#1
As an aspiring professional guitar player, how well should i know scales? I've been playing for 2 years and all i know is the minor pentatonic scale. I don't know if this is a weird question but i've always wondered it. Should i know every scale off the top of my head and be able to play it? I make rock music and the minor pentatonic scale is what is primarily used in rock, so that's the only reason why I stopped at the minor pentatonic scale.
#2
Quote by J23L
I make rock music and the minor pentatonic scale is what is primarily used in rock, so that's the only reason why I stopped at the minor pentatonic scale.


Man. I don't mean to be rude, but I think this idea is just plain wrong .v Why would you impose such a limitation on yourself.

A scale only works because there is a chord behind the notes that you are playing, and that relationship with bring up the so called "scale".

Like if you have an major chord in the background, and accent/do some passages with the #4 you will get like a lydian vibe.
I don't think you should learn every scale! But rather be an awesome player with the ones you like the most. Although you should be aware of the theory/vibe that each scale will have in X situation.

For example taking Lydian again. Instead of thinking: "Hm, i should play the 4th mode here", i would think something like. "-Hm, i would like a mysterious, kinda mystic, dream vibe to this part". Therefore i call/think of Lydian as the Dreamy Dreamy Scale. (I know this kind of thinking is silly, but it works for me )

On a practise point of view, you could train using something like. (copy pasting, because lazyness )
Quote by renatofrmsantos

If you have any some kind of looper, simple loop for example an Aminor chord.

The notes A (root) C(m3rd) E(5th) are the structure of the chord, so before going fancy pants. Simple play those notes against the chord and see how they sound. Then instead of playing with the guitar, hum them and try to reproduce with the guitar after. Just those 3 notes.

Then try add notes out of the chord. minor chord? no, problem. Slam a major third against and see how it sounds. (Some won't sound very good, but at least you will get an idea on what you like and what you don't like.)

Instead of a Minor chord try playing a Major chord, 7thChords, a dominant chords, even a power chord, any kinda of chord tbh.
After you have figured out more or less the sweet spots. Vamp a 2 chord progression, 3 chord progression...etc, etc.


That way you would be thinking in following chords rather than scales.
Last edited by renatofrmsantos at Oct 20, 2016,
#3
Well, I think it's impossible to know "every scale" because there are so many different ways of organizing the 12 notes. You should at least know the major and minor scales (not just pentatonic), not only to navigate on the fretboard but also because they are pretty much the basis of music theory.

Also, what does "knowing scales" even mean? Know what notes are in them? Know how they are built? Know their sound? Know how to play them? Recognize them in music? Use them in a musical way?

If you want to become a professional musician, you should learn as much about music as possible and definitely not limit your knowledge of the fretboard and music theory to just one scale (and music theory is about a lot more than just scales).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#4
Knowing your major, minor (+ harmonic, melodic), you octatonics, whole tone, and pentatonics will get you quite far. Actually 'knowing' is a lot of work though.
Last edited by GoldenGuitar at Oct 20, 2016,
#5
J23L the question I would ask..How well do you want to know scales...do you even have to know scales..there are many pro musicians that just know a handful of chords and that's it...they write/sing and the don't need to do any solo work at all...or go to the other extreme...Steve Vai..knowing many scales and their relationships..all the chords embedded in the scales and their arpeggios and substitutions..and the theory behind all that..
play well

wolf
Last edited by wolflen at Oct 20, 2016,
#6
learn scales to the point where you understand what each interval on the guitar is on relation to each other. there are only 12 tones in the western system, and each sounds very different in conjunction or juxtaposition to another, both horizontally and vertically. by understanding how those 12 tones relate to a tonic, a specific chord, and to one another at any given time, you won't need to think about, or realistically "know" scales at all

however, that understanding usually comes after a long time of internalizing music, training your ear, and developing your skill as a player, and the later you started/the less instruments you know, the harder it'll be to internalize it, so for now just learn your major and minor scales. you don't even really need to play them, aside from maybe warming up, as long as you're comfortable with them enough to relate them to the music you're currently working on

if you're still playing with tabs, that's going to be a skill that will be very hard to develop. tabs are a great supplementary resource, but use them to check your work moreso than a crutch. learn your music by ear, and, before long, scales will seem incredibly simple, especially if you focus on rock and metal which relies heavily on simple scale patterns the vast majority of the time
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#7
Quote by Hail
learn scales to the point where you understand what each interval on the guitar is on relation to each other. there are only 12 tones in the western system, and each sounds very different in conjunction or juxtaposition to another, both horizontally and vertically. by understanding how those 12 tones relate to a tonic, a specific chord, and to one another at any given time, you won't need to think about, or realistically "know" scales at all

however, that understanding usually comes after a long time of internalizing music, training your ear, and developing your skill as a player, and the later you started/the less instruments you know, the harder it'll be to internalize it, so for now just learn your major and minor scales. you don't even really need to play them, aside from maybe warming up, as long as you're comfortable with them enough to relate them to the music you're currently working on

if you're still playing with tabs, that's going to be a skill that will be very hard to develop. tabs are a great supplementary resource, but use them to check your work moreso than a crutch. learn your music by ear, and, before long, scales will seem incredibly simple, especially if you focus on rock and metal which relies heavily on simple scale patterns the vast majority of the time


Agreed in full.

