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Guitar Scales for Beginners

 

Beginner scales video lesson  

Guitar scales are boring, theoretical and unnecessary to play cool music...NOT!

I need to grab your attention here - simply because I have seen too many great muscians who have limited themself by claiming their "gift" would be vanished if they started learning scales etc.

Reality looks a bit different, though. Ask anyone who has started out as a self-taught riffer, what happens to your ability when you start realizing how to use a theoretical tool, such as scale. YOUR ABILITY BOOSTS - LIKE NEVER BEFORE.

 

This is what we will dedicate this video lesson to, if you never have touched upon a scale - we are going to make your skills boost, like never before. But first a little more reality...

 

     Downsides of learning guitar scales

The beginner's first meeting with theory and scales can be discouraging - so by predicting the problems you will encounter, you are more likely deal with them in a constructive way. Long sentence to say - here is what sucks:

You need to practice the scale seriously even if you don't like the sound of it. When I attempted to learn my first scale (the pentatonic scale)- it would take quite some time before I could even come up with one good lick of my own. So the first weeks, a new scale will be nothing but a boring set of notes - just accept it.

I needed a couple of months before I could start appreciating the second scale I learned, the major scale. In fact, you do not know how a scale sounds until you have spent some serious time with it, played it in a whole bunch of different situations. My teacher always told me: there are no bad scales - only bad guitarists, and I stuck with that.

Enough... I have probaly scared you away by now, but if you are still reading - here are just a few of the fantastic things that come with learning scales.

 

     Why learn scales?

 

Aah you got me going - I like this topic. It gives me a chance to clear out some missunderstandings that I often encounter...

Learning scales is extremely useful - even if you will never play a solo in your entire life. That's right - if you are 100% rhythm guitarist and don't know a single scale, you are off for a treat with this lesson. Why? Simply put: by just playing standard chords you will never break out of the ordinary, you need to connect your chords with scales. No further argumentation here, I'll just give you a reference: Jimi Hendrix , the scalar rhythm master.

Guitars playing scales
Scales are a must if you want to get there someday

You do not write better riffs/songs without theory. Scalar knowledge will only enhance your ability. And by the way - I don't even think Bach sat down and thought to himself "Hmm... today I think I'll compose something in C# phrygian". The scales are there to support your melodies, arrangements, harmonies (etc.) - they are by no means a substitution for inspiration.

Now if you do have a lack of inspiration - trying out new scale tonalities which you aren't familiar with may be just what you need. Swedish writer and performer Per Gessle (Roxette) claims one of his secret tricks, is to force himslef into new keys where he is unsure of the chords - this brings him into new territory and helps give his compositions a unique flavor.

Ok - this is a rock guitar site. I cannot think how anyone could learn to shred without knowing some scales. In fact - I am sure you can't.

Think of of it like this: you can either erratically fool around on the fretboard for a couple of decades (!) until your fingers unconsciously learn to find the strong notes (and I bet my guitar you will just have discovered the minor or major scale) - OR - you could learn that in a couple of weeks with this lesson... Choice is yours.

 

     "Moving" a scale up and down on the guitar neck

 

This topic often causes confusion - so let's take a basic example. Here is the most common pentatonic box in A minor:

The red dots are the root notes of the scale, since we are in the key of A minor - the red dotes will be on the notes A. (Yes - there are three A:s in this box)

note diagram pentatonic scale notes

By having a look at the notes on the low e-string - we can "transpose" (= move) our A minor box to the third fret. Thereby changing it to G minor pentatonic.

G minor pentatonic scale

 

     Time to rock

 

In this lesson's video we will cover the pentatonic scale (so that you can proceed with the more advanced pentatonic lessons at GMC) and the major scale.

C major / Ionian scale
C major ionian scale

We are going to go through exactly how you should read the charts, play them and improvise with them... So you too can join the league.

PS Don't forget to jam around with the scales over this lesson's backing - I have made sure everything is in the right key so you can play to your heart's desire!

