May 2014

What Are The Importance Of Guitar Scales?

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Guitar Scales – Are They Important?

Have you ever wondered if guitar scales are worth learning? Perhaps you think they are just a waste of your precious time. After all, you just want to learn your favorite songs and be able to jam with your friends, right? What benefit could there be in learning some musty old scale that’s been around for hundreds of years?

These are good questions. I’d like to see if I can answer them for you…

Many people get excited about learning the guitar after hearing or seeing a famous musician who appears to play so effortlessly. Perhaps they were dazzled by the lightning fast licks of Van Halen, or the amazing fingerstyle techniques of Michael Hedges.

Whoever their initial source of inspiration was isn’t the real issue. They just know that a spark was ignited and they now have a burning desire to learn how to play the guitar!

So they buy a guitar and are pumped-up with new ambition. But it isn’t long before reality sets in and the new aspiring student discovers that playing the guitar is much harder than they expected. In fact, they come to realize that it requires dedication, time, education and lots of practice!

They’ve reached the same crossroads as many others who have gone before. Now it’s decision time. Either they give it up, or persevere and move on…

If you’ve “been there, done that” and are ready to continue, then I am pretty confident that you are willing to do whatever it takes to become a better guitar player.

And that’s when guitar scales will come in handy!

Scales provide an excellent “educational” tool for increasing your understanding of music fundamentals and concepts. This includes:

– understanding the guitar fretboard
– understanding chords
– understanding harmony
– understanding melody
– understanding rhythm

Guitar scales are also very “practical” tools for helping you develop and improve your overall playing skills. This includes:

– developing finger dexterity
– developing speed
– developing your ear
– developing techniques
– developing solo leads & licks

These are just some of the ways that guitar scales will benefit your playing. I didn’t even mention how they can expand your horizons by introducing you to different styles and sounds. They can also be used to inspire new and creative songwriting ideas.

So, if you haven’t been using scales to improve your guitar playing, then I suggest you start today. In my opinion, it’s best to begin by learning all the major scales. Once you have a good, solid understanding of how they work, all the other associated guitar scales will make a lot more sense.

Kathy Unruh has over 25 years experience teaching guitar. She created the AbcLearnGuitar eBook specifically for beginners. This step by step instruction manual includes, chord charts, tab. and video to help students of all ages get started playing guitar as quickly and easily as possible.

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How To Develop Your Guitar Playing Speed

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Develop Your Guitar Playing Speed

If you’re like most guitarists I know, you probably have a deep-down desire to develop your guitar playing speed. Having fast fingers that seem to move effortlessly across the fretboard is very impressive and something many of us dream about but often struggle to achieve. Is there a secret formula? Do we have to seek some fabled, mystical experience at the “Crossroads” like Robert Johnson?

Granted, some people are born with an innate musical ability which baffles the rest of us, but this is not the case for most musicians. Someone may have a good ear and a natural sense of rhythm, but sooner or later they discover that these are merely tools which must be put to use in order to accomplish anything significant. This usually means lots of hard work, concentrated time and diligent effort.

Eric Clapton provides a good example on how to go about developing your guitar playing speed. His autobiography, “Clapton”, offers some interesting insights. Turns out his first guitar was a real clunker, having both high action and steel strings. This made the instrument very difficult to play; especially for a beginner! But Eric kept practicing day after day, hour after hour; totally absorbed in his music. He couldn’t afford lessons, so he would listen to the recordings of his favorite blues guitar heroes and try to mimic what they did. When he felt he had finally gotten their licks right, he would record himself and listen again just to make sure.

Eventually Eric was able to afford a better guitar. He began to venture out into the public music scene where he met other musicians. This opened up new opportunities for him to play and led to the formation of his first band. Many subsequent bands followed until he finally reached the pinnacle of stardom as lead guitarist for the super group “Cream” in the 1960s.

Eric Clapton’s rise to fame did not happen overnight. It took years of dedication and practice to develop his guitar playing speed and become the guitar hero he is today. Too many people are in a hurry to be famous or admired, but patience is necessary to really become a good guitarist; which reminds me of a funny story I heard recently…

My beautiful niece likes to run. She can easily jog ten miles or more and she has participated in a few long distance marathons too. Last week, as she was running across a parking lot in order to reach the car before her husband, she hit a speed-bump. Away she flew, across the pavement, skinning her hands and knees. She couldn’t use her hands for awhile because they were too sore. Fortunately, she wasn’t seriously hurt. Instead, she found it very funny and we all cracked-up laughing when she told us about the incident.

Now you may wonder what this story has to do with our subject. Well, I saw a little metaphor in it which I think can teach us some things about learning how to play the guitar.

As you are acquiring new skills, it’s important to keep focused on the direction you’re going and not to move too fast, otherwise, you might just hit a speed-bump! However, speed-bumps are there for a reason–to slow you down. So, if you hit one, just take a deep breath and start paying closer attention to the smaller details of your playing. How clear is your tone? How smooth are your chord changes? How clean are your licks? Begin to hone your craft and make it your top priority to sound good. You’ll probably be amazed to find that slowing down can actually help develop your guitar playing speed in the long run.

Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 25 years.


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