In a previous lesson, we looked at the 3 notes per string major scale, which is a way to outline major scale patterns across the fretboard using 3 notes on each string. In this lesson we’re going to do the same thing with the minor scale and build out the 3 notes per string minor scale patterns.
Before we jump into the 3 notes per string minor scale patterns, let’s have a quick refresh of what the minor scale is. The minor scale is a 7-note diatonic scale built from the following pattern of whole step and half step intervals:
Whole Step – Half Step – Whole Step – Whole Step – Half Step – Whole Step – Whole Step
If we follow this whole/half step pattern, we get the following interval qualities:
Root – Major 2nd – Minor 3rd – Perfect 4th – Perfect 5th – Minor 6th – Minor 7th
Now let’s take these intervals and map them across the fretboard to create the seven 3 notes per string minor scale patterns.
3 Notes Per String Minor Scale Positions
Below are diagrams for the 7 positions of the 3 notes per string minor scale positions and the root note patterns for each. Be sure to make note of the root note patterns as they are important for identifying the scale position and can assist with moving fluidly between scale positions.
Each position also includes guitar tab, audio, and recommended fingering for playing the scale position.
The examples in this lesson use the F minor scale, but the positions are movable patterns and apply to any natural minor scale.
In position 1 of the 3 notes minor scale pattern, there are three root notes, which are found on the 6th, 4th, and 2nd strings.
Starting on the root note on the 6th string, play each note of the scale ascending and descending, as shown in the tab below.
The recommended fingering for playing the scale can be seen in the second column of the diagram. Feel free to adjust these if you feel an alternative fingering works better for you.
In position 2, there are two root notes, which are found on strings 2 and 4.
Start playing this position on the root note of the 4th string. When descending the scale, be sure to past the root note to incorporate all notes on the 5th and 6th strings as well.
In position 3, the root notes are found on strings 2 and 5.
Position 4 also contains two root notes, which are found on strings 3 and 5.
In position 5, there are three root notes which are found on strings 1, 3, and 5.
Position 6 contains root notes on strings 1, 3, and 6. This is quite the pattern as it spans 7 frets on the fretboard.
The 7th and final position also contains three root notes. They’re found on strings 1, 4, and 6.
Again, these patterns are movable and can be used to create any minor scale across the fretboard.
In this lesson we looked at the seven positions of the 3 notes per string minor scale patterns. Similar to the major scale version, these patterns give us another way to navigate the guitar fretboard and reveal the relationships between intervals across the fretboard. I find these patterns useful to combine with the minor CAGED patterns to create a more complete picture of the fretboard.
Cheat Sheet: 3 Notes Per String Minor Scale
Download the cheat sheet for this lesson: