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How To Stop Thinking About Guitar SCALES And Make Music Instead



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One of the problems that I found most common among us guitar players is that we get stuck in thinking ‘scales’ on our fretboard.

Of course, scales are not evil per se. Scales are a great way to understand your guitar fretboard (not the only one though).

The problem does not lie in the scales – the problem lies in our over-reliance on scales. But this leaves us with a conundrum:

Should we avoid learning our scales on guitar? Or is there any way to learn our scales without getting imprisoned by them?

My take is that we can and should learn our scales, and at the same time we should avoid being imprisoned by them by doing some scale-breaking exercises. These exercises put us directly in contact with the sound of music, completely bypassing the scale-brain.

In this video I present you a few of these scale-breaking exercises, and if you try them I’m sure your musicianship will benefit from them.

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Stan KowalskiAylbdr MadisonLee GeeSaxo FonistaRick Danner Recent comment authors
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Vlad&Ket
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Vlad&Ket

Thanks for your video. In my case it probably came intuitively before watching any videos. My first attemt was jaming with some piano music on youtube. After watching the minute of the video I realized the "sound" of root notes of the chords and began playing them in slower tempo along the song. The second attempt was few days ago. I was bored playing again and again some piece I played hundreds of times and accidentaly thought: what if I'll use 3 starting notes of it and start finding some other ones that will match the tone of the first… Read more »

Travis Crawford
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Travis Crawford

Don't get scaly

Teddy Egan
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Teddy Egan

This video is a gem.

Pierre-Yves Machavoine
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Pierre-Yves Machavoine

Aas a pianist i'm obviously taking this advice for myself too. Have followed this channel for 2 years. Never watched a single video because i didnt have the time and i dont play guitar but i knew you where a gold mine. Today i somehow got this video recommended and it's one of the best advice ever to have fun playing music. Thank you.

Strat Wrassler
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Strat Wrassler

Reminds me of when Eric Clapton was asked by an interviewer from Guitar Player what scales he uses to play blues he replied something like, "I don't know, I don't play scales, I play music".

Plum Hunter
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Plum Hunter

the volume is not very good … or Zillio's accent is making it hard to clearly understand his words … esp when he looks away from the microphone. I will replay and try to listen harder!

Plum Hunter
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Plum Hunter

sorry … I can't listen to what I can't understand …

Evod Nomis
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Evod Nomis

I love all of your content, but this one was especially salient to me. I think this should be everyone's first objective. I can only imagine how much this would help some of the folks that focus ONLY on shredding. We're in an era of guitar playing that seems to focus on speed more than melody – this basic concept gets lost sometimes. Thank you for a great reminder/lesson!

Aylbdr Madison
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Aylbdr Madison

It's interesting because if a person has never touched any instrument before, this is the most natural thing to do the first time picking one up. In fact I've seen this happen 100's of times.

Lee Gee
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Lee Gee

Spot on!

Saxo Fonista
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Saxo Fonista

excelente!

Rick Danner
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Rick Danner

i cant stop thinking about scales

Daniel Karsten
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Daniel Karsten

Please help me, I can do it! 💣

Nikoo033
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Nikoo033

I found scales as tools to create a connection between what I have in my mind and how to express it with my fingers everywhere on the fretboard. So practicing the scales randomly up and down the fretboard allowed me to create that connection.

Luey Sixty-six
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Luey Sixty-six

Oh man, that custom 24 looks sooo much better than Tyler's single cut (from music is win – U either know what I'm saying or not at all!). I almost bought that black s series Ibo too, but felt it a bit too plain compared to the gorgeous tops they put on guitars a few hundred more. As for the lesson: I don't rate it at all. Playing two notes sounds so bad – gimme at least 3. In fact, stuff it, I'm using as many as I want, plus I'm using scales. This is for absolute beginners, no??? Or… Read more »

Scott Clark
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Scott Clark

Awesome! I am an engineer and therefore try so hard to find a formula that works which ties me to scales. What an eye opening lesson to "just play"

Sasu Attiogbe Redlich
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Sasu Attiogbe Redlich

the explanation is a bit wierd .

Vaughan Mayberry
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Vaughan Mayberry

Thank you. Big help.

Christian Jandicala
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Christian Jandicala

I used to play by "scales" when thinking of a solo and I won't get a good sound out of it. Now, I hum the sound of what I think would be good over a chord and use scales as a guide of what that note might be. Scales is only a guide but it is never the thing you have to do to make something sound good.

Stan Kowalski
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Stan Kowalski

One good way to get out of playing patterns and scales is to hum a melody or sing your lead lines and solos, then transpose those to play them on the guitar. This way, you're really using your imagination rather than relying on "muscle memory" and what your fingers are already used to doing.