This is the most complete book of guitar scales and arpeggios ever written.
It's truly massive: more than 400 large pages packed with diagrams, analysis and explanations. Of course it includes all the basic, common scales you need to play rock, blues, jazz and so on, but also a vast number of exotic resources for you to experiment with and use to develop your own unique sounds. Many of these have never or hardly ever been used before.
A very thorough chapter on scale theory is also included.
This book is divided into three parts. The ﬁrst part, covering chapters 1 to 4, is a detailed study of arpeggio patterns and an introduction to the study of scales. It covers a lot more than most guitarists know about scales, but it’s really just the beginning. The second and third parts present a huge number of scales, most of which have never had their ﬁngering diagrams published. This collection is unique in the literature of the guitar or, as far as the author knows, among music books in general.
If you’re a beginner, take the material in the ﬁrst part slowly and supplement it with intensive listening to the kind of music you want to play. You may also want to add a book of ‘licks’ or transcribed solos to help you apply the theoretical material in this book to the musical style that interests you. This book provides the raw material; it’s up to you to ﬁgure out how to turn it into music, and diﬀerent musicians have done that in diﬀerent ways down the centuries.
Advanced players will mostly be interested in the second and third parts. Use them as a source of inspiration: dip in more or less at random to ﬁnd new and unusual sounds. This part of the book isn’t intended to be read as a course but to act as a reference book that will hopefully inspire you to get out of a rut whenever you ﬁnd yourself in one.
Basic Scale Theory
This chapter introduces the basic theoretical ideas behind the study of scales. The reader may already have met most of the terms introduced in this chapter, although perhaps without clearly seeing how they all ﬁt together. Some of this chapter is quite theoretical; it’s not essential to understand everything here in order to use the rest of the book, but it will certainly help.
Pitches, Notes, Pitch Classes and Intervals
We all know that pitches can be very low or very high; the pitches we can hear range from the deep rumble of a lorry driving past to the most piercing whistle. We can imagine pitch as being a continuous, smooth slope from low to high. Pitches are measured in hertz (Hz), a number that describes where on the slope they are; an average person can hear any pitch that lies between about 16Hz and about 16,000Hz.
Musicians, though, almost never think about the pitches they’re playing in these terms. The reason for this is that we don’t use the full range of possibilities in ordinary music-making. Instead, we’ve chosen certain speciﬁc pitches and called them ‘notes’. Think of the way a piano keyboard is divided up into distinct keys, rather than being a smooth surface. The keys are notes, which are those particular pitches we’ve chosen to form our musical system. Other cultures use other notes and some use none at all, but we’ll only be concerned with the notes on the piano in this book.
The guitar fretboard is more or less the same as a piano keyboard: the frets prevent us, usually, from playing any pitches except the ones we call ‘notes’. Guitarists can get around this by bending the string or using a slide, but we still use the notes as reference-points in most music. A violin’s ﬁngerboard is smooth, but that just means that violinists have to practice very hard to ‘play in tune’ – that is, to be able to play the pitches that our music recognises as ‘proper notes’.
Now, it so happens that there’s an acoustic phenomenon that causes one pitch that’s exactly half or double another one to sound oddly similar to it. For example, if we play the pitch 400Hz, the pitches 800Hz (2×400), 1600Hz (2×800) and so on sound strongly ‘in agreement’ with it. So much so, in fact, that we give them all the same name. So the note on your open sixth string is called ‘E’, and so is the note at the second fret of the fourth string, even though it’s obviously not the same pitch. The same goes for the open ﬁrst string; its pitch is four times the pitch of the bottom string, and so it’s called ‘E’ as well.