Learning scales is essential for your development as a guitar player. The first step in learning music faster with the guitar is knowledge of scales. So by practicing your scales, you’ll be able to build finger strength, start shredding and even write your own songs.
Essentially, scales are organized sequences of notes played in an ascending or descending order.
Therefore, we separated the 2 most essential guitar scales that every beginner should know: the Pentatonic scale and the Major scale.
A pentatonic scale is a popular five-note scale that you’ll need to know for riffs, solos and melodies, especially for rock and blues. The major pentatonic scale is taken out of the major scale (see below later). The easiest one is the C major pentatonic scale: C D E G A C.
A Minor Pentatonic Scale
Guitarists usually start with practicing the A minor pentatonic scale which has the same notes as the C major pentatonic scale but in another order: A C D E G A.
This is the first shape of A minor pentatonic scale you should learn and practice on you guitar:
For a better overview, the A is highlighted wherever it appears. The numbers within the circles show you which finger you should use (1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4= pinky).
A famous song that utilizes the A minor pentatonic scale is “Stairway to Heaven” from Led Zeppelin. After getting the hang with the pentatonic scale, it is recommended to get into the C major scale to expand your expressiveness.
The major scale is a set of seven notes with characteristic intervals between them (W W H W W W H, where W = whole step, H = half step). You can read more about the Major scale here.
The easiest one is the C major scale C D E F G A B C.
C Major Scale
The C major scale is an absolute must for guitarists and musicians in general. It’s considered the easiest key for musicians to learn because it doesn’t contain any confusing sharp or flat notes.
As with the A minor pentatonic scale, there’re different shapes to play a C major scale, here’s the first shape:
For a better overview, the C itself is highlighted wherever it appears. A famous song which uses the C major scale is “Let it be” from The Beatles.
A power chord is a two-note chord, with no major or minor quality to it. This is because power chords are just made up of the root and the fifth of the chord. The part that usually gives the chord a major or minor quality is left out of power chords.
For example, the power chord of C is made of only the notes C and G, the first and the fifth notes of the scale. As a result, the power chord is written as the name of the chord followed by the number 5. So the power chord of C is usually written as C5 on chord charts or tabs.
The great thing about power chords is once you have the shape down, you can just move them all around the fretboard.
In contrast to power chords, major chords, like minor chords, are combinations of three or more notes. Any chord has two attributes which identify it: The root and the chord family. The lowest note of the chord forms the root of it. So for example, a major chord with root note C is called a C major chord and starts on the C note.
The Major Chord
Often described as “happy chords”, major chords are probably the most important chords in music, composing the core of countless songs. A major chord is a triad, which means it is a chord made up of three different notes.
The formula for a major chord in chromatic scale is 1st, 5th and 8th note. So for example C major chord would be formed by the bold notes below:
So C, E and G form the C major chord
The first major chords you should learn are E and A.
Later you can shift them up the fretboard as barre chords, e.g. F and Bb:
Here we have a poster with basic chords patterns. You can download, print and hang it in your room to help you memorize some chords.
As we could see in our last post, being a female guitarist means hearing lots of “you play good for a girl” and some other backhanded compliment. Fortunately, this didn’t and will not stop women from rocking their guitars and pursuing what they love.
A great example of success as a female guitarist nowadays is Elizabeth Mae Hale, best known as Lzzy Hale, the singer and guitarist of Halestorm.
(Photo by Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)
Music was always present in Lzzy’s life. She began playing the piano at the age of 5, along with her brother, Arejay Hale. They were writing and performing their own original songs when she was just 13.
In 2013, Halestorm became the first female-fronted band to win a Grammy award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for their song “Love Bites (So Do I):
Halestorm – Love Bites (So Do I) [Official Video]
Rock music is a genre overflowing with men with not enough recognized female influence. However, Hale proves that it’s not just the boys who can shred on guitar and scream until it hurts.
Hale has been outspoken about fighting society standards. On her blog, she has spoken about what is expected of girls: to be pretty, not to be dirty, to be seen and not heard. She discusses the unrealistic expectation for women and our ability to break them.
After all, her music is an audible punch in the face full of energy and aggression that proves women can serve attitude and play music like a beast, despite of gender and orientation.
