#1
I have heard a lot about how scales are important for soloing and stuff like that. I was looking up scales and there's just so many of them! I have absolutely no idea where to start. Which scales are important to play rock music? Can someone name all of the scales I should learn because I am honestly lost.
#2
Quote by lzbd
I have heard a lot about how scales are important for soloing and stuff like that. I was looking up scales and there's just so many of them! I have absolutely no idea where to start. Which scales are important to play rock music? Can someone name all of the scales I should learn because I am honestly lost.


Start with the major scale. Or maybe pentatonic. Actually pentatonic might be a better start, but major scale is more powerful in the long run.
#3
Just letting you know now that just about ALL rock music is based off the major scale (or diatonic scale, which is more applicable in this sense) in some way, unless it's something like harmonic minor (more likely to find this in metal). Everything from happy melodies to pentatonic shred solos are all technically a part of the major scale.

As a beginner, the minor and major pentatonic shapes are your bread and butter, most rock revolves around pentatonics, as do most solos. From there, learn the major scale across the fretboard, and if you ever get stuck, just remember that with the major scale, if you land on a note that's not in the scale (can sound good sometimes, but it's better if you actively know where these notes lie), either fret next to that note will be a note that IS in the scale. If you can learn the major scale, you can find out just about anything in rock songs.

Use an image like this of the Gmajor scale, and learn/practice all the different positions. If you can do this, you can play just about anything in Gmajor/Eminor (both use the same notes), and if you need to change key, just shift all the notes left or right to fit the key. The major scale is the foundation of most music from the Western world, so it's something you'll learn at some point regardless.
#4
Which scales are important to play rock music?


Pentatonic is the most important I would say. But depends on what kind of rock music you are talking about. A lot of classic rock songs are based on pentatonic.

Can someone name all of the scales I should learn because I am honestly lost.


Major and minor. If you understand those scales well, you don't need to even learn that many different scales. You may notice that many different scales are just variations of those scales. Also, I would say there are way too many different scales that you will never use. Or you may use them but they usually have a better explanation. Most of the time you'll be playing minor and major scales + accidentals.

The exotic names may also confuse you. But forget about those for now (you may never need them). Major and minor (+ accidentals) is pretty much all you need.

When you learn to play those scales, also listen to the sound. That's important.

I would also suggest learning about major and minor keys.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#5
Jimjambanx's suggestions are what you should follow.

There appear to be loads of scales but in reality many of them follow the SAME PATERN.

The major scale - if you learn it in one position then you can move it up and down and play in any major key - so that's 12 scales learned.

If you start from a different note then you can have a minor scale, e.g. the C major scales started on A is the A minor scale. - so that's 24 scales learned.

The pentatonic scales are just major and minor scales with notes missing from them.

And if you want to learn modal scales then just use the major and start at different notes.

The most important thing to learn is the Major scale

Here's a video lesson on it

http://www.justinguitar.com/en/SC-204-MajorScalePatterns.php
#6
Quote by PSimonR
Jimjambanx's suggestions are what you should follow.

There appear to be loads of scales but in reality many of them follow the SAME PATERN.

The major scale - if you learn it in one position then you can move it up and down and play in any major key - so that's 12 scales learned.

If you start from a different note then you can have a minor scale, e.g. the C major scales started on A is the A minor scale. - so that's 24 scales learned.

The pentatonic scales are just major and minor scales with notes missing from them.

And if you want to learn modal scales then just use the major and start at different notes.

The most important thing to learn is the Major scale

Here's a video lesson on it

http://www.justinguitar.com/en/SC-204-MajorScalePatterns.php

While what you say is true pattern-wise, it's really not true when it comes to actual music. Minor is different from major, all the modes are different from major, so I wouldn't think them as major starting with different notes. That kind of thinking is exactly why people are so confused when it comes to modes. But let's not talk about modes here. They aren't really relevant to the topic.

Don't learn A minor as C major that starts with A. That's not what it is. Yes, if you know the fingerings for C major, you also know the fingerings for A (natural) minor. But that's really where the similarities end.


Also, pentatonic is a different scale - it is not the same as playing major or minor scale. It has its own distinct sound. You need to learn all the different scales separately to really understand them. Of course seeing certain kind of connections makes it easier to learn the scales.


I would also suggest learning about scale construction (you need to know intervals for that). That makes you see the similarities/differences between different scales.

