7 Things to NEVER Do When Practicing Scales!

Scale practice is one of the most popular areas of practice that we spend time on as we develop our intermediate and advanced playing skills. This is why it's so important to approach scale practice correctly and develop a series of habits involved with scale practice that will help us gain a very high level of skill...

Proper scale study done through an organized plan of action, will benefit us greatly, so that over time we can start using scales to compose and perform improvised solos.


In this video I'm going to run through seven things you need to avoid as you spend time developing your scales to higher and higher levels...


The first important point I want to highlight is how vital the total memorization is to your development of scales on the neck (and all of the future skills that will go along with your scale development).

These of course all come together at the point of being able to improvise. If you allow yourself too much time (continuously staring at a scale layout page) on the music stand, you'll start to become reliant on seeing that shape in front of you. So commit the scale pattern to memory as soon as possible.

The next important area of scale development is the ability to feel your way into scales rather than just jumping into performing them. Your execution of notes, your accuracy and your sense of recall will all be much higher if you feel your way into a scale prior to performing it.

The easiest way to do this in the early days of practice is to simply count in. Turn on your metronome or drum machine, give yourself a count in to lead you into the scales start, and your overall performance will be much better, than as if you just jumped in without giving yourself any justification toward the feel of time.

Another important area of scale development is continuously changing the note duration as you practice. Never perform your scales as only quarter-notes, or eighth-notes, or just as sixteenth-notes. Vary the rhythmic meters, include triplets, and once your scales are well memorized and under good control begin freely using the notes in melodic ways. Be inventive, improvise lines and let the scale flow from your fingertips. This will allow the scale to feel natural.

Practice with a metronome is critical to developing speed and accuracy. However, make sure that you push yourself through different tempos. Change the beats per minute, quite often and be sure to push yourself faster, because becoming comfortable at one time frame, and spending too long at that tempo on the metronome will sometimes do more harm than good. I've had far too many students over the years who've complained that they have no speed, yet they've never pushed their skills to play at faster & faster tempos on the metronome.

Knowing where to put your fingers is one thing, but knowing the scale degrees will allow you to do so much more with the scale. Awareness for the scales' degrees on the fingerboard will help you; identify chord tones, build extensions, understand where notes fall for the creation of different harmonies, and so much more. See, as you play through your scales and you practice the fingerings, say the degrees out loud. Also, spend time drawing degrees on fret-board diagram paper - draw out the scale degrees on the neck so you'll really know them.

Be sure to practice playing through the notes of the scale differently by working with your picking hand using a number of different variations on how the attacks will occur. Try playing without a pick, (finger-plucked style). Try performing the scale with strict alternate picking, try using all down picking and even try playing the scale using successive up-picking.

Also, try picking just one note per string, and using the fretting hand to perform a series of hammer-ons or pull-offs to generate legato technique.

Never get caught up in habits of performing the scales in the exact same way day in /day out. You've absolutely got to change the way you practice those scales and you'll need to do that as often as possible.

Change keys, change fret-board location, play really low on the neck, play really high. Notice what you need to do differently in order to feel comfortable all over the guitar. Play scales using open strings and combine patterns laterally. This type of work will really bring the scale to a whole new level for you. And, your sense of control over the scale will improve dramatically from this type of practicing.

If you'd like to Find Out What You Should Learn Next on Guitar - take a look at the courses on my website at CreativeGuitarStudio.com. My step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses will cover what you need to know, along with how to be able to move forward and become the best player that you can be.

I've worked on these courses since 1992 and I feel that all together they're the best guitar program you'll ever find. The courses will help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to the next level of guitar playing, in a very organized way, that makes sense. So, I look forward to helping you further at CreativeGuitarStudio.com ...Until next time - take care and we'll catch up again on the next lesson. Bye for now!



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ACOUSTIC GUITAR 012: Acoustic Blues - Harmonies & Riffs

Acoustic Guitar 012: 

Acoustic Blues - Harmonies and Riffs...

Playing Acoustic Blues ideas offers the guitarist much more than what strumming an eight or twelve bar blues progression (with a few dominant 7th chord patterns) can provide. 

Many guitar players get stuck performing the same chord types or the same boogie ideas when it comes to blues. The harmonies and riffs of Acoustic Blues will take guitar players into many new and unique directions... 

