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Scales serve many purposes. They will help you understand music, how to solo, improvise, analyze chords, chord progressions, songs and many other applications that will benefit and expand your musical ability.
You need to learn and practice scales thoroughly and then use them as a tool to create music. The amount of scales out there can be overwhelming for a lot of beginner and intermediate guitar players. So do you need to learn all the scales from this top 10? No, you only need to learn the scale(s) relevant to your style of music.
A lot of musicians only use one or two scales throughout their entire musical career. Depending on your skill level and musical aspirations very few or many scales will get you where you want to be.
The questions that I get a lot is, “what scales do I need to learn first?”. This gave me the idea to create a top 10. Of course the list is arguable, incomplete and not all scales for particular types of music are included, but it gives you a good indication of the most commonly used scales for guitar. Let’s say we’re talking western music here. You got pop, rock, blues, country, metal, classical, jazz and other variations derived from these styles. Now we can take a closer look, narrow it down and see what scales are most common for each genre and which scales are used for some and most types of music.
For instance, if you only play pop, rock or country music, the first five scales (major, minor pentatonic, major pentatonic, blues and natural minor ) will suffice and can keep you busy and challenged for the rest of your life.
If you’re into blues and rock, start with the minor pentatonic and blues scale. The major pentatonic scale lends itself perfectly for country music and happy (major) mainstream rock and pop music. The major and minor scale are applicable to numerous types of music (mainstream, pop, classical, jazz, etc).
If you got these scales under your belt and you want to get more adventurous exploring Mixolydian and Dorian is a great next step. The harmonic minor scale will give you that gypsy, jazz, middle eastern kind of sound. Both harmonic minor and diminished scales are used in neoclassical rock but also in metal and jazz music. Another scale that is widely used in jazz is the melodic minor scale.
Now, let’s check out the top 10. (Click the green links for a lesson on the scale)
As you can see tablature is included.
One quick reminder:
– Practice the scales thoroughly.
– Practice scales relevant to your style of music.
– Practice the scales ascending and descending.
– Practice the scales using alternate picking.
– Practice the scales in different keys.
– Learn to use them as a tool to create music.
– Dare to explore.
1 – A Major scale Major scale lesson
2 – A Minor pentatonic scale Minor pentatonic lesson
3 – A Major pentatonic scale Major pentatonic lesson
4 – A Blues scale Blues scale lesson
5 – A Natural minor scale (Aeolian mode) Natural minor scale lesson
6 – A Dorian scale (mode) Dorian scale lesson
7 – A Mixolydian scale (mode) Mixolydian scale lesson
8 – A Harmonic minor scale Harmonic minor scale lesson
9 – A Melodic minor scale Melodic minor scale lesson
10 – A Diminished scale (whole-half) Diminished scale lesson
What is your favorite scale? Please share in the comments.