Lzzy Hale Explorer Dark Gibson Signature Guitar
Hence, Lzzy is a strong female figure for hard rock, and she’s been a great role model to young musicians out there. Follow Hale on her social media and listen to Halestorm’s new album: Vicious.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist, born in March 20th, 1915. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock and roll audiences. If you haven’t heard her before, watch this video as a wonderful introduction:
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: That's All
Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique, she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. She was one of the biggest black american stars during the 30’s and 40’s and she had a massive influence on the blues and rock generations to come.
“Sister Rosetta Tharpe was anything but ordinary and plain.” Bob Dylan
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Up Above My Head
It is no surprised that by that time, guitar skills was directly linked to masculinity. And Tharpe defied this gender construct, but instead of being praised for playing so uniquely and boldly, she was often offered the backhanded compliment from fans and media that she merely could “play like a man”, despite the fact that she could and did outplay many men of the time. However, this has never stopped Rosetta on shredding on her electric guitar, breaking the color line touring with white singers, and becoming one of the most essential guitarists in the history of rock and roll.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was revolutionary and disrupted the music genre with both her sex and race.
It’s quite normal to feel demotivated when learning something new, even if it is something you always wanted to do. It is proven that motivation works in waves, you’re not 100% motivated to do something all the time. So how can you improve this and keep motivated to practice your guitar every day?
Try to figure the main reason of why you are not feeling motivated to practice. Maybe is the lack of time or you can’t quite understand a new exercise, or you’re just feeling plain bored. Well, you should know that learning something new is always a challenge, but it can be as effective as possible if you focus on your goal and follow these 6 tips:
1- Define Short-Term Goals
Challenge yourself with short and achievable goals. E.g. Try doing a 14 Day Challenge: practice 15-20 minutes per day for 14 days and see how much you can learn and improve in just this little amount of time dedicated to practice. This way, you slowly build habits and embrace the idea of consistency, which is key to learning guitar. It is surprising how great your evolution can be once you create a habit.
2- Record Yourself
Following the idea of the 14 Day Challenge, why not record yourself doing so? Perhaps record the first day and the last day and compare how much progress you’ve made, this will show you that even with small amounts of time dedicated to practice, you can still achieve great results. It is always fulfilling to see evolution and improvement in ourselves, give it a try. You can use our app Fretello Stage to record yourself with some cool backing tracks to make everything even more exciting.
3- Change your Routine
Of course you’re going to be bored if you’re just doing the same exercises over and over. Even the best guitarists change their practice routine at least once every 2 weeks. You should be doing a list of exercises that will improve your skills and at the same time input different learning aspects. Your practice plan should always lead to your finals goals in the long term. With Fretello Lead app, you have personalized lessons for all levels, real time feedback and engaging exercises that are tailored to your individual goals as a musician.
4. Keep Your Guitar In Sight
Besides being a very cool decoration item, having the guitar in your living room, bedroom, especially by places you know you’re going to be sitting, is known to be extremely effective and a huge factor in motivation. So don’t waste your time and remove your guitar from the case!
5. Connect with People Who Are Also Learning Guitar
It is great to have other people going through the same experiences as you. This is perfect for motivation as you can have fun practicing with a friend, even make a little competition and set goals together. Moreover share your frustrations and help each other. There are also several online communities for people learning guitar, like Facebook groups and Reddit Forums.
6- Take a Break
You’re not a machine. You need to get some rest, your hands need a break. You will have the rest of your life to practice your guitar, so no need to rush everything now. Take some time to be inspired by other musicians, attend live concerts, look for new bands and music styles to listen to. Although you’re not actually practicing your guitar, you are practicing your ears, your creativity and your mind.
Remember, it’s normal to feel demotivated sometimes, but it is important you acknowledge it, and realize you can do something about it. Start small and simple, until you are able to create a habit. Don’t let this feeling get away with your dreams and goals of playing guitar.
What do you do to keep motivated to practice constantly every day?
Just like you stretch before exercising, you should do the same before you start playing your guitar.
