You have likely been hunting on the inter-webs for ways to help improve your Guitar Scales. Or maybe you’ve even tried to memorize a whole bunch of ’em, but it didn’t turn out as well as you hoped. Indeed, if you’re like a lot of beginner lead guitar players, then you probably ended up with nothing more than clunky fingers playing stammered scales that never sound smooth or musical.
All is not lost. You can also learn and play scales, and all you have to do is tweak your practise strategy a bit. This will mean you need to stop making the following five common guitar scale mistakes. Read on
Mistake #1: Spending All Your Practice Time On Nothing But Scales
In my private teaching practice I have noticed most beginning lead guitarists make this mistake. What is even more frustrating is that there are many teachers, books, YouTube lessons, blog posts etc that perpetuate the idea that students should spend most of their time practising guitar scales which is a mistake!
If you hear or read of anyone promoting this idea then click the back button! That’s because JUST practising scales is counterintuitive, unproductive, and will not ultimately make you a better musician.
Instead of investing all your time into learning scales, what you need to do is have a structured regime of the actual scales that you need to learn within the style that you play. Setting a structured timeframe for learning the relevant guitar scales for each practice session will give you the best results.
Mistake #2: Learning Scales That Are Of No Relevance To What You Play
This is another common mistake that I see people do. Folks assume that having a large scale vocabulary is the be all and end all of playing guitar. However, if you want to sound great using guitar scales within your style, then you need to make sure that you don’t spend countless hours learning the harmonic minor scale when you play country music. Instead, if country music is your thing for example, investing your time into learning the Major scale, the Major pentatonic scale, the Mixolydian Mode and the Blues Scale will bring you greater results. Learn what is relevant to the style of music that you play.
Mistake #3: Not Learning Scales At All
Okay this one actually does happen, simply because things are currently working well for you and you are doing things that appear right. All of a sudden you go to compose a piece of music you hear in your head or you’re listening to a piece of music on the radio and you think wow this is amazing but I have no idea of how to get that sound out and onto my guitar, then realise, if only I had been still practising my scales. If you’ve stopped your guitar scales practice or not started at all, it is an easy fix!
Immediately make up a practice plan to integrate scales as part of your routine, it’s that simple. Whether it’s five minutes or 15 minutes, whatever the case may be, integrate them immediately and you will see results.
Mistake #4: Not Learning New Scale Types
Don’t feel too bad about this as every player has made this mistake at some point including some of your favourite famous guitar players. Even Slash admits to not having a structured practising schedule or knowing what he is doing but prefers to just jam (but he still is awesome right?). So instead of playing the same scale sounds over and over again, why not learn new scales and develop your ear for new sounds, create fresh melodies by doing so and everybody will think you’re awesome. If you would like to learn one of my favourite scales to use, the Gypsy scale is one of my favourites!
Mistake #5: Not practising Scales Musically
In my many years of teaching the guitar from beginners through to advanced players there are few don’t make this guitar scales mistake. However those who do find this very frustrating because practising scales up and down the neck forwards and backwards no matter how fast will help slow can be detrimental to growth and just won’t make you sound that musical all the time. Many people quit the guitar out of sheer frustration in trying to get scales and modes to sound musical often because it’s been so much time practising on speed exercises rather than rhythms and intervals, which actually help create the musicality.
d iFortunately, you can avoit fairly easily, simply by learning where the intervals are within the scale structure, what they sound like in relationship to one another and practising them with various kinds of rhythms; 8th notes, 16th notes, shuffled, straight etc… and practising them at various tempos over many different styles of music.
So to sum up today’s blog post
It is absolutely obtainable for you to play fantastic music using scales relevant to your style of music, especially if you avoid the common guitar scales mistakes. Don’t believe me? Start implementing it today and watch the changes happen!