How To Get More Out Of Practicing Scales

Lots of guitar players practice scales. Knowing these scales make it easier to solo over chord progressions and to jam with your friends.

The problem with scales, especially with beginners, is that if you just practice scales and use them to solo without understanding the theory behind them, you can sound a bit automated. There is no soul to a scale played for the sake of just playing it. Going beyond the scale to understanding its relationship to chords will make you a much better musician.

The concept of music theory can be daunting to beginners. I remember what it was like for me when I took my first college-level music theory course. I was terrified. But it doesn't have to be that way.

If you take it in very small, bite-sized chunks, and you learn the RIGHT theory, you can take just a few lessons and extend it to all of your playing.

Let's start with the most basic scale of all. The C Major Scale.

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

No sharps or flats. If you are playing the piano it's all the white keys. Now if you learn this combined with the chords that go WITH the C Major Scale, you are on to something.

With these types of scales, the chord tone patterns are:





dom 7


m7 flat 5

maj 7

For the C Major Scale specifically:







Bm7 flat 5


Now here is where this gets cooler.

If you want to you can move all these chords and shapes around the neck. So if you learn C Maj and then transcribe, you can use the same shapes, patterns and chord intervals for ANY Major scale.

For example, move it all up one whole step to play the D Maj Scale.

Try practicing the chords that go WITH the scales. And try to remember the intervals. This will make your scale practice more productive.

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