"Climbing The Scale To Success"

In this edition:

This week we're going to take a look at what it takes to become a solo guru. Many of you have emailed me over the last two weeks asking for tips on soloing and scales. I've heard your cry!

It just so happens that the last installment of our new practice regimen, PACS, deals with how to practice scales like the pros. We'll cover everything you need to know to get started with soloing by taking a look at proper practice techniques for scales.

We also have our ever growing feedback booth for you to check out and see what your fellow subscribers have to say. See our new segment that will be featuring a new band called "T.A.T.U.M." Starting now, you will see a new feature band in the first newsletter of every month. So start telling us about your band!

So lets dive right in!

Get the proper foundation...

Are you confused yet?

I remember how intimidated I was of scales when I first started out on guitar. Lets face it. There's literally thousands of variations of them and they have the tendency to sound like nails on a chalk board if you don't know what you're doing.

Plus, there's that whole, "Is this the right fingering?" dilemma or the, "Is this the correct way of playing it?" factor.

Then, you go and read one of your favorite guitar magazines only to see some professional guitarist list off hundreds of major and minor scales. They go into detail about how they found the tonic of some exotic scale that you've never heard of.

To top it off and really keep you confused, you may then hear from a famous guitarist who only uses a few select scales to get their sound. Where do you go next?

Get the basics down.

Scales aren't the beasts that everyone makes them out to be. The truth is, in Western music there are select scales that are very popular and the rest are sort of like a bonus.

Knowing what scales are used for what and how to finger them will take much of the anxiety away. The first major problem that many of my students face is that they make life harder for themselves by not fingering the scale correctly.


What proper fingering does is make the most out of the space that is available on the fretboard. On your fretting hand, you have four fingers that are numbered. Each finger will be responsible for a certain area of the fretboard. Take a look at what fingers represent certain numbers:

1 = index

2 = Middle

3 = Ring

4 = Pinkie

T = Thumb

These numbers will appear over many professional scales that you see. When you see a number that isn't a part of the music or tab, it indicates which finger it wants you to use to produce that note.

You will find that when you are playing scales, the fingerings will follow a certain pattern. Although they may go around different frets, the finger responsible for that general area will be there to hit it. See this example to see what I mean:

A pentatonic (minor)

Notice the pattern of your first, third and fourth finger? The fourth finger takes care of the long stretches and the first and third are responsible for the closer distances. This is designed to increase your speed and accuracy.

The pattern essentially goes 1-4 1-3 1-3 1-3 1-4 and ends on a 1. That's not too bad is it?

Keep in mind that when you are playing scales and there's a nice little fret jump, like seen above on the low E string, then you should use your pinkie finger. This may be a little bit painful at first but I highly recommend you keep at it. Practice a scale that needs your pinkie finger every day and before you know it, your pinkie will be as strong as your other fingers.

If you are playing notes that are really close, use your first and second finger. If you are playing notes that are around a fret or two away, try using your third finger.

Far too many players rely only on their first, second and third fingers. While this may seem comfy when you are starting out, you will find that it will wear off quickly and you won't be near as fast as you could be.

What scales are used for different styles?

So here's the source of confusion for many people. What kind of scale are you supposed to use to play your favorite genre of music? We're going to list all of the ones you should know for the type of music you like to play.

Major Scale: The major scale is everywhere you look in modern music. No matter what your style, the major scale is one that you're going to want to know. There are many forms of the major scale, both movable and stationary. I recommend you learn all of the major scales because it will serve you as a great reference tool and a cool warm up.

The major scale includes quite a few notes but don't get frustrated because they are all in a pattern. From this movable scale below, you can play all of the major scales.

G Major

Take note of the fingerings for this scale and try your best to memorize them. After a couple of practice sessions it will be a piece of cake! Take a look at the rest of the major scales you can produce using this fingering pattern.

Note to advanced players, all scales shown below are in Ionian form.

A Major

B Major


C Major


D Major

E Major

F Major

With those scales in your arsenal, you can eventually work up your speed and do warm-ups that sound like this:

Don't worry, you can do this too! All I did was cut off each scale before I went to the second bar. In other words, don't play anything in the second box of the tabs. Practice with a metronome and work your way up.

You may have noticed that I didn't play in straight even notes. The technique makes the notes (after the first one on the E string) sound as if they fit into the syllables of "Triple it".

