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Basic Guitar Scales

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Scales are important for a few different reasons

  1. They build strength and independence in your fingers.
  2. Playing scales helps to train you ears to recognize some common note combinations.
  3. They can be used as note choices in both improvisation and writing of music.

The following five basic scale shapes should be memorized and played daily. They should be played in all positions, but a good place to start is around the 5th fret. Try to use the scales in your playing as soon as possible, writing or improvising melodies out of them.

The root of the scale is indicated by the red oval. For more information on the how to read these scale charts, read scale primer lesson.

Again, these scale forms can be played anywhere on the neck of the guitar. The name of the first note that you play on the 6th string will be the name of the scale. For instance if you play the major scale starting with your 2nd finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string, then you would be playing an A major scale. The 5th fret, 6th string is an A note. At the 3rd fret it would be a G major scale. The 3rd fret, 6th string is a G note. So in order to understand exactly which scale/key your are playing in, you need to know what the names of the notes on the 6th string.

Learn one scale at a time, don't overload yourself by trying to do them all at once. I have put the scales in the order that I would suggest learning them.....starting with the major scale.

After you have memorized the scale form, try the following picking combinations.

1. Pick 2 times on every note. Use strict down and up picking starting with a down pick. Make your picking motion as small as possible. Your left hand should also make as little motion as possible. Try not to let your fingers fly out too far away from the fretboard. Have you left hand fingers hovering right above the notes that you are going to play. You can see how I do this in the videos of my left hand on the next page.

2. Pick 3 times on every note. Again using strict down and up picking.

3. Pick 4 times on every note.

4. Pick once on every note, but use strict down and up picking. Pick down on the first note, up on the second, down on the 3rd, etc... This is going to take concentration at first. Don't get into a bad habit of picking down 2 times in a row. Strict down and up picking is the key.

Page 2, Basic guitar scale forms



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