Warming up before practicing is fundamental, because your hands need to be well supplied with blood to enhance your flexibility and efficiency, and prevent injuries. When warming up, you’re mentally and physically preparing yourself for playing the guitar.
So here are 4 warm-up exercises you should start doing before practicing:
#1 If it’s cold: Wash your hands with warm water
Playing the guitar with cold hands is the worst. So the first thing you should do is running your hands under warm water, it will improve your blood circulation, loosen up your muscles and it will help preventing injuries.
#2 Massage your hands
By taking on work that needs to be repeated several times, the hand muscles tend to tighten up. In order to loosen them, get a hand massage. Massaging your hands will also increase the blood flow in the hands.
#3 Play something that is not demanding for your hands
Try playing some simple exercises, melodies and/or chord progression. Here is an example of exercise you can do as a warm-up:
#4 Light stretching exercises
Last thing is lightly stretching your fingers, but take it easy. Don’t do it when you are feeling uncomfortable or if you are injured. Stretching your fingers helps enhancing flexibility, it lengthens tight muscles and it also helps preventing injuries.
Be sure you’re warming up before playing the guitar, by having a good routine in place, you’ll be able to enjoy the guitar for as long as you wish.
We’ve gathered a list of the 6 best music documentaries about guitar players you can watch on Netflix. These inspiring films contain performances that are unique and as essential to understanding these artists as any of their records, exposing their vision, reality and struggles in exclusive footage. Prepare to feel a mix of emotions watching your favorite musicians from a different perspective.
The encounter between the guitarists of Led Zeppelin, U2 and The White Stripes lead this amazing documentary on the electric guitar from their point of view, history, philosophy and their completely different styles. A reunion of three different generations of guitarists, where the passion for music is clear in the dialogues and memories. This documentary is a must-see for any guitarist or music enthusiast.
A courageous and transparent documentary that shows the band through the three most turbulent years of their long career. The documentary exposes their battle through addiction, lineup changes, fan backlash, personal turmoil and consequently, the near-disintegration of the group during the making of their “St. Anger” album.
This Oscar-winning documentary tells the almost unbelievable story of a Mexican-American songwriter whose two early 70’s albums bombed in America, but who ended up finding a huge audience in Apartheid-era South Africa. If you’ve never heard of Sixto Rodriguez, this documentary is an inspiring and moving introduction to this humble and talented man.
This is the deepest documentary about George Harrison, directed by Martin Scorsese, the film brings extreme attention to detail, approaching from the frustration of not having more of his songs included in the albums to his involvement with Eastern spiritual philosophy, love affairs and his successful after-Beatles career.
The Emmy-winning music documentary explores the colorful history of iconic US rock band The Eagles. The movie brings nostalgia and the honest truth of the band musical path, including the highs as the great songs and sold out concerts, but also the lows, the friction between members of the band, problems with substance abuse, and struggles for control.
The Netflix Original documentary has Keith Richards talking about what made him get back into the studio with a solo album and his influences on it. The documentary follows the guitarist while touring with The Rolling Stones on their 2015 tour. Furthermore, it covers preparation of his solo album Crosseyed Heart.
This is our list of best music documentaries you can watch on Netflix. Have you watched any of these documentaries? Tell us what is the best music documentary you have ever watched.
Have you ever felt like not making any progress, despite playing a lot? In this post, I am going to tell you the secret of how to become the guitar player you always wanted to be: You have to practice guitar to get better. That is it. That is the secret of how to get better at guitar. Well, we all know that it is not as easy as it reads.
Even if you play a lot, playing by itself without direction, clear structure or thought behind it will not get you to the level you want to achieve. You will hit the wall just like I did at high school: Playing the same snippets, of the same old songs over and over again, making the same mistakes over and over again, in the end not progressing at all. So we know the secret is practice, but how do you actually practice?
Practice and play in equal amounts
If you are working on some songs anything is permitted. Take strumming patterns as an example: When learning new rhythms, you do not have to be quite so militant about avoiding mistakes. While simplifying and slowing down is helpful, learning rhythms also involve the mysterious process of “getting into the groove.” It requires that you relax, stop worrying about sounding bad and try to feel the beat. Once you take the strum pattern in, you have plenty of time to get rid of the mistakes as you strum that pattern over and over again.
