Scales

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Hi

I've been playing guitar a while but have made the mistake of never really making scales part of my regular practice. I was wondering what scales and patterns should I start to work through and what scales I should aim to progress to once I have learned these?
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  • Caffeine_VampireCaffeine_Vampire Frets: 530
    edited February 17
    No fixed rule but learning the 5 pentatonic patterns major and minor up and down the neck in different keys would be a good start. Use alternate picking and use a metronome. 
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  • FuengiFuengi Frets: 1059
    Personally, I went for the Natural Major and Natural Minor scales ensuring I learnt all the intervals. 

    Still a way to go on the Natural Major Scale, but getting there on the Natural Minor and it's incredibly useful.
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  • robertyroberty Frets: 1384
    edited February 17
    No fixed rule but learning the 5 pentatonic patterns major and minor up and down the neck in different keys would be a good start. Use alternate picking and use a metronome. 
    +1

    Also +1 for justinguitar

    Once you know the pentatonic you only need to add a 2nd and a 6th and you've got a minor scale
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  • KeikoKeiko Frets: 177
    Guitar teachers always seem to make learning scales way too complicated. There are 7 notes in the major scale, and that's it.

    Maybe it's because I learned keyboard before I took up the guitar, but I never understood the need to learn all these complicated patterns and positions on the fretboard. So long as you learn where all the notes are on the fretboard (that's the hard part granted, but once it's done, it's done), the scales will come very easy to you - you only need to know the 7 notes of the scale. Then when someone asks you to play the major scale you can play it anywhere on the fretboard, without being trapped in positions and patterns you have learnt.

    Im not a guitar teacher so dont take my word for it, but thats how I learn't my scales, and it works for me.   
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  • I always do the minor pentatonic first as its the easiest to learn and most stuff will sound good provided its in key and you're playing the right intervals!
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 640
    scales (and modes) are  easy to remember how to play  all based on one simple pattern and 2 rules 

    starting from any fret, any string :
    XXYYZZX ad infintum (or just keep repeating if you have infinite strings - or 7 or 8 say) for a Major Scale
    shift up one fret when moving from X to Y
    shift up one fret if moving from a G string to a B string

    (X is frets 135, Y is 124, Z is 134)

    modes are are just as easy - same pattern, just different starting points in that pattern
    E.g. Minor / Aeolian start the pattern with ZZ, Lydian XY, Dorian ZX, Milo XXX etc)


    (source Michael Pillitiere)
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  • close2uclose2u Frets: 449
    No fixed rule but learning the 5 pentatonic patterns major and minor up and down the neck in different keys would be a good start. Use alternate picking and use a metronome. 

    That is a long-term aim.
    Learn one pattern only to begin.
    Not just the fingering, the up / down, the pattern etc.
    But how to use it. What you can do with it. Learn licks, play licks, reshape licks. Create licks. Play over backing tracks. Etc.
    Then learn one more pattern. Do the same as before.
    And then learn how to connect the two positions you now know.
    Do all this before learning the 3rd pattern.
    And so on.
    That is the job of months - unless you have an 8-hour / day practice schedule.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2676
    I always do the minor pentatonic first as its the easiest to learn and most stuff will sound good provided its in key and you're playing the right intervals!
    That’s how I learned. Then I added a few notes to get the minor scale. Then I realised that minor scales could mean Aeolian or Dorian. A bit later came Phrygian and melodic minor. After that adding the major third meant that I had access to a slew of major scales. It’s all incremental stuff, rather than being faced with a cliff face of scales and modes.
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  • Roland said:
    I always do the minor pentatonic first as its the easiest to learn and most stuff will sound good provided its in key and you're playing the right intervals!
    That’s how I learned. Then I added a few notes to get the minor scale. Then I realised that minor scales could mean Aeolian or Dorian. A bit later came Phrygian and melodic minor. After that adding the major third meant that I had access to a slew of major scales. It’s all incremental stuff, rather than being faced with a cliff face of scales and modes.
    Yeah, any guitarist should know the first position of the minor pentatonic at least. Then when you add 2nd's and 6th's etc you get different sounding flavours and can adjust to whatever chords you are playing over. Also if you move the minor pentatonic shape down 3 frets you instantly get the major pentatonic!!
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  • Roland said:
    @Lestratcaster UP three frets?
    Depends what your interpretation of "up" is haha. For me to go down is to go lower, so moving your left fretting fingers to the left!
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3082
    I teach my students this:
    G major, 3 notes per string, all 7 patterns
    G major pentatonic, all 5 patterns

