Visualization Part 1: Learn To Master Scales

By Chris Glyde

"I worded the title of this one very specifically for many reasons. Learning scales really has nothing to do with just memorizing a bunch of dots on a piece of paper that can be translated to the guitar. In fact, these dot patterns are really more like tricycle wheels for further visualization skill development anyway. When I refer to something as a tricycle wheel, I saying that it’s not the end goal and that it’s just a step along the way to help you master the skill.

"Most guitar teachers and most students of the guitar memorize the first pentatonic and then never learn how to use it to make actual music. Usually, at best, they have the five pentatonic scales together. What they are almost always lacking is real knowledge about how to use the scale properly, how to combine it with other scales and how it moves around the fretboard.

"To practice this subject, I would first select the scale type you need to work on. Here are a few examples just in case you’re not sure where to start. Your choice could be as follows:

1) Pentatonic scales (good for beginners)

2) Diatonic Scales (This would be Major and Minor scales and their 7 modes)

3) Harmonic minor

4) Melodic minor

Most of you, I imagine, will be fine working with the pentatonic scales and those that think they’re ready for the diatonic, may be surprised that their knowledge of the pentatonic is actually lacking. Let’s discuss how to test this. "This test is usually easier with a trainer/teacher of sorts to help you, but for now you’re going to do what you can on your own anyway. The first step is to clearly get the scales under your fingers. I am not a fan of walking up and down scales, I think it’s boring. So what we’re going to do is take two scale shapes and work our way up to combining them. Here’s the general process and please note, pay attention to the concept, not so much the specific example. Many of you will already be able to solo in the first pentatonic, that’s fine. I want you to learn the process/ concept for training new scales. 

1) We will take the first pentatonic and for 2 minutes play in it, just it. You can play licks you may know, you can improvise little licks on the spot. The main point is that you’re moving around in the scale and it’s not just you playing up and down a scale. You can pull up a backing track while you’re doing this just remember that visualization is about learning how to apply scales so you need some harmony in the background. (Picture of first pentatonic tablature below):

2) The second step of the process is to use a second scale, in this case we will keep things simple and use the 2nd pentatonic. You will spend another 2 minutes playing in just the 2nd pentatonic. (2nd pentatonic listed in the tab below)

Amanda SkorczAmanda Skorcz

Dylan is an incredible teacher and a reliable instructor. I've been taking lessons with Dylan for over 6 years and he has helped me improve so much over that time. He has helped me with song writing, guitar techniques, and music theory over the course of our many lessons. I highly recommend Dylan as a teacher!

Star Fire

Star Fire

"Dylan is a fantastic teacher. I've been playing on and off for 10 years and could never figure out how to solo. After only 3 months of lessons, I am soloing up and down the entire neck (and it actually sounds good!). I would highly recommend lessons with Dylan."

David Mooney

David Mooney

"I've been taking lessons from Dylan for about eight or so months now. And without a doubt, they have been an awesome eight months. its structured, but doesn't feel like a normal classroom setting where you sit and listen. He walks you through everything, and makes sure not to overwhelm you. I've learned a lot and have also started to learn bass from him, which after only two weeks is proving to be just an enjoyable. Definitely check him out if you're ever interested in Iearning how to play the guitar!"

Miguel DeJesus

Miguel DeJesus

"My son took lessons from Dylan and learned a tremendous lot! His lessons are challenging but fun! Very highly recommended."