How to learn scales and guitar solos

Scale patterns and exercises for speed, ability and dexterity

guitar scales lesson

Many music teachers might put scales in front at the very beginning of your journey, which is actually a fine idea. In my experience students can often get bored with scales until they know how they are applied. Of course its wise to sit and practice your scales, and now is the time to start. However, they become less of a chore when you can put them to music that you like.

One of the most common scales is the minor pentatonic, this is the mother of all solo scales. Now that you have some experience with tabs and songs, you will notice that many of the tabbed solos are in the minor pentatonic.

Another common scale is the Blues scale, often used in rock, R&B, and of course the Blues. When I first started playing guitar, the Blues scale was my favorite to jam on. I played it forwards, backwards and just mixed it up until I had some fun sounding music. These simple scales along with some simple chords are great ways to also start jamming with some friends, as long as you all stay in the same chord progression with the same scale, you will begin to sound like a band.

Other popular scales to know are the natural minor Scale, the major scale, Dorian mode, and mixolydian mode. Here we have our guitar scale finder tool, as you spend more time practicing these various scales you will start to pick them out in your favorite tabs and chord sheets.

As you may have noticed some songs you find online may not fit the key of your voice or may sound off. This usually means a key change is in order, and luckily scales and chords are very easy to change to different keys.

Riffs, Riffs, and More Riffs

guitar riffs

As you build on your scales and chords you will start to create your own riffs, and by now you have likely come across many famous riffs in some of your tabs.

A riff is a repeated phrase throughout the song across a set of chords and often involving a specific scale.

Some riffs are shared among musicians while others are very unique to a song. Some of the most popular music out there has some of the most memorable riffs.

In fact, if you haven't come across many riffs yet in your tabs, I highly suggest searching some of the most famous riff with our tool. This is a great way to spend a day of practice and later impress your friends. Nothing like showing off at the music store by belting out a couple memorable riffs on a guitar (just make sure you practice a lot so you don’t mess up!).

It is always fun to start learning as many riffs as possible, not only is it great practice, it can help extend your musical knowledge. As you learn riffs don’t just copy the playing and tabs, really dive in and pay attention to the structures of these riffs. Eventually you will want to create your own memorable musical moments and it helps to have a solid idea of what makes up a great riff.

This is why scales and music theory become so important, some of the greatest riffs are built on very simple scales and harmonic structures.

Always make sure to use different voice leadings by playing the same chords and scales all across the neck. While Power Chords are a great way to start playing songs, it is important to move out past power chords when creating your own riffs.

Remember you don’t have to always play every note of the chord to get a great sound. Once you have practiced your scales and chords for awhile you will start to get the hang of creating your own riffs. Mastering musical theory will allow you to have a foundation for later creativity!

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About the author

fachords ceo Hi there! I'm Gianca, a guitar teacher and a software engineer from Italy. I originally created this site to be a tool for my students, and now it's available, for free, to anyone looking to get better at guitar. To stay updated on new articles and lessons click here

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