Scale Practice BPM - what speed to aim for on major scale patterns?

In Justin’s lesson “How And Why To Practice Scales”, under LEARN MORE he provides a step-by-step guide on how to practice scales with a metronome.

He advises that once you get to 150BPM you should drop the metronome back to 75BPM and play two notes per click. So, during my major scale pattern 1 practice, I set 150BPM as my goal before I moved onto the other routines like random reversing, random scale notes, triplets, 4 in a line and improvising over a backing track.

Having “made music” with pattern 1 of the major scale, I reckon I’m now ready to tackle pattern 2. In Justin’s Major Scale Maestro 1 lesson on Pattern 2 he advises working up to 120BPM, then setting the metronome to 60BPM and playing two notes per click.

Now this might sound like I’m nitpicking, but to me there’s a heck of a big difference between 120BPM and 150BPM. In pattern 1 I was able to fairly quickly work my way up to 120BPM in any key, but 150BPM was a lot harder. In fact, I still haven’t achieved 150BPM in the key of G due to the wider fret spacing. I called it quits at 145BPM and moved on.

Moving forward, I think I’m going to set 120BPM as my goal before moving from simple up/down the scale practice to the more complicated practice techniques. Aiming for 150BPM is just delaying me moving forward. Surely the extra speed will come with time?

I’m keen to hear what BPM target others set themselves for scale practice.

Having heavy metal as favorite genre and melodic death metal as one of my favorite subgenres, I’ll need quite some speed :sweat_smile:

Personally I’ll aim for 150 initially. If it happens I can go faster I will, if not I will stick with it for a bit. Later on I could push beyond where I ended up if it’s needed for songs.

I’m still far from reaching those bpm’s though. Currently working on fast speed is pointless if I don’t have other skills well developed. If I were to get stuck at a certain bpm I think I’d just take my time to get as comfortable as possible on it before attempting to go faster.

Though I think it’s important to consider if you need to be able to reach such speeds in the first place. Especially when you feel it’s delaying your progress.

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Reaching a certain speed for a scale pattern, playing it up and down, it totally pointless in my opinion. It’s not “burning in” any/many useful patterns into your muscle memory. It’s good to know the scale patterns, simply so you understand which notes are good to target when you play melodic (usually slower) lines.

Most faster licks that are actually used in solos would be repetitive phrases (perhaps 3-4 notes), mini sweeps… or scale sequences (not playing straight up and down the scale). I would much rather put my effort into practicing those smaller licks and get them up to speed.

The only benefit I see to scale practice, with a metronome, is that it does help you with left/right hand synchronization as well as teaching you to lock on tightly to a click/rhythm. But even then, once you get that… then you’ll definitely want to focus on more advanced rhythmic patterns… like going between triplets, long sustaining notes, straight eight note patterns etc… all interesting solos play off interesting rhythms, it’s never/rarely just about burning through a bunch of straight 16th notes…


What’s a triplet?


Hi Stuart,

It’s when a beat is divided into three


Triplet rhythm is covered in a Grade 2

Thanks for that. Not quite got to that lesson. Glad i asked as thought it was a chord over 3 strings.

No, those are triads :slight_smile: Though technically power chords can also be played on 3 strings even though they have only 2 pitches.

I switch from quarter notes to eighth notes to 16th notes at 120bpm (then back down to 60bpm), but that’s really just arbitrary. Quarter notes at 150bpm is the same speed as 8th notes at 75bpm.

My personal goal is to get to eighth notes @ 120bpm before changing from practicing up/down to practicing in thirds, random changes, etc. I’m almost there with both a Major scale pattern and a Pentatonic scale pattern.

I agree with Kasper’s point about up/down being mainly for building lefthand/righthand coordination and locking into a groove. My decision was based on my feeling that 8th notes at 120bpm would provide me enough lefthand/righthand coordination to move ahead with more melodic patterns.

YMMV :slight_smile: