Stop Doing Hours of Scales (Do This Instead)

Have you tried to learn your scales, but sadly had next to no success? Or, have you only limited success, learning only a few patterns but still not gaining skill at using scales all across the neck? 

Good news... You're in luck! In this lesson, I'm going to explain how you can approach your scale practice differently. You'll learn about a system you can apply to help you organize a routine that will allow you to get much better at your scales - especially for when you want to apply them musically...

This system will help you as you go on to learn new melodies by ear, or when you'll use scales to perform improvisation. The principles that I'll be covering are some of the same concepts that I teach in my private classes, group workshops and during my Skype lessons.

These ideas work, and I know that, (not only from form teaching them to hundreds of guitar players, but because), I've been using them myself for many years to get better at applying scales to create hundreds of songs and lesson plans for all of the students involved with Creative Guitar Studio.


Since there's an incredible amount of time and effort required to develop scales on guitar you'll need away to set out a routine to get organized.

However, your approach cannot just be "thrown together." The plan that you implement will have to accomplish two very important things for you... Number one, your plan has to help you remain active with your scale practice. You'll need to spend a lot of hours on the scales that you're studying - working on them almost every day!

Number two, you will have get into and maintain a routine so that the scales will slowly become more and more committed to memory. Plus, having a steady routine in place will help you become more technically proficient.

Without an organized plan like this, and a routine to implement, your scale study will likely fizzle out and die. And, that sucks, because any work that you start investing, will just end up fading away from your memory.

Your plan should involve a daily cycle. That cycle should also be done as a numbered cycle instead of using days of the week. Having a numbered cycle will allow you to jump back into the routine at any point.

Being able to jump in and out of the routine is helpful for when you take a day or two off. Or, if you maybe take a vacation, head to the lake, etc...

When you return, you can simply pick up again from where you left off and keep going. Below is an example of one of my own practice plans. This is the real deal, the actual plan that I used over the years to study scales myself.

Once you have a plan in place, be sure that you are keeping a log book. Make notes about what you're doing with the scales. Notate what tempos you're able to play them at. And, make reference about other technical ideas you're applying.

Include things like; scale sequencing, three note per string patterns that you're working on, legato ideas, licks you're inventing, etc. There's a lot of sub-categories of work that correspond with learning scales and it's a good idea to have a process in place that will organize and keep track of these.

SCALE APPLICATION (The Key to Success):
The next area I want to touch on has to do with application. In all of the time that I've spent working with students to help them develop their ability to use scales, I've noticed that this is an area that's generally severally lacking.

All too often, a devoted guitar student will spend a lot of time learning to; play scale shapes, learning the fingerings, and how to build-up some speed (with performing the scales up to faster tempos). However, there are far too many times when I'll meet a new student, and they'll tell me that they've been studying scales for weeks or even months - yet they're not applying the scales within a context where the scales will be used to create a melody.

Obviously, that's not good. Below is a demo chord progression in the key of "E Minor." You can record this and begin trying to invent some melody over it using the "E Minor" scale shapes that you know, or any "E Minor" ideas that you are learning right now.


Once you've established your chord progression that is locked into a key center, (like this example I've provided for you in, "E Minor"), you'll want to start working toward the application of your scale.

The, "shapes and patterns" of scales, are being studied for creating melody. And, that's exactly what you'll want to do with them (as soon as possible).

Take the chord changes that you've decided upon, and record your progression in some way. Record it in your computer or smart-phone, or get it into a sequencer, or into a looper pedal - (basically whatever you have for being able to play back those chords)...

Work at being able to create melody over the jam tracks. And, don't just randomly improvise. Compose a lot of phrases at first. Those composed ideas will start to become your future personal guitar licks.

Below is an example of a melodic idea for over those "E Minor" chord changes. Use it as a spring-board to invent more melodies of your own.

Thanks for joining me, If you'd like to Find Out What You Should Learn Next on Guitar - take a look at the courses over on my website at

My step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses will cover what you need to know, along with how to be able to move forward and become the best player that you can be.

I've worked on these courses since 1992 and I feel that all together they're the best guitar program you'll ever find. The courses will help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to the next level of guitar playing, in a very organized way, that makes sense.

I look forward to helping you further at ...Until next time - take care and we'll catch up again on the next video. Bye for now!



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