We've been looking at fretboard patterns for Major 4th's and 5th's of a scale. We could also find the 7th's of any Major scale quite easily. Before we do that you must remember that there are two different 7th's used when referring to Major scales: One is the MAJOR 7th and the other is the DOMINANT 7th (often called the MINOR 7th). The Major 7th is the 7th note in the sol-fa scale, which is sung as "Ti" (Tee). When a chord is marked as "Amaj7" it means that the sol-fa 7th has been added to the chord. In the case of Amaj7 the major 7th of A -which is G# or Ab (the lowercase b represents -flat- so Ab means A-flat) - is added. The Dominant 7th of a scale is a semitone (1 fret) lower than the Major 7th and is the note added to Major chords that are indicated as A7, A#7 (or Bb7), B7, C7, C#7 (or Db7), E7 etc. If you look at sheet music and listen carefully to a variety of songs you will probably notice that Dominant 7th chords are used more often than Major 7th chords. The reason for that might be due to the fact that chords having a Dominant 7th added resolve nicely to a chord that is their 4th. By that I mean: a G7 chord moves from a feeling of anticipation to a feeling of "arrival" when the next chord played is a C (the 4th of G). It can also be said that a Dominant 7th chord resolves nicely when it is the 5th of the root chord. That is, if the root chord is C, then G would be the 5th, AND, if you add a Dominant 7th to the G (a G7 chord) it will resolve nicely to C (the root) or to the 4th (an F).

Now that you know about the two different 7th's, you can find the dominant 7th using two different patterns. Look at Figure 12-1 and you can see that the Dominant 7th of any note is 2 frets down on the same string, and, it is also 2 strings down and in the same fret (an octave higher).


Guitar neck showing the string names and the notes heard when playing each string in the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets.  The tonic relationships of the notes are also indicated

For example: The dominant 7th of B is A. Find B in red on the top string and then find A (in blue) two frets (or semitones) lower on the top string, OR, find another A on the third string (Red) in the same fret as B (top string red). The first pattern (2 frets down on the same string) is consistent for all six strings all the way up and down the neck. However, the second pattern (2 strings down in the same fret) is broken at the third (D) string because the B string is NOT tuned to the same pattern as the other strings. So, the pattern then becomes 2 strings down and one fret up. (Example: F is the dominant 7th of G, find G in blue on the third string (D), move down two strings (to B string) and up one fret, and you'll find F (between E and F#). This third pattern for finding the 7th is consistent for all notes up and down the neck.

To find the Major 3rd in any scale, find the root and then move down one string and down one fret. Let's say you are playing an A on your E string (5th fret of your 1st or thickest string). To find the 3rd note in the Major scale of A, which is a C# (or Db - D flat), you would move down one fret and to the 2nd string (in the 4th fret). The MINOR 3rd is one fret lower than the Major 3rd is so to find the MINOR 3rd of any note move down one string and down 2 frets. For example, the Minor 3rd of B (red note on top string in 7th fret in Figure 12-1) is D (blue note 2nd string 5th fret). The exception to these patterns occurs when you are using a note on your G (4th) string as the root. To find the Major 3rd you simply move down one string and find the Major 3rd in the same fret. The Minor 3rd is down one string and down one fret.

Before we leave Figure 12-1, let's find another pattern. There is an additional pattern indicated by the blue and red notes on the top TWO strings. Notice that the OCTAVE of any note can be found two strings down and two frets up. Look at the blue A in the 5th fret of the top string, and then find the red A in the 7th fret of the third string. That pattern is consistent to all notes on the top TWO strings. This pattern breaks sooner because, like the pattern for finding dominant 7th's - we are looking two strings down, and when we get to the third (D) string we still look two strings down, BUT, we must move four frets up instead of three to find the octave. Again, this is due to the tuning of that dad-burned B string! But don't fret (no pun intended) because this secondary pattern is consistent for the BOTTOM four strings.

There is a pattern common to any three adjacent strings. You can play an entire Major or Minor scale within 4 frets on any 3 adjacent strings. That means you can play any scale within 4 frets using your E(1), A(2), and D(3) strings, or, your A(2), D(3), and G(4) strings, or your D(3), G(4) and B(5) strings, or your G(4), B(5),and bottom E(6) strings.. Of course, the tuning of your B string throws the pattern off and you must use 5 frets to play a scale on your D(3), G(4), and B(5) strings, but the pattern continues on your G(4), B(5), and E(6) strings. This subject is discussed further and demonstrated in the lesson Scales.

The key to remembering all of the patterns mentioned above is using them, and relating them to the fretboard inlays.




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