Scales serve many purposes. They will help you understand music, how to solo, improvise, analyze chords, chord progressions, songs and many other applications that will benefit and expand your musical ability.
You need to learn and practice scales thoroughly and then use them as a tool to create music. The amount of scales out there can be overwhelming for a lot of beginner and intermediate guitar players. So do you need to learn all the scales in existence? No, you only need to learn the scale(s) relevant to your style of music or to what you plan on doing as a guitarist within your lifetime.
A lot of musicians only use one or two scales throughout their entire musical career. Depending on your skill level and musical aspirations either very few, or possibly a great deal many different scales will be required to get you where you want to be.
The question most asked is, “what scales do I need to learn first?”
Of course that question is arguable, incomplete and not all scales for particular types of music are going to be included as "the #1 scale to learn first."
MUSIC STYLE AND SCALES:
If music style is brought into the equation, there can be a good indication of the most commonly used scales for guitar for "that" one particular style.
Let’s say we’re talking popular western-world music. You've got pop, rock, blues, country, metal, classical, jazz and other variations derived from these styles.
We can take a closer look, narrow it down and discover what scales are most common for each genre and which scales are used for some and most types of popular western-world music.
PRIMARY "FIVE" SCALE TYPES:
For instance, if you only play pop, rock or country music, the primary five most common guitar scales (major, minor pentatonic, major pentatonic, blues and natural minor ) will most likely suffice and can keep you busy and challenged for the rest of your life.
If you’re into blues and rock, start with the minor pentatonic and blues scale. The major pentatonic scale lends itself perfectly for country music and happy (major) mainstream rock and pop music. The major and minor scale are applicable to numerous types of music (mainstream, pop, classical, jazz, etc).
If you got these primary scales under your belt and you want to get more adventurous you can start exploring Mixolydian and Dorian as a next step.
OTHER SCALE FORMS:
The harmonic minor scale will give you that gypsy, jazz, middle eastern kind of sound. Both harmonic minor and diminished scales are used in neoclassical rock but also in metal and jazz music. Another scale that is widely used in jazz is the melodic minor scale.
Now, let’s check out the top scales to learn on guitar...
All scale types are shown off of the tonic note of "A."
The "Major" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Minor Pentatonic" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Major Pentatonic" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Blues" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Natural Minor" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Dorian Mode" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Mixolydian Mode" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Harmonic Minor" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Melodic Minor" Scale (Tonic of "A")
The "Diminished" Scale (Tonic of "A")
Scale Study Reminders:
– Practice the scales to thoroughly memorize them
– Practice scales relevant to your style of music
– Practice scale shapes ascending and descending
– Practice the scales using alternate picking
– Practice the scales in all musical keys
– Learn to use scales as a tool to create music
– Learn the feel of scales in every rhythmic duration
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