Guess Your Guitar Scale Education Level

Most guitar players haven't a clue about their scale education level. They don't know which scales are good to start learning, or when they should use a certain scale... 

Generally, the understanding of guitar scale education is pretty weak. And, because knowing your level of skill is important to soloing and to composing, (and because most guitarists can't even guess the basics of this)... on this weeks... "Guitar Blog Insider"..., we're going to break down a short list of scales to help you better grasp where you are in your knowledge of guitar scale education...

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A lot of guitar players begin by learning scales in one of two ways. Either they'll learn scales from the Blues and the Rock perspective, or they'll learn scales from the classical or jazz direction. If you have a Rock and Blues approach you'll probably learn the Blues Scale and the Minor Pentatonic first.

If you have a classical or jazz teacher then you'll probably learn scales from a more Major Scale and Natural Minor Scale approach. Either way is good, it doesn't matter a whole lot which approach you get first, as long as you don't spend years without learning both of these approaches. And, as long as you start to understand where all of these scales can be applied musically. 

Let's get things started here by breaking down both of these scale ideas. We'll begin with the Classical /Jazz approach, since this approach is most often the least common practice, but what I think is very good. Which is too bad because it allows for an excellent format to take into the other directions.

Major Scale:
The basic major scale is the foundational scale in music. We can draw other scales from it and make important theory comparisons to it. Plus, it's also the basis for the major scale modes. The most common major scale pattern looks like this when played off of the sixth string...

This scale shape, can be moved all over the neck to produce major scales in all of the keys. And, it functions with the same pattern whether played off of the 6th or the 5th string.

The Natural Minor Scale:
The next important scale is actually a derivative of the major scale. It's called the "Natural Minor Scale." Really what the Minor scale does is use the exact same notes as the major scale, but we simply start and end on the 6th tone of the old major scale.

When we do this we establish a new color of sound due to the intervals changing as we travel from one tone to the next off of the new starting note. Here's how the major scale sounds when performed from it's sixth degree tone.

Keep in mind that once again, this shape can move all around the guitar neck and produce all of the minor keys that we have in music.

Now that we've explored both the basic major and the natural minor scale, we'll explore their derivatives, the Minor Pentatonic, The Blues Scale and the Major Pentatonic.

These Pentatonic scales are derivatives because they're a part, or you could say a section of the full seven tone scales. These derivatives only contain five or six tones of the seven tone basic major or natural minor layouts.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale:
The Minor Pentatonic is probably one of the most popular scales used by guitar players. All it does is remove the 2nd and 6th tones from the Natural Minor. Leaving a scale that has five tones and no 1/2 steps and it gives us a sound that can be used to very easily create melody. And, as someone once said, it has just enough notes to make you sound good, but not enough to get you in trouble.

Let's take a spin through a very popular pattern layout of Minor Pentatonic to help you become familiar with it on guitar.

The Blues Scale:
If we take any shape of the Minor Pentatonic and add in the diminished 5th tone (as a chromatic passing tone between the perfect 4th and perfect 5th intervals of the Minor Pentatonic scale) we wind-up with the Blues Scale. This pattern is very popular and it sounds great in all kinds of chord progressions and all types of harmonies... Here's an example of it on the fingerboard.

The Major Pentatonic:
The Major Pentatonic scale will be our final scale for this "basic educational scale formatting lesson." This scale (along with Minor Pentatonic) make up the most popular scale types that are important for playing guitar. Just like the Minor Pentatonic had a couple of notes removed from the Natural Minor Scale, our major pentatonic is much the same. It removes the Major Scales 4th and 7th tones, leaving a 5-tone scale with no 1/2 steps. Here's a popular shape on the fingerboard that you can make a study of.

Well, I hope that from what we've covered here you'll be able to move forward and have a better understanding of the types of important scales that you need to comprehend as quickly as possible on guitar.

To get a better idea of how these scales sit on the neck (across all of their popular scale pattern layouts), the next video that you watch should by my lesson titled, "How to Practice Scales."

Watch "How to Practice Scales"

Between my explanation and the handout for that lesson, you're going to not only understand how all of these patterns work on the fingerboard, but you'll also start learning how to use them to make some fantastic music.

As always, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section, thanks for your time, and we'll catch up again next week for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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