail on the head, find the triads within each caged pattern. Pretty quickly you’ll find the intervals (tones) that sit around them.

Moving between patterns. Arpeggiate a triad, add some pauses/bends or slides and follow the intervals up to the next pattern. Repeat the process. It’s sounds musical without being aimless rambling. I forgot to circle the second triad . You can repeat the sequence all over the neck using same intervals on different triad shapes. Great way to memorise root locations without thinking.

In this lesson (around the 10:50 mark) he talks about doing single string solos as a way to link patterns horizontally, and he plays a nice example. I think this would be a good way to start to work on connecting the different patterns musically.

Much appreciated! The comments above are really helpful. The expression - Can’t see the forest for the trees. Well, I couldn’t see the triads for the scales. I was just hearing random notes. This should provide a really good path to follow. Many thanks for the input. Without someone to talk to, it can be really hard figuring out music challenges on your own. I know it’s not the same kind of instrument, but with the violin I practiced arpeggios everyday. Varying rhythm patterns, these can sound very musical.

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I practiced violin for many years too. Never really got anywhere with it, but it is really good for training your ear. You will especially find this if you get into string bending. I find it so hard to hit that note perfectly accurately.

One thing I will say… the guitar is way more comfortable to hold and play. :smile:

The violin and guitar are closer than you think. Your violin was tuned to G D A E your guitar is tuned E A D G B E. The 6 5 4 3 strings are the opposite to the 4 strings on the violin. So the arpeggios you played on the violin are there, they are just reversed.
So you can play then. It will just take a little thinking in reverse.

The link that Richard to the video also has a very detailed explanation of what chords are being played and when. I found it incredibly helpful as my ear is not good enough to hear which chords are being played.

Do you an app like Amazing Slow Downer that enables you to slow down a song and to create loops of specific parts of a song to practice along to. Again i found that at half speed I could begin to recognise what was being played.

I hope this is helpful.

I’m just about to practice Pattern 1 again …and again… and again etc. One day I’ll play it correctly 4 times in a row and be able to up the tempo by 5 BPM. It’s good to have a dream!

All the best.


It’s fantastic that you found the detailed explanation of chords in the video helpful, especially for refining your ear for chord recognition.

I can’t believe what I just read.

What can’t you believe? Mandolins are tuned that way as well. Reverse to a guitar.

Cause I thought for a while that violin is tuned differently from a guitar. It turns out they are and tuned only in reverse. For the mandolin however, do you tune it like a violin.

I don’t understand the thinking that guitar and violin tuning are in reverse of each other. The guitar tuning is in 4ths (except for the B string) and the violin tuning is in 5ths.

Mandolin and violin are both tuned the same. The mandolin has doubled strings.

I think the idea is that a 4th going the other way is a 5th. So reversing the order of, say, the 4 lowest strings D, G, A, E is stepping in 5ths.

4ths and 5ths are inverses of one another.

Take a look at this Circle of Notes.

Read it clockwise and you are moving in 5ths.
Read it anti-clockwise and you are moving in 4ths.