How I practice scales


#1

I don’t play scales to learn scales, I play them to work on my picking. I play a relentless stream of 8th notes and I don’t have to think about what note comes next. My picking is getting better, and at times I get a real natural feeling of how it should be. I’m not there yet, but I’m progressing. Still hoping to loosen up my wrist a lot more. Hope this can either help someone with some ideas about how to practice picking, or get me some additional advice…!

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9LeSSKufEE[/video]
[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=napk_uMzZLE[/video]


#2

That looks like an awesome way to practice scales, Julian. I would love to put something like that together. Nice playing too.


#3

Ha, I’m exausted and you did all the work! :laughing:


#4

Very nice!


#5

These vids will not play for me and i can not figure it out…all other videos on here or “anywhere” play for me on my computer besides for these 2…any ideas?

Oldhat


#6

Dunno, but I just changed them from ‘unlisted’ to ‘public’, so maybe that will help. I don’t want to clog youtube up with vids of me practicing some boring scales, so I made them ‘unlisted’. But they should still have played, as far as I understand.


#7

Hey Julian,

How well does this translate into improvising or creating your own breaks? I bet you can hear something in your head and go right to it on the guitar. You are like a machine playing those scales man! :laughing:

I just started really practicing using the metronome and it’s a blast and improving my timing a ton. I find my foot just starts tapping when I’m playing without it and the stuff I play sounds a lot more musical and has a flow to it. Great tool.


#8

Julian…great work…appreciate sharing that practice…its desert like that one can take to the couch and play for hours that is fun and makes a better player …thanks a million
jack


#9

— Begin quote from "TNTaylor414"

How well does this translate into improvising or creating your own breaks? I bet you can hear something in your head and go right to it on the guitar. You are like a machine playing those scales man! :laughing:

— End quote

I can improvise, but mostly just arppegios and things like that. To get a really good break, I think you have to work it out note-for note like Ben does. That’s too much work for me.

— Begin quote from "TNTaylor414"

I just started really practicing using the metronome and it’s a blast and improving my timing a ton. I find my foot just starts tapping when I’m playing without it and the stuff I play sounds a lot more musical and has a flow to it. Great tool.

— End quote

That IS my foot, not a metronome. I was always told to use a metronome since I was a little kid, but I don’t believe in metronomes. I think they allow you to get away with glossing over the difficult parts of a piece. Without the metronome, you have to face the fact that the hard parts don’t sound as good as the easy parts. Or maybe I just haven’t thought it through very well.

When my timing is off, it’s because my picking hand isn’t able to do what I expect it to do. But I’m getting better (much better now than in those vids) and my picking is getting more and more natural-feeling. So, metronome or no, until my picking improves, my timing won’t sound good.

Thanks everyone, for all the comments.


#10

Hey everybody,

Has anyone tried practicing with your metronome on backbeats?? I recently discovered this and I got to say it helps me getting more feeling into the scale practicing. I think of it as a mando chop…

/David


#11

Hey David,
How have you been? I hadn’t seen you on in a while, welcome back! On the metronome, I switch things up sometimes. I’ll normally do metronome beats on 1 and 3, but I’ll switch 2 and 4 or 1, 2, 3, 4 or sometimes just 1. I haven’t done that much recently and I probably need to do it some more. I think switching it around helps me out both in my internal timing and sometimes, it helps with the feel of a given thing I am working on.

Julian, I really like your scales combined with rhythm idea. Thanks for posting. It makes scales more fun to play. I know you said you didn’t do it to work on scales but rather right hand technique, but I have started doing something similar to help with me scales themselves. I need to get them better ingrained. In particular I am playing two octave open string scales and using the open strings as necessary to change position. For example, when playing a C scale, I start at the C root, play the scales for one octave, that takes me to the B string first fret. Then I play the D on the second fret, the open high E string gives me a chance to change to the fifth position, then I continue on up with the F on the 6th fret of the B string (with second finger to set up for the remaining notes), G on the B string 8th, A on E string 5th, B on E string 7 and C on the E string 8th fret. Then I play the scale descending. I have also played with doing the descending part by staying in the higher position and playing downward. For anyone who was looking at Doc’s block forms, I think that would be block form 1 in the C example, but I most the time I change position as I would like those changes to be more automatic. I am currently doing scales of G, C, D and while I have the fingerings for G and C fresh in mind I am also doing the G and C relative minor scales (Em and Am) since the notes are the same. That has my scales pretty well covered for the key of G. Last night I started doing my F scale a little and will probably start working on the key of C a bit more and I’ll work on A major to cover the key of D soon.