For example major scale is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, minor is 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7. That already tells a lot about the sound. You see what notes are similar in those scales and what notes are different. Many scales are just one note different from major or minor. If you understand scale construction, it's easier to learn the sound of different scales.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#7
As someone's who's totally musically illiterate, I'm clueless as to what the purpose of scales is and how to incorporate them into music or use them for guitar soloing....can some explain this for me please?
#8
Quote by killaudio666
As someone's who's totally musically illiterate, I'm clueless as to what the purpose of scales is and how to incorporate them into music or use them for guitar soloing....can some explain this for me please?

A scales is just a collection of pitches. If you know scales, it's way easier to find the notes you are looking for. Think scales as a way of navigating on the fretboard.

If you have a musical idea, let's say a melody in your head, it's way easier to find that melody on your fretboard if you know scales.


It's important to know the sound of the scale, not just the fingerings. I think there will be little help from just knowing the fingerings to a scale. Yes, it does help if you want your random noodling to sound okay over the backing track. But to really benefit from scales, you need to learn the sound, not just the fingerings.


How to use scales? Well, let's say we are in a major key. I would base my playing on the major scale. Every note I play would either be inside or outside of that scale. The scale is kind of a reference point. And if you know the scale well, you can play stuff without needing to think about every single note.

Scales will help your ear-fretboard connection.

The best way of learning to use them is playing actual music. All solos use scales.


But yeah, the knowledge of scales is required to understand other concepts in music theory. Music theory in general is just explanations of what happens in music. If you want to understand what's happening in music, I would suggest learning theory.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#9
Okay, so I'll start with all the major scales and then move on to the minor scales and pentatonic scales. I'm sort of confused about how scales are constructed and how to find them on different parts of the fretboard. Is there some sort of pattern that I could follow? Also, should i try learning where each note is on the fretboard now? Seems like it could be beneficial with scales.
#10
I would suggest learning about intervals if you want to understand how scales are constructed.

Diatonic scales have 7 notes in them (that repeat in different octaves). Major and minor are diatonic scales. Major scale is root, major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th and major 7th (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Natural minor scale is root, major 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, minor 6th and minor 7th (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7).

In major pentatonic you omit the 4th and 7th from the major scale, and in minor pentatonic you omit the 2nd and 6th from the minor scale.

This is how all major, minor, major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales are built. The intervals (the distances between the notes) are the same and that's why every scale of the same type sounds the same.


And yeah, learning the note names on the fretboard would be beneficial. You don't necessarily need to be able to recognize any note instantly, but at least some kind of understanding of how to find the note names on the fretboard would be recommended.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 9, 2015,
#11
Quote by lzbd
Okay, so I'll start with all the major scales and then move on to the minor scales and pentatonic scales. I'm sort of confused about how scales are constructed and how to find them on different parts of the fretboard. Is there some sort of pattern that I could follow? Also, should i try learning where each note is on the fretboard now? Seems like it could be beneficial with scales.


For me, all the major scales and all the minor scales are just one pattern, and I only learned it as one pattern, and all the differences such as whether it is minor or major never really concerned me, because my intuition just takes care of all that. But I learned that pattern a number of ways.

Unlike maggara, I never studied intervals either, in terms of scales, at least.

I also never found note names of any use for scales.

I did however learn all the main chord voicings, and how to name all the main chords from that. So, I can play a major chord, in a number of voicings, and show you where the 7th is, and the fifth, and the 3rd, and 9th etcetera. The intervals were useful to me there. For scales, it's all by ear to me. I know the pattern, and I know where what sounds like. I don't really know it by interval name, but if I looked at it as a chord, then I'd be able to name it. For me, it matters more which note in the scale a note is, than what itnerval it is away from the note I just played.

Note names were sort of semi useful if ever someone said "in the key of A" or something like that, but other than that, I only ever find note names useful for chords, either reading them off lead sheets, or recognizing what the different voicings of the same chord are.

You can find scale patterns on the internet. I use this site for all kind of information like that.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 9, 2015,
#12
Quote by fingrpikingood
For me, all the major scales and all the minor scales are just one pattern, and I only learned it as one pattern, and all the differences such as whether it is minor or major never really concerned me, because my intuition just takes care of all that. But I learned that pattern a number of ways.

Unlike maggara, I never studied intervals either, in terms of scales, at least.

I also never found note names of any use for scales.

