#1
when i learn scales, should i focus on memorizing them in terms of finger patterns or understanding them in terms of their formulae? i don't understand scale formulae, so can anyone clear this up for me please?

ex natural minor scale: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

i know this refers to the degrees of the scale (ie tonic, supertonic, mediant, ect), but i don't understand how they arrange themselves into finger patterns on the guitar. i don't know how to translate that formula into the finger pattern...

p.s. which scales should i learn if i want to play lead blues/soft rock? i know pentatonic and blues are obligatory
#3
Each fret of the guitar is a semitone.

Most formulae are based off the major scale.

Major scale is made up of whole tones (2 frets) and semitones (1 fret). A maor scale is WT WT WT ST WT WT WT ST ocatve to ocatave, or in C the notes would be C D E F G A B C.

So 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7, b7 means reduce the 7th note of the scale by a semitone, or move it back a fret. SO in C the new scale is C D Eb F G A Bb or C dorian mode. Hope that helps! Once you have the hang of it it isnt as daunting as it first seems!
#4
Start with the major scale

Learn it in terms of steps (WWHWWWH), intervals (Root, Maj 2nd, Maj 3rd, Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th, Maj 6th, Maj 7th) and notes (eg C Major is C D E F G, D Major is D E F# G A B C# etc) - and learn to play it all over the neck in all keys, in any direction/pattern.

Learn WWHWWWH and you'll be able to play it single string
Learn the notes of the neck and the notes of the scale and you'll be able to find it anywhere on the neck.
Learn how to find intervals on the neck and learn the intervals of the scale, and you'll be able to play it anywhere on the neck.

Learn patterns as well, they give you another way of looking at it - but use them in conjunction with notes/intervals, not in isolation.

Once you understand the major scale, start looking at how other scales (natural minor and the pentatonic scales) are related to it, and you'll realise you've done all the hard work and pretty much anything else you need to use can be derived from the major scale.
#5
Quote by imitchydownther
when i learn scales, should i focus on memorizing them in terms of finger patterns or understanding them in terms of their formulae? i don't understand scale formulae, so can anyone clear this up for me please?

ex natural minor scale: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

i know this refers to the degrees of the scale (ie tonic, supertonic, mediant, ect), but i don't understand how they arrange themselves into finger patterns on the guitar. i don't know how to translate that formula into the finger pattern...

p.s. which scales should i learn if i want to play lead blues/soft rock? i know pentatonic and blues are obligatory


First learn the notes all over the fretboard. Like this:


That is very important, in my opinion.

Second learn the major scale. For instance, I'll take C major:
Start at C then use the WWHWWWH formula:
C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C.
Now do this for all keys. Now you have done this for, let's say, G major, and you want to find the notes of G minor. So you use the formula for natural minor scale: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7, which shows that you should flatten the third, sixth and seventh, so that would be:

G major: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G
         1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,  1 <--scale degrees
G minor: G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G
         1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6,b7, 1


Third step is to, now that you have learned the notes all over the fretboard, set out all these notes on the fretboard.
#7
Most importantly - learn what they sound like.

And like others have said, you need to learn the notes on the fretboard before you'll have any chance of actually understanding scales. And more important thatn just memorising patterns and playing them up and down is actually learning how the scale works musically and how and when it can be used.
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#8
You can learn the notes very easy with a simple method. Just learn the C major scale all over the fretboard until you are able to vizualize it and know the component notes. When you practice it spell out the notes you press. After you learned C major you practicaly know the free notes. The others are just the sharps. When you press notes always try to vizualise the adiacent notes. I learned that way pretty fast the fretboard.
Regarding scales. Watch carefully the fretboard on all guitar chords in any major scale you want. You'll notice that no matter what major scale you choose there are only 3 patterns depending on what string you start with the tonal. Its the same pattern if you start all over the E,A, another pattern if you start on D, and another if you start on G.