5 Tips For Learning Guitar Scales
Learning to maneuver through scales on your guitar will bring about a ton of benefits to you, as a player. First of all, you'll begin to perceive music a little bit differently – you'll find logic where you ought to think there was none, you'll understand how your favorite composers got their brilliant ideas, and, most importantly, you'll get to put the theory into practice.
What's more, the whole journey of exploring the theoretical sphere of music concerning the scales isn't all that hard. Essentially, you'll found yourself amidst the crossroads, and you'll have to choose a path – you'll either delve deep into books about music theory, or you'll have to figure everything out yourself.
Regardless of the path you wish to take, mastering and learning guitar scales is, quite frankly, easy. We've brought together a short list of five tips that will make the process even simpler, and more entertaining.
Explore the fingerboard on your guitar in full extent
Before you can even begin learning a thing or two about guitar scales, you need to know what they're composed of. Namely, each scale represents a group of notes that are systematically categorized based on tonal qualities and compatibility.
There's a huge number of scales, and only a handful of people know each and every one, but you shouldn't rush it – all those notes and note groups are right in front of you. Your fingerboard (some people call it fretboard – it's basically a same thing) features "frets", and each fret yields a certain tone once the strings are pressed and plucked.
Getting familiar with frets, the notes they provide, and, in the end, your fingerboard, you'll have a clean overview of the entire note system that your guitar can provide. Now, knowing how each note sounds won't get you far, but you'll have where to start, to say the least.
Try out different note combinations and inquire about them with your fellow guitarists
During the process of familiarization with your fingerboard, you're bound to find certain "patterns". Even though they'll seem a bit random at start, these "patterns" are actually either fully compatible notes (in terms of tonality) or "disharmonies". Whichever the case, you'll have experienced playing a certain guitar scale this way.
Most beginner guitars (and certain veterans as well) tend to have a "note of preference", or so to speak. This regards the note they often begin while getting warmed up, the note with which they begin their creative process of writing songs, or simply jam to. Needless to say, this is the habit we all develop quite quickly, but we advise you to bypass it, if you could.
Begin playing from a random starting point, and try to forget what you normally do – whenever you jam, you tend to stick with what you know, and that is, more often than not, the situation where you use notes from a single scale (sometimes two, but rarely).
Try different combinations, arrange your fingers in unfamiliar positions, and talk to your friends who're also playing the guitar. The results might not always be to your liking, or the sounds might not appear too appealing, but exploring the unknown is what will bring you ever closer to understanding why guitar scales are important, and why they're even developed.
Consider taking private classes, notifying your teacher that you want to understand what guitar scales are
If you're struggling with understanding the guitar scales on your own, you should consider asking for professional help – taking private classes. Every guitar teacher that's worth his salt has forged his (or hers) prowess with theory, and scales are but a part of it.
Most teachers will ask you if you have any knowledge of music theory whatsoever, so as to determine the starting point and their approach to improving your skills. If you're not feeling too patient, you could always point out that that you wish to learn everything possible about guitar scales exclusively, but know that the scales are but a part of a much larger whole.
This might not be the fastest way to learn them, and it's definitely the most economical way, but it's the safest route you could take. In most cases, you'll be handed music books and material that will provide sufficient information, regarding how each scale is called, how it's played, and the many variations they come in.
Watch "how to" and "tutorial" videos online
If you're not feeling exceptionally generous, you should consider searching for help online. There are plenty of tutorial videos on YouTube where various musicians, theoreticians, and others share their knowledge of music theory.
The only problem is that this approach is quite "passive". The only way you'll get any kind of interaction is by posting comments, and there's no guarantee you'll receive an answer. On the other hand, there's a plethora of videos, and if the first ones you come across are not to your liking, just go to the next one.
This method might require some patience, trial, and error, but it's the most economical solution, and you'll learn quite a lot of stuff along the way.
Be patient and practice consistently
The only fail-proof way to learn guitar scales is with constant, consistent practice. Given enough time, you'll come to get bored of the things you usually do, and your inquisitive side will get the best of you, urging you to try out something new.
Playing "new" chords, riffs, licks, and lines will lead you to discovering new guitar scales, whether you like it or not. In the end, you'll get to understand and learn most of them, but you'll have to get over a certain flaw as well – you can't possibly learn how each scale is called by practicing alone.
Once you've grasped the theory behind guitar scales, playing them will come naturally. In essence, it's up to you to decide "how" are you going to learn them, as there are many ways and methods to acquire knowledge and the skill required to do so. Anyway, we wish you good luck, and we hope that these tips were of any help to you!
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