By: Belle Arzadon
Playing various scales on the guitar is a solid, foundational technique that any player would do well to master.
Scales are basically a set of notes in an ascending or descending arrangement and together share certain characteristics and follow a basic pattern. They also make musical organization, composing pieces, and improvising easier.
Practicing scales also makes it simpler for you to understand and memorize chords as well as give your fingers much-needed practice for dexterity and speed.
This is the simplest scale of all. It involves a dozen notes and each note moves up a half step in the scale. Although the chromatic scale is the easiest to learn, it’s not exactly the most beautiful to listen to. Even so, keep practicing the chromatic scale as it provides essential fingerings that other scales use.
The C Major scale is probably the best known scale of all. It uses seven notes, eight if you count the fact that the first note is often repeated, and the spaces between each note are:
Whole-Whole-Half-Whole-Whole-Whole-Half – C D E F G A B C
If you know your Do-Re-Mi then that’s what the C Major scale is. Other major scales have the same spacing, only at a lower or higher pitch, depending on which note you’re starting on.
This means that if you start on the note D, following the same spacing outline above, you get the D major scale. Starting on E and using the same spacing system you get the E major scale and so on. The key is memorizing the spacing pattern and then applying that to a fingering on the guitar.
The next item on the list of scales to learn is the Minor Pentatonic scale. This type of scale produces a somewhat darker or more melancholic sound, which is probably why it’s often used in rock & roll as well as being the most widely used scale in blues music.
The minor pentatonic scale is composed of only of five notes and has the interval pattern (in the key of C):
m3 –Whole –Whole-m3-Whole – C Eb F G Bb C
Again, this pattern can be applied to any key, just start on a new note and apply the spacing pattern to figure out the notes of the minor pentatonic scale in that key.
Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get these scales down on your first try. That’s okay. What’s important thing is that you continue practicing until you get these scales under your fingers. In no time you’ll be ripping up and down your favorite scales and patterns!