 

 

Beginner Scales Backing Track (90 bpm)
   
Beginner Scales Backing slow
   
Tab Beginner Scales TAB

 

Related lessons:
Pentatonic Scale lesson 1
Pentatonic Scale lesson 2
Pentatonic Scale lesson 3

     Lesson Questions, Feedback & Comments





Mark Schiewe
post 16th November 2006


Member


Cool Kris, but why does it say Power chords tab?
Kristofer Dahl
post 17th November 2006


Member


Oops - fixed now..
Aryo
post 22nd November 2006


Member


GReat lesson kris! best lesson yet i think smile.gif
beginer scales 2 sounds very good to me right now........
chainsbroken
post 3rd January 2007


Member


Thanks Kris,
Every lick helps me spice up those scales. Inspires me to play them alot more often..
Kristofer Dahl
post 3rd January 2007


Member


chainsbroken: Great! That's the whole idea.
In_the_Flames
post 16th January 2007


Member


I feel that those scales really help warm up the fingers and the licks re-establishes the idea why I need to learn the scales and become pretty fast at them.I have been practicing a few scales i remember from guitar lessons past so these scales are really no problem for me. The scales I learned before were the Blues Scale, Rock Scale and a version of the pentatonic scale but it was a little different than what I was playing. Great lesson by the way
chainsbroken
post 18th January 2007


Member


I found this backing track i really like, and I'm not very good at hearing what key it is in. But i found that when I start my 1st a minor pentatonic box on the 7th fret it fits very well. My question is...Is this the B minor pentatonic scale? I havent figured out everything about how these scales work so any answers will be appreciated
Kristofer Dahl
post 18th January 2007


Member


Chainsbroken: Exactly - B minor!
chainsbroken
post 21st January 2007


Member


Thanks alot Kris...
dchuck
post 7th February 2007


Member


I seem to be having a problem using scales correctly. Oh, by the way I'm new and this is a cool program. I find it hard to switch to different keys and scales to make it sound right. For example..say I'm using the C major scale. What scales could I combine besides relative A scale. How would I get harmonic minors in there and stuff. Do I just mix it with the same scale root. Like the C harmonic minor and C major scale together or what? sorry that was long.
Kristofer Dahl
post 7th February 2007


Member


Welcome dchuck!biggrin.gif

If you are relatively new to this - I would say you are worrying to much. Many advanced rock guitarist never get as fas as you describe. Just make sure you know one scale very well, and a great variations of licks inside it (just this will probbaly take many years). Then you can worry about switching scales or whatnot!

The cool sounds won't come from knowing many scales, they will come from knowing one really good!

Kris smile.gif
dchuck
post 8th February 2007


Member


ok thanks, that's finally off my back.
edgor67
post 11th February 2007


Member


Kris, I like the beginer scale lessons. I have my metronome set at 100bpm and am working with the pentatonic and ionin up and down the fretbord.

I anticpate it would help to learn the notes on the frets rather than just playing scales. Agree?

I'll probably pick another scale also. Which one does Santana usually use?

I'm working my way through the beginer licks lessons then beginner and beyond. It is interesting how much one moves forward with one's bag of licks. The guitar knowledge expands. I practice till my fingers are sore (bout an hour and half) take a break and go back at it.

I'll step through each lesson. Looking forward to being a rock star some day.

Cheers,

ed gordon
Warrenton, Virginia, USA
Kristofer Dahl
post 12th February 2007


Member


edgor67: Absolutely - learning the notes on the frets is good but not nearly as important as many internet [scam!] courses want you to believe.

