Learning a scale isn’t just memorizing a pattern. In fact, it’s memorizing lots of patterns, but there’s more to it than that.
Unless you actually want to sound like a robot, being able to move from position to position across the guitar neck is crucial.
A common question I get from my students in Guitar Super System (opens in new tab) is often related to playing up and down the neck. Most people learning scales for the first time usually start and finish with the root position, which is good, but can be limiting if you want to expand your sound.
In the video lesson below, I introduce a way to simplify the process of learning various scale positions by breaking each position into chunks. If you learn smaller amounts of scale positions at a time, it keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and potentially getting discouraged. This method can apply to any scale.
After you get your bearings, you can use an exercise that asks you to move from one small chunk of notes to the next at a consistent rhythm, keeping you in constant motion and forcing you to leave the comfort of the root position.
As you continue this exercise, you’ll immediately feel the positive effects when you go to improvise using the scale you’re working on. Like training with weighted clothing, when you remove yourself from the exercise, you’ll feel stronger as an improviser than ever before, and you’ll have simultaneously learned your scale positions up and across the neck.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win (opens in new tab). His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.