Beginner Guitar Lessons: Playing scales

You know how to play a few chords, but what's next? TG's beginner guitar lessons are here to walk you through the essentials. Here we look at playing scales.

Practise guitar scales, get more accurate

As you'll have seen from previous lessons, scales are what you use as the basis of your guitar solos. Practising them for a few minutes every day will help you hone your alternate picking technique, help make your fretting hand more accurate and - with the help of a metronome (see below) - improve your timing.

All of this will result in two things: your playing will be more accurate and professional sounding, and you will almost certainly become capable of playing faster. It's important that you don't play scales just to get faster. Speed is a happy by-product of trying to play more accurately. Even if you don't fancy becoming the next über shredder, practising scales is still important.

Using a metronome

Open the 'Playing a minor pentatonic scale with a metronome' tab (Right-click to download)

A metronome is a device used to give a steady, constant pulse for you to practise to. It is also referred to as a click track, especially in studios. Metronomes are fairly cheap (they're available for as little as £15), and if you're thinking of getting into guitar you should probably invest in one.

To start off with, set your metronome to 100 beats per minute (bpm). Then, using a single note, try to play every time there's a click. The key is to anticipate when the click sounds and play at exactly the same time. It may take you a while to get this right - so don't feel bad if it takes you 100 attempts. Once you feel comfortable playing one note per click, try playing two notes per click. Once you feel comfortable with that, try this example (the tempo here is slower as it's more difficult to play).

Tip: Play two notes of the scale for each click of the metronome. Make sure the notes are evenly spaced. Remember to alternate pick - or else!