Looking forward to your fame biggrin.gif don't forget to mention me in your first album!
willis
post 14th February 2007


Member


i dont understand, for the C major scale, if it starts and ends on C why does it have a B and D before after it?
Kristofer Dahl
post 14th February 2007


Member


C is just the root note ( I guess you could refer to it as the "main note"). The other notes of the scale will always "be around" it! hmm hope it helps...
willis
post 14th February 2007


Member


I know that but arent you supposed to start and end on C? because reading the tabs you would start and end on a different note
Kristofer Dahl
post 15th February 2007


Member


lordwillis: Correct - that's important as soon as you can finger the scale to think about hearing C as your root note. If you start hearing D for example you will actually hear the dorian mode.

As long as you take this into consideration and practice hearing the scale the right way - you can also allow yourself other exercises not necassily starting and ending on the right note. Espcially if you practice to a backing that has the right tonality (C!). Hope I'm not confusing things.../Kris
willis
post 17th February 2007


Member


No, thanks that helps, Ive played piano for like 8 years so it kinda confused me thanks
beebo
post 26th February 2007


Member


yea rock on
Leviathan
post 4th April 2007


Member


for the c major ionian scale why dont you start with the root note?
riffgiant
post 15th April 2007


Member


good lesson Kris, just joined today...

question about fingering. when I'm doing the first two notes (fat e string) of the A minor pentatonic box, my fingers just don't make the stretch. I can nail it if I pick up the index finger before laying down the pinky finger but it feels like cheating. any tips?
Kristofer Dahl
post 16th April 2007


Member


riffgiant - yes, play the E minor pentatonic box instead which is on the 12th fret. When it feels comfortable you can go down the 10th fret etc - eventually working your way down to the fifth fret where A minor pentatonic is! smile.gif
rokchik
post 1st May 2007


Member


Hey Kris - this is a great lesson. I'm back to playing now and I find this helps warm up my fingers as well as make sense of the fret board. When I first picked up the guitar I didn't realize how important scales were as never played an instrument before. But they are helping me a great deal. I'm making scale practice the first thing I do when starting to play. Thanks!
Dennis
post 3rd May 2007


Member


WOW thanks i have been playing for year and read tabs well but never played scales this is a great tool i have learned to use farly well. Thanks to your help Thanks Kris.
Kerry
post 8th May 2007


Member


Kris, I seem to have a bad problem with excessive string feedback when playing the scales. I am applying light pressure with my picking hand on the bridge but it is still there. If I press any harder the strings start to actually get muted. Is this just the gain on my amp or am I not doing something correctly?
Nick_GibsonLP
post 8th May 2007


Member


Hey Kris, great lesson. The only thing I noticed was in your video lesson for the Lick #2 (on the C major scale) in your video, the last note hit would be G string on the 9th fret, but in the tab it says to bend on the 10th fret.
Anirudh
post 9th May 2007


Member


wow, i found my ability boost in just two days, gmc rocks!!!!
Hemlok
post 13th May 2007


Member


Okay, f minor? is f g a b c d e f g

can i play minor scale from all those notes? or is it only certain ones?
Hemlok
post 13th May 2007


Member


forget that, i just confused myself
ClifordACDC
post 14th May 2007


Member


in the video you say that the last bend in the c major scale it at the 9th fret but in the tab it says the 10th
floyo123
post 27th May 2007


Member


well it wasnt boring it was very intersting i liked that jamming very much just hearing the backup and then just trying to get a nice combination of those sounds in these scales very nice site!
ibanez rocker
post 29th May 2007


Member


hey clifordACDC i noticed that too. i just changed it on the tab paper
Verbity
post 5th June 2007


Member


What the hell does 7b mean.....versus say 7 on any string and what's the br???
Andrew Cockburn
post 5th June 2007


Member


QUOTE (verbity @ Jun 4 2007, 07:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What the hell does 7b mean.....versus say 7 on any string and what's the br???


b means bend, br means bend/release.
teuteuguy
post 6th June 2007


Member


Hi there everyone.

I'm so new to GMC, and am SOOOO loving it.

I have started working from the beginning. Trying to fix all of the errors and techniques I dont have.

I'm working on the scales.
I'm getting pretty good at the Pentatonic, and am starting the one on the 8th fret.

