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
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.
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…
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.
Any tips for a newb for getting RH/picking accuracy nailed down. Especially going from strumming/rhythm to solo notes? I’ve been through the course and there’s not much focus on RH exercises. There’s only 1 video I can see - ‘the spider’, that deals with it. I’ve been playing 5 months. Cheers!
There are many good exercises for building RH/LH synchronization. But if I have to pick the one concept that I feel has helped me the most overall it is the “speed burst” technique, where you play shorter burst of fast notes, followed by a “rest” period. The focus is then both on building accuracy, but also on identifying and eliminating unwanted tension that you might feel when trying to play something difficult for you.
I want to recommend you one particular video, touching upon this concept - but before pasting the link, I would add; Try to ignore how fast the example is played in the beginning of this video! It will seem very intimidating, but watch the video anyway And the exercise can be done at ANY tempo, so it’s relevant for beginners as well.
Check it out:
Mr Fauerby, you may just have made an old man very happy. I am not looking for miracles but the burst and rest element makes so much sense. Exercise I have tried in the past always lead to tension and subsequent fumbles. But I like the logic at play here.
As Ted Nugent once said. just what the doctor ordered.
Well, I hope you guys will find it as useful as I have. It might sound exaggerated, but it really has been my own number one technical breakthrough for the last many years. Looking over the list of my recent recordings I can say for sure that it has been the only reason for why I was eventually able to learn the fastest sections of the solos to songs like Highway Star, Sanitarium, Aces High, Fade To Black and Ride The Lightning. And I’ve noticed that every time I post video clips, a couple of people will comment on how relaxed (even easy?) it looks when I play the parts - well, the reason is here… a focus on reducing tension and minimizing hand movements when playing fast… If you tense up, the fast sections are just not going to happen!
Just remember, the video I posted above is just one exercise and one example of how to apply this idea, but information overload is a bad thing… so perhaps we can talk about some other applications at a later time, if the idea “clicks” with you as well
Thanks for the back ground and I get the many years part. I am realistic not to be expecting miracles and overnight success and I know given my age there will be limitations. So I’ll see how my current fumbling attempts pan out with this and take stock over the approaching year. Lets see how we go by next Christmas.
I’m also curious what BPM targets others have set. @jacksprat What did you decide on in the end?
BPM is also a bit ambiguous at times as to whether you’re playing quarters or eighths (or 16ths).
I got up to 120bpm eighths (so 240bpm quarters) on major scale pattern 1, and then diminishing returns really set in. So I’ve moved on to major scale pattern two now. I figure that’s probably fast enough, as what I’m really interested in with these is learning the scales and building the picking/fretting hand synchronisation.
I settled on 150 bpm (notes per metronome click) as my target before moving to a new key. And then to the next pattern.
Agree. I think notes per click is less ambiguous.
240 is impressive. I doubt I ever would have got there.
I’ve gave up on learning major scale patterns after I’d learned pattern 2. I watched the lessons on triad grips on Justin’s theory course and ended up going down that rabbit hole. I lost interest in memorising five different major scale shapes. And, TBH, I just couldn’t see myself ever using them.
My current routine includes practicing triads over backing tracks- just four-chord progressions. I play different grips on different string groups. I’ll play the triads aiming for minimum movement along the fretboard, then I’ll shift to maximum movement to avoid getting too focussed on a ‘box’.
I’ve also gone back to improvising with the minor pentatonic scale, which I was doing before I got diverted to learning the major scale patterns. I’ve just started playing with the B.B. King box, which is fun.
For me, practicing guitar has to be fun, or I just won’t do it. Learning the major scale patterns got old fairly quickly!
Just my 2c. I think its perhaps more important to play the scale in different ways, with increasing tempo, while maintaining accuracy, with no tension. Exercises like playing the scale in 3rds, 5ths, 3 in aline, 4 in a line, reversing etc, is a more beneficial way of developing hand sync, finger dexterity, timing, accuracy, speed etc. Plus you’re learning more about the actual scale. Plus its more musical, and how you may utilise the scale in a musical context.
Once you get to a scale to a reasonable click playing straight up and down, I dont think theres any real benefit in trying to get to lightning speeds. In fact what I found was that after getting to reasonably quick speeds playing in 3rds, 3 in a line, reversing etc, I could play it straight up and down at significantly higher speed without actually practicing it anymore as an exercise.
I found somewhere along the way, there was a speed boost where my fingers remembered the pattern without thinking. I think in the “how to practice scales” lesson Justin talks about working up to 100bpm at 4 notes per click - 400bpm quarters! Seems pretty far off right now. I thought, surely it makes sense to learn more scale patterns before getting that fast.
I only learnt the second pattern last week, I’m not sure how deep I’ll get but I do hope to learn them all.
I know you’re right. I’m just not up to those bits in the lesson schedule yet. And have 1 scale shape to embed (2nd, 1st is pretty decent now) and 2 more to learn. I do play them musically as well, do a little bit of improv. Although I do want the scale patterns and synchronicity to be as automatic as possible. I clicked with it on the minor pentatonic (one position) and first position major scale, now need to do for all the rest.
There is some lesson of Justin’s where he says if you want to get to a certain level at guitar, you need to spend a year or so playing a lot of scales to embed them. I’m at the start of that. Honestly I enjoy it too, spending 5-10 minutes of practice doing scale related stuff helps limber my hands up.
In terms of BPM target - before new modules Justin did say that his personal best was 130bpm in 16th notes and as a challenge I tried for few months to match his speed as I reckoned back then that if I can play it around this speed means I can play most solos Justin is able to! So I think I practiced for a few months E shape major scale day in day out around 10mins a day in key of G and I managed to get to 120bpm in 16th notes 4 times ascending and descending, but that was super fast and not always super accurate.
It helped with developing speed and while learning quicker solos, but overall I don’t think anything more than 80bpm in 16th notes is required, especially if you are anywhere before end of Grade 3/early Grade 4. So aiming at 140bpm in eights should be fine IMO.
If you are after learning patterns and memorizing those on fretboards then not much usefulness in playing it as quickly as you can.