Starting a couple of months ago, I've been practicing scales for at least 30-45 minutes a day. I feel like I've gotten better at playing them, but even after that much practice they don't sound perfect, even when I play them as 16th notes at 70 BPM. I can play them consistently now, which is something I haven't been able to do before, but they just don't sound that good. They sound very choppy and staccato at times, and my rhythm isn't the greatest either. I can actually play scales as 16th notes at 110 BPM, but at that speed they start to sound much more choppy than when I play at a slower speed, so I always practice at around the 70-80 BPM mark. So, I guess my question is: with my current practice plan, how long will it take for my scales to actually sound good? Also, should I be working on making my scales sounding perfect at a lower speed before I start to increase my BPM? Thanks to anyone who responds.
You should try and perfect it at lower speeds before increasing the tempo. Try to make sure your fingers aren't flying off the fretboard either. Any finger that is not fretting should either be hovering just above the string, or resting lightly on the string. See this video:

Thank you! I've been looking for a video like that for a long time. My scales sound JUST like the one he did at 1:03, so my fingers flying off the fretboard is probably why my scales aren't sounding that great.

Thanks again!
Rhythm ladders are your solution.

If 16ths at 70 is where you start to flub, set the metronome down a few. Say 66.

Start with quarter notes at 66. And play the scale all the way up and down. When you get back to the nut, do the next scale with 8th notes. Repeat with triplets and 16ths.

IT's also very useful to have the scales playable all the way up and down the fretboard. When you practice them that way, you aren't boxed into "shapes" and can easily move from one position to the next. I'd do regular 3 note per string scales.
Quote by Daniel2210
Thank you! I've been looking for a video like that for a long time. My scales sound JUST like the one he did at 1:03, so my fingers flying off the fretboard is probably why my scales aren't sounding that great.

Thanks again!

It will take time. My fingers were notorious for flying off the strings. Practice VERY slowly making sure your fingers stay close to the strings. The more you practice it without mistakes (by going slow enough) the quicker you will learn the correct muscle memory.

Also make sure to be hitting just behind the fret, this will require the least amount of pressure, as the string has less distance to travel, and make it easier to play in the long run (especially if you play acoustic which has higher action and thicker strings).
Quote by edg
You really cannot make "scales sound good" and just hope for the best. What you have to understand is that the basic approach is playing the chord changes. The scales are a sort of structure around the changes.

I think TS is talking more about sounding clean and fluent and playing with a good tone, not about playing good melodies. I mean, from what I understood, he's practicing scales, not improvisation.

And TS, yes, you should start slower. Because when you play slowly, it's easier to recognize your mistakes and correct them, and that way you can also make sure that there is no unnecessary tension and you are playing relaxed.

Forcing speed is going to teach you bad habits and actually make your playing more difficult in the long run. Remember that speed takes time - you won't become a shredder in a day.

Now, I'm not a great guitarist but I know what learning bad habits means and how hard it is to learn something correctly after you have been playing it incorrectly for years. I am right now relearning my trumpet technique and sometimes it just feels really depressing. Especially in the beginning - I basically lost my ability to play the trumpet properly. If I wasn't studying music in a university, I would already most likely have quit. But it's getting better...
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Feb 25, 2016,
if you've only been playing a couple of months don't expect miracles. keep at it but as mentioned play them slow until you have them down without thinking about it. speed comes with time.
be aware that some amp effects are real difficult to sound good with .... i practiced with my amp off most of the time (acoustically) and when i turned it on it was a bit of a shock to hear how badly i could sound and how much extra work needs to be put in to control how you sound through an amp. or you can just add a reverb effect and sound amazing anyway :p

thats my experience as a beginner (which i still am)

just to add to that a bit, be aware that you might have to mute strings after you play them to stop them sounding out and fucking around . i learnt that not too long ago when i was wondering why i sounded shit even after hitting the strings ok
Last edited by percydw at Feb 26, 2016,
Ive been playing for 10 years, and after 2 years I was able to play for the love of god by steve vai pretty well, but its taken me 8 years to be able to play something like that off the top of my head. Technique is easy to build, but crativity and understand your instrument takes a lot of time.
Definitely the best advice is the one from that Justing guitar video i.e. keep those fingers down. You need to get those fingers moving with precision and control but with very minimal distance from the guitar strings. It's one of my main teaching things with all my students so just thought I'd put my 2 cents in.

Do you play the way Justin does in that video or the shapes with three note per string? Three per string is much better and quicker to be able to play faster.