My problem, is that I have had 1 "real" lesson before. I had told the guy I wanted to play metal, so he taught me some scales to practice. These scales are different for some reason !!! They are based on 3 notes per string.

(from memory, not having the guitar in front of my eyes)
(for example: was told to start them on 8th fret)
|-10-12-13- -08-10-12-
|-10-12-13- -08-10-12-
|-09-10-12- -07-09-10-
|-09-10-12- -07-09-10- -05-07-09-
|-08-10-12- -07-08-10- -05-07-08-
|-08-10-12- -07-08-10- -05-07-08- and so on ...

My problem is I get these mixed up by going to fast.

When doing the 8th fret scale described in the lesson
|-07-08-10
|-08-10
|-07-09-10
|-07-09-10
|-07-08-10
|-08-10

When I go too fast, I tend to do not use my middle finger on the beginning of 08-10 on the sencond last string, but use my second finger and do a quick 08-10-12 as I would when practicing the 3 note scales thing.

This is due to an automatism I must try and get rid of I assume.

However, I would like to understand the theory here.

What are these other scales I was taught ? What are they for ? is it important to know both type of scales ? as much info would be appreciated.
jammer91
post 8th June 2007


Member


KRis, Ive been having this problem for a year. Im new here but have been playing guitar for like 1 year. I used to play punk rock but now i really wanted to play some shred metal (thats why im here in GMC). The only way to properly shred as you mentioned above is to use scales.

When people shred do they just keep playing notes in a scale?

Whats the rule switching between notes in a scale and other scales?

Whats the relevance of the root note?

Thanks, im sorta lost and i know i sound noobish...

Oh yea and this site is totally awesome, ive been goin every weekend to some guitar instruction paying $200 a month and you can see my level of understanding... Zero. Great job on the site setup also...
Andrew Cockburn
post 8th June 2007


Member


QUOTE (teuteuguy @ Jun 6 2007, 08:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi there everyone.
I'm so new to GMC, and am SOOOO loving it.
I have started working from the beginning. Trying to fix all of the errors and techniques I dont have.
I'm working on the scales.
I'm getting pretty good at the Pentatonic, and am starting the one on the 8th fret.
My problem, is that I have had 1 "real" lesson before. I had told the guy I wanted to play metal, so he taught me some scales to practice. These scales are different for some reason !!! They are based on 3 notes per string.
(from memory, not having the guitar in front of my eyes)
(for example: was told to start them on 8th fret)
|-10-12-13- -08-10-12-
|-10-12-13- -08-10-12-
|-09-10-12- -07-09-10-
|-09-10-12- -07-09-10- -05-07-09-
|-08-10-12- -07-08-10- -05-07-08-
|-08-10-12- -07-08-10- -05-07-08- and so on ...
My problem is I get these mixed up by going to fast.
When doing the 8th fret scale described in the lesson
|-07-08-10
|-08-10
|-07-09-10
|-07-09-10
|-07-08-10
|-08-10
When I go too fast, I tend to do not use my middle finger on the beginning of 08-10 on the sencond last string, but use my second finger and do a quick 08-10-12 as I would when practicing the 3 note scales thing.
This is due to an automatism I must try and get rid of I assume.
However, I would like to understand the theory here.
What are these other scales I was taught ? What are they for ? is it important to know both type of scales ? as much info would be appreciated.


Scales and patterns are different things - scales are a musical construct, patterns are how we reproduce them on the guitar. You can read some mor on this on my Introduction to scales lesson.

Your 3 notes per string scales are just a different pattern to produce a particular underlying scale, and are both equally valid. 3nps are generally a little harder to learn and play, but some people start with them from the beginning.

