Is It Really Necessary For Me To Learn Scales?

Pentatonic scale position 5

Is It Really Necessary For Me To Learn Scales?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions that intermediate guitar players ask their teacher: “do I really need to learn scales?”

But scales are boring…

After all, scales look very boring, and you may have probably heard from somewhere that learning scales will make you a boring “mechanical” player. Of course you are not enthusiastic to practice them!

The reality, though, is different: scales are one of the best possible things you can learn to make your guitar playing move to the next level. So let me tell you immediately that if your guitar teacher told you to learn and practice your scales, he or she is perfectly right.

What do you have to gain from learning scales?

But what do you have to gain from learning scales? Here are a few points to consider:

First of all, scales are one of the main tools to train your physical technique on the guitar. This is true not only for the guitar, but for all instruments: literally all musicians practice scales (even singers). It’s one of the best ways to understand how your instruments works and sounds. A proper practice routine including scales and other similar items will make you hands more agile, faster, and will give you way more stamina for the more demanding pieces of music.

Ear training

Scales are great for your ear training. By playing them you will naturally learn to recognize their sound – which later will make it easier for you to transcribe songs. And hey, this works even if you don’t know or don’t think about it! You learn just by playing and hearing the sound you make. Isn’t that great?

For Improvisation

Scales are a great template to learn to improvise melodies or leads. In fact some great improvisers base their solos only on scales – and they sound great! Sure, it is not the ONLY possible approach, but it’s one of the most basic ones, and it’s worth learning well.

To see a few tricks on how to learn scales better, I suggest also to watch this video:

As you can see, there is nothing really difficult – and yes, you can make learning scales a fun part of your practice time! As usual make sure to check everything you do with your guitar teacher – he is the ultimate authority on what you should do at any time in your practice.

About The Author

Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock musician and a regular writer of columns about Music Theory for Guitar.