Guide To Learning Scales

This article is really for people who are at least somewhat coordinated as far as their fretting hand and picking hand working in unison are concerned.

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Ok. heres the deal with this article. I am writing this to show people not the only way to learn and practice scales just my own way. Keep in mind that you are your own player and u need ur own style, thats why I'm goin to leave my specific style of playing out of this article as best as I can. This article is really for people who are at least somewhat coordinated as far as their fretting hand and picing hand working in unison are concerned. If you do not already know the basic scales (pentatonic minor scales) then learn them before reading any farther in this article. Ok, now that we have all that out of the way lets begin the article. Take the simple pentatonic patterns in the E position. Begin to play the scale in the "0" position ( pat. 1a), play the scale slowly just up and down it. slowly increase the speedto as fast as u can play it, without slowing down, shift the pattern a half step up (or 1 frett) and continue playing fast. Continue this as you continue to shift up throughtout the keys. So in other words play the scales in this order using just the primary box (pat. 1a), keys: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E. Stop when you get to the 12th frett pattern. If you cannot play these scales at a fast pace consistantly then get to a resonable speed for you and do the same thing. eventually you will become faster.
pat.1a:

  |--accending----------| |----------decending-------|
|--------------------------0-3-0---------------------------|
|---------------------0-3---------3-0----------------------|
|----------------0-2-------------------2-0-----------------|
|-----------0-2-----------------------------2-0------------|
|------0-2---------------------------------------2-0-------|
|-0-3-------------------------------------------------3-0--|
As you play the scales and shift throughout the different keys, play the scale accending and decending. Ok now that you can do this, play box 2 ( pat. 1b) in the same way. Just shift throughtout the keys, you can even play the keys accending then decending, that would look like:
up,E,F,G,A,B,C,D,down,E,D,C,B,A,G,F,A.
After you are able to do this, just do the same with each box. Try playing this exercize using single picing, double picing and even triple picing.
Box1(pat.1a)
Box2(pat.1b)
Box3(pat.1c)
Box4(pat.1d)
Box5(pat.1e)

(pat.1b)
|---------------------------3-5-3-----------------------------------------|
|----------------------3-5---------5-3------------------------------------|
|-----------------2-4-------------------4-2-------------------------------|
|------------2-5-----------------------------5-2--------------------------|
|-------2-5---------------------------------------5-2---------------------|
|--3-5-------------------------------------------------5-3----------------|

(pat.1c)
|--------------------------5-7-5------------------------------------------|
|---------------------5-8---------8-5-------------------------------------|
|----------------4-7-------------------7-4--------------------------------|
|-----------5-7-----------------------------7-5---------------------------|
|------5-7---------------------------------------7-5----------------------|
|-5-7-------------------------------------------------7-5-----------------|

(pat.1d)
|---------------------------------7-10-7----------------------------------|
|--------------------------8-10-----------10-8----------------------------|
|---------------------7-9-------------------------9-7---------------------|
|----------------7-9-----------------------------------9-7----------------|
|---------7-10----------------------------------------------10-7----------|
|-7-10-------------------------------------------------------------10-7---|

(pat.1e)
|-----------------------------------10-12-10-----------------------------------|
|---------------------------10-12-------------12-10----------------------------|
|--------------------9-12-----------------------------12-9---------------------|
|--------------9-12-----------------------------------------12-9---------------|
|-------10-12-----------------------------------------------------12-10--------|
|-10-12------------------------------------------------------------------12-10-|
When you are able to do these scales in the way that I have said, you now need to take it to the next level to see more of how these scales are linked. Begin again in the key of E in the "0" position. play box 1 which is inthe "0" position and play the scale up and down. When you get back to the low note, shifht in to box 2. This is still in the same key when played in the third position. Play through all the boxes up and down and try to flow. It is important to play this exercize both at a slow tempo and a fast tempo, this has its advantages such as: 01. While playing slowly, you will be able to see your mistakes and correct them as they happen and not let them become a habbit. 02. Playing at slower speeds makes playing at faster speeds easier, and visa versa. 03. Playing slowly alows you to control ur speed alot more, also known as playing in time. One of the worst things for someone to do while jamming is to play out of time. 04. When you do finally play at fast tempos, you will more than likely have the acuacy that you had at a slow tempo because you have alowed the correct way of practicing sink in to your muscle memmory. If you are still reading my article by now, thankyou, cause it is kind of long but heres more. Once you have played every scale for each key and you pretty much know the frettboard as far as the miner pentatonic scales are concerned, it is time to start over again, and do all of this that you just did but with some added techniqe. play the scales with all hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, vibrato, bends. play in tripellets quadrupellets, everything you can think of. then mix some of them, like play a scale with more than one techniqe. heres an example( pat. 2a)
(pat.2a)

