#1
Do you just start workin on a scale (like A major) then learn it box by box until you know all over the fretboard, then move on to another note (E major) learn all that until you got all the major keys down, then move on to natural minor or something then rinse and repeat?
#2
You could do that, Everyone has their own way of learning things. I myself like to learn scales by changing what type i learn.

E.g i would learn an A minor Pentatonic scale in a few shapes and then i would learn a different kind of scale.

Really it comes down to trying different ways of learning them.
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#4
Arguably the best thing to do is learn the notes on the fretboard, learn the notes and intervals of a scale and then look to locate it on the fretboard and see if you end up creating the same shape (you should).

If you don't learn the theory behind the scale all you'll end up doing is learning the same shapes over and over again, but each time thinking they're something completely new. Boxes and patterns come into play when you've actually learned the scale and are wanting to use it, however they don't actually teach you anything about a scale.

Have a read of Josh Urban's Crusade articles in the columns section.
Actually called Mark!

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#5
^ listen to him, you can start with a few patterns but your playing will probably become quite stale because you don't know the notes you are playing and their importance over certain chords. Best thing to learn some theory and the notes on the fretboard as Mr Seagull says.
#6
You should learn the "thoery" if you're interested, however knowing the patterns and using your ear in no way dooms you to becoming "stale".

the truth is, that there is no "best" way to learn scales. There are multiple valid and useful approaches.

Learn as much as you can/want...period.

Quote by steven seagull

If you don't learn the theory behind the scale all you'll end up doing is learning the same shapes over and over again, but each time thinking they're something completely new.


^ this happens to some people (obviously it happened to Steven), but in reality, there are plenty of great guitarists that know little if any theory, but know the shapes, use their ears, and have a good sense for music. (and don't have the problem as stated by Steven)


Yeah, learn theory if your interested, but don't avoid learning scale shapes based on any negative connotation they've been given here at UG.

Ultimately, it's all useful information.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Nov 12, 2008,
#7
Not this again - i understand you've got your point of view but are you capable of expressing it without trying to undermine the sound advice of others.

You seem to have trouble understanding anything that didn't happen to you personally when you were learning, so I'm going to put it simply. If you just learn the patterns, as in those diagrams of dots on the fretboard, and don't learn ANY theory then you'll just end up learning the same thing over and over again. By ANY theory I mean just that, not learning any of the musical background of the scale...intervals, notes, scale formula, even the root notes. If you just follow those dots and say to yourself "I've learned a scale, on to the next one" then you'll keep learning the same thing over and over, just approaching it from different angles and ultimately that's counter-productive.

Obviously you're going to end up learning all those things at some point because many scales do use the same notes, but it helps immensely if you're able to recognise when shapes are effectively the same and having some theory background is the only way to do that. If you don't flesh the bones out then those dots are just that, dots, and they all look the same with nothing to help you distinguish between them, you need to know why your finger goes there. Otherwise you get the old chestnut of "Playing E phrygian over a C major progression"...if you set yourself off on the right path from the outset then you'll see right away that the C major and E phrygian shape contain exactly the same notes. If you just take the two patterns in isolation then you're not going to make any connection between them.

Scales ARE theory, that's inescapable - if somebody wants to learn scales then they want to learn theory.
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#9
you should first figure out how scales are laid out on the fretboard, it's just the same thing all over again. All you really need to know is how to play scale on one string or on multiple strings from one octave to another, then it just keeps repeating.


you can check out my site scaleRef.com, select any scale and click Octave Highlighting, it's gonna mark each octave in different color, so you can better understand how they work
#10
I never learned box positions for the sake of "knowing" them. I only figured them out to practice technique (scale runs, etc). I think the best way to learn a scale all over the fretboard is to improvise over the notes. Learning the notes is much more beneficial and just learning patterns and positions imo.
#11
Quote by one vision
I never learned box positions for the sake of "knowing" them. I only figured them out to practice technique (scale runs, etc). I think the best way to learn a scale all over the fretboard is to improvise over the notes. Learning the notes is much more beneficial and just learning patterns and positions imo.


