Jazz Guitar: Melodic Patterns AND Triads from Scales

Question by Michael


Hello. A newbie to jazz and your site, which is absolutely great! I am a Delta Blues finger picker venturing into jazz. Been studying from a beginners book/DVD. The instructor first focuses on learning the 4 basic triads, and all inversions, in every key, all over the neck; then moves onto the Major Scales in positions 6/1, 5/1, 6/2, 5/2, 6/4, 5/4.

Two quick questions:

  1. What do you think of the general approach?
  2. After teaching some of the Major Scale positions, he suggests various melodic patterns to use when practicing scales and says they can come in useful when improvising. What are your thoughts on practicing scales using different melodic patterns?


M-A’s Answer:

Hello Michael,

Thanks for your questions. It seems like you are kicking a** learning tons of new material on your instrument. That’s good!

Regarding the first question, I think it can be a good approach; but it depends. Learning all of this stuff is important but not necessarily a pre-requisite to playing jazz guitar and improvising. That’s why I’m saying it depends: it depends how the triads are presented for instance.

Is this just for “pure memorization” of note names and mechanical acquired fingerings? Or is there implications about progressions within the triads you’re learning? Do you see a rather big potential for applying this stuff on tunes very soon? etc.

I’m saying this because I know students that can improvise nice solos already but that CANNOT play the triads like you mentioned. (And, of course, I know students who KNOW the triads and can improvise too!)

So, feel free to use the comments here to describe how you’re learning the triads in greater details. Also: here’s a video where I explain a neat way to learn triads by string sets…

Now, about the scale positions: yup. That I agree with. Positions are some of the most important basics. Simply keep in mind that you are compartmentalizing the neck to better understand it … and not necessarily learning to positions to “play in positions” all the time. In brief, you are learning positions to free yourself of them. (-:

Now, for your second question: melodic patterns are tricky! It also depends what the aim is. If you’re just learning the physicality of it, I’d would tend to believe that you’re wasting your time. When confining yourself to a position, some leaps and bounds within patterns will most likely be very cumbersome (read tiresome) at some spots within positions. You may have to work a lot on some “hard spots” for basically now reason. I believe that even the gymnastics of it are useless: you won’t want to restrain yourself like this in improv!

BUT if you’re learning (for instance) to recognize the scale degrees, to connect positions together, to hear the intervals you practice, to play one pattern within a chord cycle, to learn the entire range of the instrument (etc.) THEN it is worth your time.

One of my biggest (and probably best) advice to learning guitarist is to learn notes on the fretboard in simple intervals first… watch this video (that I created, in fact, right after receiving your question!). Here:

I hope it helps,


Marc-Andre Seguin
“Improve Your Jazz Guitar Playing with a REAL Teacher”


Comments for Jazz Guitar: Melodic Patterns AND Triads from Scales


Jul 20, 2012
More clarification…
by: Michael


Thanks for the detailed response. Just watched your triads video and am happy to say your string set approach is the same approach the author I am learning from takes! He also gives short Etudes to learn so you can actually hear the musical possibilities in using the triads.

On to your inquiry as to his view of melodic patterns. He primarily tells you to learn them in order to expose the student to the various sounds that are possible within the major scale and to help expand the range of melodic possibilities. Secondarily, I find it does lessen the boredom of simply playing the scale one note at a time the same way over and over.

Any further thoughts are appreciated, and thank you again!

Leave a Reply