Daily Deal:

This lesson sets several Acoustic Blues concepts into motion. We will introduce new ways of performing Blues changes in non-traditional formats. And, we'll learn how to add originality into Acoustic Blues progressions with different applications of the "I-IV-V" Blues harmony. 

Plus, there will be several riff examples that demonstrate different variations of performing Acoustic Blues ideas for this styles chord changes and for the turnarounds that are used throughout the style...

Watch the Video:

In example one, we study how to play through a series of chord changes in a non-traditional way compared to a typical "I-IV-V" Blues progression. This riff introduces several unique directions over the changes of a key of "E" Blues. The goal is to gain an understanding of how Acoustic Blues riffs can take on different directions in harmony.

Example two demonstrates how the ideas used in Acoustic Blues can be strong enough to support performances by soloists, or can be used as Acoustic Blues instrumentals.
The key of "A Blues" progression in example two covers several passing chord ideas along with filler runs to support an evolving harmony. The chord changes, arpeggiated lines and filler licks all work together to create original harmonies that are strong enough to be played on their own. The phrases can also be used to support vocal parts sung by a single vocalist playing solo guitar.

PART TWO:  The exercises in example three take a key of "E Blues" progression and explore the way that an Acoustic Blues player would approach playing over the "I and IV" chord changes. Ideas are explained that relate to the rhythm structures, techniques and phrasing. Example 3a covers a single measure breakdown for the tonic chord, (E7). Example 3b demonstrates how a near duplicate of the initial line can be stretched out to cover two measures over the four-chord (A7).

Example four focuses on the Acoustic Blues turnaround concept with a phrase that develops the sound of the Blues "V-IV-I" turnaround progression. The example uses a key of "F Blues" turnaround phrase that maps out an arpeggiated finger-picked idea over the keys "C7" (V7), and "Bb7" (IV7), chords.

The Acoustic Blues study in example four stresses the value that comes from learning how to not only outline Acoustic Blues chord changes, but also embellishing how the chords switch from one harmony to the next

Related Videos:

Chordal Picking Technique... 

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 011: Chordal Picking Technique

Acoustic Guitar 010: Classical Guitar Proficiency

Acoustic Guitar 009: Chords and Patterns of DADGAD Tuning



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Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes

Stop Thinking About Triads Like This!

Want to get the most mileage out of using small triads for riff building and for soloing? 

One of the best ways to accomplish this won't be by trying to learn dozens and dozens of small triad ideas as smaller-chords and licks. That would be a MISTAKE! 

Instead, take a simpler and smarter route to learning the shapes by analyzing the guitar fingerboard from within the larger triad template system. Using this approach makes it easier to understand all of the common smaller moveable triad chord patterns and how they can be cherry picked to custom design other smaller shapes.

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V RR Electric Guitar; Red Raspberry

Plus, what's really cool - is that with this system of taking just the 5 common moveable chord outlines, (these are the patterns that will often be explained from the neck layout concept known of as the "CAGED" system), all you need to do is isolate and apply any smaller segment of triad idea that you'd like to use for riffs or solos.

WATCH THE VIDEO: It will help you get started with understanding the shapes and how to begin using this principle...

The first group of chord templates I want to cover are the, "Major Triad," group. There are five primary chord patterns, and keep in mind, that some can be split apart to reflect the upper and lower string sets. Here's how you can study them if you're still working on committing any of these shapes to memory...

click on the image above to enlarge full-screen

Next we're going to check-out the neck patterns for the "Minor Triad," chord shapes. Just like the majors, there are 5 shapes to learn on the fingerboard... Here's what they look like...

 click on the image above to enlarge full-screen

Now that you're aware of these common triad chord pattern templates for major and minor, we can use small pieces of them to create riffs and licks for song sections or for solos. Let's put some of these ideas to work right now and start by creating some nice triad riffs that could be used in a song section like a; verse, bridge or a chorus...


 click on the image above to enlarge full-screen

As you can tell, just by taking small chunks of the larger triad chords we can create really nice riffs with smaller versions of the big triad shapes. And, what's really cool is that you can do the exact same thing when you want some nice sounding triad licks to apply within a solo section of a song as well... Here's an example of something like that...


  click on the image above to enlarge full-screen

So, quit thinking about triads as if they're some kind of really complicated series of shapes that'll take you months and months of practice to be able to memorize and use. These shapes can be applied rather quickly if you just take your basic triad chord patterns and use them as a template to begin viewing the smaller triad patterns as "segments" of the larger chords, that you can apply in riffs or solos.