QUOTE (jammer91 @ Jun 8 2007, 10:40 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
KRis, Ive been having this problem for a year. Im new here but have been playing guitar for like 1 year. I used to play punk rock but now i really wanted to play some shred metal (thats why im here in GMC). The only way to properly shred as you mentioned above is to use scales.
When people shred do they just keep playing notes in a scale?
Whats the rule switching between notes in a scale and other scales?
Whats the relevance of the root note?
Thanks, im sorta lost and i know i sound noobish...
Oh yea and this site is totally awesome, ive been goin every weekend to some guitar instruction paying $200 a month and you can see my level of understanding... Zero. Great job on the site setup also...


Lots of questions smile.gif

QUOTE (jammer91 @ Jun 8 2007, 10:40 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
KRis, Ive been having this problem for a year. Im new here but have been playing guitar for like 1 year. I used to play punk rock but now i really wanted to play some shred metal (thats why im here in GMC). The only way to properly shred as you mentioned above is to use scales.
When people shred do they just keep playing notes in a scale?


Usually, yes. Scales are very varied, there are literally hundreds, so pretty much any sequence of notes can be part of some scale somewhere. There are a bunch of scales that are more common than others - Pentatonic, Major, Minor, various Modes, and shredding like other playing tends to stick to these. For shredding though particular subsets of the scales are used a lot in patterns of 6 or 8, andthese are basically runs of notes that the player has practiced and can play fast. But yes, in general, shredding uses scales just like any other technique.

QUOTE (jammer91 @ Jun 8 2007, 10:40 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Whats the rule switching between notes in a scale and other scales?


There are hno rules - its what sounds cool and how you express yourself. Its also down to experience. The scales you play fit the chord progression usually, and a change in chord progression, or a particular chord could trigger a change in the scale you play.

QUOTE (jammer91 @ Jun 8 2007, 10:40 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Whats the relevance of the root note?


The root note is the first note of a scale. But it is more than that, it is your signpost to connect up different boxes, and to understand the musical function of the notes you are playing, kind of like an anchor. When playing melodies, you need to keep in mind what your root note is (you do this through practicing scales). A change of root note, even if all the other notes remain the same can make a big change to the sound of the notes you are playing.
Nuno M
post 19th June 2007


Member


Hello Kris!! I have a question. On the vídeo you say " its very important not to cheat when changing direction with the alternate picking..." what does it mean? I look at the tab and I couldn't find help there. My English is as new as my guitarskills so can you please explain it better? because as a beguinner i think this is really important.
Thank you
jammer91
post 30th June 2007


Member


Do we have to play notes in the scale in the same order or can we just play them randomly?
Manny
post 10th July 2007


Member


what is it about gmc?

it makes me WANT to go run through my scales for an hour!!
timbo81
post 10th July 2007


Member


which other pentanonic scale are important to learn besides the a-minor and c-major listed.

Or maybe I am not getting the whole concept of how scale boxes can be moved around the guitar.

i'll read it a bit more
Andrew Cockburn
post 10th July 2007


Member


QUOTE (timbo81 @ Jul 10 2007, 04:57 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
which other pentanonic scale are important to learn besides the a-minor and c-major listed.
Or maybe I am not getting the whole concept of how scale boxes can be moved around the guitar.
i'll read it a bit more


You don't need to learn each noew scale (as in A minor, B minor DC minor etc). Once You have learned one set of patterns for Pentatonic (there are 5 intotal) you can move them, up and down the neck to get the scale you need. The key to this is the root notes - move the boxes until the root note is in the key you want to play.

So in summary, don't learn the fret numbers, learn the patterns!
Manny
post 11th July 2007


Member


haha, this is gonna make my friends jealous!!

=]
Kristofer Dahl
post 11th July 2007


Member


Nuno M - well, put simply that just means you gor for 100% up and down no matter where you on the guitar... smile.gif
rockownz
post 22nd August 2007


Member


Nice lesson! Thank you! biggrin.gif
lcguinea
post 9th September 2007


Member


This is my second lesson and I am really feeling very good and I am really improving, my fingers now are more flexible.

