Practice Scales on Guitar

The Best Way to Practice Scales on Guitar


    Learning scales may not be the favorite of any guitar player. This is because it takes a lot of time and efforts to practice scales on guitar. Though it takes more effort to do this, it is one of the essential parts of basic guitar training that makes it easier to play the guitar and increase the speed and flow of the music.

    What are guitar scales?

    A scale is a group of ascending and descending notes that are used to create a melody.  The main feature of a scale is harmony. Western music is made up of 12 notes that define the chromatic scale. There are five main types of scales each guitarist must know. They are; the major scale, natural minor, Major pentatonic, minor pentatonic and finally, the blues pentatonic.

    Why practice scales on guitar?

    There are several reasons exist, as to why it is important to practice scales on your guitar. They include;

    • Practicing scales on your guitar will help you increase the speed at which you play them. As you practice, you are in a position to know the location of different notes on the guitar and their relationship.
    • This also helps in improving our memory. As you practice the scales, your finger muscles develop a memory of the notes you are playing, this, in turn, will be helpful in increasing your speed of playing and letting your fingers do the work, without involving the eyes. It builds the strength of your fingers. Practicing scales creates mental pictures of their location and helps improve your fingers accuracy.
    • It promotes string crossing. This is one of the most challenging techniques any guitar player should learn. For your music to have a good flow and speed, you must learn how to string cross using the middle and index fingers.
    • Practicing scales is another way of learning songs faster. You can locate the notes you should play for any song if you know their location.
    • It is the basis of learning music. If you want to play the guitar effectively, the first step is to determine, the position of the various notes on the guitar and how they relate. This makes your learning faster.
    • Learning cords becomes faster.  Chords are developed from notes on the scale.
    • Writing songs becomes easier. With the knowledge of scales, you can create original melodies for new songs
    • Scales are the foundation of guitar playing. To become a star guitarist, you must invest adequate time in practicing scales. Set aside time every day to do this vital exercise. To learn your scales effectively you, must know the most important scales that you should practice. You can identify this from your music teacher or your favorite guitarist. Scales are specific to different types of music. As you start do not mind on the speed, this will come with practice.

    Step by step guideline:

    1.    Practice the scale of the entire guitar

    One of the mistakes that most learners do is practicing a scale only in a specific region of the fretboard. Your first step should be to play your scale ascending and descending over and over again. It is best to use a metronome for even timing. As you do this your ears should be alert as you focus on the notes to ensure consistency. Play the specific scale for four times making sure you are hitting the notes correctly.

    Practicing a scale on only one region of their guitar relates to a reader, reading a book then stopping half way and starting on another book, you will not fully know what the story was. It is better to practice and understand one scale fully than to learn many scales in bits.

    2.    Learn to change direction randomly

    Once you are now comfortable practicing the scales up and down the guitar, it is now time to practice how to change course randomly.  Instead of playing till the lowest or highest note in the scale, try changing the direction at once. 

    As you practice this move, don't move with speed. Do this slowly, as you make sure that you are playing continuously without stopping. Another important thing that you should remember is to avoid skipping notes, remain on the scale. Don't stop, pause or start soloing.

    3.    Test your skill on the scale

    This is the time you play random notes on the scale to know if you have mastered the scale. As you do these, ensure that you stick to the scale you are practicing. Most learners will find themselves jumping from one scale to another without their knowledge.

    This is the time to slow your speed to make sure that you are hitting the right notes.  You will attain better speed with more practice. Practice skipping strings; buy moving from very high to very low one. This test how well you know your scale.

    4.    Practice playing chords

    This step requires maximum concentration and attention. Melodies arise from chord tunes. This is playing at intervals of thirds; chords are made up of third intervals.  This is where the meat of guitar laying is. You are now able to produce harmonious sounds, by playing chords.

    If you accidentally miss a note revert back to it and follow your pattern of chords. Take time to practice more and more chords. You will find this quite interesting since you are now producing constructive sounds. Allow the music to flow naturally.

    5.    Try playing tunes

    At this point, you try playing simple songs that you know using the scale you have learned. Simple melodies are easy to play. If you can do this comfortably, you can then move to more complex tunes, but go slow on this to ensure that you are not making mistakes. A right way of measuring if you have mastered the scale is by singing your tunes, then playing them on the guitar. This creates a relationship between your mind and actions.

    6.    Try playing solos by your favorite musicians

    Listen to music from your favorite musicians and play it on your guitar.  If you can you can replicate their music; it is a clear sign that you have mastered the scale. You can now play tunes naturally from your minds. Explore more and more tunes from your scale.

    Final Words

    Practicing scales may not be one of your favorites, in guitar learning, but it will enable you to become the best guitar player. Invest your time in this, and you will find learning guitar and composing songs more comfortable than you thought of before. You will also be able to play more tunes, even the most difficult for many.

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    About the Author Brendan Land

    Brendan Land, author of this site says that music runs the world. My passion for music drove me to create this blog which is a platform for sharing everything you need to know about music and music instrument. Whether you are looking for recording gear, the best guitars, drums, pianos and much more, I will guide you throughout your journey.

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