Scale sequences are a great way to learn and use scales. They are more practical and musical than basic linear scale patterns.
Also, practicing sequences is one of the most powerful guitar exercises when it comes to improving technicality.
Most importantly, they are very useful when improvising and give you a more diversified vocabulary than simply picking from your good old “bag of licks”. They also help learn someone else’s solos.
For these reasons, you should add this to your practice routine whether you are beginning or have been playing for years.
What are guitar scale sequences?
Sequences are created by playing a certain number of notes before moving to another scale degree. They can be applied to all types of scales.
For the purpose of this lesson, all examples below use the pentatonic scale (because it’s so popular).
Pentatonic Scale Sequence Using Groups of 3 Notes
This one is a great workout for the picking hand since it is responsible for most of the work. The movements on the fingering hand are limited, most of the speed is achieved using the right hand.
It consists of playing a group of three notes before moving to the next scale degree.
It goes like this: 123,234,345,456,567,678
When playing this one, I like to accent the degree change, I find it gives it more dynamics.
Here is an example of this one using the A minor pentatonic. It goes up and down the scale.
Pentatonic Scale Sequence Using Groups of 4 Notes
You can also play groups of four notes like this: 1234,2345,3456,4567,5678.
This one is great to understand sequences. I find it helps memorize any scale pattern faster.
Here is an example of this using the minor pentatonic scale:
Intervallic Fourth Scale Sequence (note skipping)
Sequences are not limited to groups of notes, it can also use intervals. This results in skipping notes before going back to the next degree.
For example, you can play mainly fourth intervals by skipping one note every time before going back on it (13,24,35,46).
This example is funkier and “breaks” that linear sound of the scale. It’s more technical since you must do many finger rolls. Make sure that the notes don’t sound layered on top of one another.
Now Your Turn
The example shown above is just a glimpse of what you can do with sequencing. If you know or look at scale patterns, you can easily come up with sequences for any scale.
Practicing using scales sequencing is a must and can help whatever level of guitar playing you have. I would highly recommend that you practice both the major, minor and pentatonic.
Be sure to check out my scale patterns guide to make your own sequences.
Do you have any preferred scale sequences? If you do please let me know and I might add it do this post.