Guitar Scales are not just for those who want to play lead guitar – they are for guitar strummers and rhythm players as well…
That’s because chords come from scales. And if you know how that works you will understand chords better and also know how to create your own chord system(s).
You’ll see Guitar Scales articles and videos listed to the right in the side bar navigation.
These guitar scale articles will look at the CAGED guitar system (chords and scale patterns), pentatonic guitar scales, chords – basic to advanced, arpeggios and triads. But they all relate to and are part of the Major Scale Master Pattern.
Why are guitar scales important?
We start with the scale. The scale is the Mother of everything else.
Scales are the source of:
- Chords – when you learn a chord, it is part of a family. It originates from and belongs to a specific scale or key. Generally, an individual chord can belong to several different scales or keys.
- Arpeggios – these are chords, but the notes that make up the chord are played one at a time – used for solos or for creating riffs and licks.
- Triads - these are basic 3 note chords. They are very handy to learn for chord work (rhythm) and for basing solos on. They can also be substituted – eg, substituting an ‘E minor’ triad for a ‘C major‘ chord gives the sound of a Cmajor7th chord.
- Single-note soloing or improvising – this is where you make up a solo on the spot. Usually, improvising consists of putting together licks and ideas you have already learned… but just putting them together in different ways to make it sound new and different. This is why it’s a good idea to have a bag of licks you can fall back on to develop a solo off.
- Melody – this is just arranging the notes in a scale to create a pleasing melodic and rhythmic melody. Melodic really means the notes chosen follow the chords and sound pleasant to the ear. Of course, you can use notes not in the scale to create a more discordant sound. Some people call this playing ‘bum’ notes. But handled correctly they can add excitement and tension to your playing.
- Harmony – can be seen as playing two or more notes together. Chords can come under this category too.
All these things are, is a way to ‘arrange’ or ‘combine’ the notes in the scale to create different sound effects or sonic landscapes.
But then, timing and rhythm is perhaps the most important aspect of using these tools. The famous quote, “If it ain’t got that swing, it don’t mean a thing”, gets right to the crux of it all…
That means your playing needs to be expressive and have tons of feeling and emotion. And we’ll look at how to do that, too, at a future date.