Scales are a great way to learn how to play solo guitar and perfect your playing skills. You can learn how to read scales all over the internet, but most sites write it out in the most confusing ways. I know that when I was a beginner trying to learn scales I had no idea what I was looking at and it made learning scales extremely difficult. There was either a whole bunch of numbers going across the screen, or a group of colors that represented the notes. It was very overwhelming and I didn’t understand any of it.
So in this lesson I will teach you the basics of the scales, and if you understand it you can then move on to find some more advanced lessons on other sites. I’ll try to keep things as simple as possible so that beginners can understand, and hopefully learn these scales quickly without any problems. Below, the notes are written out in TAB (Tablature), the numbers represent the frets on the guitar that you should play, while the six lines represent the strings on the guitar. If the TAB is written with a zero then it means to play the string open (don’t fret). The best way to learn scales is to slowly play each note one at a time.
The E Minor Pentatonic scale
First we will start with the E minor pentatonic scale. What does Pentatonic mean? The word Penta means FIVE, and Tonic is the keynote in a musical scale. So the word translates into a “Five note scale”. Most pentatonic scales only consist of five notes (Penta), but are usually written out across all six strings to make the scale sound a bit more harmonic. The notes in this first scale are E, G, A, B, and D. If you look closely you will see these notes repeat going all the way across the six strings. You can use this basic knowledge with any scale that you are learning. Because the notes repeat, you can mix and match the notes in almost every scale and play the notes in any order to make a song and it will still sound nice. Take some time to memorize these scales, and after you understand how they are formed try to discover more scales to write your own music.
The Blues scale in E
This is almost the same as above, but with a few extra notes to make it sound like a blues solo. Try bending the notes in bold to give the scale more of a bluesy sound. The little arrow pointing ^ means to bend the string. Scales are just one part of playing the blues, the rest comes with practice and emotion. Check out my article on blues guitar to learn about bends, hammer ons, vibrato, and slides.
The G Major scale
Next we have the G major scale. The notes here are G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#. As you can see this major scale consists of 7 notes. This scale has all the notes in the musical alphabet, with the F note being a sharp note.
NOTE: On the guitar, the fifth fret notes on the E, A, D, and B, strings are the same as the open string above it. For example, the 6th E string’s fifth fret is an A note, which is the same as playing the 5th A string open, and the 4th D string’s fifth fret is a G note. If you don’t understand try learning all the notes on your guitar to see which fret plays which notes.
You can also check out my article about basic music theory if you what to learn how to write and read music.
The A Major scale
The notes in this scale are A, B, C#, D, E, F#, and G#. This is another 7 note major scale.
The A Minor scale
Similar to the A Major scale, but a few notes are different to make this one a Minor scale. The notes are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. This scale also makes for great practice in playing blues solos. Take a look:
Now that you know the basics of scales, try memorizing them to perfect your technique. You can also try playing these notes in random order to see what you can come up with, and try finding chord shapes to mix and match the scales to create guitar solos. Reading about playing the guitar will help you learn the basics, but if you want to really get good, you’ll need to pick up your guitar and do several hours of hands on practice.
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