How to Play Symmetrical Guitar Scales
Our next section deals with symmetrical shapes – Symmetrics is a method to break out of the common boxes you use when playing scales on the guitar.
Taking advantage of sequences and symmetrical scales are helpful tools when stepping outside the basic harmony. The reason being that while the improviser is introducing notes that “do not belong” in the harmony, the continuation of a familiar structure (harmonic of rhythmical) will ensure some familiarity within the unknown.The pentatonic scale is arguably the most used for guitar soloing. It is easy to play, and as it is based on only five notes, has a wide range of uses.
Example 1 shows the C minor pentatonic scale in every position. This three notes per string structure continues up the scale always repeating the last note played on the string above. Repeating the same notes on different string produces a rather odd, un-guitaristic phrasing that opens up possibilities for new interesting lines and sounds.
Example 2 builds on this concept of three-notes-per string scales with repeated notes. This example is 100% symmetrical with the same pattern repeated on every string. The symmetrical shape produces a couple of asymmetrical notes depending over which harmony you play the phrase, over E minor you’ll have the b9 (f) as a passing note, over C Major the #11 (f#) and over A minor the #6 (f#) – all nice color notes!
Example 4 is based on a G Mixolydian (a major scale w. a b7) scale, starting from the 2nd note of the scale. This would sound good over a G dominant chord (G7 etc).
Example 5 Naturally any scale can be treated to the symmetrical approach. This is a four notes per string sequence based on C minor. Starting on the 5th string and moving up to the 1st. You’ll note that the repeated pattern will reveal these “deviate” notes: b9 (beat3). B5 (beat4) and the Major 6 (bar 2, beat 1) – all notes that produce nice colors on a minor chord.
Example 6 is a three note per string symmetrical scale in C minor including passing-notes. To have a completely symmetrical scale, exchange the C note in beat two with a B natural.
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