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Old 12-03-2011, 07:37 PM   #1
katalyzt13
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Best way to practice scales

So, basically I think the way I've been practicing scales has turned into a hindrance to my playing. I practice going along one string and the box positions. Doing this I can compose songs and solos okay, but when I go to improvise my hands seem reluctant and get confused and I start hitting bum notes. My theory as to why this is happening is because my brain is trying to assemble box positions on the fretboard as I play, etc.

I've read before people saying it is best to practice scales diagonally, in fragments, smaller shapes, etc. so your hands are learning to build off of these shapes instead of boxes and single strings. Can anyone give me any guidance here?

I've been trying to do an overhaul of my playing and finally trained myself to sing while I play, and improvising solos more fluidly and of a consistently higher quality is my next goal.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:52 PM   #2
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Knowing some patterns for reference is fine, but if you know how the scales are constructed, you'll be able to play any scale at any position on the neck. Don't think of them as shapes to learn on a fretboard if you want to learn them - think of them as a set of notes and intervals.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:56 PM   #3
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What really helped me is that I looked at what notes are sharp or flat in the scale.

So if I was playing something in E minor, I know that only the F is sharp. So I avoided the F natural but played every other note natural.

It works better if you know the notes on the fretboard.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:57 PM   #4
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I was in your same boat 1 year ago. I think that you need to know WHICH notes you play all the time - you should know the WHOLE guitar fretboard. Like if someone asked you which note is on the 18th fret on the g-string, you will answer it right away: C# or Db.

When I'm practicing scales, I'm just putting on a backing track and just improvise. Before I start playing, I'm making sure which notes are flats or sharps (circle of fifths basically). Of course, I'm not perfect either, so I get some so-called "jazz-notes", but when I play "wrong" notes, my brain says to me immediately: "haha, there's no 'e' in c minor" for example, and I'll learn that.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:00 PM   #5
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yeah, learning the notes on the fret board might be great, because if anyone asks me a random note unless it is on like the first 5 or 6 frets then I probably pause for 5 - 10 seconds before I could answer.
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:32 PM   #6
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As others said before, knowledge of intervals and notes on fretboard will certainly help. It will give you more clarity on what you're doing despite just learning shapes. Of course, shapes are quite good tools for applying scales but knowing the theory behind them will give you much more confidence.

You can also approach improvisation from different perspective by developing your aural skills. Sing along the same notes while you play them on guitar - you will develop your ear this way. The goal is to be able to play exactly the melodies that you hear in your head. It takes time and practice but it's really worth effort.

Combining theoretical knowledge of scales and their intervals with developed aural skills will solve many of your problems.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:55 PM   #7
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I like to take a scale and play it in intervals. It's good for learning the notes on the fretboard, and thinking in a key. For example

Gmajor in 3rds

D/-----------------------4----5-4-7-5--
A/---------3--5-3-7-5----7-------------
E/-3-7-5---7----------------------------

work it out in 5ths, 4ths, 6ts etc...
do it in different fingerings and different spots on the neck.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:59 PM   #8
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I would like to add one little thing, next to knowing the notes on the fingerboard learn theire quality within the scale. Learn how for instance a B note relates to the A major scale, and why it sounds the way it does. This would become very very handy when making up your own riffs/solo's and even helps you understanding the modes

Last edited by B&J : 12-04-2011 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shmeegle
I like to take a scale and play it in intervals. It's good for learning the notes on the fretboard, and thinking in a key. For example

Gmajor in 3rds

D/-----------------------4----5-4-7-5--
A/---------3--5-3-7-5----7-------------
E/-3-7-5---7----------------------------

work it out in 5ths, 4ths, 6ts etc...
do it in different fingerings and different spots on the neck.

This is a good one, a really good one.

It serves as a good exercise for ear training with intervals, but also picking. When you get to the larger intervals you'll have to start string skipping.

However, I'd base this exercise with the CAGED shapes, rather than the 3 nps as above.

The reason is that when you get to the higher intervals such as 4ths - 7ths, the 3nps patterns would be all too easy.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:11 PM   #10
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Best way to practice scales is to not practice scales.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SanJose
but when I play "wrong" notes, my brain says to me immediately: "haha, there's no 'e' in c minor" for example, and I'll learn that.

This is exactly why.
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Last edited by Xiaoxi : 12-04-2011 at 09:12 PM.
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