Hey, my former guitar teacher always told me that learning scale patterns isn't that useful for improving your improvisation skills. He always told me that intervals are far more important because when you have mastered all the intervals on the guitar neck, you can make up any scale you want just by using the appropriate formula (like Dorian: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7). So I am practicing all the different intervals and started by doing this for the E shape, the A shape and the C shape (because I find these the easiest to memorize). Every time I play the guitar I spend some time slowly playing the patterns from the major scale and then analyzing all the intervals, and really trying to memorize it. I have also printed a sheet with a random sequence of 1000 numbers that represent the intervals (e.g 5 4 7 7 2 3 1 1 4 3 6), so I read the sheet and try to hit the right note in a particular shape.

I was wondering if there are better ways of practicing intervals, would it be better if I'd just play the scales and the intervals over backing tracks, or just look at the tabs for many solo's and melody's and analyze the intervals that are played or how do you practice this?
Couple of ways to do it. First one is to get a feel for playing intervals through scales. But instead of playing the scale verbatim, you do it as intervals. Eg. G major in 3rds: You go G B A C B D E G F# A etc. 6ths: G E A F# B G C A D B etc. To get a physical feel for where they are. But before this, learn where each interval is depending on string set first. A minor second would be a different shape if you played it on the G and B strings compared to the E to A. You should also be doing ear training in conjunction with this, otherwise it is pretty useless.
Focus on the sound.

Also, I wouldn't say scale patterns aren't that useful. Scale patterns are good for muscle memory. Yeah, they are not that great if you just play them on autopilot mode without being aware of any of the notes that you are playing. But if you want to play a fast scale run, scale patterns are good for that. And they also make it easier to find the notes that you are looking for. The key here is knowing the sound.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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 jerrykramskoy at Jul 24, 2016,

One thing that really helped me was learning the modes - take each mode and isolate the intervals specific to it - for example, dorian has the minor 3rd and natural 6th - those two things basically define the sound in conparison to the aeolian/ minor.

Now practice playing the mode over a root note drone so you can hear how each interval sounds in context. Also learn the chord that accentuates the notes specific to to each mode - with dorian it would be a minor 6 chord for example. Doing this for each mode really anchors the sounds in your brain.

I strongly disagree with anyone who says you need to ignore modes because the modes are a fantastic way to learn your intervals.
Last edited by reverb66 at Jul 26, 2016,
Have to strongly disagree back with you.I

I love modal playing, but I for sure wouldn't bring it that into the equation too early on, until the major/minor system is at least learned, and understood.

I agree that awareness of which interval(s) define the distinctiveness of a mode is critical, but using modes to learn intervals from scratch really is not a good starting point, nor is that additional complexity needed.

Intervals are independent of scale (mode), or chord, They are the building blocks from which scales and chords, are made.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 27, 2016,
Song associations and theme tunes are a good way.

Lydian would be The Simpsons

Ascending major seventh and descending diminished fifth can be found in the theme tune to the film Fantasy Island
Last edited by mdc at Jul 27, 2016,
Say - what are some well known songs that are solid examples I could use to memorize the sounds of the following intervals:

Descending tritone
descending minor 7th

Thanks for your time everyone. I've been so frustrated trying to find an example of descending minor 7th specifically (C down to D for example).
Member of the Frank Zappa Fan Club. PM deadhead313313 to join
Founder of the Soundgarden Fan Club (Louder Than F*ck!). PM me to join.