I did however learn all the main chord voicings, and how to name all the main chords from that. So, I can play a major chord, in a number of voicings, and show you where the 7th is, and the fifth, and the 3rd, and 9th etcetera. The intervals were useful to me there. For scales, it's all by ear to me. I know the pattern, and I know where what sounds like. I don't really know it by interval name, but if I looked at it as a chord, then I'd be able to name it. For me, it matters more which note in the scale a note is, than what itnerval it is away from the note I just played.

Note names were sort of semi useful if ever someone said "in the key of A" or something like that, but other than that, I only ever find note names useful for chords, either reading them off lead sheets, or recognizing what the different voicings of the same chord are.

You can find scale patterns on the internet. I use this site for all kind of information like that.

Scale degrees are intervals too (related to the root of the scale). We refer to scale degrees with interval names. The 3rd note of the major scale is a major third above the root. We call it the major third, and we call the third note of the minor scale the minor third. The seventh note of the major scale is the major 7th and the seventh note of the minor scale is the minor 7th. Intervals do help with scale construction. If you think major scale as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and minor scale as 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, those are intervals.

I think in scale degrees too, not in intervals between individual notes. So if I want to figure out a melody, I listen to the scale degrees.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#13
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Scale degrees are intervals too (related to the root of the scale). We refer to scale degrees with interval names. The 3rd note of the major scale is a major third above the root. We call it the major third, and we call the third note of the minor scale the minor third. The seventh note of the major scale is the major 7th and the seventh note of the minor scale is the minor 7th. Intervals do help with scale construction. If you think major scale as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and minor scale as 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, those are intervals.
Ya, that's what it is for me.

I think in scale degrees too, not in intervals between individual notes. So if I want to figure out a melody, I listen to the scale degrees.


I misunderstood then. I think usually when people talk about intervals, they mean between specific notes, which is too confusing to me. I'm sure I subliminally use that sort of information to some degree, but it's not something I would practice. For me, what's paramount is relative to the key, so degrees, which, can be considered intervals from the implied tonic, but I don't tend to rationalize it that way, personally. I am a little weird that way, as I guess you know by now, for me it's one pattern, and I name everything the same way, regardless of what key or mode I'm in. Except for function, of course.

So, for me, degrees, in that sense, is "position in the pattern". So, I might not know, as I'm soloing, if I'm in a minor key, or if I'm in a major key. I won't think about it. But then if I do the harmonic minor thing to create the V to resolve to the i, which for me is a III-vi, then I will know I'm in minor, or just if I hit the tonic, I will probably notice that, unless I'm too preoccupied with what I'm doing. I mean, at the end of the day it IS all the same pattern. Ya, sure, the tonic is important, but it is teh same pattern still. Just like if you're playing a IV or a V matters, and those sound very different, but they are still both major chords. Music is a little strange that way. Things can be the same and yet different, and that happens quite a lot.

All that's just me though. Not necessarily what one should be doing, but it works for me. I mention it because others might find it useful also. In this case, I think what's one of the more important things to take from it for OP, is forget learning "all major and minor and pentatonic scales" These things are related. The patterns are similar. I think it's more important to learn one, learn it well, and learn how it works. All the others will be much easier to learn once you've learned one. But if you go and learn all these things as separate entities, then you'll be done all that, after a lot of work, and still lost on how to use it, and perhaps missing out on the simplicity of how they are sort of really all the same thing, in a sense.

But definitely scale degree, I find is more crucial for scales than note names, and also intervals between notes. For me, the key is the key. Even chord progressions are just sets of degrees of the key. Everything is relative to the key for me.
#14
Well the 12 major scales will cover like 90% of the scalar knowledge you'd use with any regularity.

Just take them on one or two at a time. Spend a week on C, then on F, etc. After a months you'll at least have a road map for playing in every key. And remember scales are literally just sets of notes, not just finger patterns played in certain places. You can practice C major starting on note in the scale, in any position on the neck, and it's still C major.

In anticipation of disagreement, I'll say that this advice is based on the assumption that you have time to practice and want to pursue playing beyond a basic level. If your time and goals are more limited, then focus on repertoire and technical skills. Learning all your scales, chords, and such is a great road, but it's definitely one meant to take you further than a lot of people are interested in going with music.
Last edited by cdgraves at Nov 9, 2015,
#15
Quote by fingrpikingood

I misunderstood then. I think usually when people talk about intervals, they mean between specific notes, which is too confusing to me. I'm sure I subliminally use that sort of information to some degree, but it's not something I would practice. For me, what's paramount is relative to the key, so degrees, which, can be considered intervals from the implied tonic, but I don't tend to rationalize it that way, personally. I am a little weird that way, as I guess you know by now, for me it's one pattern, and I name everything the same way, regardless of what key or mode I'm in. Except for function, of course.

