The Six Most Important Scales In Lead Guitar Playing

The Modern Pallette

The hard work in the study of lead guitar playing is memorizing is memorizing and cleanly executing scales and scale patterns. please don’t rush to the store and buy a book of 1000 scale patterns because you can do quite nicely any style of modern music once you understand the six most important scales lead guitar playing. those scales are the major scale, the natural minor scale, the major pentatonic, the minor pentatonic, the major blues scale and the minor scale. I understand the study of scales to me virtually an endless topic but if you want to get in the game and play it well, the six scales are your ticket. I look at the scales in the same way a painter looks at his pallette -he can see his choices right in front of him and has easy access to any one.
mopallate

mopal01Apply Root 6 & Root 5 System

In this lesson you will learn how to play each one of those six scales in any key, all over the neck. in two different positions. For each of these scale soundsyou will learn two fingerings, or versions of each one -a version with its root note located on string six and another version with its root note located on string five. This of course is called root six and root five thinking and hinges on the ability to quickly and correctly identify the letter names of the notes on string six and string five of your guitar.

Once you have learned to play a scale pattern, practice them until their fingerings come to you effortlessly, instantly and automatically. Play them, I mean really play over and over again until they become like your favorite turns of phrase or vocabulary words, things you like to say over and over again. they are totally committed to your deep memory. The hard work part the studying lead guitar playing as I mentioned earlier is this training and, drilling until the sound of each scale is firmly committed to your ear and have them totally under your fingers.

mopal04Major Scales

When applying the root 6 and root 5 system of thinking to the key of C major, reduce the key to the two major chords pictured at left: a root 5 C major chord located on fret III, and a root 6 C major chord located on fret VIII. Most guitarists are always thinking about and linking to chords.

This picture outlines the corredct thinking and gives you a quick and easy frame of reference, I always tell my students, “the key of C lives on the 7th fret and the 3rd fret”.

Pictured at right, is arguably the most common major scale form on the guitar. The scale is labeled as being in position VII but the diagram indicates that the C root note is found on fret VII -therefore your first note, C, is played with finger two.

At far right is a simple animation meant to reinforce the point that scale patterns move up and down the neck in a clean and easy fashion.

Root 6

mopal03

The root 5 C major scale is perfect complimemt to the common knowledge scale form pictured above and when you think of these two scale patterns as your first line defense core knowledge and two most important patterns you gain a considerable amount of neck coverage in the key of C.

The animation at far right helps you visualize common transpositions.

Root 5

mopal05

The root 5 C major scale is perfect complimemt to the common knowledge scale form pictured above and when you think of these two scale patterns as your first line defense core knowledge and two most important patterns you gain a considerable amount of neck coverage in the key of C.

The animation at far right helps you visualize common transpositions.

Root 5

mopal05

Major Scale Reference & Play Along

This lesson is all about ear training, visualizing, drilling and executing. Play along with recording until you are perfect sync with me, playing a solid stream of quarter notes. First you will hear the root 5 scale, then the root 6 scale, listen carefully and reproduce the exercises on your guitar with the same care and attention you give to important music.

The root 5 C major is an optional fingering which has you shifting your position one fret higher for the D – E and F notes located on string two, this speed fingering is different from the one we learned in lesson 9 of this course. Both are of equal importance and value.

mopal07

Major Pentatonic Scales

A major scale lacking degrees 4 and 7 is a major pentatonic scale. Again we are focusing on the key of C and playing only the root 6 and root 5 versions of the scale, the most common forms of the scale patterns and the one professional guityarists consider the easies and most recognizeable fingerings.

If you ar egood at solfege, think of this scale as ; “Do – Re – Mi – Sol – La”.

Root 6

3dMAPENTa

Root 5

3dMAPENT

Major Pentatonic Scale Reference & Play Along

Play your steady stream of quarter notes in perfect sync with me on the recording. Treat these exercises as ear training studies to be completed with effortless mastery. So you understand exactly what you are supposed to play and hear, listen to each example once before playing it.

mopal8

Major Blues Scales

The major blues scale (a.ka.a known as blues no. 2) is a mjaor pentatonic with a flat 3rd. It is a greast addition to your arsenal and not to be overlooked. I had many years of education and professional playing experience before I discovered and began to use this little gem. You will not regeret learning it my friends.

Root 6

3dMAblues

Root 5

3dMAbluesA

Major Blues Scale Reference & Play Along

The addition of the flat 3 blue note (Eb in this key) the scale takes on a modern and cool quality, bluesy enough but still melodic and tuneful, even when simply running the pattern, the major pentatonic scale manages to shine its little light. When using the first finger as is indicated in the diagram, playing the scale has an easy and natural flow.

mopal9

Natural Minor Scales

Consider this point a shift in your focus from a listening standpoint because we are shifting to the minor tonality, the polar opposite of major.

