Scale Practice BPM - what speed to aim for on major scale patterns?

Hey Adi, I just clicked that this was the E shape (pattern 1). Do you remember what speed you got to in the other shapes?

Just trying to set myself some targets :grinning:

Good idea JK to set some goals, although hopefully I won’t disappoint, but I only practiced for speed E shaped major scale, others I only practiced shapes but not playing them as quickly as I can. I figured if I can play one shape quick enough then probably with some time I would be able to learn any of those in a similar speed, but rather than doing that I prefer to learn some quick sections in song solos as it’s more musical and entertaining :grinning: hope it makes sense!


This is the best use of your practice time. Also using scales to move horizontally along the neck is another good thing to get under your fingers.

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Agreed. I do the 3/4 in a line and also note skipping but not sure what playing in 3rds & 5ths means. Do you have examples of this?

Hey Stuart,

Justin has a tutorial here specifically on 3rds. Playing in 5ths, 4ths etc is the same principle.

Cheers, Shane

Interesting. For some reason I got motivated to start to look at modes and Justin says you have to really know the major scale patterns before even considering modes - so I went back and I’m at this stage now.

Interesting, why makes you say so? I’d think a lot of rock/metal solos need faster playing.

I’m at the stage of wondering whether I need to learn to play the scale patterns fast at all. If I need to play anything fast then I can use a technique such as legato. I don’t know if it’s worth putting myself in a straitjacket that’s hard to get out of when I already know the major scale.


I think its also important to think about the negative effect, chasing speed and numbers can have when applying that to playing up and down scales in this type of exercise.

I would stay clear of even trying to learn solos because, in my mind I could not play fast. I did this routine daily for months some years back and kept crashing out playing 8ths at 120 BPM. I could never get beyond that point and convinced myself I would never be able to play fast. I used to joke on here that I made Clapton look like a shredder.

The point @elevatortrim Serhat makes about rock and metal solos and I’d add just riffs ! played fast is true but in all my years of listening to these genre (and that’s a lot) can’t remember anyone playing up and down the whole scale. Its normally a cluster of notes, being repeated or a number of short licks played in sequence.

I think once you get to a certain speed of being able to play the major scale accurately and I don’t mean shredding it, I think its better to play short more meaningful patterns. Applying that to some of the interval phrases you may use when improvising makes more sense to me.

Which is why the Ben Eller exercise that @Kasper posted way back at the start of this thread, makes a lot of sense. But I’d say focus on the accuracy first before upping the tempo. Learning to play these shorter patterns faster is likely have a better melodic impact on your speed.

I have given up on trying to play scales fast and I feel that has released me from the metronome chain. A recent Blues Rock Solo course I have been doing, culminates in learning four pieces/solos in different genres. So far I’ve learnt 2 of the 4 and have had to do that by soloing everything down to a crawl and then building up to the desired tempo.
One of the solos, is Knopfler inspired and there were about 4 phrases I could not play well or play to tempo, so I just focused on those patterns alone, one at a time until I could play them clean and at the desired speed. I then worked on the solo sometimes adding one bar at a time before being able to play it all the way through and then finally playing it at full pelt. There are some 16th note phrases and the tempos 144 BPM. Halleluiah :metal: !!

That process in its self has given me confidence that I’ll be able to play some of the solos and songs on my wish list. Songs I’d long since given up on due to the negative mindset I had because of trying to play full scale patterns faster and faster. Now melodic patterns and riff patterns, that’s some thing else.

My 2 cents, mileage may vary. What ever floats your boat peeps.



Peter I think this applies more to being able to use the major scale melodically and is not relevant to speed as such. Its more about have an intimate knowledge that you can exploit and apply. So just because you may not be able to rip up the major scale pattern at 100 mph, it should not inhibit you from exploring modes. Just take a steady simplistic approach and just start with one and experiment. Good starting point is Mixolydian where the pattern is the same as Ionian (major) apart from the 7b. :sunglasses:


A huge +1 to everything Toby wrote here. It’s all super solid advice, and the story about learning that solo just goes to prove that it actually works!

