Guitar Scales: Scales That Will Make You Sound Like No One Else
Guitar scales are something that you have heard thousands of times, but they are a great way to create improvisational ideas, and they won't limit you as some people think. Every note in a scale creates a sound that you can decide to start from and take it where you want.
Most people restrict them to play in one box shape (usually that's the minor pentatonic scale), but you shouldn't limit yourself to just one scale. Here is a multitude of guitar scales that you can use to improve solos, improve your speed, and much more.
Top 5 Guitar Scales
E Major Guitar Scale (Open Position)
The E Major Scale is a great scale to learn, it's simple to learn and it's great your start off to practice scales because it doesn't contain any sharps or flats. You can play the E Major Scale in many other positions, such as starting from the 3rd fret on the 'A' and building from there.
The best practice that you can do is get comfortable with the E Major Scale in the open position, play it up and down a few times and then play it on a E Major backing track and start jamming. Don't worry about hitting wrong notes or getting it right the first time, just jam along and start to make some cool sounds. Once you are comfortable with the open position, you can start in other areas and do the same exercise.
Here is a guitar scale chart to help you start the open string position.
And here is a C Major scale chart in the 'A' string position starting at the 3rd fret. You can easily make it a E Major Scale by starting off the first note as an 'E' note.
E Minor Harmonic Guitar Scale
This guitar scale is very popular with jazz and heavy metal music, it can make your guitar solos sound exotic. This guitar scale will spice up your playing, and it will make you sound miles better than average guitar players who usually use the regular minor pentatonic scale.
The concept of practicing this scale is the same as practicing any other guitar scale. Play around with it, get comfortable with it and then play it with a backing track and try to create cool licks. Creating your licks from a different sounding scale like the E Harmonic minor will bring your phrasing to another level.
Here is the guitar scale chart:
E Hirajoshi Guitar Scale
This guitar scale is not a very known one, but you can create some fantastic and exotic sounds. This scale will give you a Japanese sound, so it's not your standard guitar scale. If you want to stand out and sound different, then this scale will make ALL the difference. Practice it, get used to it, and try to make as many licks as you can out of it. If you hypothetically practice with only this scale and stick to that Japanese sound, then that will become a part of your sound and when it comes time to improvise, your music that comes out will sound accordingly.
The guitar scale chart:
If you have listened to guitar players like Marty Friedman, you will find that he uses this scale a lot and is one reason why his playing sounds so unique. You will not find a guitar player that sounds like him. You will find a lot of guitarists who do sound the same, and the reason is that they use the same licks and scales that are used which to build their solos.
Incase you are interested here is the hirajoshi scale in action:
Combine this hirajoshi scale along with the E Minor Harmonic scale, and you can create something that will sound magical.
Practicing all these scales will take time, but you don't have to do them all. Only pick the ones that you like the sound of the most and keep trying to make your own phrases based on those scales.
BONUS TIP!: A good idea is to study solos from other guitar players. If you were to listen the first solo from Megadeth's, "Five Magics" for example, you will be able to hear the hirajoshi scale in action. Guitar solos are also a great way to form your own solos.
If there is a solo you love, make it your own by changing the phrases to something that you would want to hear.
In summary, here is a step by step guide that you can follow if you are an overthinker and not sure what to do next. Remember to do this every day to get faster results. As the old saying goes - "The more you put in, the more you get out."
1) Pick a guitar scale that you like the sound of.
2) Get used to that scale by playing in one position, up and down. (The idea here is to get used to the fingering, shape, and most importantly the sound.
3) Put on a backing track in the key of the scale. For example, if you have picked the C Major Guitar Scale then go to YouTube and select a C Major backing track.
4) Start experimenting, hit random notes, and mess around and start making sounds that you would want to hear. This is the most significant step, there is a lot of trial and error, but over time you will find the sound that you are looking for.
(You will notice that if you don't experiment with a backing track and use the scale to create sounds that you like; you may be unable to use those licks on individual backing tracks. This is perfectly fine, and down the track you will be able to use your ear to connect the right licks to your backing tracks. A creative idea is to use those licks that don't work on the backing tracks and use them in a way that flows with the song. If the licks is a really fast lick and the backing track is slow, then you can slow down the lick and play it in a way that sounds in-line with the backing track)
5) Repeat. Consistency is the most important thing; if you are only practicing once in a while, you won't get anywhere. Make sure that you are practicing as often as possible.