There are eight notes in a scale so when starting out, hold your first and second note on the E string a little longer and then make the three notes on the A string fit into the "Triple it" sound. Do the same for the notes on the D string.

After a lot of practice you'll find yourself speeding through them!


Pentatonic Scale: This scale is extremely popular among rock and blues guitarists. It's known to have the flavors that drives the best chart topping songs. It's definitely one of the most functional scales at your fingertips. It's recommended for rock and blues but I believe it's useful in a number of situations. Here's an example:

C Pentatonic (Major)


The Blues Scale: This scale is one of my favorite. It's very similar to the pentatonic scale but adds it's own twists. The history of this scale is quite lengthy and it's heard on millions of CD's. It's simple yet you can write the most complicated solos. Recommenced for blues, rock, soul, gospel, and more!

A Blues Scale

Putting it into practice

So now that you have the scales, you need something to see what it looks like in action. Here's a quick little lick that will give you an idea of what you can do with some of the notes from the A blues scale. You may notice that it isn't arranged like you may have expected...

"A Little Piece of Heaven"

Guitar Tips Feature Band



Over the last few months I have received a lot of emails from people telling me about their bands and the things that they have been up to. A few weeks ago, I discovered a new band that's just emerging onto the music scene in their Country.

This particular band grabbed my attention because they just started to perform recently and are achieving great success for the time that they've been involved with gigging. This is what Craig Henning, rhythm guitarist, had to say about the recent success and how Guitar Tips helped them out.

Hello Guitar Tips Subscribers,

Our name is T.A.T.U.M. (Tried and Tested under Music) and we started about 5 months ago in a warehouse. So far, we have made 8 great songs already and working on loads more for future gigs and possibly a global battle of the bands! The first time T.A.T.U.M performed was on June 24th , and everything went down as planned ( thanks to Guitar Tips letting us know about organizing and planning gigs.)

The second gig also went down well and we have been winning one battle of the bands after the other. We have been asked to play gigs by SA Music and we are already organizing a tour with other awesome South African bands ( The Hellphones , PTD etc.)

I would really like to thank the guys and gals at Guitar Tips for making our road a lot easier for the future of our band and the great advice that constantly comes through to us come hell or high water! Besides the great chords and advice you send us, it looks like we are going to need some more articles on signing big record deals!

~Craig From T.A.T.U.M. - Rhythm Guitarist

Feedback Booth

In the last two weeks, I have received more emails with updates than ever before! If you feel that you have a suggestion for us, please send along an email and you might find yourself in our next issue.

Just as a side note, one of the more popular emails I have been getting are with regards to the contest. Remember to put your name down! I have a lot of great entries with no one to claim them. If you forgot to put your name, please reenter.

Here's what a few of our subscribers are saying this week.

Jess G write to us this week with this comment:

"I've really been enjoying the arpeggio practices... I don't take lessons or anything and I don't want to learn someone else's style. I really like how I can just look at something tabbed out and do my own thing. Thanks again! Chances are, you'll be getting one of these every time I get the newsletter."

Rosa Evans had a great topic suggestion and question, which I am still researching for her. She writes:

"Hope you are having a good day! I would be really interested to read some tips and ideas for female guitar players, especially those who have extremely small hands like me! I find some chords literally impossible to reach. I know there must be heaps of successful tiny-handed players out there. Do you know any of their tips or secrets? Does the size and style of the guitar have much of an impact? Keep up the good work!"

Stay tuned as we address this issue in the coming months.

Henry Flores write to us with another great suggestion:

"Congratulations for your newsletter, I've learnt a lot with this one. I have a suggestion for you: Maybe in the Newsletter you could put a section about the biography of a famous guitar player. It'd be great!!!. So your readers can encourage themselves. I hope my suggestion can be useful."

This suggestion is actually quite popular. We're looking at doing a few articles like this in the future, yet another great idea.


Well, we hope that you've learned something new with this one. Scales have always been a personal favorite and map out a great foundation for amazing solos. Stay tuned over the rest of the Summer to see more articles on solo techniques, improvisation, strumming and more!

If you have a question, just let us know. We're always happy to help you out!

Until next time, keep on rocking!


If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want! Visit http://www.guitartips.com.au