#1
Hey guys,

I've been playing guitar for about 3 years now and realized i didn't know any scales. So i went online and memorized a few scales people said were important. Now i know all these scales and have no idea how to use them. Are there any exercises or tips or anything that can help me apply these? Do i need to tell you what scales i've learned? I'm tired of stagnating. PLEASE HELP
#2
Scales are only really important if you're interested in transcribing and/or writing music. If you're just a hobbyist and not interested in writing your own pieces, scales and theory aren't really a big deal.

Before I go any further, why are you memorizing scales? What do you want to get out of it?
#3
I'd strongly disagree with that, even if you're just a "hobbyist" you'll still get far more enjoyment out of playing if you have a better understanding both your instrument and music itself.

Moved to MT
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
#4
Quote by steven seagull
I'd strongly disagree with that, even if you're just a "hobbyist" you'll still get far more enjoyment out of playing if you have a better understanding both your instrument and music itself.

Moved to MT

I dunno about that. I know plenty of hobbyist guitarists who just want to play songs and aren't all that concerned with theory. Personally, I agree with you on enjoying music more for knowing what's happening, but that isn't true for most of the guitarists I know (hence why I asked why he wants to learn theory).
#5
Quote by ninothetasty
I've been playing guitar for about 3 years now and realized i didn't know any scales. So i went online and memorized a few scales people said were important. Now i know all these scales and have no idea how to use them.


Bull Sh#t. What you memorized were finger patterns. Do you know every note of that scale by heart? Can you find all the scale tones all over the fretboard without having to think about it? Can you play the tonic arpeggio in all it's inversions all over the neck? Do you know every mode derived from that scale? Do you know every naturally occuring arpeggio that exists in that scale?

You don't know any ****ing scales and neither do I. I have been working on the C major scale for about 1 year and I'm not even done with it yet.
Quote by CLVPX
Wow, SkyValley = Epic win.
#6
Quote by ninothetasty
Hey guys,

I've been playing guitar for about 3 years now and realized i didn't know any scales. So i went online and memorized a few scales people said were important. Now i know all these scales and have no idea how to use them. Are there any exercises or tips or anything that can help me apply these? Do i need to tell you what scales i've learned? I'm tired of stagnating. PLEASE HELP


Hi I wrote this tutorial to try to answer exactly that question. The first lesson explains the major scale, how it gives rise to chords, and how these can be used to make progressions. It has an example study which shows the relation between the chord and the scale. Let me know if this helps. This tutorial is for the major scale. If you want to learn how to use the blues scale (or minor pentatonic) let me know, I have some resources for getting started with this also.

http://www.guitarlessonsbristol.org.uk/1/post/2013/04/practical-theory-for-guitarists-understanding-guitar-part-one.html
Luke Mosse Guitar Teacher in Bristol, UK
#7
Quote by afromoose
Hi I wrote this tutorial to try to answer exactly that question. The first lesson explains the major scale, how it gives rise to chords, and how these can be used to make progressions. It has an example study which shows the relation between the chord and the scale. Let me know if this helps. This tutorial is for the major scale. If you want to learn how to use the blues scale (or minor pentatonic) let me know, I have some resources for getting started with this also.

http://www.guitarlessonsbristol.org.uk/1/post/2013/04/practical-theory-for-guitarists-understanding-guitar-part-one.html

The problem is that you included the box shapes. What would have been better was to strictly stick to showing the intervals of the scale degrees in relation to the root of the scale.


Anyway, TS...it's more important, imho, that you learn keys (and how they work) rather than scales. Scales are basically 7 (or sometimes more) notes, and that's it. (There are people who argue that you can construct chord progressions for each scale, but what they're really doing is constructing odd chord progressions within a key.) Keys are defined by key signatures, but you can play any note within the key. Of course, that doesn't mean you can play any note, and it will sound good -- it just means that a key is NOT limited strictly to the notes of the key signature. Also, since keys supersede scales, you'll gain a better understanding in the long run.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Apr 23, 2013,
#8
Quote by ninothetasty
Hey guys,

I've been playing guitar for about 3 years now and realized i didn't know any scales. So i went online and memorized a few scales people said were important. Now i know all these scales and have no idea how to use them. Are there any exercises or tips or anything that can help me apply these? Do i need to tell you what scales i've learned? I'm tired of stagnating. PLEASE HELP


Can I ask what scales you learned? I'm guessing the minor pentatonic and major scale patterns.