Kristofer you are the best teacher!!! Thanks for creating GMC!
Pakal
post 10th September 2007


Member


Hi everybody, i`m new on GMC. I took a guitar classes for 2 years, (with teacher and everything), and there they show me the pentatonic scale... but i don´t understand it (bad teachers). And now, after 1 hour, i learned not just the pentatonic scale for C mayor and A minor, but also the power cords and something, that just i can´t do it in 2 years in class room (again... bad teachers)... PLAM MUTING!!!!, i´m so happy to find this place and could learn so fast!!!! Tanks Kris!!!!!!
jammer91
post 22nd October 2007


Member


This lesson has really helped me and more importantly andrews post in answering my questions. I looked back at this lesson to understand scales better and relooked at the post Andrew posted 5 months ago. THat post answered all the scale questions i have right now.

Thanks a lot Andrew!!!
Andrew Cockburn
post 22nd October 2007


Member


Very welcome smile.gif
Francisca
post 12th November 2007


Member


Wow, talking about ways to whet our appetite!

You sure know how to make things fun Kris. Many thanks.
Francisca
post 14th November 2007


Member


Sorry for another post, but I can't update my original. I'm just reporting that the TAB still shows the earlier noticed mistake. a 10b instead of the 9b.

So it would be lick 2 (C major scale)
e|-10-8-7br--------------------------------------|
a|----------10-8---------------------------------|
d|---------------9b------------------------------|
g|-----------------------------------------------|
a|-----------------------------------------------|
e|-----------------------------------------------|

Wow, whaddayaknow! My first TAB wink.gif
skennington
post 27th November 2007


Member


Hey what's up guys! This scale lesson is cool but what I wanted to know is the A minor and G minor the easiest to get the alternate picking pattern down? I've kinda taught myself a nono in strumming one direction.

Thanks,
Steve
Saint_arc
post 2nd December 2007


Member


Hey Kris I am still a little confused during the Back Tracks. I know what the Power chords are that are being played in the beginning. I don't know what scale to play in what key or if I can play a pentatonic scale or not. Can you help me out here?
Legend aKa Colton
post 9th December 2007


Member


am i suppossed to learn the backing track? or no i learned both the scales >?<
keeder1
post 11th June 2008


Member


When strumming chords do you use alt. strumming like when picking??
Jesse
post 7th July 2008


Member


Kris.. Does the C major/Ionian Fit over the A backing track? So yes, why ?
Wester_Swe
post 14th July 2008


Member


i'm wondering the same thing as jesse. why do the C major scale fit with the A backing track, and if there are more than C major fitting together with A then what are they?




Johan Westerfors ,Lerum,Sweden
Andrew Cockburn
post 14th July 2008


Member


The scales of A minor and C major/Ionian are closely related so it should work fine to play either C major or A minor. or even A pentatonic over this backing track.

There are some musical theory related reasons why this is the case - hop over to my theory lessons and check out the relative minors lesson!
Olle
post 16th July 2008


Member


Hi everybody! I'm new here at GMC and I've decided to begin practicing this lesson on my electric guitar. But I've been playing acoustic guitar for about a year and never really liked using a pick, so is it really necessary to use on in order to learn licks and solos?
mattedk
post 12th August 2008


Member


hey all, i started practising the A minor pentatonic scale for some weeks ago, but i think there's something, it just dont sound right.. i think im doing something wrong with the picking ( i know that kris shows it but i find it hard to see ) anyway, my question is, is the picking just down-up-down-up-down-up all the way?

best regards matte smile.gif
Braer
post 14th August 2008


Member


am i stupid or what? i still dont see why scales can be good..
FloydF
post 14th October 2008


Member


That helped alot! Thanks for the lessons and keep them coming
Andrew Cockburn
post 14th October 2008


Member


QUOTE (FloydF @ Oct 13 2008, 06:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That helped alot! Thanks for the lessons and keep them coming


Thanks - good to hear smile.gif
Gaburieru
post 2nd May 2009


Member


great lesson!!! great backtrack ... simple but rocks a lot!!!


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