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#1
I hope this is the right forum, I apologize in advance if there is a better one to post this in, I couldn't really find one.

I've been playing for almost 8 months now, which is not a considerably long time, I am well aware. I was just wondering if it's going to be detrimental to my playing if I ignore learning the major, minor, pentatonic etc... scales? ------ I mean, I do not plan on writing my own music, so my question is....


Should I still learn them?


It just seems like a lot of memorization and boring work with no real logic for doing so in my mind. I play purely for hobby since I am wrapped up in school work my senior year of college. (I play songs written by bands that I enjoy, in my bedroom, no audience required haha ) But, everyone seems to be emphasizing their importance.

Opinions? - Anyone out there shredding without the scales memorized? --- Or am I on a lonely boat here ?
#2
You SHOULD learn them in my opinion..

I dont find theory boring at all, I dont get how people find it boring..

There really isnt much to memorize either, the fretboard is one thing but once youve learned that and how the major scale is constructed its all a cakewalk from there.

Why wouldnt you plan to write your own music? Im only 3~ months in and I know a ton of theory and I love messing around, the other day I found out I really like going from a sus4 to a major chord of the same note, it sounds good, and I woudlnt have known how to construct that sus4 chord if it hadnt been for knowing theory.

Scales allow you to say "hey this song sounds major, I wonder what key it is in" and then once you know you can figure out the rest of the song (im still a bit rusty, but hey, im getting there)

Its up to you really, if youre comfortable just reading tabs and playing then by all means continue to do so, but I really do not see any advantage to not learning them and only disadvantage in not learning

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
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The world..
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Last edited by glenthemann at Aug 27, 2009,
#3
In my experience i know very little theory. I really only know the Pentatonic scale and playing wise it's never really hindered me. Even when writing, all you really NEED is knowing the notes of each fret, which isn't hard. I think the main reason people are taught scales early on is to build up finger strength in a rigid, continuous way rather than the knowledge of the actual scale. Plus, scales are pretty easy to pick up so really you can learn them whenever you feel like it.

p.s. If you don't write, your not a guitarist. You're a guy who plays guitar.
#4
yes you should, even if you aren't going to write your own song.

You will understand the music that you are playing better and you will be able to improvise a solo
#5
Lol, i have been playing for 2 years, and i haven't learned scales. I can't improvise at all. Don't be like me, learn them, if you want to improvise and stuff. If you are just doing cover songs and stuff, you don't need to.
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#6
"The only thing you really need to learn is the music that you like." - Marty Friedman
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#7
I would rec you learn them. I've been playing 12 years and I didn't really learn them until about 2-3 years ago. I mean I knew the shapes but I didn't know how it all worked together.

It's NEVER too late to learn something new. Life is about learning and growing as a person.
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#8
Thanks for all the constructive replies.

I guess I just hate taking the little time I have to play (since I am pre-med... super busy) and instead of playing music that gets my mind off things, I would be memorizing the fret board and then the scales.

It's hard for me to motivate myself to stop playing music that sounds good, and start learning scales. I know in the long run my music will be better, so maybe I might just bite the bullet afterall.

Again, thank you for the super fast replies .
#9
Do yourself a favor. Dont just mindlessly learn scale after scale.

Learn how to build the major scale, then go from there. Its not at all as hard as some people make it seem. The major scale is what every other scale is derived from.

There are only 12 notes, and only 7 of them get used in a scale. Once you figure out the pattern for it, its seriously a cake walk after some practicing.

Better yet, take the time to learn the intervals as well. That will open up a whole new way of looking at the fretboard once you understand it. Intervals are just the distance between two notes. They aren't hard at all. Literally 2 weeks ago I kinda knew about intervals but I didnt really understand them. Now after my first lesson with my new teacher, he helped me connect the dots on what I didnt understand about them. Now I completely understand them and I've been looking at the fretboard in terms of intervals more then anything now.
Theory is not at all boring, its solely what me and my current guitar teacher are working on right now and its helping me immensly. I find it fascinating, but thats just me.
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#10
dude if youre premed theory should be a cakewalk for you, no offence. Just git'r done.