Well, I'd like to end by just saying, thanks for joining me... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at creativeguitarstudio.com and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

As I said, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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QwikRiffs #013 - Double-Picking Hard Rock Riffs in "A Minor"

NEW: QwikRiffs Series - Video (013)

The latest QwikRiffs video, Double-Picking Hard Rock Riffs in "A Minor" is available in the members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikRiffs are available to members at Creative Guitar Studio.com. Lessons in the QwikRiffs Series run through collections of rhythm guitar riffs covering all types of playing styles. I cover different 'famous artist' playing approaches and I will demonstrate ideas based on rhythm guitar techniques... 

Daily Deal:

Episode #013 covers three "Hard-Rock A Minor" Riffs.

Riff one applies strict alternate picking through a steady double-picked riff idea. The bulk of the phrase is entirely double-picked. The resulting phrase is very driving and produces a strong and connected statement. 

Riff two focuses on intervals with a common sounding bass-tone double picked riff that tags intervals of; minor 3rds, major 3rds and power chords. 

Riff three takes double-picking through an octave and applies the upper octave tone using hybrid picking style. Every bass tone is double-picked with the upper octave plucked using the hybrid technique. The approach used in riff three allows for fast octaves applied around the effects of the driving feel generated with lower tone double-picking.

Sign into the website (or create your free members account) to join the members site. Sign up for the Basic Monthly or Premium (annual) membership to download the PDF handout for this lesson and study all of the other classes available on the website. 

Become a FREE member of the website, sign up today!



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How to Fix Dorian Mode Soloing (INSTANTLY)

Are you confused about the modes? I'm not surprised... Many players are because they get told that modes are "just major scales." But, they're not... Modes are separate scales that offer a distinctive tonality and they offer unique intervals. Find out how you can fix your Dorian mode problems once and for all...

When a student enrolls in my studio and they're confused about modes like Dorian, it's often due to some other teacher having stressed that they didn't need to learn Dorian patterns, because it's just the 2nd mode of the major scale.

Daily Deal:

The student is fed some crazy story that, if they need to play a "C Dorian mode" solo, all they need to do is play "Bb Major" scale and that's it. The trouble is that these students will often keep trying this approach for months even a year or more, and still not be able to play a decent Dorian Mode solo.

It's almost like they can't phrase lines in Dorian - for some strange reason - I wonder why!


When I work with my private students who want to play a solo in a mode like Dorian, I get them to begin by thinking of the mode in respect to its tonality. The Dorian mode tonality is "Minor," and this means that the student can use this to start soloing right away over a "Dorian Mode Progression," by simply using the "Minor Pentatonic," scale off of the same key center.

This means, if we had a chord progression in "C Dorian," the "C Minor Pentatonic," will function perfectly to get the student started with hammering out some leads.

Let's get things going by establishing a solid "C Dorian Mode" chord progression. Here's the progression that we're going to use...


 click on the above image to enlarge full-screen

One of the first things that you end up noticing right away with this jam-track is that the progression has no "Bb" chord whatsoever. The idea that we're after with any of these modal jams, is to apply chord sounds that highlight two things. #1). The tonality, (which is, in this case, "C Minor), #2). the unique color tone of Dorian (which is the raised 6th interval).

In the above key (of "C" Dorian), progression that unique color tone is an, "A Natural" tone. That sound of the "A Natural," is applied across my jam-track in measures two and four, and the minor tonality is firmly established off of the root of, "Cm7" in measure one, as well as, through the progressions third measure with that minor "V-chord" of "G Minor 7."

now that we've established our chord progression (and we thoroughly understand why the sound generated is "C Dorian"), the next step is to start making some music over the chord changes.

Since we fully comprehend that the sound of the progression is "C Minor," our first scale type that we know will work for creating melodies is the "C Minor Pentatonic." Practice how that sounds.... Improvise with "C Minor" Pent. Scale...

