Learning Guitar Scales - Are You Making These Mistakes?

In this guitar scale article we take a look at three major mistakes guitarists make when learning guitar scales. Avoiding these mistakes will help you learn scales faster and help you learn to solo with them in a more musical way. Let's take a look at the mistakes now…

Learning Guitar Scales Mistake #1: Giving Up Too Soon

Many guitar players start learning scales with great enthusiasm. They practice like a maniac for a few days, or maybe even a few weeks. But then they stop. They give up practicing the scale before they have truly mastered it. Can you relate to this? I've sure been guilty of this a few times in the past!

The fact is, to truly master a guitar scale may take a long time. And I feel that often guitarists give up way to soon. They think that they don't have the natural talent to master scales. And we both know that this is total B.S. You can master any guitar scale given enough time and effort. It's just a matter of doing some practice DAILY until the scale has been mastered.

A really simple strategy to help improve your consistency in your guitar scales practice is to schedule a daily practice appointment with yourself…and stick to it.

Learning Guitar Scales Mistake #2: Not Using Backing Tracks

Why do you want to learn guitar scales? What are some reasons you have for practicing scales?Chances are, one of the reasons is to improve your guitar soloing. So, what has this got to do with backing tracks?

For years I have practiced scales over the chords that they work over. In other words, I have recorded the chord and then practiced my scale exercises over that chord. For example, if I was learning the E major scale I would practice it over a backing track that was playing an E major seventh chord.

Some of the benefits of practicing scales in this way include…

  • You'll eventually program the chord/scale relationships into your brain. This means that when you hear a chord you'll be able to automatically hear the scale that works over that chord. This really helps with playing by ear.
  • You'll enjoy practicing scales more. The scale exercises that you practice sound much more interesting when played over the chord that they work over.
  • You'll learn and internalize the sounds of scales much faster. This is really important because it helps you solo in a much more musical way.

Pretty cool benefits huh?

(I think that using backing tracks is so important, that I created over 70 of them for members of the Guitar Scale Mastery membership website! It took me frickin' ages to create them, but I think it will help the members a LOT. :-)).

Learning Guitar Scales Mistake #3: Not Building A Big Enough Vocabulary

Music is a language. And in order to speak ANY language fluently, you need a large vocabulary of words. The same is also true for guitar scales. To "speak" fluently (i.e. solo musically) with guitar scales you need a large vocabulary of…

  • Melodic Patterns/Sequences.
  • Licks.
  • Melodies.
  • Rhythmic Motifs.

Sure, running straight up-and-down scales has some benefit. (It certainly can help develop your technique). But in order to speak the language of music fluently, you need words. So once you've initially memorized a scale, get to work and build that vocabulary!

How do you do that? Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • Memorize the licks, melodies, rhythmic motifs and solos of your favorite guitarists.
  • Compose licks, melodies, rhythmic motifs and solos.
  • Practice scale exercises that use melodic patterns/sequences.

That's all for now. Don't forget to practice lots!

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