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
Who didnt?
The world..
GET THIS GUY OUT OF HERE, FIND ME A DRAGON
#11
Learning the major scale and the theory behind it helps you understand music, and that in turn makes it a damnsight easier to learn new stuff, because all of a suddden you can see thinking behind those seemingly random sequences of numbers on a tab.

Seriously, you have no idea how useful theory is until you actually start learning and using it.
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#12
Basically if you don't know any music theory then you aren't a musician at all in my mind.
Learning a song from tabs doesn't make you a guitarist.

People who say that theory is useless shouldn't be listened to, because they are in the same boat as you. You will never hear someone who is competent with their theory tell you that... because is pure BS.
#13
i didnt learn any kind of scaled for the first 3 years of guitar playing *dont ask how i did it, i just learned songs and solos*

but i wanted to figure out how people came up with these solos so i started on the minor pentatonic scale with all the different positions. start out with A pentatonic and do the 5 different positions of it and you can go wild up and down it.
#14
I say if what you're doing is making you happy then keep doing it the way you have been.

I'm willing to bet if you stick with it at some point you'll want to learn more. That's the way I was. I played straight from tabs for almost a year before I got interested in what I was playing. I think if you wait til you get to that point you'll be more interested in learning the theory/scales/etc and therefore you'll learn them more easily.

But until you decide it's important it'll be a struggle and take away from your enjoyment (in the short term at least)

All that said, learning scales/theory/etc has greatly improved the enjoyment I get from playing
#15
Quote by nmartin1187
I hope this is the right forum, I apologize in advance if there is a better one to post this in, I couldn't really find one.

I've been playing for almost 8 months now, which is not a considerably long time, I am well aware. I was just wondering if it's going to be detrimental to my playing if I ignore learning the major, minor, pentatonic etc... scales? ------ I mean, I do not plan on writing my own music, so my question is....


Should I still learn them?


It just seems like a lot of memorization and boring work with no real logic for doing so in my mind. I play purely for hobby since I am wrapped up in school work my senior year of college. (I play songs written by bands that I enjoy, in my bedroom, no audience required haha ) But, everyone seems to be emphasizing their importance.

Opinions? - Anyone out there shredding without the scales memorized? --- Or am I on a lonely boat here ?


You should learn them...start with the basics...minor penatonic...leanr it all over the neck...then move to major and minor scales....but from where you are right now just learn the minor penatonic man and understand it...theory is an awesome thing to know....and it does have logic...the quest for learning theory is awesome cause you can put it on paper and figure it out...its like math...it all makes sense man trust me

And maybe you don't wanna write right now but you are going to want to after awhile...its just natural...and if you leanr some theory you'll be amazed when you add stuff you learn into the solos by bands you like and when you can something to it that sounds better than what they did in the original song....that's what keeps you wanting to leanr

My nephew is kinda the same...he writes though but he likes to play covers and the minor pentatonic...after playing 14 years that what he does and it makes him happy...so its all about what you want to do I guess bro
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#16
Quote by rdobson2
...its like math...

Yes, and what's more it's like the "Bob has one apple, Fred gives him two apples, and Jane gives him two apples. How many apples does Bob have?" kinda maths, than the "Can anyone round here do Fourier transforms?" kinda maths.
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#17
Quote by Dragonis
Do yourself a favor. Dont just mindlessly learn scale after scale.

Learn how to build the major scale, then go from there. Its not at all as hard as some people make it seem. The major scale is what every other scale is derived from.

There are only 12 notes, and only 7 of them get used in a scale. Once you figure out the pattern for it, its seriously a cake walk after some practicing.

Better yet, take the time to learn the intervals as well. That will open up a whole new way of looking at the fretboard once you understand it. Intervals are just the distance between two notes. They aren't hard at all. Literally 2 weeks ago I kinda knew about intervals but I didnt really understand them. Now after my first lesson with my new teacher, he helped me connect the dots on what I didnt understand about them. Now I completely understand them and I've been looking at the fretboard in terms of intervals more then anything now.
Theory is not at all boring, its solely what me and my current guitar teacher are working on right now and its helping me immensly. I find it fascinating, but thats just me.
THIS!!!!!
#18
Sorry for the delayed response on my part, I was at my gf's. Overwhelmingly, the majority of you are all in agreement that I should stop procrastinating, if I'm going to learn to play, I should really learn to play.

