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Beginners guitar lessons, scales - 4 tips to get the most from your lead playing
Learning guitar scales can be frustrating and confusing for the
beginning guitarist. Often the student simply doesn't know where
How important are scales?
It appears that learning and understanding scales is
vital to becoming a better guitarist, how many scales should I
learn and which scales should I learn first?
Good questions, the truth is scales re important, they're like
our musical alphabet. The thing to keep in mind is that you only
need to know a few scales, guitarists often become obsessed with
practicing scales and over their real purpose which is to make
Here's a list to help you choose what scales to practice and
eliminate the confusion.
Tip 1 -- Select a style
With literally thousands of scales to learn the first thing to do
is decide on which style of music you want to play. Certain
scales are more applicable to particular types of music e.g., the
minor pentatonic scale works well for rock, blues, metal
music...mainly songs with power chords.
The blues scale is used mainly for rock, blues, metal music while
the major pentatonic scale is mostly used for country, pop,
country rock ...generally songs with open chords.
Of course, I'm generalizing here, you can use any scale you wish
for any style of music, however some scales work better than
others. The idea is to use the correct musical alphabet (scale)
for the style of music you want to play.
Tip 2 -- start on the keynote
Simply running up and down a scale won't produce any meaningful
music no matter how fast you play them. It won't communicate
anything to the listener.
The idea is to train our brain and fingers to make musical
decisions, which note do you want to play next? Where is the note
I'm hearing in my head is it higher or lower than the previous
To get this brain -- fingers connection practice starting on the
keynote of the scale and decide whether your next note is higher
or lower than the keynote.
The keynote is the first note of the scale, e.g., the keynote for
the A minor pentatonic scale would be 'A".
Tip 3 -- record a background
Once you have decided on a scale to practice, record a background
in the key you want to practice. The recording does not have to
be elaborate, a simple acoustic guitar will work fine.
Record the backing track for 5 to 10 minutes duration, this will
give you plenty of time to practice and try out your ideas.
A good idea is to try and play just one note (the keynote is an
idea choice for this), practice all different types of rhythms,
slides, bends etc., to see how creative you can be.
Recording a backing track is very helpful as you will find that
you react differently to certain chord textures, the same note
will sound different when played against a variety of chords.
Tip 4 -- learn all keys
Guitarists should practice their favorite scale(s) in all keys,
this is especially important when working with singers.
Each key has it's own personality, certain keys have a warm
feeling, while others are bright.
Try playing a "G" minor pentatonic scale over a recorded
background in the key of "G", then, play a "B" minor pentatonic
scale over a pre-recorded background in the key of "B".
Scales can "free your fingers and freeze your brain" the whole
idea of scales is to help you play music. Think of music as a
language, scales are our musical alphabet, knowing the alphabet
is just the beginning, it's how we use the alphabet to
communicate that's important.
These ideas will help you develop your own style and soon you
will be transferring the music you are hearing in your head onto
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