Even though the "C Minor" Pentatonic sounds decent, it still doesn't do much for emphasizing the effect of the Dorian mode. But, this can be FIXED very easily by adding that Major 6th ("A Natural" interval) into the "C Minor" Pentatonic giving us our first taste of the color of Dorian Mode. Here's how that would work...

Once you're organized with the sounds of that major 6th interval ("A" tone) being added around the other scale tones of the Minor Pentatonic, the next step is to add in the remaining second degree interval.

This final note is going to be a "D Natural" note located a whole step above your Tonic Note of "C." And, with this final tone, you've achieved the complete Dorian Mode scale. Here's the final product...

Applying the Dorian mode in this way never has you off-base and thinking in terms of the old parent major scale, (so for our example we never placed any weight upon the modes parent, the "Bb Major" Scale).

Plus, if you'd like to add another layer to all of these ideas here, you could take things a step further by focusing on the arpeggio tones of the, "Cm7," arpeggio while you're practicing building melody with the, "C Minor Pentatonic."

So there ya have it, this is a fantastic fix that I've used with great success for many years when working with my own private students to help them apply the Dorian mode using a system that allows them to become much better at using the scale, and at phrasing licks and lines, without any direct relationship being tied over to the sound of the parent major scale.



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The Ultimate Method to Learn Songs on Guitar

On this week's "Guitar Blog Insider," we're going to discuss the idea of how to develop a method that you can use to zero in on a piece of music (and over a short period of time) learn every section and segment of the piece so that your working knowledge of the song is up to a high level of awareness...


If you're learning how to play guitar (either going at it self-taught online or perhaps with a private teacher), you probably already realize that aside from an excellent guitar curriculum, the other thing you need, (the other thing that's really important), is learning how to play songs. And, this stands true for learning rhythm guitar, for learning riffs and especially for learning guitar solos.


Once you've selected a song that you're going to make a study of, take a few minutes and check online to find out if there's a chart, a TAB or perhaps a lyric and chord-sheet that somebody has already created. This will help with the songs general layout, and it'll be really good for getting you started.

For our example, we're going to use the song, "Historia de Amor," by Luis Miguel. And, to get started, I've located a chart (off of Ultimate Guitar) of the lyrics and chords. Now, what you'll find with a lot of lyric and chord charts and even some basic TAB charts - is that they won't start where the recording starts. So, you're stuck trying to comprehend exactly where the piece begins on the cart in relation to the recording.

It is very important to start logging the time-frames of the piece, which also means that it's really helpful to have downloaded the MP3 and have it brought into your favorite DAW, "Digital Audio Workstation."

I would not suggest using stock players like, iTunes, or Windows Media player. Instead use something that shows the songs wave-form and the songs time code, like; Garage Band, Audacity, LMMS, Riff-Station, Mixcraft, Stagelight, Reaper. I'm going to be using; Adobe Audition.

The next thing I'd suggest doing is setting out on working on counting through the beats of the song and establishing the amount of measures, as well as how long each chord will last. This will give you the songs layout. The main idea here is to form a concept of the length for the; verse, bridge and chorus.

Once each sections length has been established, you'll next want to map everything out on your own sheet of paper and format a lead sheet of those chord changes. Aprogram like Finale can be excellent for doing this work.

At this point you can relate the time-codes for where each section comes in, (related to the MP3 audio track you have in your DAW). With this information, you can begin working on developing your skills for making effective chord changes in time with the song.

If you find that your skills are a little weak for making the switch from one chord to the next slow down the song in your DAW, (Riff-Station is perfect for this). Almost every audio workstation will slow down audio tracks, but over the years I've found that the software made by "Riff-Station" works the best for slowing a track down and still maintaining really high quality audio on the songs playback.

After learning the chord changes, and how long they last, the next idea is to establish a decent feel for rhythm guitar. Most folk and country songs, as well as, pop songs will have a really consistent rhythm. Other music styles will branch out to more complex rhythms. This is another reason why it is so valuable to time-code the song you're studying.

Be sure to work on establishing a set strum pattern (or patterns) that fit well across the piece. If you can, notate the strumming pattern you choose so that you don't forget what it is. If you're working in a program like Finale, add the strum-pattern to your chart.