Thanks again for posting it Julian.


#12

I was just reading an article by Brad Davis where he suggests setting the metronome to click on every beat but playing between the clicks - essentially the metronome is clicking on the “and” of the beat. I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems like it might be a useful drill.


#13

I bet I could use the metronome on the “ands” for a beat or maybe two. :frowning: I bet that would take some practice for me to get comfy with. I’ll give it a try at some point.


#14

Hi there Mike, and thank you!
Well, long story short, my wife suffers from depression and burned out syndrome, so from time to time I don’t have much time over for personal interest as my guitar playing, but I regularly pay a visit to to this site and read all new posts.

I got to say Larry, it seems you have read so much about everything and always have good literary references, Im impressed!
Where did you find the article about Brad? Would be interesting to read.

/David


#15

David, I am sorry to hear about that. I have been through similar things with family members in the past. I know it can be very difficult. It seems like it’s been a rough year for many of the forum members. Hopefully 2013 will be year with pleasant surprises for us.


#16

I don’t know how well read I am, but I do tend to dig through my Flatpicking Guitar magazine from cover to cover pretty much as soon as I get it, and that’s where the Brad Davis article is from. It’s a short column about practicing timing in the current (January/February) issue.


#17

— Begin quote from "Julian"

I don’t play scales to learn scales, I play them to work on my picking. I play a relentless stream of 8th notes and I don’t have to think about what note comes next. My picking is getting better, and at times I get a real natural feeling of how it should be. I’m not there yet, but I’m progressing. Still hoping to loosen up my wrist a lot more. Hope this can either help someone with some ideas about how to practice picking, or get me some additional advice…!

Great idea! I’m late to the party but I think you’ve got something. I’ll give it a try this weekend. Thanks!!

Mike

— End quote


#18

Juian,

Finally got your vids to work back a few weeks ago…was something in my “silverlight” program on my pc that was blocking it from playing, so I deleted that and reloaded the new version and I was good to go.

Was wondering if you have ever thought of doing the “circle of 5ths” in this manner. Once I seen your video I started thinking that this would be the “ultimate” way in learning the fretboard. So you’d start out strumming a progression in say “G”, whip out the g major scale. Then you’d change to a D chord (is the 5th of G) do a progression in D then buzz over the d major scale…then you’d change to the 5th of D which is A, do a progression in A then buzz over the A major scale…then take the 5th of A which is E major…rinse and repeat until you are through all 12 tones on the guitar by going in 5ths.


#19

I’m pretty sure his arm would break off if he tried that! :smiley:


#20

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Julian, I really like your scales combined with rhythm idea. Thanks for posting. It makes scales more fun to play. I know you said you didn’t do it to work on scales but rather right hand technique, but I have started doing something similar to help with me scales themselves. I need to get them better ingrained. In particular I am playing two octave open string scales and using the open strings as necessary to change position…

— End quote

When I made those vids, I was mostly using the G scale because it gave me a full 2 octaves without going up the neck. Perfect for building speed.

But yeah, I need to learn 2 (or more?) octave scales for all the major chords. I’m familiar enough with the guitar neck that I can play them, just not at full speed. One problem I have is that – in closed position scales up above 1st position – I occasionally use slides or bends to sound a note during fast playing. This is a bad habit learned when I played a lot of electric guitar.

So much to learn…!

— Begin quote from "oldhat"

Finally got your vids to work back a few weeks ago…was something in my “silverlight” program on my pc that was blocking it from playing, so I deleted that and reloaded the new version and I was good to go.

Was wondering if you have ever thought of doing the “circle of 5ths” in this manner.

— End quote

I’ve never really done it. Mostly, scales are for my right hand since I feel fairly confident in my left hand at this point.

When I was a kid taking violin lessons, I did all that sort of stuff. Serious classical violin students do an hour of scales (and related things like arppegios) per day, so it gets a bit much unless you’re really, really into it.

I’m going to play around with your suggestion, thanks for the explanation.