Yeah, I always relate everything to the key or the chords. I may think in chord tones or scale degrees but rarely in intervals between two notes. Or I do think about that, but I don't think "now the melody goes a minor 6th up". I see the leap and notice it's a sixth, but the way I think is "it goes from scale degree x to scale degree y" (for example from the major third to the octave).

And yeah, I know how you name things.

So, for me, degrees, in that sense, is "position in the pattern". So, I might not know, as I'm soloing, if I'm in a minor key, or if I'm in a major key. I won't think about it. But then if I do the harmonic minor thing to create the V to resolve to the i, which for me is a III-vi, then I will know I'm in minor, or just if I hit the tonic, I will probably notice that, unless I'm too preoccupied with what I'm doing. I mean, at the end of the day it IS all the same pattern. Ya, sure, the tonic is important, but it is teh same pattern still. Just like if you're playing a IV or a V matters, and those sound very different, but they are still both major chords. Music is a little strange that way. Things can be the same and yet different, and that happens quite a lot.

All that's just me though. Not necessarily what one should be doing, but it works for me. I mention it because others might find it useful also. In this case, I think what's one of the more important things to take from it for OP, is forget learning "all major and minor and pentatonic scales" These things are related. The patterns are similar. I think it's more important to learn one, learn it well, and learn how it works. All the others will be much easier to learn once you've learned one. But if you go and learn all these things as separate entities, then you'll be done all that, after a lot of work, and still lost on how to use it, and perhaps missing out on the simplicity of how they are sort of really all the same thing, in a sense.

Yes, seeing connections does help. Of course you should not ignore them completely. But I think it's also important to learn the scales as separate things. They are not just the major scale with some notes omitted or just the major scale starting with a different note, even though that's one way of thinking about them. They are different things.

But definitely scale degree, I find is more crucial for scales than note names, and also intervals between notes. For me, the key is the key. Even chord progressions are just sets of degrees of the key. Everything is relative to the key for me.

Yeah. I agree. I also relate everything to the key or sometimes chords (for example if I notice there is an arpeggio in the melody, I don't think about scale degrees but figure out the chord and just play the chord tones - or it's a combination of scale degrees and chord tones, it depends).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#16
Quote by lzbd
Okay, so I'll start with all the major scales and then move on to the minor scales and pentatonic scales. I'm sort of confused about how scales are constructed and how to find them on different parts of the fretboard. Is there some sort of pattern that I could follow? Also, should i try learning where each note is on the fretboard now? Seems like it could be beneficial with scales.
There are certainly patterns, and they are very helpful for learning scales.

On guitar we tend to think of scale patterns as "boxes", involving all 6 strings within a range of 4 or 5 frets. But IMO it helps to see the pattern of a scale up one string first.
If a guitar had just one string, we could still play scales, but we'd have to be running our hand up and down the neck all the time (12 frets for one 7-note scale).
But the guitar has 6 strings, of course, and the whole purpose of tuning a guitar the way we do is simply to help us play a scale without moving our hand, by giving us 3 notes on each string (sometimes just 2).

Eg, here's the C major scale on the 5th (A) string:
---------------------------------
---------------------------------
---------------------------------
---------------------------------
-3---5---7-8---10---12---14-15---
---------------------------------
 C   D   E F    G    A    B  C
That shows you the major scale formula (WWHWWWH). Play it, and you'll hear the "do re mi fa so la ti do".

Obviously, in practice, we don't want to play the C major scale like that (!), so we arrange it across the strings like this:
---------------------------------
-----------------------0-1---------
---------------0---2--------------
-----0---2-3---------------------
-3------------------------------
---------------------------------
 C   D   E F   G   A   B C
Or maybe like this:
---------------------------------
--------------------------------
-------------------2---4-5-------
---------2-3---5--------------------
-3---5-----------------------------
----------------------------------
 C   D   E F   G   A   B C
or this
---------------------------------
--------------------------------
--------------------------------
-------------------7--9-10--------------
---------7-8--10-------------------
-8---10---------------------------
 C   D   E F   G   A   B C
You'll notice those are all exactly the same notes, we're just taking advantage of the guitar's design to choose different places to play them.

