Shredding with Single String Major Scales

Single String Scales 

Single String Scales – Major Keys.

Single string scales are highly overlooked when improvising, learning scales and creating solos. Yet they are highly effective for all 3. I wanted to shed some light on how to practice these scales so that you can improvise freely and perhaps in a new way that you’re not used to.

As a shred lover myself, I like to rip the 3 note per string scales at high speeds. But you can also do so on a single string.

You could learn a lot on a single string. 

To do this lesson you must know what a whole step and a half step is. A whole step is 2 frets and a half step is 1 fret. Below I’ve listed the Major keys. Why should you learn these scales on a single string?

There are several reasons such as: music theory concepts, composing melodies, pedal point licks, single string licks and fretboard knowledge. (knowing where the notes are) and knowing them at the split of a second will make you a better musician and improviser.

This lesson will take you a long time so persevere.

The Major Scale Formula = W W H W W W H

whole step = W

half step = H


What You Need To Do Now

For example start on the 2nd string first fret (C Note) and go up the fretboard with the Major Scale formula. Whole step up D, whole step up to E, half step up to F, whole step up to G, whole step up to A, whole step up to B and a final half step up to C.

That completes the formula for C Major.

Find the Root of the scale (first note) and play them on any string you like. This means you will have to know where your notes are.

If you don’t know where they are this lesson may be very difficult so learn your notes. Once you know however, it becomes pretty easy.

If you don’t know your notes. Learn them on the first string. You can then play all these scales on that string. Find the note and then figure out the scale. Try to do it about 5x without making a mistake. This goes for every scale.

Start with one and work your way up.

I have started the exercise with C Major and moved up in a circle of 5ths. So each subsequent scale is 5 notes away.


Scale Tones

C Major – C D E F G A B C

G Major – G A B C D E F# G

D Major – D E F# G A B C# D

A Major – A B C# D E F# G# A

E Major – E F# G# A B C# D# E

B Major – B C# D# E F# G# A# B

F# Major – F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#

C# Major – C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C#

F Major – F G A Bb C D E F

Bb Major – Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

Eb Major – Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb

Ab Major – Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab

Db Major – Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db

Gb Major – Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb



Again, take the above scales and play each one on a single string. For all 6 strings.

Once you’ve done this we can start applying these scales to make music with. In another lesson we will apply these scales to Harmony.

For now learn the scales and get used to the how they line up up and down a single string.

If you want to move ahead then get out some staff paper or some tab and write out 5 melodies. You can do it with different scales or with the same scale. You can keep adding melodies for each scale. For example 5 in C, 5 in B, 5 in F# etc…

The more you work it the better. This is really fun to do. Next, however, is even funner…but thats not even a word ;(


Ah, finally the shredding part! Well, shred away my friend. Turn your metronome on to about 68 bpm and learn the scales well playing them softly and with good tone. Once you can do this. Double pick the notes. Once you finish with double picking, try triple picking or triplets. Finally use quadruplets to go up and down the scale (16th notes) about 10 times for each scale.

There are loads of single string licks that you can come up with after going through these exercises. 

Here are some examples of how to practice the scales with tablature: 

The first one is simply the scale. You have to know the scale well so learn it well. Notice the whole steps and the half steps and where they fall on the scale. The 2nd one is

Scale in E Major –0–2–4–5–7–9–11–12–11–9–7–5–4–2–0

Double Picking in E Major —00—22—44—55–77—99—11 11– 12 12—

Pedal Point in E Major –0424–2545–4757–5979–7 11 9 11–9 12 11 12–

Try these out with each of the scales in all 12 keys. Practice the scales both ascending as well as descending. This should keep you busy…And when you’re done at the speed of 68 bpm. Take it up a few notches up until you start making mistakes. Then come back down a little on the metronome to where you can play and practice comfortably.

After you can play these scales at a decent speed, you are ready to move on. Some of you might be able to do these at very high speeds and some of you at lower speeds. Persevere and the main key is to challenge yourself. Maybe you can zip through these scales with ease. If you can, set the metronome to a speed where you start making mistakes. This is where you find that you are out of your comfort zone. Being out of your comfort zone…is where we grow.

Happy Shredding!!

If you have any questions please ask.

I’m here to help.

Leave your questions and comments below.

Ive written 2 ebooks and created a special guitar speed log for guitar players just like yourself. Check them out at this link.


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