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Lead Guitar Scales – Which to Choose?

Lead Guitar Scales – Which to Choose?

Of all the lead guitar scales that are available to choose from, which one should you choose to solo in?

Well, for starters, there may be fewer lead guitar scales to choose from than you might be thinking there are! Many guitar teachers will tell you that you need to learn all seven modes, and learn how to solo in each of the seven.

Now I’m not going to argue that the modes are a valid way of looking at guitar scales; because clearly many great players have used this approach successfully.

However, I DO think that approaching the guitar with a modes-based mentality is outdated, and that there is a more efficient way.

Modes came out of classical piano theory, and they work great on the piano.

The problem comes when people go about applying piano theory to guitar theory…

Clearly, the guitar fretboard is a vastly different environment than the piano keyboard. So, picking lead guitar scales to play with should work differently as well.

In the Guitar Scale Patterns course, I teach just three main positions to solo from, and by using these three positions (patterns) you can very effectively cover the entire fretboard in every key.

Specifically, the two most important scales off the 6th string (I call this Root 6): the major scale and the relative minor scale. The third pattern I use is nearly identical to the Root 6 relative minor, it is the Root 5 relative minor. You’re actually playing the exact same notes as the relative minor scale, you’re just starting in a different place.

I don’t know about you, but personally I far prefer only having to remember three lead guitar scales than seven!

Lead Guitar Scales – Which to Choose?

So, let’s get back to the original question: which of the lead guitar scales should we use when soloing?

With just three options to choose from, this becomes a much simpler question to answer. Typically, I will make my selection based on where I want to be playing on the fretboard. If I want to start off the solo in the lower range, then I pick the relevant pattern that is represented in the lower part of the fretboard, and often towards the end of a solo, I will end up in the higher regions, in a different pattern. There are various ways of connecting these scales, which I get into in the course.

My all time favorite of the lead guitar scales is the relative minor pattern (root 6); the minor scale is simply beautiful on the guitar both for its sound and how the fingerings line up. The minor scale is easier to solo with than the major scale, even though many people teach you to solo using the major scale.

If you find the fretboard complicated and confusing, then you really need to checkout the Guitar Scale Patterns course. Choosing lead guitar scales does not have to be a complicated process; it can be intuitive and straightforward, if you approach it right.

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If you want to know what Dave is talking about, you can find the Guitar Scale Patterns course here. You’ll never approach lead guitar scales the same again!