    their warmup is to play G maj linking all 7 patterns as a continuous exercise working through every pattern with the metronome in 1/4 notes and then again in 1/4 triplets from the pattern starting on the 3rd fret right up to the octave on the 15th
    then we do the same with the pentatonic shapes

    it's good for fingerboard knowledge, not only in G, because the relationships of patterns and fingerings gets burnt in.
    it's also good as a picking exercise because it's alt picked throughout and so you play a lot of notes against a click to make it all the way to the octave
    and good for aural perception.. hearing the scales and feeling where they are on the fingerboard when you fret the notes
    also.. G major fingering is exactly the same for its relative minor and associated modes.. so nail the fingering in one and you nail it for all.. that just leaves learning the context of minor / other modes rather than treating the location of the notes as something different for your motor skills to learn..

    additionally... as the student gets tidier and more proficient.. we gradually up the tempo to keep the pressure on the technique..

    when we look at repertoire and are looking at riffs and solos etc, I often see the penny drop "oh it's this shape" even though we'll be in a different key..
    it's great when they are learning songs and repeatedly encounter familiar fingerings as it helps what they are learning stick
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • carloscarlos Frets: 1673
    Keiko said:
    Maybe it's because I learned keyboard before I took up the guitar, but I never understood the need to learn all these complicated patterns and positions on the fretboard. So long as you learn where all the notes are on the fretboard (that's the hard part granted, but once it's done, it's done), the scales will come very easy to you - you only need to know the 7 notes of the scale. Then when someone asks you to play the major scale you can play it anywhere on the fretboard, without being trapped in positions and patterns you have learnt.  
    Your method is correct, of course, but doesn't really play to the strengths of the guitar.
    We're playing an instrument that makes transposing a breeze. I really don't want to have to figure out all the notes of, for example, Gb Major, when I can just see all the Gb's on the fretboard and put my patterns on top. Or see all the Gb's on the fretboard and put all the intervals on top. I don't want to see the Gb Major and have to go in my head: okay, it's 6 flats, so here's a Bb, here's the Eb, etc.
    I guess it's okay to do it that way if you are mostly in the same key throughout a piece, but for anything with chord changes I prefer the easy route.
    I know other instruments have to do it that way, but we don't, so why should we?
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  • carloscarlos Frets: 1673
    Clarky said:
    I teach my students this:
    G major, 3 notes per string, all 7 patterns
    Do you give them their Greek names at that point or leave that for later?
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 640
    carlos said:
    Clarky said:
    I teach my students this:
    G major, 3 notes per string, all 7 patterns
    Do you give them their Greek names at that point or leave that for later?
    No, @Clarky saves the Greek names for his guitars  (or they might by Norwegian gods or something like that)
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3082
    sev112 said:
    carlos said:
    Clarky said:
    I teach my students this:
    G major, 3 notes per string, all 7 patterns
    Do you give them their Greek names at that point or leave that for later?
    No, @Clarky saves the Greek names for his guitars  (or they might by Norwegian gods or something like that)
    lmao.... awesome
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3082
    edited February 21

    sev112 said:
    carlos said:
    Clarky said:
    I teach my students this:
    G major, 3 notes per string, all 7 patterns
    Do you give them their Greek names at that point or leave that for later?
    No, @Clarky saves the Greek names for his guitars  (or they might by Norwegian gods or something like that)
    there are no Greek names..
    practicing the 7 different fingerings for G major is still G major, just starting from a different note..
    to my students I simply refer to them a 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc position
    context wise, the tonic is always G
    so this exercise has nothing to do with modes or anything like that..

    when we get into modes at a later time, I explain how the context changes
    this means that all 7 fingering patterns for the centre key of any given mode are already known and remain available
    and so in any given mode, the student can visualise the entire fingerboard based upon those 7 interlocking patterns
    it is therefore less to learn because the fingers already know where to go..
    it's then simply a case of getting the ear and mind to understand and get to grips with the new modal context
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3082
    edited February 21
    Clarky said:

    sev112 said:
    carlos said:
    Clarky said:
    I teach my students this:
    G major, 3 notes per string, all 7 patterns
    Do you give them their Greek names at that point or leave that for later?
    No, @Clarky saves the Greek names for his guitars  (or they might by Norwegian gods or something like that)
    there are no Greek names..
    practicing the 7 different fingerings for G major is still G major, just starting from a different note..
    to my students I simply refer to them a 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc position
    context wise, the tonic is always G
    so this exercise has nothing to do with modes or anything like that..

