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Thread: Proper way to learn scales?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Proper way to learn scales?

    Hi, I'm new to the forum and I have just recently decided to begin to learn the Major scale, I've been practicing playing the G major scale for about a week, what I've been doing is playing all the notes and saying them aloud in my head before playing each one, planning hopefully that eventually I will memorize where all the notes are, so I will be able to switch to the other major scales easily since I will already know where the notes are, but I want to make sure I'm not wasting my time practicing this over and over again, because basically all I have been doing for the past week is playing the scale for 2 hours a day, but I want to make sure I'm not practicing incorreclty, because I really want to dedicate myself to be able to make up solos, and melodies and improv over chord changes, I know i can put the time in but I'm just not quite sure where to start. Does it sound like I'm practicing correctly?, and if anyone can give me some advice on other things to practice as well that would be greatly appreciated, because it gets boring playing the same scale over and over again. Also how long did it take for you guys to really get to know all the notes, because it takes me a while to remember where the notes are on the fretboard when I play them.

    Thanks a lot!(hopefully this was clear)

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    memorizing notes is good, but don't stick in one scale, or Key. use the patterns, if you start on Am for example(5th fret low e) 134(low e string) 134(a string) 1,3(d string) using the same fingering, if you move up one whole step to fret 7,(low e string) now you are playing the same pattern, but different key/scale(Bm) move up and down the fret board using this same pattern, take note to the notes and the sounds, this helped me alot

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    I suggest also practising the C major scale (in open position):


    Start and end on C (either one), to get the flavour of the key - but practise the notes in any order in between. (Try and use same finger number as fret number: index for all notes on 1st fret, etc.)

    Another thing to do (with both scales) is to play chord arpeggios, esp of the I, IV and V chords. That means (in key of G), G, C and D chords; in key of C, it means C, F and G chords.
    An arpeggio means the 3 notes in each chord, wherever you can find them (played one note at a time, any order you like).

    Here are the arpeggios for the I, IV and V chords in C major:

    I = C

    IV = F

    V = G

    (Recognise the chord shapes in there? The arpeggios just add 1 or 2 more notes.)
    End on the root of each chord (any root). That means C for a C chord, F for F, etc. Also play the key chord (I) last.

    Here's the arpeggio for a D chord, in key of G (I=G, IV=C, as above):

    V = D

    But - more important than any of this! - practise some TUNES as well! Scale practice is boring, as you say. Once you have a good idea where all the scale notes are, melodies are the best way to practise scales, because they sound good, and they help make sense of how the scale works.
    You will need to look up tab for some tunes or riffs in whatever key you're practising.

    You can practise chord sequences too - learning how to change between chords quickly and smoothly (and in time!) is probably the hardest challenge for a beginner.

    These are basic I-IV-V-I sequences:

    Key C :|C / / / |F / / / |G / / / |C / / / |

    Key G :|G / / / |C / / / |D / / / |G / / / |

    But try varying the order. Pick any pair of chords, and practice changing back and forth from one to the other.
    Try this kind of thing in between practising the scale for the key, so you get used to how the scale works and sounds with the chords.
    Last edited by JonR; 04-28-2008 at 02:58 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    Yes - think pattern. That Major pattern you are using started on the 6th string 3rd fret makes the G Major scale. Move that pattern to start on the 6th string 5th fret and you have produced the A Major scale. Keep going --7th fret = B Major Scale, 8th fret = C Major scale, 10th fret = D Major scale, etc. etc.

    I'm not sure which is best - to say out loud the note name or the interval number as you play the scale pattern. I did interval numbers first. That way later when you start improvisation interval numbers helped me more than knowing the actual note names, i.e. the 1, 3, 5, & b7 interval numbers are important in improvisation. But this is just the way I did it. Later on you will have to know where all the notes are on your fretboard --- so which first -- your choice.

    Major scale first.
    Minor pentatonic next -- Why? It's just an easy scale to get under your fingertips.
    Blues scale next.

    By then you will know more what you want to be spending your time doing.

    Here is what you are working toward.

    Here are some patterns to work with.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-28-2008 at 02:56 PM.

  5. #5
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Funky Munky World
    major scale

    relative minor scale

    minor pent

    is surely a better progression..understanding the link between major scale and relative minor before learning to remove 2nd and 6th.

  6. #6
    Artistically Bankrupt
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    You're just memorizing patterns?

    Major scale starting with index finger on root on 6'th string,
    Major scale starting with middle finger on root on 6'th string,
    Major scale starting with ring finger on root on 6'th string,
    Major scale starting with little finger on root on 6'th string,
    Major scale starting with index finger on root on 5'th string,
    Major scale starting with middle finger on root on 5'th string,
    Major scale starting with ring finger on root on 5'th string,
    Major scale starting with little finger on root on 5'th string,
    Major scale starting with index finger on root on 4'th string,
    Major scale starting with middle finger on root on 4'th string,
    Major scale starting with ring finger on root on 4'th string,
    Major scale starting with little finger on root on 4'th string

    Repeat with the Minor scale and Pentatonic major and minor. Seems like I learned it this way from the Leavitt books back in the day.

    Afterwards, do the battery of triads on the high 3 strings:
    Major and minor with root on 3'rd string,
    Major and minor with root on 2'nd string,
    Major and minor with root on 1'st string

    It worked for me. You'll "know your neck" when you're done, of course, but there are faster ways to know your neck, I bet. It won't prepare one for Jazz as well as if you'd done the triad exercises as 4-note chords starting on 4'th string, but it sure works for 70's rock.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

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