|------------------------------------------------5-3----3------------------|
|----------------------------5-3---------------------5----5-3-5-3----3-----|
|---------------------------------4-2----2-4^--------------------4----2h4^-|
|--------------2------2^------------5--------------------------------------|
|-------2--2-5--5b---------------------------------------------------------|
|-3h5----5-----------------------------------------------------------------|
After you fell that you have mastered these scales and you know them really well, jam with some one or record a chord progresson and loop it, then solo over it. if you have already done this, I recomend moving on to a new scale such as blues or the major scale. and the rest is pretty much self explanitory. A good book to buy for scales is: "The Ultimate Scale Book" by Troy Stetina. A good web site to go to is: AllGuitarChords. PS. Any suggestions or questions, just post a reply and I will read them. Any advice that I didn't mention would be great cause I always want to learn more.

43 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    distraught
    Honestly, I couldn't get past the spelling, grammar, and punctuation issues in this article to gain anything from it. Sorry, but it's true.
    mjkram007
    I enjoyed the lesson and all-guitar-notes.com is exactly what I was looking for on the web. Thanks
    jcuk87
    I don't know why everyone is hating on this Scales Guide, it might be a touch on the lengthy side but the content is the important thing not the length. Considering everyone here has or is learning to play guitar... I'd expect people to have more patience. I liked this guide, for a total beginner like me it was quite useful. Thanks for sharing this TONfan01 - Ignore all the idiots with their god complex "this is how I would have done it" crap, if they could do so much better then they would have already. Peace
    jcuk87
    I don't know why everyone is hating on this Scales Guide, it might be a touch on the lengthy side but the content is the important thing not the length. Considering everyone here has or is learning to play guitar... I'd expect people to have more patience. I liked this guide, for a total beginner like me it was quite useful. Thanks for sharing this TONfan01 - Ignore all the idiots with their god complex "this is how I would have done it" crap, if they could do so much better then they would have done so already. Peace
    Revolation4
    buddy what the heck can you not spell? its hard enough cuz i really dont think you know what you are doing
    mr.usandthem
    I have been playin guitar now for seven years, i can play a lot of gilmours solos, guns and roses etc. but i never got to grips with scales. I compose a lot of my own music and with this lesson i think i might be able to make my solo's more interesting. Thanx it helped me.
    SiKNeS
    I`ve been teaching guitar for over ten years now.i like this no nonsense approach to these min/pent scales..good guide for those looking for a start..
    ashesofthewake
    casteel wrote: What's the point of memorizing a bunch of scales?
    so when your friends say 'lets jam in e minor' or whatever, you can rip out a blazing solo on the spot.
    plausible
    how can you tell the root notes in these scales...or any scale for that matter?
    arijit08
    it's the note that you base your scale on. as in, a scale has a particular pattern right? for major scale pattern is wwhwwwh. so if your key is C, i.e the root note is C, it will be C(w)D(w)E(h)F(w)G(w)A(w)B(h)C... where w is whole step and h is half step, i trust you know what they are. this does NOT mean you play in the key of C only if your first note that you play is C, but the pattern of the scale as mentioned above for major scale has to be set based on C as your first note. For example, E major scale will be E(w)F#(w)G#(h)A(w)B(w)C#(w)D#(h)E... you get it? But while soloing you can obviously start at A or C# too...
    arijit08
    i had to read the comments posted here to go back to the article to try and understand it. it's honestly not bad at all, good article... thanks and improve your spelling for god's sake
    prajit00
    thanks for the lesson bro.....but one thing...i know the notes..im confused what is exactly pentonic scales..can anyone help me pls...u can reply me at prajit_matrix@hotmail.com
    ffejbug
    I liked the article. now I have to find a lesson on major scales and I should be good to go.
    ArcticBassSteve
    wow, i dont think i have a problem but... i just figured out that i learn scales going from top e to Bottom E much much faster than starting the way i really should. any way to break this habbit even though its not the worst thing i could have.
    6-string-yay
    i dont get, what is a scale, liike.. what is its use, why is it here wahts it do iknow, its a stupid question froma stupid person but im to poor to affoard lessons right now
    metal4all
    i think the title to this article is misleading. this doesnt really seem like an article about a guide to learning scales rather, scales to learn.
