#1
Other than the occassional question here and there, and about a month of lessons(just to learn basic music theory) I have learned guitar almost entirely by myself. I've been playing for two years, and just figured a lot of things out. I figured out how to tremelo pick "correctly"(which is essentially to use your wrist not you're whole arm and to relax, don't tense up when picking fast), economy pick, hell now I'm trying to learn sweeping by myself. The only thing other than basic theory that i learned entirely from others was how to form chords(even then, it's quite easy to come up with chords without the knowledge of how to correctly do it.)


Here's the problem: Everyone has the big thing about scales. Scales scales scales, everyone says to learn them and all these guitar players have dvds and youtube videos about scales. Personally, I have come up with scales by myself. Other than the pentaonics and blues scales, I've come up with a few by myself(the harmonics i think was one, and the locrian i believe was the other(i think locrian is a mode actually, i've also heard people call it the lorian scale/mode). But scales don't help me. I guess I don't understand how they work. As far as soloing, yes, scales can help it sound like John Petrucci and not Slayer(as in it can sound technical without being random notes).

Another thing is: a lot of guitarists have little knowledge of music theory at all, much less scales. Akerfeldt(from Opeth) doesn't know much beyond basic theory, yet every now and then he has sick solos, not to mention he can play great accoustic guitar. Dimebag Darrell didn't know any scales, and Marty Friedman has said he didn't learn scales, he just made them up(much like i have) until a bit later in his career. And other guitarists, like John Petrucci, and Muhhamed(Necrophagist) are self taught, and have a large amount of scales they use.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand the importance of scales. Everyone says they show you what notes work to together, how to get notes to work together, etc. But I'm fine without learning them as least as far as I'm concern. I may not be the best guitarist, I've only been playing for 2 and a half years, but I can figure out Opeth Styled acoustic passages, Dream Theater prog metal stuff, etc. without using scales(may have figured them out, but i sure as hell don't use them.) And that's in two and a half years. I'm sure eventually i could come up with Necrophagist type stuff. I understand tonality and stuff, but as far as scales, I don't understand their importance. Well I kind of do, but not enough to use them i guess.


Is this bad?
#2
whenever you solo or do lead your playing within some kinda scale. you say you can just hear what sounds good and play what you feel, well that just means you naturally understand the guitar and can naturally feel scales without having to break down and look at diagrams and stuff, hell thats how hendrix was.
Word.
#3
Scales help you understand music.

Regardless of what you can currently do, you'll always be able to do it better if you understand more. That doesn't simply apply to guitar, it just applies to everything. The reason you're getting no benefit from them is exactly the reason you've mentioned, you don't understand them - you've just learned a bunch of random patterns rather than learning the notes and intervals involved and how they function musically.
Actually called Mark!

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#4
scales just make it easier in my opinion they arent really essential to being good, it just makes it easier to know what notes to play over what chords and whatnot.
#5
Probably. You always hear about great musicians who never learned to read sheet music, never learned music theory, or never took formal lessons. The reality is that these musicians are in the vast minority. The majority of all professional guitarists, especially those who write thier own stuff, know and understand music theory and how scales work etc. You're not Dimebag Darrell; you're not Marty Friedman. While you could very well continue playing without any knowledge whatsoever about scales, it helps a lot, especially while improvising. Trying to write a solo without knowing your scales is like trying to write an essay before learning your ABCs. Learning scales also gets you familiar with the fretboard, where notes repeat, etc. It can improve your speed and coordination. Try this: draw out a giant outline of your guitar neck. Then, list out all the notes and which scales they correspond to. You'll find that there aren't actually too many scales: its more like the repetition of a few.

The bottom line is: Yes, you should learn your scales.
#6
Quote by steven seagull
Scales help you understand music.

Regardless of what you can currently do, you'll always be able to do it better if you understand more. That doesn't simply apply to guitar, it just applies to everything. The reason you're getting no benefit from them is exactly the reason you've mentioned, you don't understand them - you've just learned a bunch of random patterns rather than learning the notes and intervals involved and how they function musically.



I definitely just stated I understand notes and intervals. For example: If I were to play in the key of E. Playing the open low E string would sound good, so would the next octave, 7th fret A string. BUT the octave below that MIGHT not sound good in a riff, and the 12th fret high E string wouldn't sound good in a riff. Well, generally wouldn't, I'm sure there's a riff somewhere that it sounds fine. I understand that G, A, A#(is that sharp? well A shapr/B flat) sounds darker in tone than G, A, B. I get how to make music, it's scales themselves i don't get lol.
#7
Quote by gacharya
Probably. You always hear about great musicians who never learned to read sheet music, never learned music theory, or never took formal lessons. The reality is that these musicians are in the vast minority. The majority of all professional guitarists, especially those who write thier own stuff, know and understand music theory and how scales work etc. You're not Dimebag Darrell; you're not Marty Friedman. While you could very well continue playing without any knowledge whatsoever about scales, it helps a lot, especially while improvising. Trying to write a solo without knowing your scales is like trying to write an essay before learning your ABCs. Learning scales also gets you familiar with the fretboard, where notes repeat, etc. It can improve your speed and coordination. Try this: draw out a giant outline of your guitar neck. Then, list out all the notes and which scales they correspond to. You'll find that there aren't actually too many scales: its more like the repetition of a few.

