9 tips to learn guitar scales more easily
Learning guitar scales is a key step for every aspiring guitarist. With them, it will be easier for you to understand what you play, which will allow you to compose better songs and melodies, improvise more fluently, and elaborate plucking and solos with a sense of good taste.
Contrary to what many people think, learning the scales is not difficult or boring. You just need time, patience and enthusiasm to keep learning. Your reward will be that once you know how to use them, they will become something natural to you, and you will become not only a better guitarist but a better musician.
Through the tips below, you will be able to make your learning journey much more fun and efficient.
- Use a metronome: although this advice is repeated frequently, it is often overlooked. If you want to build an impeccable internal tempo, give meaning to your musical phrases, improve your speed, rhythmic control and precision, you must practice with a metronome.
Remember that all academic musicians and the greatest musicians in history have used this tool to forge consistency and create new skills.
- Start slowly: practice your scales at a tempo you feel comfortable with and can play without making mistakes. Gradually increase the tempo as you progress. Don't despair—speed is something that comes with time, and it has to go hand in hand with precision.
It's important that you stay relaxed at all times and that, at the slightest sign of pain or discomfort, you stop, take a break, and then slow down a few BPMs and start again.
- Improvise: apply the knowledge—get a backing track in the tone you want and improvise the scales you learn. You can also put your favourite songs in the background and play over them. This will keep you motivated because you will see results, and will also keep you in shape for when you play with other musicians.
- Learn the basic scales: use practical scales that adapt to different styles of music such as the blues, pentatonic, melodic and minor harmonic scales. These are the best scales to learn on guitar, and ideal to start with.
- Warm up with the chromatic scale: this is very useful to start your practice session. Go through the whole neck of the guitar from the lowest notes to the last high note of the last fret, and if possible sing the notes so that you become more and more familiar with the guitar and the different positions and tonalities.
- Apply chromatics when using any scale: this will add more colour and expressiveness to your phrases, and will also help you to know where and when they work. Ideal if you are into jazz.
- Use your little finger: this is the finger that beginners and intermediates should generally strengthen. Force yourself to use it in your scales, and incorporate it from the beginning into your practice so that you get used to using it.
- Do not conform: every knowledge you acquire on the guitar, every new scale you learn, is a new universe full of musical possibilities that opens up for you, another perspective that will allow you to express yourself better and create your own language.
- Memorize one position at a time: one mistake that happens when we start studying is that we want to learn all the positions at once. An excess of information in a short time can cause you to end up confused. The brain assimilates information better if you present it to it one by one.
Take a position, memorize it and apply it along the fretboard in different tones. Once you feel that you've mastered it and you've practiced it in different exercises for a considerable time, move on to the next position.
Remember, it is important that you see your practices as something fun—it’s a productive game for you.
Challenge yourself, learn calmly and stay motivated by practicing all the time. That's the secret of the best guitarists of all time.