When you practice, on the other hand, you have to follow a good routine for lasting success. Make sure you have a checklist to follow and mark each task as completed. Our Fretello app can take care of this for you. I know, practicing sounds like work, but it will help you reach your goals whether you want to learn easy acoustic songs or become the next Joe Bonamassa.
Practice guitar consistently
You have to practice consistently, preferably daily, for ongoing progress and lasting success. The more you do something, the faster your brain can instruct your muscles to carry out a task. In this process, you need to understand that there is an optimal amount of time to spend on any problem per practice session. In general, it is enough to spend 5 to 7 minutes on average per exercise. But the most important thing is to stop practicing before you get tired, lose focus and get sloppy in your execution. Instead, practice daily and twice a day when possible. Consistent practice not only makes perfect, but it also makes permanent.
Keep in mind that your brain remembers mistakes the exact same way it remembers correct technique, so be sure to get it right. When you repeat mistakes again and again, you build muscle memory with those mistakes, which makes it even harder to overcome them later.
Practice slowly to play fast and accurately
We have already seen that speed is important. This continues to be true for learning riffs, licks, and solos. Do not try to learn them at full speed, not even at the maximum speed you can play them. Start slow to avoid mistakes. You actually learn what you do, not what is correct. The more you try to rush the process, the greater your chances are that bad habits form and ultimately frustration will set in.
Repeat licks and riffs with a metronome at reasonable slow tempo until you can play them cleanly. Only then, gradually increase the tempo. A slow tempo has no absolute value. It refers to a tempo where awareness of finger movements and mistakes is guaranteed. That is why our Fretello app measures your maximum tempo before you start practicing and sets the correct slower practice tempo.
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With Fretello, you can become the guitar player you always wanted to be. Download the Fretello Lead app, grab your guitar and start practicing now!
Do not try to learn entire songs in one sitting. Divide them into manageable parts of several measures and focus on the individual parts before you start connecting them. Practice each section individually at a reasonable slow tempo and increase the tempo only gradually. Watch your hand as you practice guitar. Because repetition creates new neural pathways in your brain, you will not only learn songs faster by dividing them into sections it will be easier for you to remember them. Our Fretello app uses this method to teach you commonly used building blocks and patterns you find across any genre.
Practice routines naturally evolve
Practice routines are not set in stone. It is necessary to tweak things here and there. For example, the amount of time you practice guitar is up to you. You should just keep in mind to stop working on your technique if you start to get tired. But you still can add some ear training into your routine, work on some theory lessons or do some songwriting. You can also break your schedule into several sessions during the day. Make sure your schedule works for you. If you are just practicing for a few minutes a day, it is fine! The worst thing you could do is to overdo it and quit.
One thing I used to forget myself is that playing guitar is supposed to be fun. The proper technique enables you to learn and master your favorite songs and write your own music. Use backing tracks to apply techniques you learn. There are many sources on the Internet where to find proper backing tracks that suit your style. One of them is our backing track catalog. It allows you to practice to pop, rock, blues, heavy metal and classical music backing tracks in any key for free. Check out the following examples:
It is also okay if you hate to practice guitar. If you do, shorten your practice time and focus on the few technical aspects that you need to play your favorite kind of music. Our Fretello app might be helpful there. That said, practice is the only way to get better.
These are things I wish I had known when I started to learn guitar in the beginning. Learning to play guitar is not rocket science, it just requires a certain mindset.
The following bits of advice help you obtain this mindset and approach learning as a whole. They will apply whether you want to learn electric or acoustic and no matter if you are interested in playing some rock, jazz, blues, classical or heavy metal music.
Learn guitar systematically
Beyond just the basic chords, scales and strumming patterns, a good teacher can offer valuable feedback and help you avoid common mistakes that you make in the beginning. However, some of the best guitar players on this planet including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Yngwiee Malmsteen, Magnus Karlsson and Herman Li are self-taught. Thus, learning guitar by yourself at home is fine. If you want to learn fast and not develop bad habits, you have to practice systematically though. Even without a guitar teacher, it is a well structured workout routine that helped Hendrix, Clapton and co. to reach that high level of virtuosity.
