Banjo Kid Elfshot Banjo Logo

Information: Secret of the Major Scale

Two and a half, three and a half rule

Have you ever heard anyone sing Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti? The diagram below shows all the notes from the nut to the 22nd fret. Using the 2.5, 3.5 rule you can find the major scale of any key anywhere on the banjo neck.

Diagram 1 — 22 frets showing all the notes.

Diagram of neck with notes

Scale of G

The next diagram shows the G scale starting from the open G (3rd string). One represents one whole step (2 frets) and 0.5 represents a half step (1 fret) — (think about a piano where the white keys are whole steps and the black keys are half steps). As you play each note in the 2.5, 3.5 pattern you will hear do-re-mi... You can begin at any note on the neck and find the scale for that note using the 2.5, 3.5 rule.

G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

Diagram 2 — Illustrating the 2.5, 3.5 rule to find the major scale of G.

Diagram of neck with G scale

Scale of A

Below is another example finding the scale of A. Here, I've started on an A note a bit further up the neck.

A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

Diagram 3 — Another example to find the A scale.

Diagram of neck with A scale

You can use the 2.5, 3.5 rule to find any major scale starting from anywhere on the neck. For example, if you want to find the scale of B, start on the open 2nd string then climb up 2.5 then 3.5. You will end up playing B, C#, Eb, E, F#, G#, Bb — and you'll hear the familiar do re mi...

When playing the notes of a particular scale in licks, the idea is not to play them all on one string because you have to move your left hand up and down the fret board too much. Using the 2.5, 3.5 rule you can find the same notes on different strings so you can play them around a certain part of the neck (close to nut, mid neck or up the neck). Then it is a matter of choosing a roll pattern that allows you to move through those notes the most effectively.