1 The Empowered Musician The Infinite Guitar
Improvisational Theory - Open-String Hybrid Scales

Published March 1st, 2009. © Chris Juergensen/chrisjuergensen.com. All Rights Reserved.

This lesson appears in THE INFINITE GUITAR COMPANION 1 >>>


The conventional major scale patterns are easy to play and are logical. They are what I mostly used for the majority of my thirty years playing. You should be familiar with the patterns:

major scale
major scale major scale major scale major scale
Pattern 1
Pattern 2
Pattern 3
Pattern 4
Pattern 5

The disadvantage of utilizing the same patterns year after year is obviously repetition. Also, since the majority of guitarists use the same patterns, our improvisations tend to sound similar. I still use these patterns more than not, but in order to break the habit of repeating myself, I had to come up with guidelines to force me to break my improvisational paradigms. One was the use of open strings. Practice could be thought of as playing within certain parameters. As an example, letfs make a rule that says that any note that can be played as an open string when improvising must be played as such.

C major (open-string hybrid) scale patterns

Since the first C major pattern utilizing open strings is common enough, the next pattern will introduce open strings where conventionally fretted ones are usually played. It is roughly based on major scale pattern 2 and the octave shape is the same as the A-Form. The main point with using this technique is letting the open strings ring as long as possible to create a cascading effect. Play the A and G notes on the first string followed by the F note on the sixth fret on the second string. Continue on by playing the E note on the open first string rather than the fifth fret on the second string where you usually would. Make sure to read the tab to show you how to play this scale in its entirety, to the lowest note:

C major (open string hybrid) pattern 2

Letfs take a little time to become accustomed to using this technique. Practice improvising over a one chord Dmin7 vamp using this scale pattern. Remember, you must force yourself to play the open strings rather than the conventional fretted ones. When you feel somewhat comfortable using pattern 2, move on to the other scale patterns one by one.

More C major (open-string hybrid) Patterns

 C major (open-string hybrid) pattern 3

C major (open-string hybrid) pattern 4

C major (open-string hybrid) pattern 5

Anywhere you can use a C major scale, you can use these hybrid scales as well. Practice improvising over diatonic progressions or static modal chords vamps such as Dmin7, Esus(b9), Fmaj7#11, G9sus, Amin7, etc.

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