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FAQ: What's a guitar scale?

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Q: What's a guitar scale?

A:  Here's the technical definition:  A scale is a collection of notes in ascending or descending order played one after the other.  Note though that you can't play random ascending notes in succession and think you're playing scales.  On the guitar, scales are given patterns you'll need to learn in order to play them correctly.  Every scale has its own name and its own pattern.  This video is an example of what the major scale sounds like...

Not exactly a guitar solo right?  So by now you might be asking a new question...

Why do I need scales?
That's most newbies' response.  'I wanna rock!  Not la la la la la all day long!'  Ah yes, perfectly understandable, but if by rock you mean solo, riff and improvise on the guitar, there's no better teacher than guitar scales.

For new players, scales will serve as the number one method to make your fingers strong, and develop the picking technique of your strumming hand.  Scales help with coordination between your two hands. 

Finally scales train your ears and brain to recognize key patterns on parts of the guitar, something you'll need later when you start soloing and improvising. Scales form the basis of solo's and some scales like the Minor Pentatonic (big name, easy scale) is almost a solo in itself...

In short:  Do NOT run away from scales.  Practice these baby's every time you pick up your guitar, even if only as a warm up.

The lessons on my site will teach you the most popular guitar scales with video instruction and scale charts, which you'll need in order to learn and memorize different scales.  For more information on scales and to start learning them visit the Guitar Scales section.
The Major scale played in the key of A
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