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is it really necessary to play scales for a beginner?

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(@matteo)
Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 557
Topic starter  

Hello all

may be it's a silly question but I'm wondering which is the real benefit to play scales. I suppose that if you play a lot of them you improve the knowledge of the guitar (where to find some notes ecc.), but is it really vital to play them for a beginner? I mean wouldn't it better to play a lot of chord progressions in a lot of different patterns in order to build a solid rhythmic foundation? To me scales are more helpful for a lead guitarist than a rhythmic one, so until now I've never tried to learn them. Maybe I'm wrong but I see a lot of people who after playing a lot of scales can delievering blistering solos but can't play a steady rhythm....

Any answer will be appreciated

Thanks

Matteo


   
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(@josephlefty)
Reputable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 373
 

It is good to work on a little of everything.

If learning a couple/few scales and naming the notes as you play them does nothing else for you, it will help with individual finger control and coordination.

Anything that helps your knowledge/awareness and finger development is a good thing. 8)

If it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.


   
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(@shadychar)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 41
 

I think it's all a question of where you want to go as a musician. A lot of people seem to put a big mental barrier between "rhythm" and "lead" guitar, and I think it's a bit silly, honestly. Neither one is necessarily harder, depending on what you want to play, and they are elements of both mixed in with each other. Leads have to have some element of rhythm, and to really work with harmony you have to have some concept of melody.
Another question is whether you really mean scales or just 'scale patterns'. Anybody can play scale patterns night and day, but it will usually do little more than make him very good at playing a scale pattern. :lol: If you actually practice scales, and make sure to learn the notes of the scales and their function it will help make you a better musician, at least in my opinion. A working knowledge of scales can only benefit chordal playing, because it allows you to discover new voicings or extensions for chords and new melodic tools with which to work.
Obviously, much of this is pretty subjective and depends mostly on what YOU want.


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

I agree the distinction between lead/rhythm guitar is kind of silly. The guitar is such a versatile instrument... why would you restrict yourself to just half of what it can do? I teach both from the very beginning, because each helps the other - single notes build the fingers for chords, chords (approached the right way) develop the ear for changes and cadences, paving the way for target tones in improvisation.

That said, if you're not going to play 'lead' guitar, the value of scales drops - but it doesn't disappear. Scales will help you understand the fretboard, paving the way for 'jazz' chords like extensions and alterations. Scale runs are extremely common as bass line fills for rhythm guitarists. Scales are the foundation of chord theory, so if you understand scales it's easier to figure out more exotic stuff. Scales will buld finger speed and help you understand how to minimize motion - which makes for faster chord changes.

I've known only one really good guitarist over the years who refused to play scales. He had this whole line about how scale practice would limit him tonally blah blah blah. To me, it sounded a lot like the folks who say learning theory will stifle their creativity, or say nobody needs to learn to read music because Hendrix/Page/Malmsteen didn't. On the other extreme are folks like Andres Segovia, who said a serious guitarist should do two hours per day of scales.

I'm in the middle - scales are good and useful. I've played them every day for over 30 years. They probably take up 10% of my practice time overall.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@kingpatzer)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

"The height of the peak is determined by the width of the base."

Not sure who said that, but it's true.

Scales are an essential part of being a good musician. They are the building block of western music.

Segovia may have been overboard, but only because most guitarists don't have 2 hours a day to devote to practice, not because scales aren't that important.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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(@artlutherie)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1157
 

Worse case Scales will help your dexterity.

Chuck Norris invented Kentucky Fried Chicken's famous secret recipe, with eleven herbs and spices. But nobody ever mentions the twelfth ingredient: Fear!
ChuckNorrisFactsdotCom


   
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(@bennett)
Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 297
 

Good insight in the previous posts there. :)

As a still-very-green beginner I'm using scales to help with my finger dexterity and coordination, and also to help me learn the notes.

As art&lutherie said, at the very least they'll help your dexterity ... has certainly helped me, particularly with landing chords. :)

From little things big things grow - Paul Kelly


   
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(@lotto-king)
Prominent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 777
 

To become a guitarist one does scales , to become a scientist one studies science .

that easy

L.K

Aghhhh

Not only am I a senior citizen

I'm now a bloody senior member

Are you people trying to tell me I'm old or what ?

over 700 posts ( I really do need to get out more )


   
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(@anonymous)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

The way I was taught scales (too many years ago) was in conjunction with musical notation. So in that context, not only was I learning to play, I was also learning to read music.
If you take that approach ( follow the notes on a musical staff as you play your scales) you will have a definite advantage no matter what style of guitar you want to play.


   
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(@matteo)
Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 557
Topic starter  

Hi all

thanks for your answers which are enlightning. So your messager is that things are to be made with a grain of salt (I'm not sure about this expression in English...but in italian it means to do things without excesses), so if it is unuseful to play only scales and not pratice rhytmhic patterns, it is true that a few scales won't hurt me.

I'll try to learn a few of them and devote them 10-15 minutes a day

Matteo


   
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(@forrok_star)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2337
 

Rhythm guitarist don't just play chord progressions. They also play passing notes in between the chords. Not all chord progressions are made up of strictly chords,Shuffle rhythms for example are made up of combinations of chords and notes. In the same lead guitarist don't just play scales, they also use chords and inverted voicings combined with the scales. All the scales and chords you can learn will only make you a better guitarist.

Here's a few Tab'ed Scales to help you out.

Joe


   
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(@artlutherie)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1157
 

Rhythm guitarist don't just play chord progressions. They also play passing notes in between the chords. Not all chord progressions are made up of strictly chords,Shuffle rhythms for example are made up of combinations of chords and notes. In the same lead guitarist don't just play scales, they also use chords and inverted voicings combined with the scales. All the scales and chords you can learn will only make you a better guitarist.

Here's a few Tab'ed Scales to help you out.

Joe

Hey Joe where did that page come from?

Chuck Norris invented Kentucky Fried Chicken's famous secret recipe, with eleven herbs and spices. But nobody ever mentions the twelfth ingredient: Fear!
ChuckNorrisFactsdotCom


   
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(@forrok_star)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2337
 

A few people have asked about tab'ed scale's and printable music sheets. Having recently finished class in XHTML and CSS, I did the pages one evening. Hope there useful.

Joe


   
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(@artlutherie)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1157
 

Nice layout I like it.

Chuck Norris invented Kentucky Fried Chicken's famous secret recipe, with eleven herbs and spices. But nobody ever mentions the twelfth ingredient: Fear!
ChuckNorrisFactsdotCom


   
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(@rob-l)
Trusted Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 62
 

Joe,

Thanks for that link and all the work you did setting it up. I already have it bookmarked.

Rob

Well I got this guitar and I'm tryin' to learn how to make it talk.


   
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