this might be a dumb question but i need to know for sure. ive only been playing a couple weeks. i see alot of things people talk about foreign terminology (to me) here and i'd like to find out what some of them mean.

i figured it to be the varations of a note, ie. A, Am, etc. but i have also heard it can be a sequence of single (unchorded) notes. so what exactly is a scale?

pentatonic scale? what is the difference?

what is argeppios (sp)?

is reading music really important when just starting out?

any answers are appreciated. thanks.
reading music is important is you want to understand theory. you might not think you want to but trust me eventually you will. not that you cant use tablature. just so you can fluently read music.

arpeggios are just chords taken apart and played as single notes most of the time.
i dont really want to try and explain the other stuff for fear of giving you the wrong idea about it.
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EDIT: Like the guy above me said, don't get the wrong idea about music theory. Its wonderful to learn it and use it, but many people get scared by the thought of learning. Don't ever look at a piece and go, "Oh, I don't get it. I'm just going to skip over it. DONT. Read slow, I tried to explain every new term for you.

A scale is a series of notes played in a logical and musical order. An easy example is called the C Major scale, which contains these notes: C, D, E, F, G, A , B, and C again. Actually, it loops into infinity, but guitars don't have that many frets. The reason C Major is considered an easy scale to memorize is because it doesn't contain any "accidentals," which are sharp or flat notes like F# (thats sharp) or Bb (the little "b" means flat). To make a note sharp, you go one fret higher (towards the pickups of your guitar). To make a note flat, you go one fret lower (towards the tuners).

An example of a scale with accidentals, this time is F major: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F

The reason these scales or called Major or Minor has to do with what notes they are made of, which in turn affects their sound. Some dudes in Europe, I'm guessing, came up with this stuff hundreds of years ago. Major scales and major chords have a "happy" feeling, kind of like "Happy Birthday" or just about any song you learned as a kid. Lots of rock songs are in major keys too. Minor keys tend to feel a little darker. Most blues songs and many rock songs are in minor. I could get really in depth about this, but you don't need to know the why's if you just started playing.

A pentatonic scale is a shortened version of the major or minor scale. "Penta" generally means 5 (Pentagon, penta....I can't think of anything else). Therefore, there are 5 notes in these scales. These are the more important notes of the scale, namely, the first note (called the root), 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th. In C major (CDEFGABC), the pentatonic scale is C-E-F-G-B, and of course, this repeats. C is the root, it's what the scale is based on.

Arpeggios are the notes of a chord played one at a time. The Major chord is made up of the root, 3rd, and 5th notes of the major scale. In the key of C, again because its easy, these notes would be C, E, and G. Play those one at a time, and you just played your first arpeggio. An advanced form of this is called "sweep picking." Look it up on YouTube.

Reading music: Depends on your goals. There is no question that it will NEVER hurt to learn it, in fact, it can only make you better. List of reasons to learn to read sheet music:
-Never hurts to make the effort.
-Share musical ideas with any other instrument. Tab is guitar specific, sheet music is (nearly) universal.
-If you plan to play in school bands or community orchestra (with guitar? who knows?), you'll need to know how.
-If you plan to be a session musician (hire yourself to studios and pop stars) you need to read REALLY well
-If you are in a cover band, or play in a place with lots of requests, it helps if you can read well.

There is so much more out there. This site has many great lessons on chords and scales, I suggest you start looking through them. Read them slowly and try to analyze the theory behind it. Once it starts to "click" you will learn so much so fast, its mindboggeling. In a good way.
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Ummm, petrol? Nip down to your local petrol station, buy a litre of the stuff and soak your balls in it, light them up and start playing with them.
Last edited by scrambler_66 at Jan 28, 2008,
wow, thanks for that amazing post scrambler. i think i will eventually look into learning to read music once i can play decently. i have one question about the arpeggios though, why do people practice it and exercise it? i don't see the benefit when you can just exercise your scales.

also, what kind of exercise is most beneficial? i've seen this by justin guitar:


which looks really good, but what kinds of exercises will improve my playing overall? right now i'm just playing random songs right now and working on my chord switching and moving up and down the fretboard.
oh and a few more questions:

what is economy picking?

is there a difference between the chromatic and normal scale?
Chromatic picking is when you move the pick towards the next string to strike it. I know you may be thinking "Duh?" but let's put it like this:

There's three schools of picking: straight, alternate, and economy. Lets say you're playing a scale, and you always move your pick down (towards the floor) to hit a string. Well, that's okay, but you'll never get as fast as if you pick down, then up, down, up, ect. That's alternate picking. However, sometimes you'll have to move down a string, but pick UP, just because that's how the pattern falls. But if you break from the pattern and pick down twice, its more efficient and generally quicker. That's economy picking. Picking in the most efficient manner.

A chromatic scale is a scale that hits every note from one octave to another. Again, a comparison:
C Major: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
C Chromatic: C-Db-D-Eb-E-F-Gb-G-Ab-A-Bb-B-C

Notice there's no Cb or Fb? That's just part of music theory you'll have to memorize.

EDIT: Arpeggios just sound cool. Think of like "The Pretender" or "House of the Rising Sun" (Foo Fighters and The Animals). Both start with arpeggios.
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Ummm, petrol? Nip down to your local petrol station, buy a litre of the stuff and soak your balls in it, light them up and start playing with them.
Last edited by scrambler_66 at Jan 29, 2008,