3 Octave Scales

In this lesson, we will combine 3 scale forms to produce fingerings to play scales across 3 octaves. The scale forms are standard fingerings used to play major scales. First we will look at 3 major scale fingerings.

*Note: White notes are the roots of the scale.

Root 3rd fret

Root 10th fret

Root 15th fret

Visualizing all 3 scales at the same time on the fingerboard, we end up with the following.

The next step is to connect our 3 scale forms. These 3 scale forms can connect by switching positions in numerous places. We start by switching positions twice on the 6th string. When switching positions, always stick to the correct fingering used to play each of the 3 individual scale forms. If you used fingers 1,2 and 4 on a particular string for one of the scale forms, that fingering applies when you switch positions. This is very important.

Below is the first of many possible fingerings. Arrows indicate position shift.

We continue going through each of the possibilities until we make our last position shift on the 1st string. Note, there is one position shift to avoid. When shifting from form 3 to form 5 on string 3 there is a problem. If you follow the fingerings correctly, you will be missing a scale tone. You could devise a new fingering or just avoid it altogether. I usually just avoid that string as there are already so many possibilities.

The next step is to switch positions on the 5th string both times.

Continue through in the same manner going through each of the position shifts.

  • string 5 – string 4
  • string 5 – string 2
  • string 5 – string 1

Next step is to make your first position change on the 4th string and then go through the remaining position changes for your second position shift. Continue through until you end up on the 1st string where both positions shifts will be on that 1st string.

A good practice routine would be to go through all of the posibilites starting with both position shifts on string 6 until you end up with both position shifts on string 1.

Practicing 3 octave scales is an excellent warmup exercise. You might want to start at a slower tempo and work up the speed as you progress through all the position shifts. Always try to make your position shifts as clean as posible. The goal is to have no noticable gaps or noticable changes in tone when you move your hand to the new position.