How to Build BIG Neck Patterns (GUARANTEED!)

To build BIG Neck Scale Patterns, you have to start by doing the right exercises. Doing things like 4 or 5 fret scale patterns is not going to help you in your pursuit of bigger scales. The trick is to learn how to break down outer unison tones and showcase them on the outer edge of a core scale shape...

The lack of unison tones means there's no cross-over tones. This can only function to keep your scales small. 

However, by organizing the use of unison tones we increase the span of the scale and we create more options across the neck for better sounding and longer lead guitar lines.

If you want to learn how to build big scales at home to create Major Solos (that you can take to the recording studio or to solo with when you play live on stage), the one thing you don’t wanna do is sit at home for hours practicing the in position scales.


I know that the in position scale patterns are shown in all the books, and they can be helpful to learn smaller 4 or 5 fret layouts for scales to help get you started. 

But, to play bigger scales and write solos using them, you’ve got to work at organizing the scales in a specific way on the guitar neck.

We're going to get started with a complete system that you can apply to your at home practice right now that’ll help you learn how to play bigger Major Scale Solos - at home, at the studio, or up on stage.

The first thing to know about before you build big scales and play a solo with them, is what the scale’s notes are. For our examples, we’re going to use the “D Major” scale.

The key of “D” has two sharps, “F# and C#.” And, all of the other notes are natural tones… Here’s how it looks on the fret-board based off the open

Basic Open 4th-string “D” Major Scale

The next thing we need to focus on is what the chords are that are found inside the scale we want to use. In the key of “D” Major there are six consonant chords (those are stable Major and Minor chords).

These include the 1st through to the 6th chords of:

“Dmaj, Em, F#m, Gmaj, Amaj, and Bm.” 

There’s also an unstable chord known of as a “Dissonant” chord that’s built off of the 7th step of the scale, it’s called the Diminished. In the key of “D” we have a C# on that step and the chord type there is the “C# Diminished.”

Let me show you how you can create a collection of chords from within the key of “D” to jam over.

Key of “D” chords:
organized into a chord progression for solo practice…

The key of “D” chord progression I just played offers a group of four chords taken from the 1st, 6th, 3rd and 5th notes of the “D” scale. In music theory – harmonic analysis - we refer to this type of chord progression as a; “1, 6, 3, 5.”

The chords are performed like this;


I wanted to take a minute to let you know, that if you want to learn even more about scales and theory I have a great offer for you.

With any donation over $5, or any merchandise purchase from either my Tee-Spring, or my Zazzle store, I’ll send you a free copy of THREE of my most popular digital handouts.

One is called, “Harmonized Arpeggio Drills” (it’ll train you on developing your diatonic arpeggios).

Another one is my “Barre Chord” Handout which includes a page showing all the key signatures along with a chord progression that applies barre chords.

Plus, you’ll get my Notation Pack! It has 8 pages of important guitar worksheets for notating anything related to; music charts, guitar chord diagrams, and TAB.

As a BONUS, (from my "Over 40 and Still Can't Play a Scale" video), I'll also throw in a breakdown of all of the chords that are diatonic to the "F Major" scale.

As an EXTRA BONUS for my Phrygian Dominant video, I'll also throw in a breakdown featuring all of the chords that are diatonic to the Phrygian Dominant scale.

Just send me an email off of the contact page of to let me know about either your donation or your Merchandise purchase and I’ll email you those digital handouts within 24 hrs.     

Now that you have a key, and the notes of the key are known to you, as well as, the chord harmony of the key is known, (along with a chord progression has been composed), you’re ready to start practicing how to layout and perform a big scale solo on the neck!

Next, let’s learn how exactly this concept operates on the guitar through a study of various neck patterns…

Big scale layouts on the neck can seem overwhelming for guitar players because the notes are very spread out and at first glance they seem to encompass a very large area. But, there is an easier way to deal with this...

If you look closely at the diagram below you’ll see a group of red colored notes along with a group of blue colored notes. There’s also three green notes, (those green ones are just simply the scales key notes of “D").

The Big Scale Neck Pattern:

If you treat the red notes as the primary tones and then treat the blue color notes as optional notes, you create two fret-board directions.

You can use that directional idea to map out the flow of each phrase of your solo so that it can either travel toward the head stock - playing down to the left.

Or, if you wanted a phrase of your solo that you could play to travel up to the guitar’s body you could play upward to the right. 

If you looked at each of these directions as separate ideas on the neck, you’d have a pattern like this for the head-stock direction:

Let’s learn a lick that from that layout:

If you wanted a phrase that you could play to travel up toward the guitar’s body, you could have a pattern on the neck like this:

With this pattern, you could play a lick that could function like this one does:

When studying how to get organized on the neck with bigger scales, it’s really important to take into consideration the 5-fret rule.

Every five frets we can have a duplicate of a scale tone that exists someplace else on the guitar.

Once you spend the time building a few Bigger Scale Patterns (like the one that we covered across 8 frets here in this lesson), you’ll have a much easier time with being able to choose how you want to play the duplicate notes. 

You'll also better understand which duplicate notes will end up working the best for you in the solo that you’re performing.

This method isn’t complicated and it works very quickly for helping you better navigate notes and map out scales across the guitar neck easier when you want to apply a bigger scale layout for your guitar solo.



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