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So-called movable scales!!

New Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Hi guys, I'm brand new at this; will try to keep it short. I'm tyring to learn all I can about scales (please don't blast me) just because I want to, and I know a decent amount of why the scales are the way they are, a little about modes etc but something is getting to me and I can't find an answer anywhere!

Why are some scale patterns movable which puts them into a different key, but some are not? How does one tell the difference? Some sources insist that all scale patterns not involving open strings are easily and directly moved all over. But I check this info out against my fretboard chart and that isn't the case!! Someone please help me!


Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5366

Either - your fretboard chart is suspect

or - you're not maintaining the right sizes of steps between notes.

There is a movable pattern for the major scale which will work for 6th string roots from the 2nd fret upwards, and another for 5th string roots which will work from the same place. Likewise harmonic and melodic minor scales, and the pentatonics work from the 1st fret.

Anything that uses fretted notes all the way up is movable.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
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Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497

Same for chords. You've probably learned the F barre chord by now. Move it up one fret and it becomes an F# chord. Move it up again and it's a G chord.

Any scale or chord that doesn't use open strings is movable in the same way.

This gives the guitar a good advantage over piano, saxophone, trumpet, and most other non-string instruments. The scales and chords on these instruments require a completely different fingering in every key, so they are non movable.


Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

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New Member
Joined: 6 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Okay thank you guys so much, it is making more sense now! Turns out I misread the chart at one stage.. So that's cool, I'm with you 100%, my next question on that is this: If I play a scale in a different mode (let's use C Dorian cause I've been practicing that one) and shift that around also, does the MODE remain the same and the KEY still change? It seems like it would, right? So if I play my pattern with the flatted 3rd and 7th notes but shift two frets down to root D, am I then playing D Dorian? Also one last thing, is there any quick way around of learning the different modes fluently or will I just have to practice in each one if I want to master them all? Thanks again!