The final piece to this puzzle is organizing any lead guitar parts. Not all songs will have a lead, and some leads will be more challenging than others but learning to play a solo is very good, (and it works to complete the piece).

In some songs like, "Into the Great Wide Open," by Tom Petty, or in the song, "Day Tripper" by the Beatles, those solo sections are very short, only around four measures. However, in other songs, like maybe most of the AC/DC tunes, Angus Young is ripping out some pretty long solos.

Regardless of how long or how complex a solo is, make sure that you mark a time stamp of exactly "where in the piece" that the solo enters. That way, each day you come along to carry on the work of that solo, you'll quickly find that specific section, and you'll be able to get right down to work on the solo quickly and easily.

To re-cap this method, the whole process boils down to...

#1). Select your song, and get a copy of it on audio
#2). Bring it into your favorite audio workstation
#3). Find a copy of a lyric-sheet, or TAB
#4). Understand where in the song the chart begins
#5). Mark down the time of the first chords entry
#6). Map out the measures and create a lead-sheet
#7). Organize the chords and their length of time
#8). Mark in the time stamp of each section
#9). Learn the strum pattern
#10). Play through the rhythm guitar part
#11). If the song has a solo, note the time of entry
#12). Work on the solo until completed
#13). Try and perform the entire piece up to tempo

I'd like to end by just saying, thanks for joining me... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at creativeguitarstudio.com and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

Also... I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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GUITAR SOLOING 012: Flashy Attention Getting Ideas

November 10, 2017:
Lesson 012 - Flashy Attention Getting Ideas

The impact that your guitar solo has upon your listener is dependent upon many things including your sense of phrasing and your melodic control. Then, there's your ability to build interesting lines out of different sections of scales and arpeggios in a flashy attention getting way... 

Lesson 012 explores this... 

Quick blasts of speed along with technical wizardry are guaranteed to take your guitar solos to a whole new level. These kinds of flashy statements are fantastic for grabbing the listeners attention, and it is exactly these kinds of ideas that we're going to cover in the twelfth episode of, "Guitar Soloing."

Watch the Part One Video FREE on YouTube:

PART ONE:  In example one, we apply the technique of "economy picking." This is also often referred to as "sweep picking." It involves raking the pick across two or more strings in either a continuous up, or down-ward motion. In example 1a, I've organized an economy picked line that applies both down and up sweeps. In example 1b, the lick applies a series of up-wards sweep ideas.

Example two applies the technique of fast moving legato. This technique is excellent for speed. On guitar we generally produce the legato sound by way of rapidly flowing hammer-ons or pull-offs. Legato offers guitar players a very smooth and connected sound especially across 7-tone scales.

Due to the accuracy involved, the technique can be difficult to bring up to faster speeds, especially descending. In example 2a, we're making study of an ascending legato hammer-on scale run. Example 2b, changes the flow of the scale direction to introduce a descending legato pull-off scale run.

In example three, I introduce slides. The slide study is focused upon the sound of fast attention getting lateral slide licks. There are of course many different ways of using slides as a technique for flashy licks. However, lateral sliding is a style of lick that really grabs the listeners attention.

There are a lot of notes involved with using this technique and they shift along the neck very quickly to produce the idea. The line in example three takes a "C Minor" scale and establishes the initial statement within the first measure. In the second measure, the slide concept starts to build more momentum by quickly traveling through the "C Minor" scale along the 1st and 2nd strings.

Example four, is all about bending. While this technique isn't one of those fast blistering ideas, the bend is still a fantastic way to grab the listeners attention and have them really take notice. In fact, guitarist "David Gilmour" is one of the most well know players for bend technique. He applies it as a way to stress notes across solo sections and at the same time, draw the listener deep into the melodic concepts of his solos.

The bend techniques used in example four include; "Sustained Bends," the "Bend and Release" technique, as well as,  Standard Bending principles. Pay particular attention to the way that each bend is performed. To help you focus on this area, I have set-up each of the bends to only take the note travel distance up one whole step, (Full Bend). This means that the note will be raised up-wards during the bend by way of one whole step higher, (two frets) on the fingerboard

Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at: CreativeGuitarStudio.com



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