What Toby did is exactly how I would approach it at least…


The last 2 of 4 may take a little longer but with the same approach, I know I will get there. Then on to some longer pieces. :+1:

I watched this video, rebuilt the exercise in guitar pro to play along with and have done it for the last couple of days. I think it would be very useful at a later stage but probably not right now. To do it properly requires the ability to reach from fret 3 (index) to 7 (pinky) without moving your wrist around… because that is super slow. Disappointingly I can’t do that reach without a massive stretch, with huge tension.

Are there other exercises to build speed and hand sync that don’t need big stretches?


You can still use this exercise, if you like it with the exception of the stretch.
Essentially you’re moving up the scale on one string, and then practice the left/right hand synchronization plus using different finger and interval combinations. If the stretch is too much down low on the neck, simply start at another position. Stripping it down to the simplest possible version you only play ONE pattern/position and only focus on the picking sync. You could do that around the 10th or 12th fret, which should not be a major stretch at all for anyone. Then you could start moving between 2-3 positions, and slowly expand from there.

But there are a ton of such exercises out there. The main thing is simply to find something you like, and then do it 5-10min each day…

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Maybe just start the exercise in the middle, where it goes back down the neck? That should be a good way to develop stretch safely.

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JK as others have said, start higher up the neck but don’t give up on those stretches.
My old hands need a really good stretch and warm up to do this one but its still pretty slow at the moment. For those big stretches in the first position, I initially approached that doing 1/4th notes and just stayed in that position to extend the reach. Then added the 2nd position and focused on those first two areas for a while.

Like you I have it mapped out in GP but have added the D and G string runs.

Take it slow and keep at it. :+1:

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I do hand stretches every day (have for about a year) and have increased my reach considerably. Still a lot to go!

But I did find that I can do this exercise after a warmup & stretch. I was doing it as a warmup as it called itself that (my bad). I still need to move my wrist around a bit for the big gap but it’s achieveable. I’m super slow right now, pre-metronome, still at the stage of trying to remember fingering.

Great you’re doing it too, I’d be curious to hear how you go with it once you’ve got it embedded in your routine. I seem to find I start something super slow with clumsy fingers, and once I get it in my fingers speed goes up quickly, and then I hit a wall where it gets slower - my current limit of speed I guess.

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Sorry slept over this post, oups!

Well I think it all goes to what music genre I am interested in and metal shredding is probably not my area of interest hence I believe the speed I mentioned before is more than enough. As others said if you want to get faster then do it on a solo from song you want, not on a scale. When you reach 80bpm in 16th notes I would say you are able to learn almost anything and you should have strength and agility by then to learn more complex stuff. However - never jump the gun too early, start with easy stuff and then move on to more complex.

My first proper solo was probably Californication and to learn that you are probably okay with like 100bpm in 8ths. From all songs I have learnt I would say Black Betty was the trickiest one but not even because of the speed, it was pure amount of notes you had to remember, and by learning scale to level I learnt - that only helped in small amounts. Playing in a different place across the neck and with different scale positions at the same time was like starting from scratch…

But because I learnt the major scale to the speed I mentioned - it taught me how to perservere and that it takes time. This is a common thing about it all :slight_smile:


Wow I have to say, this exercise is really good. Thanks for sharing it!

Yes a bit of a stretch at the first two positions but even that I find useful for me (I don’t have much pain amd stretch is ok) but I can already see some improvement in the two days I’m trying it… My clip on tuner/metronome ran out of battery! :joy:

A bit more to the point about BPM and scales. I’ve kinda stopped practising like that. I do but not much. I mostly try to build up the required speed for each particular passage in a song that I want to learn. I find it more fun like that. Adrian also mentioned it and I agree.
I’m kinda stuck at one right now, which is 120BPM 16th notes and I can get it only to 105… But that’s the fun of it, I just keep practising. But then it has some sweep arpeggios so it’s a dead end anyway :joy: