Learning Scales: Daunting

asatbender

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I have been working through some country lessons on Truefire. Mostly learning ideas such as 3rds, 6ths, rolls.... I am now looking at Jason Loughlin Country Connections and he teaches learning the major pentatonic scale in all 5 positions. I have never had much luck at learning and incorporating scales in my playing. With some practice, I think I can learn ONE scale in all 5 positions using key of G. It seems that learning all 5 in all keys will be daunting and take several years before I will be able to incorporate in my playing.


Thoughts on going all in on this? I am trying to improve my country soloing and not just copy others licks.
 

guitarsophist

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You are really just learning five positions, then moving them up and down the fretboard. If you are playing in G at the third fret, move the whole pattern up one fret and you are in Ab or down one fret and you are in F#.

Incorporating them in your playing is a different story. Practice the pattern, then try to find licks using notes in the pattern. You'll get there, but it won't take years.
 

boxocrap

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I have been working through some country lessons on Truefire. Mostly learning ideas such as 3rds, 6ths, rolls.... I am now looking at Jason Loughlin Country Connections and he teaches learning the major pentatonic scale in all 5 positions. I have never had much luck at learning and incorporating scales in my playing. With some practice, I think I can learn ONE scale in all 5 positions using key of G. It seems that learning all 5 in all keys will be daunting and take several years before I will be able to incorporate in my playing.


Thoughts on going all in on this? I am trying to improve my country soloing and not just copy others licks.
just keep practising them and you will develop muscle memory...at that point you will probably have a sense of where to go..( no pun intended)
 

chris m.

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Scales are good, but arpeggios are even better. JMHO.

What you ultimately want is to be able to move up and down the neck very freely. What really matters is the relationship between each position of the pentatonic scale.
Once you know how to move from one scale position to the next higher or lower, starting on any string, then this ability to move up or down the neck easily transfers to all keys. Just have your starting point move
up or down the required number of frets.

In other words, just concentrate on getting great facility in one key, such as G, to start. Once you really have that down then see how it feels to move the whole enchilada up a fret, down a fret, or further than that.
When playing scales there is a tendency to always start on the root, and then to ascend or descend. Practice starting on the 3rd, 5th, 7th as well, and practice a variety of movement patterns, not just a linear scale. Your improvisation will sound a whole lot cooler if you start your scales on notes other than the root.
 

asatbender

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All good advice. I will definitely try to learn all 5 positions of G. Further down in the lesson, he shows some phrases that are derived from each position to make it more musical. Just seems like it will take a long time to "know" every position in each key.
 

turftone

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Once you know all 5 positions in G, you will automatically know all 5 positions in every other key. Like everyone has said, it's just a matter of moving it up or down the fretboard to the new position. In reality, it should only take a couple of days of focused attention, then maybe a week or two to consolidate it. Learning how to use it is the hard part, and that can take a lifetime.

I agree with what chris m. said about arpeggios. That's really where it starts sounding musical! GL
 

boxocrap

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Once you know all 5 positions in G, you will automatically know all 5 positions in every other key. Like everyone has said, it's just a matter of moving it up or down the fretboard to the new position. In reality, it should only take a couple of days of focused attention, then maybe a week or two to consolidate it. Learning how to use it is the hard part, and that can take a lifetime.

I agree with what chris m. said about arpeggios. That's really where it starts sounding musical! GL
arps..are ( i think) more "musical"
 

BigDaddyLH

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I don't know how much this applies to country, but once you can play in G major, say, you need to be able to slip easily from it into its neighbouring keys, like C and D. Plus the minors for G major -- E minor and G minor. To me, it makes more sense to practice related keys like that rather than G major, then Ab Major, A major, Bb major ...
 

telemnemonics

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I have pretty bad ADHD and if i had to remember words to play scales I'd be lost.

I learned intervals, scales are just intervals.
Hear intervals, like a singers melody which is often but not always pentatonic in common pop/ country, then find the intervals on the fingerboard.
Guess what?
Visual patterns!
Guess what?
Those patterns repeat up and down the neck, exactly the same patterns!

