3NPS Major Scale Pattern 1
We're starting here with Pattern 1 of the 3NPS (3 Notes Per String) System - it's a super nice introduction to the system and is the easiest pattern in terms of stretches and 'logistics'. I think it's far better to study the CAGED System shapes (Five Pattern System) first, but these 3NPS Patterns can be super effective for connecting the CAGED Patterns, simplifying melodic sequences, speed picking, playing fast legato lines and more.
Not sure about what the 2 systems are all about? Check out this CAGED vs 3NPS lesson where I look at the pros and cons of each!
The stretch on Strings 6/5 are commonly played using fingers 1/3/4 but with the obvious fingering of 1/2/4 on the middle strings, it doesn't make a lot of sense!
I also sometimes finger the thinner strings 1/2/3 because I find the 3/4 combination weak -something I could work on myself, but I'm getting lazy in my old age and tend to go for what feels easy and 'natural' when it comes to scale fingerings, though logic is still the most important factor.
• I usually break this into 3 pairs of strings - they're pretty obvious here with 3 pairs of strings with the same pattern on 6/5 then 4/3 and then 2/1.
I find using visual tricks like these might help you remember it. You'll also find working on visualization might help - practice your scales away from the instrument!
18 Note Patterns
All the scale patterns in the 5 Pattern System have 17 notes which if you practice playing 4 notes means you arrive back on the root on the beat which is cool - but can also mean it's easy to fall into a regular pattern too which is sometimes not an advantage.
If you practice these 18 note patterns as 16th notes you'll find the beat falling on different notes, which is actually a cool thing - especially if you are working on legato (using hammer-ons and flick-offs) as it will help you break out of mindless patterns and help you work on your time and using the scales in a rhythmic and musical way and not just as fast as possible.
These 3NPS patterns are commonly used for playing legato and very often they're played as triplets so you'd play 3 notes for each beat (click) and that will feel easy for most people, but it may restrict your use of it - I speak from experience, so do work on playing them as 16th notes (4 notes per click) as well as 3 (and 5 and 6 notes per beat if you're adventurous!).
Tips For Learning Scales (Particularly 3NPS)
- START AND END ON THE LOWEST ROOT NOTE
This will help train your ears into hearing the sound of the scale, very important. So start on the lowest (in pitch) root note which will only be the lowest note of the scale in Pattern 1 of 3NSP), play up as far as you can, then go back down as low as you can, and then back up to the root note.
- START AND END ON THE LOWEST NOTE
Now this is a change from the CAGED System pattern practice - but in this kind of pattern, it makes sense to practice from the lowest note (especially if you are working on legato patterns - but make sure you notice where the root note is at all times. The consequence of not doing so is that you're likely to find it hard to find put your scale patterns in the right place as you build up from just having one!
- LEARN IT SLOWLY AND GET IT RIGHT
Don't make any mistakes when learning a scale. Play it 10 times perfectly (right notes, right fingering) at a very slow speed and you will find you can speed it up without making mistakes and developing bad habits you will have to correct later.
- USE YOUR FINGERTIPS
Do not let your fingers "fold", use the tips the whole time, and definitely NO barres at any point (ok - there will be times that you might, but almost never!).
However, you do want to allow Finger 1 to rest lightly on all the strings to mute all the strings under it and the tip of Finger 1 should touch the string above (the thicker string) as taught in the String Muting Lesson, part of the Intermediate Course.
- LEARN THE PATTERNS ONE AT A TIME
It is very important that you learn all seven of these patterns eventually but I recommend learning the 5 CAGED patterns first! But please learn to make music with them. Much much better to be able to use one scale shape and play a solo than play five up and down and not be able to make music with them :)
- LESSON STEPS -