Why bother learning scales on your guitar?

“Why bother learning scales on guitar “?

“I’ve read on the Internet that you don’t need them to play guitar “!

“I don’t need to learn my scales, I play by feel”.

I hear this sometimes and it’s not a good sign! Scales are often seen as boring to learn and with little reward in terms of the time investment . Think of your favourite guitar player... now think of a great guitar solo that player is well know for. Did he/she ‘make up’ those notes or did they know where to find them. Is it a coincidence that they play great solos ALL the time or are they really good at guessing where the ‘right’ notes are?

If it surprises you to know that they already know, in advance where the notes are then perhaps you need to take learning scales much more seriously.

Scales are patterns of notes, often learned on the guitar fingerboard as box shapes, that will give you all the right notes for any key you could be playing in. The important thing to know is that the scale comes first followed by the music. You can’t expect to learn a scale on a morning and to have melodically mastered it by dinner time! It all takes time and thought but it’s without doubt the way to go if you are serious about your guitar playing.

A guitar student once said “ wouldn’t it be great if all the notes that sound good just lit up on the fretboard “. That’s exactly what a scale is!! Wouldn’t that be a great way to play? Imagine playing along to your favourite songs as the lead guitar player? Now we are talking! That, in a nutshell is the whole point of learning scales on guitar.

There’s more benefits to learning just one scale, all over the neck, than you would think.

Did you know that if you learnt your 5 boxed ( or CAGED) patterns of the minor pentatonic scale that you would also know all the positions of the major pentatonic scale in ANY key too? You just need to know how to convert them.

Past this point guitar students would hopefully move on to stylistic interpretations with the same scale. This means playing blues, jazz or rock with the exact same shapes and notes. All you would need to consider is rthymic variations between styles and chord tone targeting.

That’s just one, single scale!! Food for thought indeed. Please don’t shy away from learning scales or even thinking “ I’ll figure it out for myself”. It’s already figured out and just waiting for you to learn

If any of this has opened your eyes to scales I’m happy to help you learn them and develop your scales in order to meet your guitar playing goals.

I’m just a call or email away!

Take care :)

Scott Adams


0781 864 7517