    when we get into modes at a later time, I explain how the context changes
    this means that all 7 fingering patterns for the centre key of any given mode are already known and remain available
    and so in any given mode, the student can visualise the entire fingerboard based upon those 7 interlocking patterns
    it is therefore less to learn because the fingers already know where to go..
    it's then simply a case of getting the ear and mind to understand and get to grips with the new modal context
    just a thought to add...
    most folks seem to not find it too difficult to accept and understand that the major scale and the relative minor share the same pool of notes..
    they tend to be completely comfortable with the difference in tonality and are quite happy to to write, solo, improvise in major and minor keys..

    the funny thing is that modes behave in exactly the same way..
    a relative minor is simply a different key / scale to it's parent major key [and so shares the same note pool] that has it's own specific tonality or 'voice'..
    in that sense, modes are no different at all..
    and so modes don't need to be taught differently or in a special way..
    once the relative minor thing is fully understood, modes are just more of the same
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • vizviz Frets: 5514
    Clarky said:
    Clarky said:

    sev112 said:
    carlos said:
    Clarky said:
    I teach my students this:
    G major, 3 notes per string, all 7 patterns
    Do you give them their Greek names at that point or leave that for later?
    No, @Clarky saves the Greek names for his guitars  (or they might by Norwegian gods or something like that)
    there are no Greek names..
    practicing the 7 different fingerings for G major is still G major, just starting from a different note..
    to my students I simply refer to them a 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc position
    context wise, the tonic is always G
    so this exercise has nothing to do with modes or anything like that..

    when we get into modes at a later time, I explain how the context changes
    this means that all 7 fingering patterns for the centre key of any given mode are already known and remain available
    and so in any given mode, the student can visualise the entire fingerboard based upon those 7 interlocking patterns
    it is therefore less to learn because the fingers already know where to go..
    it's then simply a case of getting the ear and mind to understand and get to grips with the new modal context
    just a thought to add...
    most folks seem to not find it too difficult to accept and understand that the major scale and the relative minor share the same pool of notes..
    they tend to be completely comfortable with the difference in tonality and are quite happy to to write, solo, improvise in major and minor keys..

    the funny thing is that modes behave in exactly the same way..
    a relative minor is simply a different key / scale to it's parent major key [and so shares the same note pool] that has it's own specific tonality or 'voice'..
    in that sense, modes are no different at all..
    and so modes don't need to be taught differently or in a special way..
    once the relative minor thing is fully understood, modes are just more of the same
    Wizzed. 
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  • carloscarlos Frets: 1673
    Clarky said:

    there are no Greek names..
    practicing the 7 different fingerings for G major is still G major, just starting from a different note..
    to my students I simply refer to them a 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc position
    context wise, the tonic is always G
    so this exercise has nothing to do with modes or anything like that..
    Fair enough. Learning 3 nps along the 7 positions is pretty useful down the line at seeing the intervals on the fretboard. Superimpose position 2 and position 6 (Major being 1) and you can clearly see where all the m6 and 6's are. But I don't teach anybody so will concede my position.
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3082
    carlos said:
    Clarky said:

    there are no Greek names..
    practicing the 7 different fingerings for G major is still G major, just starting from a different note..
    to my students I simply refer to them a 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc position
    context wise, the tonic is always G
    so this exercise has nothing to do with modes or anything like that..
    Fair enough. Learning 3 nps along the 7 positions is pretty useful down the line at seeing the intervals on the fretboard. Superimpose position 2 and position 6 (Major being 1) and you can clearly see where all the m6 and 6's are. But I don't teach anybody so will concede my position.
    to be honest.. it's easier not to superimpose anything and teach it as 'these are the 7 fingerings of G"
    that keeps everything really simple
    I call it: G-Everywhere, which pretty much describes what it's trying to achieve..