^ It's all beneficial.

to the TS:

There is no one "best" way to learn scales, but rather a number of things that you will want to be familiar with:

- scale patterns
- notes on the fret-board
- understanding of scale construction
- an awareness of how each scale sounds.
- understanding of where to apply the scale


it's not really a matter of one thing being " more beneficial" then another. Any piece of information is useful.
My advice would be to learn as much as you can/want at a pace that makes sense for you. Remember, there is a lot to learn and it takes time, so be patient and enjoy the experience.


Quote by steven seagull
If you just learn the patterns, as in those diagrams of dots on the fretboard, and don't learn ANY theory then you'll just end up learning the same thing over and over again


Why would you just learn those diagrams and absolutely nothing else? I like to think, and generally assume, that most people are intelligent enough and have enough ambition to continue learning beyond one thing.

Your argument could also be applied towards learning the notes on the neck. I mean if you just know the notes on the neck, and decide not to learn anything else whatsoever, you're pretty much in the same predicament. There is no reason to single out " scale patterns" as being the thing that people decide to learn, and then learn nothing else. people can be lazy at any point and it has nothing to do with scale patterns.

All of these pieces of information are useful, be at a scale pattern, the notes on the neck, scale construction...... whatever. There is no reason to say this piece of information is more " beneficial" than another piece of information, or that this particular piece of information " is useless".

I think the best thing to do is state your approach to learning scales without making a value judgment on other peoples approaches.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Nov 12, 2008,
#13
I would have to agree with both guitar munky and also with stevenseagull here. Both ways are beneficial. I am trying to learn all the notes on the fretboard and its helping a lot.

Heres a fun way to practice aside from learning a box and running it up or down etc. Ive been doing this alot and its been helping alot. Ill get a backing track or song or record my own progression. Then I will analise it and determine its key. Then i will determine some possibilities of scales and intervals that sound good often by putting a scale chart on my screen as I play.

So say the piece is in Dmajor/Bminor i might put a full scale chart of either of those or maybe B minor pentatonic on my screen. You can do this with guitarpro or with a website allguitarchords.com Then i will repeat the progression through my speakers and make up leads with these scales/intervals in mind. I sit their expiramenting and making up various licks seeing what intervals of the scale sound good where etc... After i while i usually come up with something good and its ear training as well as learning the fretboard and also interval training all in one sitting. Its helped me so much and its very fun. I try to think of new ways to reach the notes like skipping strings or playing vertically horizontally different rythems etc. Doing this is sure to help your compostion and improvosational skills fretboard knowlage and its just plain fun. After a while you dont need the chart in front of you because you know where all the "right notes are". Im starting to be able to move aroudn the fretboard by ear much more. And Im now able to play by ear and figure out leads by ear much faster after doing this regularly for about the last 3-4 months. I dont sound like im playing a scale anymore i sound like im playing what I hear. Its hard to explain.

EDIT the more variety of keys and styles you practice over the better of course. Try different genres tempos and keys and different scales.
#14
yea i've been learning theory for about a month.. i know how the major scale is created.. the W W H W W W H and learning about how the relative modes can be obtained from it or i can find relative chords to play over that key and stuff.. but this stuff doesn't really help me play it yet, because then i would have to sit down and figure it out..

no worries i'm doin alot of theory learning on the side... but aside from that, i wanna learn some scales so i can practive improvisation and stuff.. because even though i know the theory it won't be affecting my playin just yet
#15
Quote by wonderboy87

no worries i'm doin alot of theory learning on the side... but aside from that, i wanna learn some scales so i can practive improvisation and stuff.. because even though i know the theory it won't be affecting my playin just yet

If you took the time to read my above post it explains how you can practice improvisation whislt learning the notes and scales. Thats a way of directly applying scales to playing music as your thinking about them and learning about them. Your not just memorising them you are expiramenting and learning how to use them.
#16
I learned the box shapes first. When I could play em comfortably I naturally began to pay more attention to how the notes work.

I still don't do it by notes (although I understand in theory how chords and scales are build), but I've got the notes linked with the sound in my head. Kinda like talking, since it's way faster then "spelling" all the notes out before I play a lick.

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#17
Also make sure that you learn a variety of scales. I've found that students do practice scales but that they start with the same ones everyday. The result is a few excellent scales and the rest that are not nearly so good.

Make a list of all the scales/mode/patters you are learning on a piece of paper. Cut it up and put them in a box/bag. Pull them out one at a time and don't move on until you can play that scales.

Doing this means that you avoid the common problem of knowing some scales/patters/keys better than others.