Scales are an incredibly useful tool that can be used to generate a seemingly infinite number of musical ideas. But if you don’t have the ability to play them smoothly and effortlessly, then it can be a much slower process learning to make music with them.
For this reason, I think that it’s extremely valuable to work on the basic finger movements that are used when playing scales. By focusing on these important movements, and by learning to master them, you’ll gain a technical mastery over scales much faster.
I give you advanced warning now, that practicing these scale movements isn’t the most exciting thing in the world to do. But I have to admit that working hard at them was one of the best things that I ever did for my technique when I started playing guitar. I occasionally go back and work on them anytime I feel my scale technique is getting a bit on the sloppy side. :-)
Let’s take a look at the first exercise for this lesson…
Guitar Scale Technique Exercise 1: Practice For Five Minutes
This exercise focuses on developing the 1 2 4 finger combination. It needs to be practiced in a very specific way to get the most value from it. Because of this, I highly recommend watching the video below…
Now that we’ve looked at an exercise that uses the 1 2 4 finger combination, let’s now take a look at one that uses the 1 3 4 finger combination…
Guitar Scale Technique Exercise 2: Practice For Five Minutes
I’ve noticed that this exercise is harder than the first one for quite a few of the people that I’ve taught over the years. The main problem seems to happen when the third finger plays. It’s very common for the fourth finger to curl up with tension when the third finger plays. So when you practice this exercise, be sure to watch out for this.
All of the practice recommendations from Fingering Training: Lesson 1 apply to these exercises as well. So be sure to quickly review that lesson before starting to work on the two exercises in this lesson.
As well as all the recommendations from that lesson, I also think it’s a good idea doing the following…
- Don’t allow your first finger to ever lose contact with the string. When it’s not being used to play a note, it should remain lightly touching the string that you’re practicing the exercise on.
- Play the finger combination around four or five times and then move down one fret. Continue this process until you have done five minutes practice on the exercise.
- Focus on keeping the finger that isn’t being used in the exercise totally still and relaxed. For Example: When doing the first exercise, you’ll need to make sure that your third finger doesn’t waggle about too much. Try to keep it hovering just a little bit above the string that you’re playing on.
- Practice the exercises at the beginning of your practice session. These exercises make great warm-up exercises, so if you do them at the beginning you can work on your technique at the same time as you warm-up.
A Few Last Words
There are many scales that use the 1 2 4 and 1 3 4 finger combinations. So, if you’re new to scales, it’s very important that you include these exercises as part of your weekly practice schedule. Even if you’re more advanced, going back to these fundamental finger movements and refining them further can only help. :-)