"Knowing your scales" is just a thing that kind of comes along if you pursue the path of a professional and literate player. When I learned my basic major and minor scales for the first time, it was like doing math on the fretboard. My teacher gave me the major/minor scale formula and told me to write out all 12 major and minor scales, and then to start learning them all over the fretboard as 3 note per string patterns. Later on, I started doing the scales as a warm up routine, which really improved my ability to work anywhere on the fretboard. Once you have them down, you only have to spend a few minutes a day with them to keep the muscle memory.

Scales and other things are a sort of vocabulary you develop as a musician. You learn lots of music, you learn concepts, you see the relationships between the concepts and the music, and it helps you play better. It's just the same as how learning about language and reading lots of books makes you a better speaker and writer.

Should you be able to play any scale off the top of your head? That's not really a measure of skill in itself. That level of fretboard knowledge is a means to an end. If you want to make money with just your guitar and be able to play anything, it will probably be helpful to have the full arsenal of chords, arpeggios, and scales under your fingers. If you're a singer/songwriter type, probably not such a relevant pursuit.

And most people who can run beastly scales don't really care about scales, they care about technique. Scales and arpeggios are the basic material for pretty much every technique workout.

Ultimately, more knowledge will never hurt. What really determines whether you can play professionally is your attitude, preparation, and willingness to challenge yourself.
#8
A scale is a formula for picking out a bunch of pitches at various semitones from some starting pitch.

Some folk will ignore that this is what's going on, and instead learn scales by pitch names that result from this formula (not good).

But even when you know how to locate these on-instrument, that's not the same as knowing how to use the pitches to bring out the sound of the scale. You need to understand the tone tendencies for that. You need to understand the chords that arise out of the scale.
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#9
Quote by J23L
As an aspiring professional guitar player,
- given that ambition -
Quote by J23L
Should i know every scale off the top of my head and be able to play it?
YES! No-brainer. All 12 major scales, all 12 harmonic and melodic minors, all over your instrument.
Also, every possible shape for every chord. (Chords will help you learn your scales, and they are more important than scales anyway.)
I.e., know your notes, and know your chord structures - no need to memorise 1000s of chords, just memorise the handful of basic principles. You have to understand your instrument, and you have to understand music. You have to be in control. Then it's all pretty simple.

If you didn't want to be a pro, I'd just say - nah, just enjoy yourself.
Last edited by jongtr at Oct 21, 2016,
#10
This. I'd go even further than than but the BARE minimum is something like that.

Gotta know the major/natural minor scales everywhere and harmonic minor is good too.

You maybe don't NEED melodic minor or the "special" scales (HW, WT, Hmaj), but you should have at least a few voicings for all the main 7th chords. AT LEAST.

I'm sure Jon will agree with me on this one, but Its a never ending process. I know all my scales in every position and all my drop2s and 3s and spread and close voiced chords, and I still practice that stuff every single day,

Don't let that overwhelm you though, let it inspire you! The rabbit hole on this is massive so just pick stuff and work on it.

The next step for you is to get all the major pentatonic scales. Unless you already have those too, then start working on the major scale.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#11
Quote by Jet Penguin

I'm sure Jon will agree with me on this one, but Its a never ending process. I know all my scales in every position and all my drop2s and 3s and spread and close voiced chords
Yes!
Quote by Jet Penguin
, and I still practice that stuff every single day,
Er, OK, count me out of that...
Quote by Jet Penguin

Don't let that overwhelm you though, let it inspire you! The rabbit hole on this is massive so just pick stuff and work on it.
Exactly. You're embarking a long, exciting journey, which never ends - unless you want it to end, that is (i.e., give up and do something else). But you can take it at your own pace, find your own path. It's not a race or a competition. We're all in it together.
(Yes, I know, I used to raise my eyebrows in suspicion too when my ridiculously skilled tutors said that, but it's true. Don't be fazed by all those who are better than you. Think of all the beginners who aren't as good. Or think of all those poor saps who can't play an instrument at all! Just enjoy whatever you can do.)
Quote by Jet Penguin

The next step for you is to get all the major pentatonic scales. Unless you already have those too, then start working on the major scale.
Yes.
I think of the process as:

(1) Chords. root-3rd-5th. For any chord you know, make sure you know which notes are root 3rd and 5th.
(2) Pentatonics. Major pents add 2nd and 6th to major chords. Minor pents add 4th and b7th to minor chords.)
(3) Scales. Add the remaining two notes. That ends up as various modes - - but start with major scales: adding the 4 and maj7 to the major pent.

I.e., learn chords first, and learn how the scales fit around the chords. No point in learning a scale anywhere on the neck where you don't know chord shapes. For any major scale pattern, chord shapes for all the chords in that key can be found within the pattern - because every chord in the key is built from some combination of those notes.
Last edited by jongtr at Oct 23, 2016,
#12
Quote by Jet Penguin

I'm sure Jon will agree with me on this one, but Its a never ending process. I know all my scales in every position and all my drop2s and 3s and spread and close voiced chords, and I still practice that stuff every single day,

Well you know what they say, time to do drop 2&4's Jet.
But seriously speaking, I completely agree with Jet. To be able to draw from all your knowledge on the spot without needing to think through is a constant never ending process. Once you stop working on something, your response time will get slower... and eventually slow enough that it's no longer usable in a live context.
#13
J23L Yes, you should learn everything if you wish to be a professional. If you can't do the job, they'll just find someone who can.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#14
If you plan on playing rock or metal or blues, knowing every scale everwhere on the neck is a bit of a fool's errand. If you plan on playing jazz or being a session player, gun for hire etc, then you need to know your way around every key for every scenario.

The level of proficiency depends on the gig. You are what you practice, so choose wisely.