Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

How to practice scales on beginner level?

Hi everybody,

I would like to start practicing scales and as I searched the internet, I got more confused than getting an idea of what would be the best way to practicing scales on my level.

Here are some questions I would like to know:

Should I go down the chromatic scale from first to twentysecond fret, knowing each tone on a single string?

Would it be better to use as many open strings as possible and move between the strings to create the tone in a specific scale like G major or A major and so on?

Or should I use F-shape, D-shape and barre and go up and down the neck?

Mayby there is allready a lesson, but i didn`t find one the fits for my questions.

Thank you for helping me.

Ralf (Banjostudent since 09-2018)

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Hey Ralf! I’d say it depends on your goals. If you’re wanting to learn Scruggs style, playing straight scales might not be conducive to that end. It’s rare that you play a scale start to finish until you start getting into melodic playing.

Now, if you’re just looking to learn the X, Y, and Barre positions on the neck, I made a chord chart sheet some time ago that may help with that. I just checked the post here where I uploaded it, and the link is broken. Let me know if you’d like a copy and I’ll upload it again.

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Hi Mark,

nice to hear you again.

I have no specific goal. I just realized, that practicing scales is very important. But there are many different ways to practice scales. So the most important question for me is to know, what are the goals on my level and how to practice to reach these goals.

As I started here from the scratch, I gues I learn Scruggs style first. But maybe it is independent to the style how to practice scales?

I would like to beginn my banjolessons with useful scale practice to get a good base in understanding the fretboard. Additionaly I am reading books about music theory to get a deeper understanding of scales,chords and intervals.

I would like to get a copy of your chord chart sheet. I guess it cant be a fault :wink:

BanjoCombinedChordInversions.pdf (318.3 KB)

Here’s that chart. And if it’s the fretboard you’re really wanting to learn, you can’t go wrong with Ben and Alan’s Fretboard Geography lesson series.

You can then take it a step further with Ben’s Waypoints lessons.

I’m sure he has a Waypoints lesson in D coming out soon. Then, hopefully an additional lesson to show us how to tie them all together.

Well shoot. The upload link appears to be broken already. If it’s not working for you, send me your email address in a private message and I’ll get it over to you.

Thank you for the lessons to go through :ok_hand:

Hi Ralf, I’d second @Mark_Rocka 's advice.

Particularly the Fretboard Geography with Alan Munde and the Waypoints lessons. These are in a sense lessons on scales but not taught in the way that scales are traditionally taught.

Personally I have never been much of a fan of learning endless scales and I do believe @BanjoBen doesn’t delve too deeply into learning scales in his lessons. But if that’s the path you seek to follow then you might care to take a look Pat Cloud’s book Key to the Five String Banjo. Despite the title, the book only introduces you to scale patterns and not much else.

Just to be clear I don’t endorse this book, I bought it on someone else’s advice. I stuck at it for six months before I gave up, it now rests at the bottom of a stack of other books that also came highly recommended which equally failed to meet my expectations.

Check out this lesson, too!

Hi Archie,

thank you for the booktip. I think this is what I am looking for.

I will try it :grinning:

Thank you, Ben :ok_hand::grinning:

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