Scales seem to be the most hated but most necessary part of playing guitar.
Well, they don't have to be extremely boring. There are some ways that
you can make playing them fun. This page will help you do this.
Try out these suggestions, and you will no longer hate scales.
The first thing is that you don't have to do scales. This is the worst attitude
you can have. You have to wait until you want to do some scales. Hopefully,
since you are here, you want to do some scales. My next suggestion is to make them a part of
your warm-up routine. You don't have a warm-up routine? Well, now you do!
Now for warm-up, you can quickly run through each of the modes of the major scale (or
some other scale you are trying to learn. If you screw one up, do it again.
This should only take you 2 or 3 minutes maximum, and this is the best way to learn
scales: repetition. But this repetition is not boring, it is fun. This way
you are not consciously repeating scales over and over; you are consistently doing scales
every day, which becomes weeks and months and soon you have these scales down by heart.
And I mean by heart because if you want to solo in a band, you had
better know your scales. But if you designate a short amount of time each day to
scales, you will learn them. And you won't get scale overload either.
Ont thing you might want to try is to play the scales with a metronome.
I have a metronome program here for you guys to use; it's a great
program and very easy to use. It is for use with Mac or PC.
To use the metronome, first learn the basic shapes of all the modes.
Then open the metronome, choose a tempo,
and play the scales over it. This way you learn to play the scales with a rhythm.
Obviously, start slow and work up to speed. So go ahead:
download the metronome!
Scales are the time to work on other things also. Electric guitarists can work on
(picking up and down while playing), and fingerpickers like
me can work on picking with all your fingers. You can work on your tone, on your
and especially on your speed. Once you know these scales cold, the only thing left is
to play them fast. And I mean lightning fast. So this is a time
to work on your tone and picking while playing fast. You can pretend this is a race.
But it's not a race for speed, it's a race for speed only when you like the sound
you are making. The sound is very important here as well. So concentrate
on tone and fretting, and you will soon be appreciating
scales not only for what you are learning but in regards to how it is helping your playing.
The other night I sat down and played modes over and over for half an hour,
just working on fretting and picking and seeing how crisp and clean a tone I could get.
I was not bored, it was exciting to know that I was improving my guitar playing
One of the best ways to practice soloing is to record a chord progression
and play over it, trying to decide which modes sound better than others.
The only way to get better is to practice, and this is a great way to do it. To make
this easier, I am providing RealAudio files of chord progressions for each of the different
scales I have provided. Follow a link below to visit my pages on real audio.
RealAudio pages are available on the following scales:
| Major |
| Natural Minor |
Harmonic Minor |
Melodic Minor |
| Pentatonic Major |
Pentatonic Minor |
The best way to use these files is to save them, then play them over and over
as you try soloing in different modes. The only way to get good at soloing is to
practice. You can also just sit around and play by yourself,
just pick a key and stay in it,
playing anything you want as long as it's in that key. These exercises will
help you better understand how all the modes go together.
That's about all for learning scales. Just remember that you are going to help yourself
by doing this and don't force yourself to do scales over and over again. that's the last thing
you ever want to do. Only do it if you enjoy it and want to do it. Good luck, have fun,
and keep playin' !
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© 1997 Daniel E. Smith.