But you need to know when you apply any scale, you don't want to sound like your playing a scale. You want to develop different ways of moving from note to note. Switch up the order and rhythm.

I'm not sure what you're aim is... are you just wanting to play leads? Or do you really want to learn scales and how they relate to the key you are in? Regardless, scales are a must to learn if you want to solo, learn how to play but develop your own licks and riffs, and know how to adapt that SOUND to any song ( key ) you are in. Hope to hear from you. Hope this helps.
#9
Quote by SkyValley
Bull Sh#t. What you memorized were finger patterns. Do you know every note of that scale by heart? Can you find all the scale tones all over the fretboard without having to think about it? Can you play the tonic arpeggio in all it's inversions all over the neck? Do you know every mode derived from that scale? Do you know every naturally occuring arpeggio that exists in that scale?

You don't know any ****ing scales and neither do I. I have been working on the C major scale for about 1 year and I'm not even done with it yet.


It's taken you more than a year to memorize seven notes?
2010 Gibson SG Honeyburst
I'm a musician, a composer, and a theory nut. Pleased to meet you! Check out my websites and drop me a line.

"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude. " ~ Freidrich Nietzche


My Website
#10
I have written my own music and i really want to write more. But after a while i started playing the same old stuff and got bored. I started learning scales so that it would help in that sense, but now that i know them i don't know what to to with them since them by themselves is pretty boring.
#11
Quote by SkyValley
Bull Sh#t. What you memorized were finger patterns. Do you know every note of that scale by heart? Can you find all the scale tones all over the fretboard without having to think about it? Can you play the tonic arpeggio in all it's inversions all over the neck? Do you know every mode derived from that scale? Do you know every naturally occuring arpeggio that exists in that scale?

You don't know any ****ing scales and neither do I. I have been working on the C major scale for about 1 year and I'm not even done with it yet.

Woah, relax man, i'm not trying to be a ****ing legend or anything, i know like 9 scales and a few of their variants. No of course i can't do all of that stuff i've only been playing for a few years, i'm not looking for something that anal, i just want to be able to apply what i've learned so i can write some more interesting music.
#12
Quote by TravisWright
Can I ask what scales you learned? I'm guessing the minor pentatonic and major scale patterns.

But you need to know when you apply any scale, you don't want to sound like your playing a scale. You want to develop different ways of moving from note to note. Switch up the order and rhythm.

I'm not sure what you're aim is... are you just wanting to play leads? Or do you really want to learn scales and how they relate to the key you are in? Regardless, scales are a must to learn if you want to solo, learn how to play but develop your own licks and riffs, and know how to adapt that SOUND to any song ( key ) you are in. Hope to hear from you. Hope this helps.



I am self taught (internet taught really), and i don't even know what you mean by key, i'm not very well versed on the jargon surrounding this subject. i have a feeling that if i did, i'd be able to do this a little better.
#13
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
The problem is that you included the box shapes. What would have been better was to strictly stick to showing the intervals of the scale degrees in relation to the root of the scale.


Anyway, TS...it's more important, imho, that you learn keys (and how they work) rather than scales. Scales are basically 7 (or sometimes more) notes, and that's it. (There are people who argue that you can construct chord progressions for each scale, but what they're really doing is constructing odd chord progressions within a key.) Keys are defined by key signatures, but you can play any note within the key. Of course, that doesn't mean you can play any note, and it will sound good -- it just means that a key is NOT limited strictly to the notes of the key signature. Also, since keys supersede scales, you'll gain a better understanding in the long run.


