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For More scale reading...

Scales 2 | Scales 3 | Scales 4 | Scales 5 | Scales 6 |
Scales 7 | Scales 8 | Scales 9 | Scales 10 | Scales 11


Scales 1


The graphic below is a copy of a file that was drawn by an Excel spreadsheet on a Macintosh computer. I first wrote this as a computer program for an Apple IIc. The result is a chance to study the patterns that are produced when we study a scale on our steel. The example is of an E-9th guitar in the key of C. The spreadsheet gives you the choice of all twelve keys and 53 different scales. It also will let you look at what happens to the scale pattern when you push pedals and knee levers.

  The scales begin at the first fret and continue up to fret twelve. You should know that this pattern repeats every octave, so frets 13 thru fret 24, are the same as frets 1 thru 12. Knowing this, we can study the patterns in one octave and know that the same thing is repeated, up the neck.  
  I use these scales to help study my guitar. The numbers represent the scale tones of the particular scale that you are using. I do everything in numbers which make changing keys much easier.  
  The scale tones that the numbers represent are from the major scale. It is the same as singing do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. Looking at these scale tones on a grid that represents your fretboard, allows you to see the music on your guitar.  
  I broke the guitar into different sections to make it easier to study. I even try to make up licks by jumping to a different section of the fretboard. When I'm looking at one of these scale patterns, it allows me to see the entire guitar. I don't have to think of the key of C as only the eighth fret. I can see the entire guitar. The music is there, you have to go and find it in all of the possible places that you can. If you see the whole guitar, then you're more likely to develop the ability to play creatively. All the instruments use the same scales, they just lay differently on a pedal steel guitar. The stringed instruments all work the same when it comes to the way scales make patterns. These scale pattern charts allow you to study each tuning as a separate entity. They are similar, but the patterns have subtle differences that the right and left hand must learn to work together on.  

This shows the changes to the scale when the A pedal bends 5 &10 a full step, and the B pedal pulls 3 & 6 a half-step.

With A & B pedals pressed the third fret lines up with a major chord on your basic grips.

We all know that the E-9th set-up has certain pedals and knee levers that are common to most guitars. We can use these standards to help us study. If we consider the A pedal, which raises our 5th and 10th strings a whole step, we can see places to utilize this change. The tenth string has the same possibilities except the octave and thickness of the string gives us a different characteristic of sound. If each square is a half-tone, then we can move two squares up and get a new note using the pedal. In other words, if we have the bar at the first fret, string 5, we see that we have a scale tone of 1. (That's a C note) We can use the pedal to bring a new note to the bar. Without moving the bar, we can have the second scale tone (D note) brought to us at the first fret.

C scale intervals
  • C = 1
  • D = 2
  • E = 3
  • F = 4
  • G = 5
  • A = 6
  • B = 7

You can go through all of your pedals and see what notes you can bring to the bar. A knee lever that lowers a string goes the opposite way to bring a note to the bar. The steel players left hand thinks on a single plane. It depends on which fret you are on. I use these scale patterns to play those fast single note licks. You learn to connect the tones using pedals and slides.



This shows the changes to the scale when the A pedal bends 5 &10 a full step, and the F lever pulls 4 & 8 a half-step.

Notice the major chord lining up at the 11th fret.

Remember, this is only one pattern. This pattern relates directly to the white keys on a piano. All of the squares on the chart that are empty would be equal to the black keys on the keyboard. (That's a F# pentatonic). The keyboard has one place to find each note, the steel has more than one place to find certain notes. The C notes at F1,S5 and F8,S8 are the same except the sound is different due to the difference in strings. With the computer to assist us, we can study the steel like its never been before. We can make up new tunings and study what pedals to use. To see what I could come up with, I tuned a steel to minor-seventh-flat five tuning. Then I added pedals that move strings half and whole steps in various combinations. This allowed me to study the musical aspect of where all the notes and chords would lie on the guitar. Never needed to build a prototype to see that the possibilities of the pedal steel are endless.


Scales 2 | Scales 3 | Scales 4 | Scales 5 | Scales 6 |
Scales 7 | Scales 8 | Scales 9 | Scales 10 | Scales 11

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