The bottom line is: Yes, you should learn your scales.


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#8
All this stuff it seems I can do already, lol. I can improvise, since I know what keys are and such, and over time i've figured out how the notes work(for lack of a better term). Idk, I just don't get what they do. Everythign people say about them I can do. MAybe not well since I'm not like some dude who's played guitar for 20 years and is part of some super shred band, but I've figured this out well enough on my own :P
#9
Scales are to the guitar as a road map is to driving across the country. Sure, you may know the states and some of the cities in them, but do you know all of the roads that connect them together? Try driving from NY to Cali sometime without the use of a map, and don't stop along the way to ask for directions, just go. That is essentially what you are doing now with your guitaring. Scales provide those connections between destinations so that you don't get lost along the way. A few weeks ago I stumbled on a newish site offering video lessons for, amongst other things, scales and how they work. One of the vids is a very basic one covering the major and minor blues pentatonic scales, how to play them, and how they relate to one another. It's a very good tutorial that might help you to understand and use scales more efficiently. Here's the link:
http://www.activemelody.com/
Yea, I joined the site for the heck of it. More knowledge is a good thing.
#10
I think you can be a very good guitarist without knowing too much about all that mumbo jumbo. All scales are good for mostly are solos if you play lead, because most solos are made up of scales or bits and pieces of various scales put together. I guess in that sense they are helpful, but once you have a firm grasp on how solos are made and basic musical theory, scales arent all that important.
#11
Quote by ThrashKing
I think you can be a very good guitarist without knowing too much about all that mumbo jumbo. All scales are good for mostly are solos if you play lead, because most solos are made up of scales or bits and pieces of various scales put together. I guess in that sense they are helpful, but once you have a firm grasp on how solos are made and basic musical theory, scales arent all that important.



the moment you see that term used in a post about theory you can safely disregard the rest of it.
Actually called Mark!

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#12
I believe its not about learning tonnes of scales. Through learning songs you get an understanding of scales without knowing exactly what you're playing. In my opinion scales are about what you can do with what you know. Not saying theory is bad, it will help. but I dont think it's necessary.
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#13
Sounds like you are saying you have a really good ear. If you have a good ear and you are able to play everything you want to play and can improvise in a way you like without understanding scales, then maybe you don't NEED to learn scales. But I always think having more knowledge is better than less.
#14
I don't know where you're getting your information from, but Marty Friedman DOES know his theory, and DOES know his scales. Going at least back to his days in Cacophony he had a very good understanding of melody and harmony in music. And whilst I don't particularly care for Dimebag, I can tell you he knew at the very least the natural and harmonic minor as heard in most of his soloing.
#15
Quote by The_Toki
I don't know where you're getting your information from, but Marty Friedman DOES know his theory, and DOES know his scales. Going at least back to his days in Cacophony he had a very good understanding of melody and harmony in music. And whilst I don't particularly care for Dimebag, I can tell you he knew at the very least the natural and harmonic minor as heard in most of his soloing.



Marty Friedman has said for a long time he didn't know scales. He didn't know them till he learned them from the other guitarist of Cacophony.

Dimebag probably understood scales from the sense that I do: he figured it out.
#16
So really what's going on is you asked for an opinion as to whether you should be learning scales, but then when most of the people say yes, you just defend the way you're doing it. If you're happy with your playing and what you're doing, go for it, but if you don't want to heed the advice of others you didn't really need to make this topic.
#17
Two years is not a long time to have been playing.

I think most guitarists try to learn many scales to enhance their lead playing but generally don't have an ear for harmony and song structure.

I think music theory in reference to chord/jazz harmony is something every serious musician should know before delving into exotic scales. It's the basis for pop music, and you're going to need to play pop music before a lydian dominant scale to make a living.

