Are SCALES And MODES The Secret To Understanding The FRETBOARD?

The Reason Why It's SO IMPORTANT To Learn Scales And Modes On Guitar

Tommaso Zillio

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  • Is it necessary to learn scales and modes on the guitar?

  • Is it better to just learn arpeggios or chords?

  • Or the CAGED system? (blech...)

  • Or is it best to just learn nothing, and make music by banging proverbial rocks together until something either works or sets on fire, like the cavemen (and cavewomen! and all the cavepeople in general!) did?

scales modes guitar

Let me state immediately that the "common wisdom" that you will find on YouTube or any other social media is that "scales are useless, don't learn them".

Indeed, if you are a guitar player on YouTube and you don't say at least once a month that scales are useless, then you have people storming your YouTube channel calling you elitists and several other epithets ending in "ist".

(I wish I was joking...)

And yet, between these options (scales/modes; arpeggios/chords; the CAGED system; and banging rocks together) learning scales (and then modes) is and will always be the best for truly understanding your fretboard inside and out.

Arpeggios and chords are also incredibly useful to know and should also be practiced - I mean, why choose only one? Learn scales and chord/arpeggios, and then integrate them together, that's the way to go!...

... but if for some reason you are in an unlikely scenario where you had to pick just one scales or arpeggios (for the life of me, I can't see a believable scenario where this would happen, but what do I know...), then let me stick my neck out and say that scales would give you a more complete understanding of the guitar fretboard.

And before I forget: of the other two options (if you were not paying attention: the CAGED system; and banging rocks together), one is obviously just a completely ridiculous, primitive, stupid idea that won’t get you anywhere on the guitar. The other is a waste of perfectly good rocks.

The question is: why the "common wisdom" is that scales are useless?

It's just pandering partly to people laziness and the desire to find a shortcut, and partly because the teachers out there are so clueless that they make scales boring (when in reality scales are super fun if you know what to do with them). I tell you, some people out there can't teach their way out of a wet paper bag....

The thing is, many people run into problems when they learn scales and modes.

Things just don’t make sense, they have a hard time seeing past the patterns and shapes, and it just becomes frustrating.

Well, all of that happens for a reason!

Check out the video below and I’ll show you more about what makes scales and modes so useful, as well as how you can learn them effectively.

Now, it just so happens that if you are looking to expand - or get started with - your knowledge of scales and modes, I have a course for you that will be a perfect help! Check out my Master of the Modes guitar course to learn about scales and modes right now!

Video Transcription

Hello internet so nice to see you! Have a look at this question. Do we need to know this though? I mean, the average guitar player really, these are questions about if we need to learn scales and modes, do the average guitar players really need to learn scales and modes, especially today when you go on YouTube, and everybody tells you to not learn scales and modes.

And everybody tells that you have to learn arpeggios instead, or chords or hitting chord tones and forget about this scales downplays scales. That's what everybody tells you. Amongst all these, me and probably other three people on the internet are telling, you know, sit down and learn use scales, they're useful. Do you need to learn scales and modes? Well, yes, simply because considering the all the amount of emails I get all the amount of messages on YouTube, all the amount of comments that asked me, Hey, Tommaso, look at this video, how do I sound this way? Oh, you just play the modal.

You just play phrygian, you just play Lydian, maybe he does chord notes. And people are like now that I don't want to learn scales and modes, because I've read from somebody on YouTube that you shouldn't read scale and mode, guys, if scales and modes exist is because we found them useful. Now, I'm not saying that you should learn and under no go like, okay, that's Julian. Just lay down for our warzone and playing it up and down will not do anything for you. Okay, you can learn the pattern. But that's not actually learning.

Okay. The idea is that, yes, you have to learn scales and modes, but that's not just learning the patterns. Okay. And indeed, the patterns you learn, I've only a relative importance because you guys know, I don't like much of the CAGED system, well, that's still better than nothing. Okay, I would prefer, you learn the modes with the system.

Because it's easier because you can do more things with that it's more intuitive once you know the trick. But if you know the CAGED system already, by all means go with the CAGED system, whatever they probably think is to learn something new in this case and modal one way or another now. We found them useful. As musicians, we taught them, we learn them because we find them useful. Now the problem is that a lot of people who learn scales and modes, just play them up and down.

