Classical Guitar Lessons – The 4-step system for learning classical guitar: Chords, fingerstyle, arpeggios & scales.

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Classical guitar lessons 3) The Natural minor scale

Okay, so far we’ve looked at chords and fingerpicking and now I’d like us to look at some melodic single-note techniques.

This is one of the best classical guitar lessons of all. I love this scale!  The natural minor scale might be the coolest classical guitar scale of all, it just sounds so lovely. I could play this scale all day…..

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In its full form the natural minor scale looks like this:

classical guitar lessons minor scale

If you don’t understand this diagram read this article.

Like most guitar scales, this is a moveable pattern.

This means that you can play this scale pattern anywhere on the neck and it will always be the natural minor scale.

What dictates the tonality of the scale is where you begin playing it.

  • If you begin playing the scale on the 5th fret you will be playing the A natural minor scale.
  • If you begin playing the scale on the 7th fret you will be playing the B natural minor scale.
  • And so on…

To learn a lot more about the notes of the fret board and the musical alphabet read this article Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

When you learn this scale it’s best to learn it in two halves. Learn the notes on strings 6, 5 and 4 first. Then when you have that pattern memorised you can learn the notes on strings 3, 2 and 1.

This is one of the essential classical guitar lessons, you really must know this scale.

How to learn this scale

As with all scales it’s best to learn slowly and correctly to embed solid muscle memory that gives you a great foundation for the future.

Don’t fall into the trap that most beginners do of playing the scale as quickly as possible. This leads to lots of mistakes and flaky muscle memory.

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classical guitar lessons

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Classical Guitar Lessons 4) The Major Scale

This is the foundation for all music theory and is another one of those classical guitar lessons that you can file under ‘essential knowledge’. To be honest, this is a must-know for any guitarist, but for a classical guitarist it’s even more important.

In its full form the major scale looks like this:

classical guitar lessons Major Scale

This is a bright and happy-sounding scale that has an optimism about it which I love and never grow tired of.

The A Major Scale sounds like this:

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It’s important to understand that this is a two octave pattern. Octave one is the first half. (Learn this first.)

Let’s look at this with the G Major Scale:

classical guitar lessons major scale octave 1

Octave two is the second half. Note that it begins on the SAME NOTE that octave 1 ended on:

classical guitar lessons major scale octave 2

Again this is a movable scale pattern which means this is one those classical guitar lessons you can apply again and again in almost any situation.

  • If you start playing this scale pattern on the 3rd fret you will be playing the G major scale.
  • If you start playing this scale pattern on the 5th fret you will be playing the A major scale.
  • And on the 7th fret you will be playing the B major scale and so on.

How to use these to scales

There are literally thousands of ways you can integrate these scales into your guitar playing.

But perhaps the most practical thing to consider is how you can blend these with chords and how you could use the scales to accompany other musicians.

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How to jam with the scales

Let’s say you are playing with another guitarist and they are playing a simple chord progression like C to Am.

If you wanted to play along with them you could play the same chords, that would sound okay, but a little bland because you’d both be playing the exact same thing!

It would be far more interesting and nuanced and musical and expressive if you played some melodic lead lines to complement the chords that your friend was playing.

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classical guitar lessons

But of course the question is how do I know what notes will work?

  • It’s very simple! If your friend is playing a C chord then you can play any note from the C major scale and it will sound great. (Some notes will sound better than others but none will sound ‘bad’.)
  • If your friend is playing Am then you can play any note from the A natural minor scale and it will sound great.

And of course these rules apply for all chords.

Blending chords and melodic single-note lines

As you improve as a guitarist you will be able to blend chords and melodic lines together yourself, on-the-fly.

So for example you may be changing chords from C to G and during the transition you might spice things up with a few notes from the C major scale. ‘Switching’ between chords/strumming and melodic single notes is a fabulous way to make your guitar playing sound more intelligent and textured.

But of course it will take time to get comfortable with all this!

Start off learning some simple chord shapes and then go from there. I hope you’ve enjoyed these four steps and that they’ve given you a useful roadmap that you can follow as you move forward and become a better classical guitarist. It’s an exciting journey and I’m so thrilled for you. You’re in for a treat!

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