If you've spent time learning and practicing scales on the guitar you already know that getting past noodling in a single position is the most important first step...
Developing that first "single position scale" pattern you learn on the guitar will help build your awareness of the neck and the experience will get you motivated to learn more about scales. However, there's still a chance (even at this point) where you will likely start to lose your interest in scales, and decide to seek out other "more fun" things to do on the guitar.
KEEPING SCALE INTEREST ALIVE:
The scale learning process can either continue along, building more and more desire over time to understand how scales operate, (and how to apply them). Or, your scale learning adventure might sadly die a slow death. The reason toward "scale death" tends to come down to practicing the scale shapes with no end in sight. In other words, you're likely losing interest because you're not applying the scales into anything musical.
If you're practicing scales without any process of musical application, it will end up leaving you feeling more frustrated than ever before. You need to realize that despite having learned multiple new scales, if you never apply them, you will remain no closer to being able to use them creatively in your music than you were beforehand.
The most important study direction with applying scales is not ripping them up and down the fingerboard, (that only supplies you with better technique - a monkey can learn that). You need to apply the scales in music. This will deepen your understanding for what the scale can really do in a piece.
MAKING THE CHANGE:
If I just described your process of practicing guitar scales, don’t worry, you are not alone. A lot of guitar players get caught in the "technical - motor skill development stage" of learning scales for far too long. The good news is, switching over to applied use is easy, (and a lot of fun too).
There is a superior way to learn scales on guitar that will enable you to make more progress in a lot less time. The single most critical point you need to remember about this system is that it is necessary to fully explore several creative options offered by a new scale before you move on to start learning more scale shapes.
By doing this type of study, you'll improve your guitar playing with scales much more quickly and you'll enjoy the actual process of practicing guitar a lot more.
Jam-Tracks or, "Backing Tracks" are essential to gaining that "ultimate level of control" over scales. Your end goal is to start being able to hear in advance (and also control) the way a chord progression is interacting with scales tones. Being able to anticipate what the best notes will be in order to connect with the sound of every chord, is the ultimate goal.
To do this you'll need to...
- Visualize the scale layouts on the neck to a high degree
- Have technical control over the scale patterns
- Be free with your fingerings and be able play any note with any finger
- Hear scale direction as a progression moves chord to chord
- Anticipate the moves from one chord to another
- Target the best scale tone over each chord by instinct
- React quickly to any poor note choices, recovering into better notes
Once this foundation starts coming together for you, it is vital that you are spending a lot of your practice time jamming over backing tracks. The backing track progressions will start getting your ear accustomed to how chord movement affects the scales you are studying, Plus, they will allow you to start getting better at anticipating the sound of playing scales over top of chord changes.
I have a collection of chord progression riffs on my Jam-Tracks page over at my Blog site. Visit that page, and start working with the scale types and the keys that you know.
If the scale patterns are still weak for you on the guitar fingerboard, it's important to continue practicing the scale patterns. Keep in mind that you'll need to have a very decent level of skill over those shapes prior to using them within a "soloing" or "improvisational" format.
If you're really new to all of this, watch my video lesson on, "How to Practice Scales." That lesson plan contains the basic scale patterns on the neck, as well as, how to spend your time using the scales within a study routine to help you to develop their application technically.
If you follow this scale study method your ability with scales on the guitar will improve greatly. and, the way you use scales to produce melody will also improve right along with them.
Along with all of the points above, you'll also want to always be learning more songs and guitar licks by other guitar players. The playing styles of other guitarists will have a huge impact upon what you're studying and the phrasing style that you develop with performing scales on the neck.
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