Although being able to play your favorite songs might be your superior goal, the key to playing songs is to build proper technique and motor skills first. You have to understand what and how to practice, otherwise learning songs might just feel like color by numbers. I know, answering these questions can be difficult, especially if you do not know where to start, but luckily apps like Fretello can help you with that.
Everyone wants to learn guitar quickly, but it demands patience and persistence. I always wanted to learn solos and play by ear from the get go. I did not understand that the more you try to rush the process of learning guitar, the bigger your chances are that bad habits and ultimately frustration will set in. As a result, I quit playing when I was at high school. When learning guitar, commit to it for the long haul. Your ability as a player will grow in leaps and bounds by it.
However, practicing consistently does not mean that you have to practice for several hours a day to become a good player. If done properly, practicing 20 minutes 3 to 5 days a week guarantees you to progress quickly.
Stop comparing yourself to others
I remember that whenever I heard a good guitarist play I always enjoyed listening, but I also was a bit jealous because I wasn’t just as good. I constantly got the feeling that I have to run home and practice. Ego was getting in the way, especially when I played with others.
Stop comparing yourself to others right now. Compare yourself to yourself! Listen to recordings of you playing a month before. Making recordings of yourself playing is a great way to track your progress.
There will always be better guitar players than you, even if you become the next John Petrucci. Get over it.
Start practicing scales early
The thing with chords is that you always have to synchronize multiple fingers at once, which can be difficult especially if you are just about to start. If you start with scales, you have to think of only one finger at a time. Later, when you do chords, your brain already knows the specific positions because chords are just snippets of scales. As a result, you will be able to learn and execute chords much faster if you know some scales before.
The A minor pentatonic scale
In general, start with the minor pentatonic scale, especially if you are interested in rock. A large chunk of the rock library uses the minor pentatonic scale and it is easy to learn. Later, when you learn some classic rock solos you will know the shapes. It will be familiar territory, which is a great feeling even if you are a beginner. The minor pentatonic scale is also the first thing you will learn if you practice with our Fretello app.
Put into practice what you learn
Learning to play the guitar by covering songs exclusively will not help you become a good guitar player in the long run. However, although building technique and training your fine motor skills with a metronome is essential to become a good guitar player, it is also only half the truth. In fact, you have to put into practice what you learn. Backing tracks for example are a popular way to do this. As described in this post, they are important because they will help you improve your scale knowledge, technique, tone, and your sense of rhythm.
If you do not know where to find high-quality backing tracks, you can try Jamie. Jamie is a free to use chatbot for Facebook Messenger that creates high-quality backing tracks for you.
Create free backing tracks with Facebook Messenger
Learning to play some songs and strum patterns is also a good complimentary strategy. You don’t have to be quite so militant about avoiding mistakes when learning new rhythms, like a new strum pattern. While simplifying and slowing down is helpful, learning rhythms also involves the mysterious process of “getting into the groove.” It demands that you loosen up, stop worrying about sounding bad, and try to feel the music. Once you get the strum pattern down, you’ll have plenty of time to obliterate the mistakes as you strum that pattern over and over and over and over.
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With Fretello, you can become the guitar player you always wanted to be. Download the Fretello Lead app, grab your guitar and start practicing now!
If you are not where you want to be, look back and see how far you have come. Every guitar player will hit the wall at some point. If you feel like you are not progressing at all despite daily practice, best thing to do is relax and play something fun you like. Play new things for a week, try to work something out on your own, then come back to the place you were before and give it another try.
These little walls that pop up during your ascent to guitar greatness usually happen just before you reach your next level. Keep at it.
Playing guitar is also about sound
The sound coming out of your guitar is important. Find a sound that you really like. If you struggle finding it on your own, ask a friend who knows more than you or head to the next guitar store and talk to someone with a little more experience.
I remember sitting in our band room trying to play Blink 182 songs on a bridge pickup of an Epiphone Les Paul. I was thoroughly discouraged because it did just not sound right. Well, of course not! I needed a Fender Stratocaster style single coil guitar. Do not let chasing tone be your only mission, but do try to find something you like. You will enjoy playing more.