To start off this guitar scales practice tip, let me ask you a quick question. When was the last time you learnt a guitar scale to mastery? What I mean “to mastery” is this…
– You can play the scale anywhere on your fretboard.
– You know exactly what each note of the guitar scale sounds like.
– You can see the scale over your entire fretboard.
– You have memorized the notes and scales degrees of the scale. And you can see these notes and scale degrees over the entire fretboard.
– You can solo using the guitar scale without having to think.
– You have a large vocabulary of licks that you can play using the scale.
I’m guessing that you probably said something along the lines of “Never”. And that’s fine! Most guitarists never completely master the guitar scales that they learn. They just learn scales on a very superficial level…
And that is the biggest reason why they struggle to use scales in a musical way when they improvise solos.
Try this experiment for a minute. Start talking about a subject that you know a lot about. It could be about anything. There are no rules! Pretend that you are explaining the subject to a friend. Keep on doing this for a few minutes.
So what did you notice as you did it? Did you notice how you were thinking about the IDEAS that you were trying to convey and NOT the actual words themselves? I can almost guarantee that you didn’t think about the spelling of all of the words that you said. If you did, you would find it impossible to speak fluently…
Why is this?
You have imprinted those words so much in the past that now you don’t consciously have to think when you use them. You spent countless hours learning and practicing those words when you were young. And do you know what?
It MUST be this way with the guitar scales that you learn! You need to learn them so well that you don’t have to think when you play them. It must become as easy as tying your shoelaces. Sure… you might think about the IDEAS you want to convey when you solo, but you don’t want to be thinking about the scale itself. If you do, then fluent and creative improvisation will be impossible.
So what’s the answer? It’s pretty simple. Keep practicing that scale until you don’t have to think! If it takes a month…great! If it takes six months…no problem! Just stick at that one scale until it has been totally mastered.