    Brendan DEwald
    A root note is the notes in the scale is the same as the name of the note example lets say that you playing in the key of A then all the the A in that scale are you root notes eg A scale:A B C# D E F# A ..- ..- -=root note(:
    Brendan DEwald
    A root note is the notes in the scale is the same as the name of the note example lets say that you playing in the key of A then all the the A in that scale are you root notes eg A scale:a B C# D E F# a small letter =rootnote
    zerome
    i have a problem. i have been trying to memorize my major scales and all of that stuff, but i always get hung up on the e# thing. there is no f# or b# on the guitar.and you need a b# for the f# scale.do you just play a c or what. could someone please explain this. and this was the most relavent thread i could find so sorry if its a little off topic. TY
    SSVskater85
    i think i have to put my scales on here after reading this. at least mine would be fun. but hay, thats what i think.
    iamrulian
    the reason there are no b# or e# is because in wester music, going from b to c or e to f is known as a natural half step. Reason: on a piano the keyes follow as such: |C|D|[E|F|G|A|B|C| but there are black keys that are the half steps making it like so: |C|{c#}|D|d#|E||F|{f#}|G|{g#}|A|{a#}|B||C| noti ce that there are no black keys between B & C, and E & F, this is what make things screwy because it's not really even. The same is true on a guitar, so when you hit a B, and you want to go a step higher, your actually looking for a C#, instead of a C. Basically this is where music theory kicks in. Scales are basically patters of notes and half notes. Depending on the key your on, the notes are going to be different. So a major patern is basically this: root-note-note-half note-note-note-note-half note: So when someone says A Major scale, they say make A the root and apply the pattern A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A, So on a A major scale, C's, F's and G's are sharp. this is where scales apply to chord construction and all that good stuff. knowing major scales, you can construct chords, A major chord is assembled with a pattern of root, major 3, perfect 5ths, (major 7th) kind of), but basically the 1, 3, 5 position on a major scale. So to construct an A chord, you use a major a scale to find the notes you need to achieve the chord, A- Root 1, 3rd - C#, 5th - E: so take a look at your major a chord of A, look at the threat number and take a look at the string, you have second position(second thret) on B, G, D, e---.. B-2---.. G-2---.. D-2---.. A---.. E---.. what does this mean, well, think about which notes your hitting, on the B string, the threts would go as in a piano, B, C, C#, D, D# so if B is open, a 2nd threat would be a C#, that is our 3rd in the major a we want to make. on the G string, same rules apply like on a piano, G, G# A, A#, B.... So 2nd thret is A on the g string, that's our root, and on the D string, D -open string, D# - 1st thret, E - 2nd thret, so on the D string we find our last piece E. And since the notes correspond to the Major A scale, we have a Major A Chord. Simple huH? hahaha, anyway. Since it doest specify which A, C#, or E, you can make a Major A other positions on a guitar. Thus why there are so many chords out there, and why you cant possibly memorize them all. Other scales are basically other patterns but all that follow the piano's lineup of notes going from C,c#,D, D#, E, F, f#, G, g#, A, a#, B, C-octave. I could go into minor scales and all, but this is just a reply to a forum, but i think you have enough to kinda grasp the concept of scales which can be quite illusive, but i hope you find now why they are so important. specially since i havent even touch harmonizing. Good luck check out my horrible singing at rulian.dmusic.com, (trying to learn how to sing)
    weeman
    the point is to learn the scales to you can solo. if u memorize those u can solo like mad. thats my only fault in guitar. never learned the scales and i cant solo that good
    kdo
    theres no such thing as a wrong note..just a bad choice..
    I_Evil
    it's a good article but like u said it's long. however, the stuff is there but ppl today are just lazy! anyway, don't space out ur tabs so much, don't put too much detail in next time and i hope to see more of ur stuff posted up in the lession part.
    strumntheguitar
    One thing you need to mention is that a scale is not a pattern. It's a set of notes. Playing scales only in this box pattern limits your soloing variety greatly. There's an excellent lesson on this site dealing with the Major Pentatonic scales that goes into this concept pretty well, i'd check that out. good article otherwise tho
    Lupus
    don't pay any attention to the negative feed back here. Your lessons are very well laid out. I have been playing guitar for years and that is an excellent lay out of the up and coming guitarist. Well done man...!!!!
    HurricaneSG
    this accending descending thing... man i always do it like that whats special about it