Separating these two types of scales is critical in getting the most from your guitar scale practice time. This means that the first step in deciding what scale to practice will be determining "why" you are practicing scales in the first place...
1). WHAT MUSIC STYLES DO YOU PLAY?
Is it better for you to practice the Harmonic minor scale, or the Blues Scale? That depends on what music you like to play. Harmonic minor is much more common in Neo-classical metal compared to the Blues. And, vice versa for Blues guitar players. If you love Robert Johnson, you won't be playing very much Harmonic Minor.
With this in mind, you need to prioritize your guitar practice time by focusing your attention on getting the maximum creative potential out of the most important scales for your style. Only “after” doing that, does it make sense to spend significant time to begin practicing exotic and unusual scales.
There is nothing wrong with knowing how to play different types of scales, but in order to truly get results from doing that work, several things need to happen first:
- You need to have already done the work of mastering the most essential scales for your musical style (as described above).
- You must have a reliable method for practicing that you can apply to quickly learn any scale on guitar.
You can use one of 2 ways (or preferably both) to achieve the goal above: you can either ask a guitar teacher to simply tell you what the most important scales are for your musical style. Or, you can improve your listening skills (ear training) and your knowledge of how music works to hear what scales are used in your favorite music.
2). THE STUDY OF SCALES LATERALLY
Most guitar players spend too much of their valuable time practicing scales starting on the 6th, 5th or 4th string and going to the 1st string in box shapes. This is a fine method of practicing when you're just starting out. However, it is only one small part of what true mastery of scales on guitar should consist of.
Guitarists also need to play scales from side to side, (along the neck laterally), starting scales from around the first fret going to the higher frets of the guitar. Doing this is essential to having a more complete visualization of the guitar neck as you play.
This method of practicing will also help you to start playing a solo on any string of the guitar and know exactly where you are in a particular scale. Try the example below...
Example: The "G Minor" scale from 3rd position to 10th position.
3). LEARN THE NOTES ALL AROUND THE NECK
If we were to site one of the biggest mistakes, (out of all the possible mistakes that most guitar players could end up making), it would probably come down to leaving behind the study of their own "knowledge for notes" on the neck too long.
Notes on the Neck:
click the above image to view as full-screen
If a player does not spend at least a little bit of their study time memorizing where the notes are and how they relate to musical intervals, they are sadly leaving out one of the most critical elements of guitar study.
A fairly typical illustration of this occurs with guitar players who, (after learning the common open position notes), become “forever stuck” there with their note knowledge. If a player neglects to learn how the other note layouts (all over the guitar) operate, their playing ability will be extremely limited.
Open Position Notes:
Guitar players who never bother to practice notes away from open position will fail to learn how to fully comprehend the guitar as a "fret to notes" design. If a player cannot comprehend how notes, scales and intervals inter-lock, they will have a great deal of trouble when it comes to applying the notes when soloing over more and more advanced chord changes.
Notes on the guitar travel in 5-fret chunks. This means that when a guitar player gains an understanding for how the notes move and how they work, that knowledge can expand out to chord tones and scale tones and the knowledge will become more refined.
Ironically, a guitar player who truly masters one scale inside and out all over the guitar fingerboard will have far more to say musically (and will be much more creative doing it) than a guitar player who knows 30 different scales “as pieces” (individual shapes) scattered around the guitar.
To understand exactly how you should practice learning your notes all over the fret-board of the guitar, watch this free video lesson (below) on learning the notes of the guitar neck.
How to Memorize the Neck:
If you're still a beginner with this information, then watch this video first,"Understanding Guitar Neck layout."
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