Listen for the dark yet rich quality of the natural minor scale and try to identify the flatted 3rd, 6th and 7th degrees so you truly understand the difference between the major scale and the natural minor scale.

3dminor
3dminor5

Natural Minor Scale Reference & Play Along

I would again ask you to listen to the exercise once befor matching me note for note on the fingering patterns. The root 5 version of the scale sits neatly in position III, so will be starting with your first finger on the C root note, fret III string 5, and your third finger will play on fret III for the entire exercise.

The root 6 version of the scale is in position VII but has you briefly shifting your first finger between frets VII and VIII this a speedy and very common way to play a root 6 minor scale. The fingerings are illustrated in the diagram below.

mopal10

Minor Pentatonic Scales

The minor pentatonic is the number in rock and also in blues lead guitar playing and many fine players use this scale as the basis for their entire style. The root 5 scale however is another scale pattern that when learning, is easy to overlook. Make sure you lock both of them down in your memory banks.

3dmiPENT
3dmiPENT5

Minor Pentatonic Scale Reference & Play Along

I would pay a lot of attention to these two patterns, practicing them without the play along track until you are burning right through them in an effortless and seamless fashion.

mopal11

Minor Blues Scales

The addition of a flat 5 blue note (Gb in the key of C) transforms a minor pentatonic scale into a minor blues scale. Although the correct name for this scale is ‘ ‘the minor blues scale’ it is most often simply called ‘the blues scale’. Again, don’t make the mistake of overlooking or discounting the root 5 version as there is some serious mojo in that puppy.

3dBLUES
3dBLUES5

Minor Blues Scale Reference & Play Along

These scales, also called ‘box patterns’ fit neatly in their respective positions except for the temporary shift of finger one necessary to play the root 5 scale as is indicated in the diagram.

mopal12

Finally

This lesson is designed to help you develop your scale vocabulary and is meant to be a necessary task reflective of the efforts you will continually in your life long journey as a student of the guitarist. Sometimes it is all about rote memorization and hard work, this exercise is a small hill to climb but an important one that I suggest you study and practice with often.

Testimonials

“My first experience with the guitar was taking lessons from Karl Aranjo as a high school student. His lessons were more than just a collection of tips and riffs: they were a method. As I look through GuitarU.com, I get to take a trip back through those lessons and am reminded about I loved about them. His strong focus on the fundamentals quickly draws a connection between general music theory and the particulars of how that theory can be applied to the guitar, even allowing us as guitarists to use our instrument as an abacus-like tool to enhance our musical insight. In high school, Karl’s lessons got me up to speed to jam with my friends and in the school band almost immediately. In the almost 20 years since I left high school and had my last lesson with Karl, the things he taught me have continued to serve me well; I’ve played almost continuously in a variety of styles (jazz, rock, funk, folk), both as a hobby and as a part-time professional (currently playing with San Francisco’s Smash-Up Derby). If I hadn’t grown up in the same town as where Karl taught, I might have missed out on a lifetime of fun playing the guitar. With GuitarU.com, wherever you are, you can benefit from the same quality instruction that I had!

-Grahm Ruby

“Mr. Karl Aranjo is one great teacher to work with. When working with him, he is very flexible, and will teach you all the basics and fundamentals you will need while learning how to play the guitar. From learning basic chords to crazy licks and solo’s. You will become an expert in no time and looking like a professional guitar player. In my experience, I learned to master chord progressions much easier and understand it in a better perspective. In my music career/hobby, it has given me nothing but success to play in a band as a front man/rhythm guitarist, compose my own type of music, and as well as songs that I really wanted to learn how to play on the guitar. Learning through Karl Aranjo was a great experience and has helped me understand the guitar a lot easier, I would not have wanted this learning experience any other way.”

-Julius Isaac

“I had the pleasure of being a guitar student of Karl’s for several years. Karl advanced my playing ability a great deal very quickly by giving me a perfect combination of guitar technique, theory and assigning songs that motivated me to continue learning. I highly recommend Karl for all level of guitar players no matter if you are a beginner or advanced.”

-Tom Hunt

”Karl Aranjo is a great and experienced teacher with an extensive knowledge of guitar playing and theory. His thorough online course, GuitarU.com covers the whole spectrum from the first time beginner to advanced.”

Blake Aaron- Internationally Known Recording Artist

”Karl helped me dive into the blues when I was first starting out, and learning how to improvise opened up many doors for me on guitar. He has a vast knowledge ranging many musical styles, and i would recommend him to anyone trying to learn the instrument!”

Eric Cannata Young The Giant