Guitar Scales: Can You Learn Guitar Without Scales?

learn guitar without scales

If you are thinking of learning guitar, or you have just learned your first few songs, you may be wondering if it is possible to learn guitar without learning scales. Do you really need to learn guitar scales? Why are they important?

In this article we will go over some of the most common questions about guitar scales, and whether you should learn them or not.

Can I learn guitar without scales?

While you will be able to learn chords and some simple songs, not learning guitar scales will really impair your ability to master guitar. For some guitar players that just want to play some of their favorite songs, this is perfectly ok.

However, if you intend to learn and become a serious guitar player you need to learn guitar scales. 

When you are starting to learn any musical instruments, scales can be intimidating. They require some practice to memorize and even after you do, it is difficult to use and incorporate them into your songs.

Guitar scales are also extremely important to developing your knowledge of musical theory.

Disadvantages of not learning guitar scales

There are a few drawbacks of not learning guitar scales, such as:

  • You will have no music foundation
  • You will not be able to improvise
  • It will be difficult to learn solos by ear
  • Composing music will be nearly impossible
  • Musical theory will seem complicated
  • It limits your ability to become a better guitar player

You will have no music foundation

One of the main disadvantages of not learning guitar scales is related to the fact that scales provide a musician with a foundation for understanding and creating music. Without this knowledge, you will be limited in their ability to improvise or create new melodies or even compose a simple song. 

You will not be able to improvise

In order to improvise you need to know guitar scales. This is the only way to know each note you can play over certain chord progressions. If you do not learn guitar scales you will not be able to improvise.

It will be difficult to learn solos by ear

If you know guitar scales you can identify the scales being used in a specific guitar solo. This is what allows you to learn solos and guitar licks by ear. If you do not know any guitar scale, you will be blindly looking for the right notes for the solo. 

This not only takes more time, but you will find it hard to make any variations to the solo.

Composing music will be nearly impossible

Music is based on harmony, melody, and rhythm. If you do not know guitar scales, it will be nearly impossible to compose melodies, and you will not be able to create any songs.

Musical theory will seem complicated

Musical theory is already something pretty much every guitar student fears, and if you avoid learning guitar scales it will seem even more complicated. 

It limits your ability to become a better guitar player

Ultimately not knowing guitar scales will affect your development as a player and musician. You will find it hard to jam with other musicians and to even understand the structure of songs, and how they were composed.

Why guitar scales are important 

There are plenty of reasons to learn guitar scales, as they are a key part of the learning process of every guitar player. Here are some reasons why you should consider learning guitar scales:

  • It improves your rhythm
  • Improve your musical hearing
  • Develop finger strength and agility
  • Become faster
  • Start composing
  • Start improvising
  • Expands your musical creativity
  • Become a better musician
  • Be able to jam 
  • Learn songs and solos faster
  • Understand how songs are composed

It improves your rhythm

One of the greatest advantages of learning guitar songs is that it can help you improve your rhythm while playing. Since guitar scales need to be practiced several times before you memorize them, they can help you create a great rhythm foundation.

Make sure you always practice scales while using a metronome to make sure you are on the right tempo.

Improve your musical hearing

Would you like to listen to a song and understand exactly what scale is being played? This is only possible if you learn those same scales. 

Develop finger strength and agility

Another advantage of learning guitar scales is that it forces you to develop your finger strength and agility. You are forced to practice scales over and over again, which helps you memorize them, and allows you to develop as a musician.

Become faster

Do you want to shred? Have you ever wondered how guitar players are able to play so fast? Well, part of the reason they are so fast is because of guitar scales. Practicing scales helps you improve your speed, and it is one of the fastest ways to start shredding.

Start composing

If you want to compose a few songs, knowing guitar scales will be very helpful. Otherwise, how will you be able to compose the melody if you don’t know any scales? This is why so many musicians are able to compose songs.

Start improvising

Improvising is easy, you just play notes over chords, but you need to know exactly what notes you can play on top of certain chords. To know that you need to start learning scales.

Expands your musical creativity

Learning guitar scales also allows you to expand your creativity because you are able to experiment with different sounds.

Become a better musician

If you want to become a better musician, guitar scales will be a very important part of that process. Not knowing them will limit your musical ability.

Be able to jam 

If you want to jam with other musicians you need to know guitar scales. Otherwise, you will not be able to know which notes to play.

Learn songs and solos faster

Learning scales will also help you to learn songs and solos faster. This is because you will already know the structure of the scale, which makes it easy to memorize new songs.

Understand how songs are composed

To understand how songs are composed you need to know exactly what scales are being played. Even if you do not need to know how to read music to learn guitar, it is still important to understand how songs are composed.

Are guitar scales important to learn?

Guitar scales are a fundamental part of learning guitar and just like learning songs, and chords it is an essential part of your learning process.

There are many different scales, and each has its own unique sound. Guitarists use scales to create solos and melodies and to improvise over chord progressions. 

Scale theory is important for guitarists because it teaches them how to create melodies and solo lines using different scales. 

Should a beginner learn chords or scales or songs first?

If you are just learning guitar you should focus solely on songs. Songs are the first step always because it is an easy way to learn the chords of songs you already know. 

Since you already know how the song sounds, this makes it easier to learn them. It is also more motivating to learn songs than to practice scales which can be repetitive. 

How can I solo without knowing scales?

There are many ways to solo without knowing scales. One way is to use arpeggios. An arpeggio is simply a chord played one note at a time. Another way to solo without knowing scales is to use chord shapes. A chord shape is simply a chord played in a certain position on the fretboard.

There are a few ways to approach soloing without knowing scales. One method is to use chromatic passing tones to connect scale fragments and create melodies. This can be done by targeting specific notes in a scale and then using neighboring chromatic pitches to connect them. Another approach is to use chord tones as anchors for your solos. You can then use chord extensions and alterations to create melodies around chord tones.

Do you have to know scales to solo?

No, you don’t have to know scales to solo. However, knowing scales will help you solo better. Scales are patterns of notes that are used to create melodies. When you know a scale, you can use it to create solos that sound melodic and harmonious.

No, you don’t have to know scales to solo. However, scales provide a foundation for understanding how melodies work and soloing over chord progressions. They also help you develop your improvisational skills by providing a structure for creating solos. While you don’t need to know scales to solo, it is beneficial to learn them so that you can improvise more effectively.

How long does it take to learn scales on guitar?

For beginners, it can take up to a week to fully memorize a new guitar scale. However, for more advanced players it can take just some minutes to learn a new guitar scale.

Overall it depends on how experienced you are, and how well you memorize physical movements. To learn guitar scales faster you want to keep practicing them as much as possible, with a metronome.

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