Lead guitar scales. Are these secret scales known only to the really good guitar players? They are the same old boring major and pentatonic scales.
They use the same scales you see all through this site. The main ones are the major and minor pentatonic scales and the major and minor blues scales.
They also use the major scale but that is where these other scales really came from. The pentatonic scales are actually short versions of the major scale and the Aeolian Mode that comes from the major scale.
How Come “They” Sound So Good?
When you practice scales you probably play the whole scale, this is how everyone is taught scales.
However in a song or lead you never use the whole scale like you practice it because it would sound like a practice lesson.
You have to skip notes, reverse them and anything else you can think of.
The “Real” Reason
“They”Sound so Good
“They Follow the Chord Changes”
You have heard players that don’t change with the chords, you get bored with their playing quickly because there is no change, it’s monotonous.
You have to change with the chords and flow into the chord changes.
Varying your rhythm is another way to enhance your guitar leads.
You must know all the notes in the chords. Any of these notes can be used in your lead. You will find that many of the chords you change to share a note or two. After a little practice of memorizing the notes in chords it will become 2nd nature
If you had a C9 chord you would have C-D-E-G-B♭ chord tones. The major blues C-D-E♭-E-G-A, minor blues C-E♭-F-G♭-G-B♭.
You have to be careful with how you play the A note(keep it short) because of the B♭. It will clash and sound bad.
Check out the chord pages to see how chords are made. This will help you to remember the notes in them.
Guitar Chord Theory
Just because you are playing up the neck doesn’t mean you can’t use open strings. If an open string is in the chord or scale you can use it. This also gives you a little extra time for shifting to another position.
All the open strings E-A-D-G-B-E are in many major keys like C, D, A, G. Other major scales will have one or more open notes you can use.
There are also other scales and modes. Modes are scales within a scale starting on each of the different notes of the main scale.
The Dorian mode comes from the 2nd note of the major scale. This is a popular minor scale used in many songs. In the key of C the notes would be D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D
Have you ever listened to Al DiMeola? He likes the Harmonic minor scale in A it would be A-B-C-D-E-F-G♯-A. That F to G♭ give it a distinct sound. He also uses the Gypsy minor scales A-B♭-C♯-D-E-F-G or A-B♭-C♯-D-E-F-G♯
Check out the scales section of the site to learn more.
Guitar Chord Theory
And here is a software product that helps learning scales easier to do.
A lot of guitarist’s use open tunings for guitar. This is good for fingerpicking and slide guitar. George Thorogood uses open tunings on many songs.
Check out my page on tunings below.
Alternate Guitar Tunings
This is software that helps you learn a song from a recording. You can slow it down and still keep the original pitch and you can change keys too. You can also do loops for a tough section to repeat it.
You should already know some chords and songs before trying this software, but it does have a free trial period and it’s a small download. Check it out.
Transcribe! for Windows, Mac or Linux
Thank You for Reading Our Lead Guitar Scales Page