And then just just get concentrated on that's the pattern. And you need to find the pattern and move the pattern. The pattern is relative importance. The important point is that you understand how those scales work above chord progressions, how to connect those scales and this pattern, yes, with a chord progression, how you hit the notes in the chord and not in the chord when you need to hit them, and all this kind of thing.

And so everything that goes with the scale, and more what happened on the internet is that for a period, a lot of people wanted to teach you scales and more because there was a lot of demand for learning scales and modes, and 95% of the things not 99% of the thing out there those you learn those five or learned or seven patterns and you're down, which is not true. You don't see the pattern is like the first little step to learn this case and more than you have to learn what is this mode?

What makes it special, how it is similar or not similar to the major scale or the minor scale? How do people go about making music with that without the chord progression that go with this mode how to express a specific sound of the mode on the guitar, it starts with the pattern but there's way way, way more after that, okay, but for a while, we had people only teaching the pattern and telling you just play those five pattern or seven patterns or threes per three pattern or play a solo using only four notes and all this kind of click Beatty thing and people learn this stuff and they were not able to make any music was more wonder here is of course not learning anything.

And then now we have the Baptist lecture people tell you don't learn this scales, because you don't learn anything with them. Essentially, some of those people are the exact same people that before told you to learn the most and the exact same people that before solely the course on scales and modes. It was giving you only the patterns and then saying By the way, since no one to Merlin to talk about about anybody if a course is teaching you the pattern.

That's great. The important point is that it doesn't stop at the pattern the pattern must be there somewhere otherwise, I mean, you need to know where to play them on the fretboard so now we have the backslash and everybody's like don't learn this case in mono don the don't learn the pattern. Forget about these don't About Lydian just think about the chords and the progression and, and that's the opposite mistake.

Okay guys, the thing is that doing only the pattern doesn't work doing without completely the pattern and just trying to do the other skills doesn't work either you need to learn both things, it's actually easier to learn both things because you directly because you get some instruction on everything you need to do, as opposed to have to guess for the half that people don't teach you.

So do the average player need to learn this scales and modes? If you just want to play campfire songs No, you don't have to learn scales and modes I mean, it will be useful because you can write if you want to write songs, more interesting chord progression, but it doesn't have to. If you are soloing and you're soloing only in the blues style, and you probably don't have to learn scales and most don't knowing a bit of Mixolydian.

And Dorian will help you. But you can get by without, do you want to play solos and you want to go beyond the blues style. Okay, which is by the way, a very interesting style can be complex in its own way. But if you want to go beyond that, if you want to play I don't know, metal or jazz or fusion, I will totally recommend you learn modes should not be the only thing you learn, you should not get obsessed with them. And you should find somebody to explain them to you the proper way.

So you don't spend three years of your life trying to make sense of the modes by trying to find a different free article on the web half of them telling you to learn the pattern, they are house telling you to not learn this case and mode and as mode percentage making even more confusion. And that is already okay. So find somebody, okay, could be a local teacher, I'm not saying no.

I mean, it could be me, I'm not saying no, I have a course on this scales and modes is called Master of the modes. If you cannot find anybody close by that is competent or that you trust, come and take this course, if you have questions, write me an email, does it have to be my course it doesn't have to be my course. Just find somebody that is competent. Okay? I'm saying this for you.

Because you can save you a lot of time in this case, and modes are not hard. But they are confusing at first, if you don't have somebody guiding you and telling you what to do. Once you've learned them, they're super easy. It just automatic to play in any kind of mode, any and create any kind of sound. If you want to create video and sounds. They come out if you want if you want the Mixolydian sound you know exactly what not to hate, and so on and so forth. So they're not hard. But it most people need some help.

And honestly, if I could have ever had more health when I learned them, it would have I would have spent way less time in learning that you find a teacher that tells you to not learn scales and modes, period. Go away. Go away. That's not a good teacher for you. If they're telling you you're not ready for them. That could be true or not.

They're telling you they're gonna you're gonna do in future that could be true or not. But if they tell you no, you don't need this scales and modes. Yeah, just go away. The same is true if you find the teacher telling you learn those patterns, and then you're done. Go away. Okay, find somebody competent. So do the average person needs to learn that it will make your life much easier and you will be able to do much better music if that is worked for you investing a little bit of time.

Yes, learning scales and modes. If instead you want to play only campfire songs, which is a great goal or play only blues which is a great goal or do other things that do not require the screen mode, but then of course you don't have to learn them. That's the answer. This is Tommaso Zillio for, and until next time, enjoy.

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