Guitar Secrets
Guitar Secrets #8
Reprinted courtesy of Cherry Lane Publishing
originally published in GUITAR magazine 1984-1986

New Scale Shapes

In the last few months I've noticed that Steve Morse and Elliott Randall have talked ahout how they warm up. I'd like to get in on this one. When I warm up I practice chord shapes going up in 4ths. Just as important, each series of two notes on a string usually starts with your pinky. Let's start in C. Your pinky is on the 8th fret high E string, followed by the index finger on the 5th fret. It's 8th to 5th on the B string as well. Then on the G, D and A strings you play the notes on the 7th and 5th frets. The low E string mir,~'rs the higil E with the notes C to A on the 8th to 5tl1 frets. You should recognize this as a pentatonic scale.

The second shape is in F. The notes are played on the high E string, 8th to 5th fret, B string 8th to 6th fret, G string 7th to 5th fret, D string 7th to 5th fret, A string 8th to 5th fret and low E, 8th to 5th fret. Remember to use the idea of four fingers, four frets on all of these shapes, so the 8th to 5th fret combinations would be played by your pinky and index fingers.

The third chord shape is based on a Bb chord. This one starts with your pinky on the 8th fret high E and goes to the middle finger on the 6th fret. The B string is also 8th to 6th frets. The G and D strings both have notes played on the 8th and 5th frets. The A and low E string have the 8th to 6th combination used on the high E and B strings. This form is a great behind-the-position blues for playing in C.

This last set is based on an Eb. It starts on the 8th fret C note, just like ail the others, but this time you will use your ring finger. Then go to your index finger on the 6th fret. Now it's your pinky on the 9th fret B string and your index finger on the 6th fret. Here we have a shift back to your pinky on the 8th fret G string, followed by the 5th fret. On the D, A and low E strings it's 8th to 6th frets.

Now you can do all four shapes in a row, starting with C# in the 9th fret. Try and work this all the way up and down the neck. It does wonders for the pinky, because, as you can see, you're almost exclusively leading with the pinky. When you're playing songs or solos you rarely lead with the pinky. The only musical context in which this would really sound good is if you had a song that went up in 4ths. But as a warm-up and practice exercise it's hard to beat. Besides working the heck out of your pinky it also forces you to familiarize yourself with these other shapes, which come in very handy for improvisation. You may find yourself in a certain place on the neck where you usually don't play and one of these shapes is always appropriate.

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Guitar Secrets 1 | Guitar Secrets 2 | Guitar Secrets 3 | Guitar Secrets 4 |
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