The basic framework for most Bluegrass fiddle tunes comes straight from the Major scale pattern. In this lesson Bryan will break down the major scales in the Keys of G and C and show you how to practice and use them.
- What we're gonna work on first, we're gonna isolate what I consider to be the basic framework of most fiddle tunes that we'll all play. And it's essentially the major scale. And if you notice, most fiddle tunes I'll show you here. Like, there's a tune, Billy and the Low Ground. I'll show you quickly, here's a C major scale. (picking scale) And here's Billy and the Low Ground. (picking melody) That's just the basic first few sections of that, and it's all in that same form there.
So what we're gonna do, I'm gonna show you, we're gonna break down some different major scales, and I'm gonna show you the best way to practice them that builds a strong foundation for flat picking, and a lot of the tunes we're gonna work on the site here. And it all comes back to these basic sort of shapes. These are things to practice. I'm gonna show you how to practice them in different ways to involve the pick with this. You know, to hopefully make the progression quicker. Just different calisthenics and exercises. We're gonna start with a G scale.
And a basic major scale is seven steps, which most of us know is do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. (picking scale) Okay, for the guitar and for this style of playing, we're gonna use all six strings, we're just gonna go ahead and jump to that. So the way the G scale starts is, we'll start on a G for this purpose, and we're gonna move up the steps. (picking scale) And we can go through that slowly too.
(picking scale) What I'm doing with my pick is alternating, down, up. (picking scale) And what we're going to apply here is also all the stuff we talked about with the left hand approach. Starting on the first fret, we're gonna work on that four fret access.
That concept there, where we've got our left hand technique that's solid. And so the point is to keep your fingers curved. (picking scale) And once again, I'm gonna encourage you to just sort of find it. You know, it's one of these, beginning of ear training and beginning of feeling these things, is actually, I think it's important for a person that's new to this, new to fiddle tunes, new to playing these things, to experience learning these scales on your own.
I'm gonna show you where they are. Start where they start. (picking scale) So that's G scale. And these use open strings. A lot of guitar, general guitar instruction, sort of discourages the use of open strings. But in bluegrass and flat picking guitar, we wanna use open strings. We wanna be able to utilize them as much as possible in some cases. So that's a G scale using open strings, and also our left hand approach.
(picking scale) And then down. (picking scale) And so that's the G scale. We do the same thing for a C scale now, C major. And just go ahead and make the chord form there. And here's the scale there. Steps up. (picking scale) We're gonna use all six strings.
I'll show you how to use all six strings. That was five strings there. Here's, we worked our way up to the G, just continuing the scale, basically within our concept of how to use our left hand here. (picking scale) Finding all the notes in the C scale. We'll go down here, too. You can work your way down to the open E right there.
So here's a C scale using all six strings, with open strings. (picking scale) There's your C. Another C. We'll work our way back to C. The reason it's important I think to do it that way, again, all this is sort of building towards playing tunes. Its not just about running scales.
These, to me, you can run scales all you want, but our goal here is to make music, right? So it's more about muscle memory. More about ingraining certain things about where these notes are. Because as soon as we move into playing tunes, we're gonna use all these same notes, and the scale exists as a great way to practice where those notes are, and a great way to practice building your muscles, building your sense of where the fingers need to go, and the pick too.
It's important to learn, as far as your left hand goes, and building strong foundation of a flat picking technique, to learn the basic shapes of these major scales. And G, you know. (picking scale) I would encourage you just to run those back and forth until your hands sort of understand where they are, and it takes time. But also, with your pick it's important, you know, as far as delivering these, the concept of delivering a strong flat pick sound, you can involve some of the early things we talked about, some of the picking patterns into these things too.
Like our straight eighth picking pattern. (picking scale) Or in the key of C, with the dotted eighth. (picking scale) And what's happening here with these scales, is we're just building slowly, but surely, is the foundation that's being laid here, is the concept of your hand, the right hand, the picking, and the left hand, all sort of working together.
It's a rhythmic kind of fashion. It's a way to be in sync, if you will. And I think what's powerful about these scales, not only does it sort of physically build these things, but it's also, at the same time, when it comes to playing tunes, you know, your hands and your pick will be a lot, the foundation will be laid for really making these tunes work that we're gonna learn later on. And so now we'll work to some other keys and I'll show you how all this applies in other scale forms, in other keys.
Watch at your own pace; start and stop where and when you need. Everything that Bryan breaks down he puts back together in chapters 4 and 5, where he shows how to apply what you've learned to a selection of popular bluegrass tunes that are important for the repertoire of any bluegrass guitarist.
Note: This course was recorded and produced by ArtistWorks. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Chord theory
- The major and pentatonic scales
- Walking bass technique
- Reading tablature
- Beginning hammer-ons and pull-offs
- Beginning slide guitar
- Using a capo
- Playing traditional bluegrass tunes