I Can’t Believe We’re Talking About (Guitar) Practice!

Okay, so today we’ll be talking about practicing. I know that everyone has their own way about it, but this is something sure to help. What I like to do is practice scales & modes. The reason simply put is that it adds SO MUCH flavor to you solos! It doesn’t even matter whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran guitar player, trust me, this will do wonders for your playing almost instantly!

SMG_Modes

Now getting down to business, I suggest that you begin by going down to one of those big-box chain guitar stores like Guitar Center or Sam Ash (they seem to usually have decent selections) and buy the fattest book they have on scales & modes. If your strapped for cash, you can Google the term “Scales and Modes” and  probably find something good to print out. For maximum results, practice time on this should be one hour daily for 30 days straight (so mark your calendar when you start) and you will definitely see a major improvement in your soloing.

Check out some examples of situations that you can relate to:

  • Being in a rut (don’t know what to play or practice, bored)
  • Wanting to learn a guitar solo by guys like Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen.         Believe it or not, all those dudes solos are based on scales & modes all mixed in.
  • Want a quick fix to upgrading your skills.
  • Show off to other shredders, the minute you play a e harmonic minor at full speed watch their eyes.

I think you get the point. One other thing, buy yourself a metronome when you practice these. This is an absolute must! Alright, my guitar is restless and I must rock this joint… till next time!

Shred and Wake the Dead

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  • what about arpeggios? what about practicing melody lines?

  • Jacob

    be honest, no shredder is gonna be impressed with e harmonic minor… it’s the first scale that anyone interested in neo-classical shred is going to learn.

    practicing your scales and modes are important, but you don’t have to buy a book at all. just remember your half-whole patterns for major and minor, and then practice your scales starting from any note other than the tonic. there are only 7 modes, and chances are you already know two of them. Books may be helpful, but I find it is much more helpful to have to exercise the theory behind scales and modes.

    in response to pami (classical guitar referrence?), you’re right, that focusing solely on scales is not gonna cut it. there is also no such thing as a “quick fix”. If you want to improve your skills on the instrument, don’t neglect ANY aspect of playing, or it will set you back some. when you perform, you can’t just play the scalar motion sections, and save the arpeggios and what-not for later, so why take that shortcut in your practice? try practicing arpeggios for each chord quality (major, minor, half and whole diminished, augmented, major and minor 7s) in each position and learn WHAT CHORD each arpeggio shape belongs to… apply your CAGED theory, and voila. As far as melody lines go, you can practice that by playing along with the radio… But play what the singer is doing, and try to capture that style. Old children’s songs and such are good too. Then just sing a melody, and try to play it.

    • Mickey

      Well, if you’re a beginner I think you should disregard what Jacob said (beginners don’t have a good enough grasp of the difference between major and minor scales). If you’re not taking lessons, and you’re just starting out, I think a book could be helpful. How else are you going to get ideas for exercises to practice if you don’t have a teacher? The internet can sometimes have too much information for a beginner, and they don’t know which info they should pay attention to and what is crap. But let’s face it, no matter what, the best way to get better is practice, practice, and more practice.

  • Jon

    “those dudes solos are based on scales & modes all mixed in”
    You’re talking about Modes as if they are not Scales, some readers may find this confusing. After all you really only need to learn the Major Scale pattern in every position and that is all 7 Diatonic modes covered, including Aeolian so you have learned the Major and its relative Minor scale pattern in one hit all over the fretboard.

  • Full disclosure: I’m about to plug my own site.

    I’m a big fan of practicing scales and modes, too – so much so that I made a web app to generate drills for me. At http://guitarcardio.com/, you can select the keys and scales you’re interested in, and it’ll generate a set of exercises for you.

    The other thing I urge guitar student to do is go to YouTube and search “joe satriani modes” – he gives a great explanation of how modes fit into his music and hearing him explain it and play through examples really helped me understand how modes contribute to the sound of a piece.

    • Mickey

      Brad, Thanks for sharing that link to your app. It looks really cool!

  • Jamie

    @Pami I think appragios are kind of tough for a beginner. To start off with, I think it makes more sense to start with pentatonic and major scales for an hour a day until your fingers hurt (to get those callouses started!). And learn ascending and descending scales, which will definitely help with leads.

  • Frank

    Disregard what Mickey said. Get an E-Z Chord device and you are good to go! Now if they only would invent an E-Z Arpeggio device…Of course, someone in China would bootleg an E-Z Chord/Arpeggio device and make the other devices obsolete. Never mind-Mickey is right. Practice, practice, practice!

  • Mickey

    LMAO Frank!

  • Jacob

    be honest, no shredder is gonna be impressed with e harmonic minor… it's the first scale that anyone interested in neo-classical shred is going to learn.

    practicing your scales and modes are important, but you don't have to buy a book at all. just remember your half-whole patterns for major and minor, and then practice your scales starting from any note other than the tonic. there are only 7 modes, and chances are you already know two of them. Books may be helpful, but I find it is much more helpful to have to exercise the theory behind scales and modes.

    in response to pami (classical guitar referrence?), you're right, that focusing solely on scales is not gonna cut it. there is also no such thing as a “quick fix”. If you want to improve your skills on the instrument, don't neglect ANY aspect of playing, or it will set you back some. when you perform, you can't just play the scalar motion sections, and save the arpeggios and what-not for later, so why take that shortcut in your practice? try practicing arpeggios for each chord quality (major, minor, half and whole diminished, augmented, major and minor 7s) in each position and learn WHAT CHORD each arpeggio shape belongs to… apply your CAGED theory, and voila. As far as melody lines go, you can practice that by playing along with the radio… But play what the singer is doing, and try to capture that style. Old children's songs and such are good too. Then just sing a melody, and try to play it.

  • howard

    “buy the fattest book they have on scales & modes.”

    i stopped reading here.

    modes have their place. but more important is learning the scale it is derived from, how to harmonize that scale, and actually learning theory. running modes out of a giant book full of patterns isn’t going to teach you anything. learn how the fretboard works and make music.

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