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Essential Scales Without Any Confusing Crap

May 20, 2008
There are thousands of scales, literally. Removing the rhetorical crap we hear about what scales to use, we can boil it down to these essential scales. Simply put we intend to leave you with a handful of realistic scales, ones that are useful and can be put into action.

When you consider that the most famous electric guitarists in the world have been using these scales almost exclusively to safely guide them through their careers, it becomes very evident how important it is to memorize them. Guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix(#1 guitarist. Period...) Stevie Ray Vaughan(Stevie Ray is a lesson all by himself), Jimmy Page, Slash, Zakk Wylde and almost every guitar player that rocks your boat use them as the basis of most of their solos.

As a rule of thumb, the first chord of a progression you may play will give you an idea of the proper scale to use when soloing. Believe me it works. One of my strong points is to play lead guitar and do a lot of soloing. Although I have extreme training in all modes of scales, and can overwhelm you with thousands of scales using every note as a starting point, the scales I use mostly are the ones being proposed here. Especially since I mainly play the blues.

Note: If one goes on to learn all the scales, modes and correct practice techniques, then one is not limited to any particular genre of music. You don't know it yet, but you can play anything. I wont B.S. you. It takes years of practice and discipline to turn your mental knowledge into muscle memory. Personally I like the challenge and look forward to learning how to use scales.

Essentially, if the first chord in a progression is a "minor" chord in name, then using a scale with "minor" in it's description will work. The same principle goes for "major" chord. If the first chord in a progression is a "major" chord, then use the scales with "major" in it's name. It's easy to learn, and if you are like me, you will read this a bunch of times. Just do it.

You don't need anymore theoretical descriptions or hi-tech knowledge to soak it up and put it into practical use. You really don't have to understand the theory behind this, it's more a matter of learning and remembering. Like going to an open beginners to intermediate Jam. Play with other people, it's about the only way a guitar player can become acquainted with how to play in a band. It is fun too!

To find the scales I'm talking about, search for them in any key or don't specify a key:

#1. minor pentatonic
#2. major pentatonic
#3. blues(pentatonic)
#4. major scale
#5. natural minor

or go to guitarplayerscenter to view them all in one place.

Penta means five in Latin, which is the root word of the term pentatonic. Pentatonic scales have 5 notes in them. There are eight notes in the Major scale, starting with C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C. The grand daddy of scales. Every note in every scale is a derivative of the Major scale the way it is currently defined.

Use these scales often and wisely, and enjoy.
About the Author
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