I prefer hearing the notes to being told names of notes, but again, ADHD.
 

oldunc

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Not sure what you mean by "all 5 positions", unless you have a REALLY short fingerboard. The one thing a guitar gives you is that all positions (barring open strings) play the same, just as on a piano all octaves play the same. So it's very helpful to learn to play in position, all the scales as far as they'll go- you should have 2 octaves and a major third under your hand without any big stretches. Then you have to learn where the chord notes and extensions are in position. Then you can start learning to switch positions - for a given scale there are usually a number of ways you can take a position change within the scale, depending on where in the scale you take it. Then there are chords and extensions to learn around those changes... Seems like a lot of work, but you're really only learning relations between 12 notes, and the patterns all relate to each other in ways that become clear as you go along. Virtually all music derives from scales, so it's really important to have them under your hand. And remember, practicing scales doesn't mean just going up and down; you need not only 1-2-3-4-5 under your hand, you need 2-5-4-1-3 and anything else available; then there are double stops etc. Practicing scales can be quite fun once you start improvising on ways to get around them- you may find yourself- tada- actually improvising music.
 

JL_LI

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Sorry. You’ll have to learn scales. The only shortcut I can think of is to learn shapes, but you’ll have to learn them. Pentatonic scales are truncated major and minor scales. I use pentatonic as a shape with the understanding that I’ll be using notes in between as passing notes.

Then learn to solo off chords. When you’re good with the key the song was written in, learn to solo off the scales of the chords. This will make your solos much more interesting and will allow you to solo off the pattern in a bridge, not just a verse.

Once you’ve learned major and minor scales, add Mixolydian for country and rockabilly. Then learn the Dorian mode. It’s bluesy sounding but a little darker and the mode resolves very differently from minor and minor pentatonic scales you’re used to.

There’s no mystery to what I suggest. All it takes is an understanding of the task at hand, focus, and practice. Lots of practice. Also be creative. Don’t just cover a song with someone else’s licks. Make it your own. Change modes for a solo. Change a time signature. Done well, people will like what you’re doing, even if they don’t recognize what it is.
 

telemnemonics

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Not sure what you mean by "all 5 positions", unless you have a REALLY short fingerboard. The one thing a guitar gives you is that all positions (barring open strings) play the same, just as on a piano all octaves play the same. So it's very helpful to learn to play in position, all the scales as far as they'll go- you should have 2 octaves and a major third under your hand without any big stretches. Then you have to learn where the chord notes and extensions are in position. Then you can start learning to switch positions - for a given scale there are usually a number of ways you can take a position change within the scale, depending on where in the scale you take it. Then there are chords and extensions to learn around those changes... Seems like a lot of work, but you're really only learning relations between 12 notes, and the patterns all relate to each other in ways that become clear as you go along. Virtually all music derives from scales, so it's really important to have them under your hand. And remember, practicing scales doesn't mean just going up and down; you need not only 1-2-3-4-5 under your hand, you need 2-5-4-1-3 and anything else available; then there are double stops etc. Practicing scales can be quite fun once you start improvising on ways to get around them- you may find yourself- tada- actually improvising music.

Standard guitar method is not familiar to me but I'd agree I don't know where only five positions came from?
With 22 frets and in all keys, I find 18 or 19 "positions", but I never stay in ANY position because that would be strange.
I did sort of use positions as I first observed patterns of the pentatonic scale in my first year of playing.

Something I find helped me was NOT using first position where open strings are included.
That made interval patterns harder to see, so i stayed higher up the neck.
Now I can use the first position but I chose to learn patterns without the nut blocking my options.
 

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I started learning guitar in January 2021, my first challenge were chords then the scales.

I found scales on guitar a lot easier to learn when you break them down into small chunks (2 strings at a time) and moving it up and down the neck as well as across. It's a really good exercise to memorize the positions if you try and play diagonally starting at a different position each time and starting note.

No need to blaze through it at 144 BPM 16th notes, 60 BPM Quarter is fine to start and build from there. It's all about repetition and doing it in 5 minute bursts every day.

I still practice it this way playing with syncopation and odd time signatures and it warms up the hands really well!
 

teletail

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It seems that learning all 5 in all keys will be daunting and take several years before I will be able to incorporate in my playing.


Thoughts on going all in on this? I am trying to improve my country soloing and not just copy others licks.
First, forget about learning all 5 scales in all keys. I'd start with ONE key - whichever key you play in the most. Then add the keys you'll actually use. I don't play a whole lot in Db or G# so I spend no time in those keys. However, I play a lot in A, G, C, D and E, so I spend most of my time practicing in those keys.

A lot of the tunes I play are just I, IV V tunes so the other thing I do is practice playing pentatonics in the same relative position. For example, if I'm in the key of A:

major pentationic example 2.gif

Position 1 - A, Postion 2 - D, Position 3 - E. You can play all three without really shifting to a new position.

Take it further and see how a I, IV, V lines up if you are in A Position 2, A Position 3, etc., etc.

