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June 29, 2011

6 Steps To Learning Guitar Scales

Many of my students struggle with knowing scales and modes, and when to use them. There are also many who get stuck in just playing scales up and down, when playing lead. The result is that solos sound like scale practices and flat out boring to listen to.

As you are learning scales and modes, there are a few things I recommend you do, in order to learn effectively.

  1. Take small steps. Don't try to learn several positions across several strings in one sitting. Take it slow, and have patience. The faster you go, the quicker you will forget.
  2. Visualize. Scales will create patterns (I often call them shapes) for your fingers. As you play slowly through these patterns, make a point of making a STOP often. Try to see these patterns on the fretboard before you play them. It helps to follow tip 1 above.
  3. Say it. Say it out loud - which fret you are on, and the name of the note. This will help you learn faster. Follow tip 1 and 2 above.
  4. Memorize. By taking small steps, visualizing and saying note names out loud, you will start to memorize scales. Now you can test yourself by playing only the first 3 notes of a scale in a certain position, or the last 4 notes, and so on. Test and develop your knowledge by memorizing, following tip 1, 2 and 3 above.
  5. Variation. Play the scale in as many different ways you can, instead of just up and down the scale. Since there are 7 notes in the major scale, start on any of those 7 notes, and use the tips above to memorize. Play on different sets of strings, in different positions on the neck, etc. Your goal is to know the scale anywhere on the fretboard.
  6. Play Music. This is the most important aspect. Nobody likes to listen to scale practicing, so as you learn the scale, try to also make music with it. Put on a jam track, jam along and try to use the scale to create nice melodies and hooks. Mix it up with other "tricks" you might know, such has some cool double stops or hammer-ons/pull-offs, etc. You can for example use the scale to

There you go - 6 ways to practice a scale. The idea here is not to work on just one tip for a long time, before moving to the next. You should work on all of these every time you practice scales - they all work together. Just have patience, and discipline. Repetition is the key to learning anything.

If you need help learning scale patterns and shapes, there is a website called Guitar Scale Patterns, that provides a cheat sheet. Go and check it out. They have useful products for helping you learn faster.

Most of all - have fun playing music!

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com


Posted by Robert Renman on June 29, 2011

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