Thanks for everyone's advise, and well put together responses. I've been cruising these forums for 3 months now, but this is my first post (and I'm still amazed at the majority of the truly helpful responses)

I don't want to get too needy here, but a few problem's I'm finding is,


1) I have never taken lessons, completely self taught... so -----> 2) Does anyone know a good website that can explain the scales in a way someone with no music theory could learn and apply? I've poked around, but really with no success thus far.

Thanks UG community!
#19
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/columns/general_music/the_crusade_part_i.html

or

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/columns/the_guide_to/the_ultimate_guide_to_guitar_chapter_i__1_introduction_-_the_guitar.html

these should keep you going.

I suggest learning about intervals first and then apply them to the major scale so you can see how it is constructed.
#20
Of course you should learn them, if you're really serious about progressing as a guitarist and being a "musician" instead of someone who just dicks around in their bedroom - nothing wrong with that by the way. But there's so many people content with playing cover songs and random notes...scales will help get you to the next level.
#21
Basically if you don't know any music theory then you aren't a musician at all in my mind.


Yea tell that to Hendrix and all the other greats with no knowledge of theory what so ever.
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Last edited by srob7001 at Aug 28, 2009,
#23
Quote by srob7001

Yea tell that to Hendrix and all the other greats with no knowledge of theory what so ever.


don't forget BB king
#24
Basically if you don't know any music theory then you aren't a musician at all in my mind.


Yea tell that to Hendrix and all the other greats with no knowledge of theory what so ever.

im pretty sure hendrix had some knowledge

I dont see how anyone could just figure out chords that sound good together and not stop for a second and think "hmm why do these sound well together, I wonder what kind of chord I just created"

last night I figured out how easy it is to change from a Imaj7 to a iii, and I woudlnt have even known what to call the chords unless I knew some theory, sure I could have just said "hey this sounds good" but for me I hate being in the dark.

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
Who didnt?
The world..
GET THIS GUY OUT OF HERE, FIND ME A DRAGON
#25
Quote by Casketcreep
Basically if you don't know any music theory then you aren't a musician at all in my mind.

im pretty sure hendrix had some knowledge

I dont see how anyone could just figure out chords that sound good together and not stop for a second and think "hmm why do these sound well together, I wonder what kind of chord I just created"

last night I figured out how easy it is to change from a Imaj7 to a iii, and I woudlnt have even known what to call the chords unless I knew some theory, sure I could have just said "hey this sounds good" but for me I hate being in the dark.


Hendrix was self taught after his discharge from the army when he got injured parachutting out of a plane.

And figuring stuff out is easy. if it sounds good use it...and thats exactly what Hendrix did.
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#26
Quote by srob7001

Yea tell that to Hendrix and all the other greats with no knowledge of theory what so ever.


No knowledge whatsoever! I seriously doubt that. To start with, Hendrix was good at improvising, I challenge anybody to be good* at improvising without any knowledge.

*I appreciate that is subjective, but I'm sure you can understand what I'm getting at.

Maybe his knowledge was basic; it definitely wasn't non-existant
#27
What Hendrix or anyone else did is irrelevant - theory knowledge is a damnsight more accessible now than it was 50 years ago, you really needed to get lessons from a classically trained teacher or buy a textbook back then. You don't need a book or a teacher anymore, all the information you could ever want is available and it's free. If Hendrix had the internet he;d have learned theory too because like any great guitarist he was always looking to expand his knowledge of the instrument and absorb as much as he could about music.

Bottom line, you know the knowledge is there, you know where to find it and you've got over a million people to ask about it.

There is absolutely no justification or excuse for not learning theory in the 21st century.
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#28
I cant really comment on whether or not hendrix actually knew any theory. But I will tell you that even if someone doesn't actually learn theory, If they play and noodle around for years they will eventually get it even though they dont have the actual knowledge. They are still using it without even realizing it, its not like the notes magically come from no where, there is underlying theory behind it but they just dont realize it. But doing it that way takes alot of very hard work, dedication, and years and years of playing all the time (Hendrix did it for a living remember?).