So... ignore scales for now and learn keys? I'm going to google it. this is all beginning to get a little confusing.
#14
Quote by ninothetasty
So... ignore scales for now and learn keys? I'm going to google it. this is all beginning to get a little confusing.



Let me see if I can help you. You're just starting. First advice, is ignore all the "purists" that want to demonstrate their knowledge, while forgetting that you are new. Many of them have likely never taught another, to any real degree. Start basic and simple, there's no shame in doing so, most of us were where you are now.

When you are new, and you want to just "play" with scales, the best way to do it, is start playing and using your ear. Find a backing track, that's already established in a given "key", say A minor Blues. Then, make sure your guitar is in tune and, start playing along with it, exploring how the sounds "feel" or "sound" against the track. Start slowly. You can buy collections of jam tracks out there, or find some you tube channel where they've put up a few samples, or even make your own. Google is your friend.

Play different combinations, of 3-4 note phrases. Are there other things you can do with them? Sure, but walk before learning to run. Will you soon get bored and in a rut? Yes, but you have to start somewhere. A rut tells you its time for a change.

Those changes can be everything from learning a solo note for note in the same Key, from a song you like, to learning theory and musician stuff.

You want to write, you can do that with or without theory. Theory in my opinion, helps you see and understand what is going on, or it may suggest options that you might not have thought of yourself. Anyways, if/when youre ready for that, there are a lot of ways to go about getting that knowledge. In the meantime, if your writing excites you and you like what you're doing, just create what you like.

I think, though it would be of value that when you write something, that you also know what is happening at least as far as a key, so again, theory would help you in that depeartment.

But starting out, just find these patterns and scales, and play them with the jam tracks for a while. I am assuming you at least know where to find the right note to start the improv from?

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Apr 24, 2013,
#15
@ ninothetasty

I am reluctant to comment on this because I don't want to get into an argument on a forum with anyone, but I would agree with the previous poster. And to be honest I'm a bit concerned because some of the reactions you've had here have been a bit aggressive and weird. Be careful as some of the posters in this thread are clearly not used to teaching, as they're being a bit too dogmatic, as the last poster said 'purist', whatever you want to call it. Be careful of the difference between someone trying to help and someone trying to show off their knowledge.

When you start out, there's no problem in learning 'box patterns', in reality an experienced guitarist will understand anything on the guitar in a few different ways. Some people gravitate towards theory, some towards more practical approaches. In the end you want to cover it all but different people learn in different ways. For most, (but not all) the practical approach is most effective, with the theory to follow up. This involves usually learning the physical aspects first, then learning some practical application, then learning theory. Some people, a minority, prefer to go the other way but they have different types of thinking.

This diatribe against scales is most unusual in the world of music education, and it's clear that there are some musicians here who have a bee in their bonnet about scales, when most likely they themselves learned that way in the beginning (most musicians have forgotten the things they did when they first started out, a bit like most of us can't remember being taught our abc's). Don't fret too much, scales are good to learn.

The first thing to ask is - what style do you want to play - are you more of a rock/blues player, or more of a jazz/classical folk player? For rock and blues go minor pentatonic, and for jazz/classical/folk go major scale.

What you really need is:

1. pick a style - say pick blues, giving you the minor pentatonic scale to work with at first.
2. learn the chords for that style - e.g. the 12 bar blues
3. do some simple exercises that will allow you to see how the scale fits the chords. This could include
i) Learn a melody that uses the scale (like a case study)
ii) Try to improvise a melody using that scale. A good way of doing this in the blues is using target tones. To do this you match the scale tone to the root of the chord. If you're interested in this exercise I can post up some instructions.

This is how I would get a student to see the connection between scales and music.

The theory - the intervals that make up the scales, is definitely useful to learn at some point. But don't get put off, most people learn scale patterns ('box' patterns) to start with and they are absolutely fine. You just add what you learn later to these box patterns.

Try a book called 'Blues you can use' by John Ganapes if you want to see how the blues works as a form, and how the minor pentatonic is used in that style. That's the best book/ method I've come across in the blues style.

Best wishes

Luke
Luke Mosse Guitar Teacher in Bristol, UK