Practicing Guitar Scales for Beginners

beginning guitar scalesPracticing scales can be a somewhat boring experience. Usually, new players tend to start practicing a scale position, repeating it over and over to exhaustion, and then lose interest completely and start playing another. This is a very common pattern, and it’s understandable – repeating the same notes over and over is no fun.

While it’s important that you pick up the guitar and try new stuff, practicing scales this way will get you nowhere. Since you won’t get familiar enough with the scale to improvise in it, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use it creatively, so it won’t have done much for your playing.

Worry not, though – there’s a simple solution to this problem. First, figure out what sort of scales are commonly used in your favorite music. This way, you’ll be learning stuff that you’ll actually get to use, instead of memorizing things that don’t fit with your preferred musical style.

Then, discover what key some of your favorite songs are in. Usually, when you search for a song’s chord, its key will be displayed at the beginning of the page – otherwise, it’s probably either the first or the last chord in the song.

When you’re finished, just play the appropriate scale over the songs you like. For instance, if you’re into blues, and find that one of your favorite songs is in F major, play the F major blues scale over it. Even if you haven’t mastered the scale, it’ll be easy to tell when you make a mistake, since it won’t fit with the rest of the song, and you’ll be able to adapt quickly.

Of course, you can’t be expected to memorize the scale after looking at it a few times. It’s best if you look at a page that displays the scale as you play it over the song – so you can know which note to play next. Once you’re aware of what notes can be played, you’ll probably be able to improvise – and it’s likely to be a lot easier than you imagine.

After you manage to do that a few times, it’s all a matter of practicing until you perfect it. Remember to study the scales and learn which is the best for which sort of song, and write down the key your favorite songs are in – then, whenever you’re listening to music, grab your guitar and play a few riffs or solos over it.

It’s a good idea to do that with songs you like, since you know them well and enjoy them, but playing with a complete song might be distracting, especially if it’s a complex piece of music. In this case, you may do a simple video search such as ‘Chord Progressions in C’, or perhaps ‘G minor backing track’, and you’ll be able to practice your scales with a ‘cleaner’ background music.

Just make sure that you use the advice above in order to experiment, and don’t limit yourself. Some new players learn one position in a scale, then get so amazed that they’re able to improvise that they neglect the others – this will make your soloing ability very limited, so remember to try others as well.