While you can seemingly get to that point on your own after many years of playing, why bother waiting that long? If you can learn it now, the sooner you'll be able to put it into practice. No sense waiting till you figure it out by yourself (if that even happens for you at all) when you can teach it to yourself or get someone to teach you. Plus the benefits of learning even just a little bit of theory will help tremendously.
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#29
I'd recommend to learn theory but don't emphasize it too much in your practice sessions.
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#30
Quote by Myshadow46_2
No knowledge whatsoever! I seriously doubt that. To start with, Hendrix was good at improvising, I challenge anybody to be good* at improvising without any knowledge.

*I appreciate that is subjective, but I'm sure you can understand what I'm getting at.

Maybe his knowledge was basic; it definitely wasn't non-existant


What I mean is he never studied theory. He may have figured things out but it was all on his own.

To anyone who doesn't think so go read a biography on hendrix and then get back to me.

I agree with Seagull....back then the info wasn't as easily available so not as many people actually studied it. These days it is a diff story. You can find theory related things everywhere, so yes learn what you can and it will make you a better player.
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#32
Knowing scales is extremely useful. One thing to know is that every scale follows the same pattern...

Play the first note such as "C"(This can be used with any other note). The second note will always be 1 whole step above the first note (Thus making the second note D). The third note will always be 1 whole step above the second note (Thus making the third note E). The fourth note is always 1/2 step above the third note (So the Fourth note would be F). The fifth note is always 1 whole step above the fourth note. The sixth note is always 1 whole step above the fifth note. The seventh note is always 1 whole step above the sixth note. Finally the eighth note is 1/2 step above the seventh and going back down is just the opposite.

A quick example would be E-#F-#G-A-B-#C-#D-E

If all of this makes sense, then hopefully it will make playing scales easier.
#33
it you want to play lead or write your own music..learn them
#34
You don't have to learn them but it would help. A lot of guitarists don't rely on them for example, a lot of blues guitarists and Angus Young. But it depends what music you'll be playing really.
#35
Quote by steven seagull
There is absolutely no justification or excuse for not learning theory in the 21st century.


I agree to a certain extent. However, some people can't relate to theory, and some can't relate to notes on a sheet of paper. That's fair enough justification to learn as much as they feel comfortable with. Some people just don't want to know why certain things sound good together, they just play what sounds good.

I fall somewhere in between. I look at some of these musicians with more knowledge of theory than you can shake a stick at. Yet they create some of the most mind numbingly boring, generic music out there. This tends to be the case with most virtuoso guitarists around.

It almost seems like there's a point in which, for some people, knowledge of theory limits creativity. Not the case for all or even most, but some.

On topic: I think scales are a very vital, basic tool for creating cohesive music. Just learn the major scale, intervals, etc, and move on from their. Plenty of good articles on it here.

If you want to learn more, awesome. If you think that's all you need or more than you need to play the music you want to play, and send the message you want to get across to the listener, awesome.
Last edited by Melodic_Rocker at Aug 29, 2009,
#36
Quote by hardrockerdave9
You don't have to learn them but it would help. A lot of guitarists don't rely on them for example, a lot of blues guitarists and Angus Young. But it depends what music you'll be playing really.


Blues/minor pentatonic scales anyone?

If you point your finger at x guitarist and say "he didn't learn any music theory", it's simply not true. If x guitarist uses y scale predominantly, he's using that scale. The only difference is that he had to figure it out for himself, while you were a bit smarter and can look it up.

Okay, Hendrix didn't learn music theory. However he predominantly uses the minor pentatonic, blues, major and minor scales. His songs are standard progressions within major or minor keys. You can learn how to make these too - learn theory and take the guesswork out of it.
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#37
I would learn them if I were you, the way I did it is I started with the major scale and every day I would play a different pattern of the major scale until I knew it all over the fretboard, then move from there into other scales, but once you know one completely, it gets so much easier!
#39
Quote by willT08
p.s. If you don't write, your not a guitarist. You're a guy who plays guitar.


+1
#40
Something that's been on my mind for awhile---What does it mean to write music? Are you actually writing the notes to a riff down on a piece of paper or what? Or are you just creating a riff/solo/whatever using your guitar then remembering it?
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