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Five Scales Guitar Players Need to Practice

Beginning musicians are always pushed to learn scales. If you’ve taken guitar lessons, you’ve undoubtedly spent some time working on scales, but if you’re self-taught, the concept could be entirely new to you.

Andrew Wasson thinks guitarists in particular don’t spend nearly enough time practicing scales. As a result, they tend to not understand some of the more basic concepts associated with the instrument.

“After years of playing with other musicians and being in countless bands, it still blows me away how many times I need to explain basic things to the guitar players that I’ll often end up working with,” he says. “Things like where certain notes are located, or what scale is supposed to be used over a section of a song, or even how to relocate a riff or a lick to another area of the neck.

“The problem tends to be rooted in the fact that far too many guitar players never bother to properly learn their scales.”

In response, Andrew has identified five scales he believes will be most beneficial to guitarists. They are:

  • 1. Basic major (Ionian)
  • 2. Natural minor (Aeolian)
  • 3. Major pentatonic
  • 4. Minor pentatonic
  • 5. Blues pentatonic

Andrew starts out by explaining how scales operate on the neck. The lesson on the five scales begins at the 6:00-minute mark.

Check out the video. For more lessons like these, visit Andrew’s Creative Guitar Studios channel on YouTube.

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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.