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Here's Why Scales Don't Really Matter That Much

(Image credit: Cindy Moorhead)

Scales are cool, but only if you know the techniques to get the most out of them.

For example. Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King and Eric Johnson all use pentatonic scales in their playing, but each of them sounds completely different from one another, in part because they use different techniques.

Jim Lill believes scales and modes don’t really matter—at least not as much as many guitarists think.

“Whenever I’ve, asked it seems like the problem that the person is trying to solve with new scales and modes is all their solos sounding the same. But the truth is, it’s not new scales and modes that are you gonna save you—it’s new techniques.”

To demonstrate, Jim plays a D major scale lick using a variety of different techniques using the same guitar, same amp, same tone, same everything. The only thing he’s changing is the techniques he uses to pick the notes. Take a look.

In addition to his YouTube channel, Jim has now has a page on, where he’s offering gear giveaways, Skype lessons, guests passes, and more. We encourage you to check out both for more of his informative videos.

In addition, take a look at his Guitar-Lick-A-Day Instagram, where you can learn a new lick every day, with tab available for each lick.

Then head over to Jim’s website, where you can find more lessons and MP3s and purchase his e-book, The Graphic Guide to Country Guitar. You can also join his mailing list to get immediate updates on videos.

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Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.