The last pattern is especially useful because it allows us to add another octave of the scale:
-----------------------------------------------7-8---
---------------------------------------8--10---------
-----------------------------7---9-10----------------
-------------------7--9-10--------------------------
---------7-8--10-------------------------------------
-8---10---------------------------------------------
 C   D   E F   G   A   B C   D   E F   G   A   B C
The idea with all these is that you assign one finger to each fret, so your hand needn't move at all; your fingers just move across from string to string as required.

In fact all 6-string scale patterns contain just over two octaves of notes, but the root notes will be in different places. E.g., here's the whole open (1st) position pattern for C major:
-------------------------------------------------0-1---3---
---------------------------------------0-1---3-------------
-------------------------------0---2----------------------
---------------------0---2-3-----------------------------
-----------0---2-3----------------------------------------
-0-1---3--------------------------------------------------
 E F   G   A   B C   D   E F   G   A   B C   D   E F   G
It doesn't start on C, but we still call it "C major" because that's the most common application of those 7 notes (with C as root note).

Basically, any single major scale forms one big 12-fret pattern on the neck (after 12 frets the whole thing repeats).
Naturally it's tough negotiating (and visualising) a 12-fret pattern - on all 6 strings - so we break that down into 5 sub-patterns, covering 4 or 5 frets each, and all overlapping. (Two of those 5 patterns are shown above.)

The great thing about guitar is that it makes learning all 12 major scales easy. We only need those 5 patterns, and we can just move them (any or all of them) up or down the neck the right number of frets to get any major scale we want.
Eg, if you want a D major scale, you just take the C major patterns (or any one you like) and move them 2 frets up. No need to know the note names! E major? 2 more frets up.
(Naturally it will help in other ways if you do know the notes, but you can pick up that knowledge on the way.)

Moreover, all the other scale types can be referenced to the major scale "template".
So, the "major pentatonic" means leaving out the 4th and 7th degrees of the major scale. (I.e., C major pent = C D E G A).
The "minor pentatonic" is the same 5 notes, but with the A as the root.
However, as MaggaraMarine says, there can be confusing issues here over how these scales are used, especially if "key" is confused with "scale".
"C major pent" is in the key of C major, or is the sound of those notes when used on a C chord.
"A minor pent" is in the key of A minor, or is the sound of those same 5 notes when used on an Am chord.
So a "root note" is not just the note you start a scale on, or the lowest note of a pattern, or anything to do with the order you play them in. It's a governing sound, that usually comes from a chord root, or the keynote of a progression.
(An additional confusion arises in rock and blues, where we use a minor pent pattern in a major key. E.g. A minor pent in A major, or C minor pent in C major.... )
...

My personal advice would be to learn the C major scale (that's the "natural notes", A B C D E F G), in open position first (frets 0-3 as shown above). Check how it fits around all the chords in that key (C, F, G, Am, Dm, Em). Strum the chords, play the scale. Notice how the scale ties them all together.
For movable patterns, start with the 2-octave one above (between frets 7-10).

You can start to learn the fretboard by memorising the A-BC-D-EF-G-A formula (always half-step between BC and EF and whole step between all the others), and working out random notes on each string by counting up from the open strings.

You can also try to work out the notes in other chords you know (if they're not the C major scale notes, they'll be sharp or flat versions of them).

Check out the CAGED system too, for connecting chord shapes with scale patterns.

The more directions you approach this from, the more you'll see patterns developing, and the more each perspective will support the others. The more pieces of the jigsaw you fit together, the quicker and easier it gets to complete it.
Last edited by jongtr at Nov 10, 2015,
#17
Quote by lzbd
I have heard a lot about how scales are important for soloing and stuff like that. I was looking up scales and there's just so many of them! I have absolutely no idea where to start. Which scales are important to play rock music? Can someone name all of the scales I should learn because I am honestly lost.


Scales and chords are the vocabulary of music. It is how we communicate ideas. Which ones to learn just depends on what type of player you want to be. If 3 chords and one scale are enough for you to say everything you want to say, that is all you need to know. If you want complete freedom of expression without limitations, learn em all.

My method is to find a song I like and dissect it. What are the chords and scales in this song? How can I play them in several different positions on the neck? Once I have mastered this one, pick a new song with different elements and dissect it. Rinse. Repeat.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY