Common Scale Patterns | Hub Guitar

Common Scale Patterns

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Hi. This is Hub Guitar.

Most music you read will tend to follow certain patterns. One of the most common patterns is a scale moving up in a sequence of thirds. You may have already practiced your scales this way.

And that's the point: the more you read music, there more you will recognize patterns that you've played before in their written form.

Here are a few scales played in thirds, in several different positions. And here is a G major scale in thirds from the III fret.

So practice reading these patterns and I think you'll start to notice that a lot of the patterns you encounter while reading music are patterns that you already know how to play--you just need to learn to recognize them on the page.


Once you’ve learned to sight-read some scales, now it makes sense to practice reading some of the more common scale patterns.

It’s possible that this work will be slow and frustrating at first.

It’s very common to see notes in a melody move across consecutive lines or consecutive spaces on the musical staff. That’s because movements of this type reflect how chords are built.

Practicing scales is useful for many reasons. One is that most real-world music contains melodies that basically just climb up or down a scale, or climb up and down using a special pattern, as they do in these examples.

Reading C major melodies in thirds

Let’s try reading this melody. Fingerings are not indicated, but the fret position is. Do not use open strings. You will need to begin with your second finger on Fret VIII.

Reading G major in thirds

This one uses the same fingering as the C major above. Do not use open strings.

Reading F major in thirds

This one can be played using open strings, or no open strings. See if you can figure out both.

Reading D major in thirds

This example is similar to the others, except it starts on “A”, the fifth of the key, instead of “D”, the root.

Reading B♭ major in thirds

This scale in the fifth position uses a now-familiar fingering.

Key Result

  • When you are reading a melody, you will be able to recognize more quickly that a note from one line to the next or from one space to the next is the melody moving by an interval of a third, which is relatively common.

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