    when it comes to relative minor and modes, I simply show how the template of those 7 patterns are displaced..
    so... E Dorian..
    Dorian is mode 2.. so what is E the maj 2nd of?
    E is the maj 2nd of D
    move G-Everywhere and make it D-Everywhere..
    the entire fingerboard is now yours to use and abuse.. enjoy..
    for the basics and to get folks new to modes playing, understanding, hearing and enjoying, this method works quite well

    ok so this only works well if key / mode are static
    in music that switches key / mode often and / or quickly, or when you want to get into things like melodic substitution I have other shortcuts and tricks to teach.. but these are for the more advanced guys that already have a solid grasp of the fundamentals..
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • GulliverGulliver Frets: 496
    My 2 cents - I learned the 5 major and minor pentatonic shapes, then learned where to add the extra notes for modes in each shape.  That allows me to sit in the comfortable pentatonics of my blues background - but then add extra modal flavours when required.
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 850
    edited February 22
    Gulliver said:
    My 2 cents - I learned the 5 major and minor pentatonic shapes, then learned where to add the extra notes for modes in each shape.  That allows me to sit in the comfortable pentatonics of my blues background - but then add extra modal flavours when required.
    That's my basic approach. Plus knowing the intervals of the shapes. Then, knowing the 5 intervals of the major or minor pentatonic as a launching point, it it's easy to determine where the extra intervals are. Or how to adjust the pentatonics to create other scales that don't quite fit the patterns.
    It's not a competition.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3946
    Keiko said:
    Guitar teachers always seem to make learning scales way too complicated. There are 7 notes in the major scale, and that's it.

    Maybe it's because I learned keyboard before I took up the guitar, but I never understood the need to learn all these complicated patterns and positions on the fretboard. So long as you learn where all the notes are on the fretboard (that's the hard part granted, but once it's done, it's done), the scales will come very easy to you - you only need to know the 7 notes of the scale. Then when someone asks you to play the major scale you can play it anywhere on the fretboard, without being trapped in positions and patterns you have learnt.

    Im not a guitar teacher so dont take my word for it, but thats how I learn't my scales, and it works for me.   
    I totally agree, I did it the exact same way and there is no point doing it any other way. I would also say don't bother learning the pentatonic scale ... just learn the major and minor scales  ... the pentatonic scales in there anyway.




    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • Danny1969 said:
    Keiko said:
    Guitar teachers always seem to make learning scales way too complicated. There are 7 notes in the major scale, and that's it.

    Maybe it's because I learned keyboard before I took up the guitar, but I never understood the need to learn all these complicated patterns and positions on the fretboard. So long as you learn where all the notes are on the fretboard (that's the hard part granted, but once it's done, it's done), the scales will come very easy to you - you only need to know the 7 notes of the scale. Then when someone asks you to play the major scale you can play it anywhere on the fretboard, without being trapped in positions and patterns you have learnt.

    Im not a guitar teacher so dont take my word for it, but thats how I learn't my scales, and it works for me.   
    I totally agree, I did it the exact same way and there is no point doing it any other way. I would also say don't bother learning the pentatonic scale ... just learn the major and minor scales  ... the pentatonic scales in there anyway.



    Different strokes for different folks. It's obviously important to have a common language/theory (i.e. the naming of scales, chords etc) for clear communication, but the method by which individuals apply that theory has to suit the way their brain works.

      Some people have a good memory or an 'artistic feel' for things, which I'm useless at. My brain has to work with patterns and associations. I haven't got perfect pitch and I don't think (or hear) in terms of absolute notes, but in terms of patterns and intervals. I could tell you what note I'm playing (if I stopped and thought about it) but I'm primarily aware of intervals and the sound of patterns.

    My ear developed by learning solos by classic blues/rock players such as Clapton, Hendrix and Kossoff and I noticed recurring 5 notes patterns that I only discovered later were called major and minor pentatonics. Then I learned to add extra flavours to the sounds I already knew. But learning solos and 'lines' (musical phrases) came first and the scales were then useful in categorising those sounds.

    I dabble on keyboards but have real problems developing a similar interval visualisation system. I try to see the keyboard notes as a line ignoring whether they're black or white notes, but (for example) it's much harder for me to instantly know where the intervals are (especially the ones on the middle of the scale).
    It's not a competition.
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  • MelodicLydianMelodicLydian Frets: 11
    edited February 23
    Personally although I've learnt some things via shapes and patterns in the past I found I much prefer to see the whole neck rather than boxes. I do now know the names of all the notes on the fretboard in standard tuning without much mental effort but, my real aim to know at an instant all the intervals by ear and under the fingers in the most common keys (and some popular modes) without having to think about it.

    This hopefully will make finding the tension notes, leading notes and chord tones easy when improvising and chords voicing easy to do on the fly rather than learning shapes alone.
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