Archive for the ‘Lessons’ Category

Big thanks to Morgan for this.  I know we’ve been delving into some music theory discussion and this looks like it could be just as helpful.  Everyone give this a good read and feel to record any solo work to share with the rest of us.  Take it away Sir!

Note:  I tried to keep the formatting as true as possible as this was made in a .doc format.  It looks WAY better on my computer, but I think I got everything right.  The chart at the end got screwed, though, and I can’t figure out how to fix it.  I will keep working on it!

Learn Lead Guitar the Easy Way

By 62LeftyBlues (Morgan R Schmitz)

So you have a guitar and you know your chords and can play some songs and even read a little tab, maybe a scale or two. Great. Now you want to get better at this guitar thing because it is something inside you that has to get out!

Off to the internet and music books to peruse and decipher. After a while, it hits you – the tsunami wave of the music-speak! It is an ocean of rhetoric much like the snake eating its tail, going round and round and round. Granted it has existed for centuries and will continue to exist long after we are gone. This leads us to the real question we have to ask ourselves.

A question my friends with the guitar in hand, we all have to answer.

Do you want to learn music theory, and all that that implies?

This is a very daunting task at any age.

What you really need is a different question.

Given a choice to either

(a) learn music theory without understanding the application to your playing – OR – (b) learn how to play some lead and make the guitar sing right now.

If you are like me and I believe most of you are – the answer is simple.

I want to play guitar. I want to play better than I play now. I want to jam and to take my turn whipping out a lead! Believe me, you can and you will.

I have a gift. I recognize patterns and I accumulate complicated things and break them down to the simplest form. I have poured over all of this and have done my due diligence. All you need to do is trust me, and make a vow to yourself to practice the scales every day.

I heard that groan.

Guess what?

There are only 5 and you already know 2 of them.

You are halfway there.



Think of these two as the anchors. They are the easiest to learn and will be the spots on the neck you will return to the most when playing. I will only refer to the first 12 frets as it repeats at the 13th and on. All 5 scales are repetitive with only a few notes changing between them.

Key                   Dorian Fret Location        Aeolian Fret Location

A                                    7th 2nd

B                                       9th 4th

C                                  10th 5th

D                                   12th 7th

E                                       2nd 9th

F                                       3rd 10th

G                                      5th 12th

Like a piano, there is no half tone between B & C, or E & F.

So if you are playing along with a song in the key of E, you can use the Dorian scale in the 2nd and the 14th fret. And the Aeolian scale in the 9th fret.

Practice learning these scales and become familiar with their fret location.

Listen to the scales and how they sound. Sometimes one scale will fit better in a song than the other one does. Train your ears to hear the difference.

After a while you will begin to feel limited and want to branch out further.

You will want to be able to play from one end of the neck to the other, to connect the notes.

Now you are ready for the remaining 3 scales.


The Ionian scale has the same pattern as the Locrian scale.

The difference being Ionian starts on 2 and Locrian on 1.

It will not matter when you are playing.


The Lydian scale has the same pattern as the Phrygian scale.

The difference being Lydian starts on 2 and Phrygian on 1.

It will not matter when you are playing.

Mixolydian is the most different shape of any of the 5 scales.


The following 5 scale patterns are represented –

Ionian** (Major) same scale as Locrian**

Lydian* (Major) same scale as Phrygian*

Mixolydian (Major) and the first 2, Dorian (minor) & Aeolian (minor)

(** Ionian & *Lydian start on 2nd note while **Locrian & *Phrygian start on 1st note)

Once you learn all 5 scales, the easiest way to piece it together is to play.

Playing in one key, like C, teaches you how the scales connect into each other.

If you are playing in the Aeolian scale in C, moving toward the headstock brings you into the Mixolydian scale, while moving toward the guitar body puts you into the Ionian. Once you have learned the connections, you can start in any key and play in that key from one end of the neck to the other!

This is in NO WAY an end all be all to music theory!

This is to help you learn to play lead guitar and open your mind to how to maneuver up and down and side to side on the fret board.

Remember, you want to learn how to play guitar, not sit around deciphering endless amounts of theory information.

I have created a chart to show where each scale falls in each key in the 1st through the 12th fret.

This chart also shows the corresponding minor key to the major key.

So when your friend says we are in Em you can see the corresponding major key and play right along.

The phrase or word to remember is M A I D L.

Here is the order the scales appear according to the key charts

Key       Scale Code

C           M A I D L

D           L M A I D

E           D L M A I

F           D L M A I

G          I D L M A

A          A I D L M

B          M A I D L

B & C and E & F have the same pattern.

The difference is the fret number for each scale.

On the chart Ionian is shown starting with the 2nd note, while Lydian is shown starting with the 1st note.



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Key mKey Other


A A I D L M A F#m Ab=


B M A I D L B G#m Bb=


C M A I D L C Am
D L M A I D D Bm Db=


E D L M A I E C#m Eb=


F D L M A I F Dm F#=


G I D L M A G Em
FRET 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Key mKey Other