So far, all of the major and minor scales you've learned have been small seven-note scales. As you remember from the full fingerboard chart of C Major in FIGURE 6-3, there are a lot more note options than the four small positions you know. The reason for learning the small shapes is to give you an idea of how you can transfer the shape across the guitar. Sometimes these small one-octave shapes can be limiting if you want to play longer examples, but have no fear—there are much longer scale shapes that let you play without shifting around too much.
These other shapes are great for playing longer and more complicated licks. Some of the shapes are longer extensions of the small shapes, and some are new fingerings. But remember one thing: Guitarists can get very caught up in the visual component of playing guitar. If the shape changes suddenly, many players believe that the scale has also changed. While the visual component is important, it's equally important to know what notes you're playing, not just how they look in a shape pattern. If you're curious about a scale shape that you have stumbled upon, figure out what the notes are. You may find that the new scale shape plays exactly the same notes. In short, there are a great many ways to play scales and chords on guitar; what holds them together are the notes contained within the scales.
Two-Octave Major and Minor
Just by extending the scale into the second octave you can make the scales much more effective. By extending these scales upward into the second octave, you aren't adding any new notes to the scale; all you're doing is repeating the note order higher up on the neck. Both the major and minor scale shapes start with a familiar position and then add on a higher part. Again, you are building on what you already know.
FIGURE 6-17 shows a two-octave C-Major scale starting on the sixth string and extending all the way up to the first string.
It's amazing what a difference adding the second octave makes. You can take the same idea and extend the minor scale into two octaves. Look at FIGURE 6-18, a two-octave minor scale from the sixth string.
Learning longer shapes with roots on the sixth and fifth strings is an important step to being able to utilize the neck. Let's look at longer major and minor scales with roots on the fifth string. When you place a scale on the fifth string, it's harder to get the full second octave; you have only five strings to work with. To complete the second octave you have to make a shift or a slide at the top of the scale to complete the octave.
The major scale starts out with the same familiar shape and shifts up to complete the second octave This scale actually combines two smaller major scales, and you add the shift to combine them. The scales you combine are a major on the fifth string, and major on the third string. FIGURE 6-19 shows you those scales combined into one long example.
The minor scale has a less complicated shape and stays in one spot. The only modification you make is reaching up for the last note with your pinky. This is a great minor scale shape and is very comfortable to play. Look at FIGURE 6-20 to see this scale in action.
Three-Note-per-String Major Scales
Playing scales with three notes on every string can be very efficient. By placing three notes on every string, you end up with long runs that don't shift too far. FIGURE 6-21 is an example of a three-note-per-string G-Major scale.
As you can see from the music, this scale covers a lot of ground. Technically, you have to stretch your fingers on the low strings, but this can be done easily. This is a great scale shape for long runs. Try playing the music in FIGURE 6-22, where you use hammers-ons in the scale shape.
The hammer-ons make the picking less frequent, and you can play this one really fast; it's a great showstopper lick!
By now you have a good handle on the most common shapes and forms of major and minor. While this isn't all of them, these are the ones that you need to master first. If you master these quickly, or already know a lot of these, pay great attention to the full neck diagram shown in FIGURE 6.3. Neck diagrams let you view the entire array of choices, and from that you can make your own scale positions if you wish. Making the diagrams is very easy—there are even computer programs to do it for you (see Chapter 19 for more on this). You now possess enough information to keep yourself busy for several lifetimes. Learning scales is a big topic, so take your time.