It's like eating an elephant - just start with the first small bite.
 

telemnemonics

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If you can learn to "see" the headstock side of the nut as being just another fret position then the open position looks just like everything else. Heck,
you can even put your index finger on the strings on the other side of the nut if that helps to "see" the relationships.

Well I found there's a bunch of cool stuff that's easier to do using open strings, but because some scales utilize most open strings, I had to jump up too many frets to get a given note.
Freeing myself from the first position also meant never needing a capo or having difficulty transposing to a different key etc.
Add in the fact that when learning there were always a bunch of cowboy chord players around, and my fate was sealed.
Not suggesting players do what I do but if trying to learn fingerboard patterns, they paint such and easy to see picture up the neck, but at the nut that picture changes due to no way to get notes behind the nut if a scale calls for them.

Sure of course the pattern is the same if you imagine behind the nut as having frets.
But I couldn't play notes back there so chose to move to places where I could get those notes.

I also chose positions based on tone I wanted, like if I'm well above the 12th fret and want lower notes, i will play a descending line across the neck but first change I will move down the neck to get to better sounding longer strings, since on acoustic the low strings above the 12th fret sound weak.

That and arpeggios!
Cool sounding arpeggios are worth choosing where on the neck they sound best or are most convenient.
Of course some really limit where we can play them.
Overall my approach is all over the neck, and I feel comfortable when not too close to one end or the other, if given the choice.

A Neil Young type on acoustic is a great example of advantages to staying near the nut.
Tons of players doing that though, I just aint one of them.
OK OK my fretting hand pinkie tip got chopped off too.
Big influence to my technique as took away many advantageous technique options.

For learning fingerboard patterns though, visually, I think it helps to start learning scales in the middle, and seeing how moving them around changes key etc. Just basic easy intro to scale patterns if finding it hard.
 

matrix

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There are a lot of ways to learn scales, arpeggios, etc. It is easy to get lost in the options.

The methodology in Jason's course that you mentioned is VERY good. I would trust the method - it is worth while to pick one.

What I WOULD suggest is that you organize your time. If the five forms of the pentatonic are ahead of you (and that IS worth memorizing), pick one and a block of time. I have had a lot of luck with the "reducing blocks method". It would look something like this:

- Five forms? ok, start with five months.
- Month 1, form 1. Every day. At least 5 minutes every day, no mater what. Ideally with metronome, at different tempos every day (NOT a steady increase - try to randomize)
- Month 2, form 2. Same thing, but run through form 1 occasionally as well
-Months 3-5 - same thing for the remaining forms
-Month 6 - repeat the cycle, but now switching every week (ie, 5 weeks for 5 forms)
-Month 7 (ish) - now every day switch forms. One or two weeks of this until you are comfortable
- Now, every day - all five forms

Sound crazy? This can be only 5 minutes a day. Ask yourself where you want to be in 7-8 months from now.

I suggest a full month on each form because it sounds like you are starting out. I still use this methodology regularly for new fingerings, but tend to start at "one form per week"



I have been working through some country lessons on Truefire. Mostly learning ideas such as 3rds, 6ths, rolls.... I am now looking at Jason Loughlin Country Connections and he teaches learning the major pentatonic scale in all 5 positions. I have never had much luck at learning and incorporating scales in my playing. With some practice, I think I can learn ONE scale in all 5 positions using key of G. It seems that learning all 5 in all keys will be daunting and take several years before I will be able to incorporate in my playing.


Thoughts on going all in on this? I am trying to improve my country soloing and not just copy others licks.
 

MilwMark

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Waste of time IMO.

Learn triads. All over the neck.

Then you have chords (the basis of 70+% of every song with a guitar solo and 95% of those w/o), AND you can play play leads by breaking them down into single notes and double stops.

Plus as @telemnemonics notes if you hear intervals well you can easily slide, bend or grab extra notes (4ths, 7ths, 9ths, whatever).

I don’t know. I have a short attention span and get impatient. I don’t wanna learn a bunch of stuff and then convert it to music. Why not go right to music?

Here’s our latest album. I play all the “lead” guitar, plus any riffs/fills and lap steel. All just based around knowing triads really well.

https://floormodel.bandcamp.com/
 
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asatbender

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I don't know how much this applies to country, but once you can play in G major, say, you need to be able to slip easily from it into its neighbouring keys, like C and D. Plus the minors for G major -- E minor and G minor. To me, it makes more sense to practice related keys like that rather than G major, then Ab Major, A major, Bb major ...
That is basically what it is. for G first position, you stay in the 3rd to fifth frets for the D and C scales. I forgot what position that is for the D and C.
 




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