Try and figure out the chords to this song. Learning to comp behind stuff like this is very useful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4q05resEvc

Yes. I am serious...
Last edited by jogogonne at Jul 1, 2010,
#18
Another thing is: a lot of guitarists have little knowledge of music theory at all, much less scales. Akerfeldt(from Opeth) doesn't know much beyond basic theory, yet every now and then he has sick solos, not to mention he can play great accoustic guitar. Dimebag Darrell didn't know any scales, and Marty Friedman has said he didn't learn scales, he just made them up(much like i have) until a bit later in his career. And other guitarists, like John Petrucci, and Muhhamed(Necrophagist) are self taught, and have a large amount of scales they use.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand the importance of scales. Everyone says they show you what notes work to together, how to get notes to work together, etc. But I'm fine without learning them as least as far as I'm concern. I may not be the best guitarist, I've only been playing for 2 and a half years, but I can figure out Opeth Styled acoustic passages, Dream Theater prog metal stuff, etc. without using scales(may have figured them out, but i sure as hell don't use them.) And that's in two and a half years. I'm sure eventually i could come up with Necrophagist type stuff. I understand tonality and stuff, but as far as scales, I don't understand their importance. Well I kind of do, but not enough to use them i guess.


Is this bad?


Not understanding scales isn't bad - but understanding scales is good. What would be bad is not making an effort to become a better guitarist. You should be glad you've developed your ear and you should also be proud of the fact you aren't leaning on some kind of "learnt pattern crutch" when you solo - but do be aware that scales are phenomenally useful and are used by pretty much everyone, intentionally or not.

Even if you "make up your own scales" - understanding how scales work allows you to play those made up scales all over the fretboard and over the chords and keys where they work best.

Anyway, you're getting lessons now and I hope you'll get a good idea of how scales work and why they're so useful! Don't be afraid to just ask the teacher specifically on that issue.
#19
Well taking advice from the people who aren't being "IF YOU DON'T LEARN SCALES YOU DIE" elitists, I asked my friend to teach me how to use scales(since scales themselves are easy to get down, for me at least). BUT is there a good way to learn how to use them? Because all I ever hear is "play the notes in a different pattern" which just sounds like BS to me....
#20
Well from what i heard the best way to learn to use scales to write solos is to break down the scale like this.
1. You take the scale in question,see which notes are on the top 2 strings
2.Come up with licks using ONLY the notes on the top 2 strings.
3.Move down to the next 2 strings and eventually start expanding to 3 strings and so on.
#21
I replied to a similar post in another forum like this......since when is knowledge a bad thing? I mean, it doesn't take a genius to figure out the more you learn and know about your instrument the easier it will be for you to play it and you will most likely play it better and with more confidence and conviction.

Let me rephrase..............Why wouldn't you want to learn more?

Personally I don't know how guys like Dimebag and Marty Friedman can play solos without knowing scales, but then again
1) they may not have learned scales but they obviously had to learn what notes would sound good over what chords. I mean, how on earth do you solo then? I saw a video of Marty Friedman describing how he solos and he improvised over a rhythm similar to that of Hotel California and you could hear the chord changes in his soloing. While he doesn't know scales, how on earth could he or anyone know how to do that without knowing what notes to play over what chords?
2) Look who you are talking about. Maybe the reason those guys are who they are is because they have a gift
#22
I was also wondering: I'm trying to delve into more intermmediate songs. Unfortunately for a lot of time I learned guitar, I was into grunge and alternative(which did make me better at improv because punk/grunge/most alternative guitar solos get REAL boring VERY quickly) and as the above post said, I did learn the notes that work according to chord changes. As far as soloing to a cover song, I'm good, I can do that easily, but it's making my own songs and solos, and I think that's why I first started looking at scale stuff.

But back to the principle: I can't find many good songs to go from...idk... not beginner or easy... but... Well the hardest song I can play(that I can think of off the top of my head) is Panic Attack by Dream Theater. I obviously can't play the solo, but the rest of the song I got down. So any ideas of bands on that level? As far as riffing goes, Dream Theater is probably the hardest stuff I can do(again, off the top of my head) because a lot of their stuff isn't very shred crazy(except Systematic Chaos and Train of thought which have a lot of shred based songs).

I can also play a few Death songs(mostly Human type stuff: a good combination of technicality, thrash, and progressiveness). So yeah, any bands/songs that I should learn to get better through covers(practicing individual techniques gets boring and I was getting better improving songs and learning by ear then I have been lately(I just kinda sit around trying to make stuff up, lol)

I'm also not good at legato. It's my weakest technique(I can do everything else fine, good considering what I like and how long i've been playing). Any tips/sites/videos that could help? Lol, this is turning into my own "please help me" thread :P
#23
Well. I see there's a heated debate going on, so I'll throw in my two cents. Don't worry, I'm not gonna tell you that you need scales to write music and all that. However, scales do help you in figuring out what chords go together. For example:
Let's say you want to solo in the E natural minor. The notes are E, F#, G, A, B, C, D. All that scale does is dictate which of those chords would be major, minor, diminished, augmented, etc.
That and just general fretboard knowledge is all that a scale will really do for you.

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#24
^ So I guess I outta learn scales....damn. So what scales do progressive bands use? Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, Pink floyd, etc.