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So I've been playing the guitar for around a month and i'm currently practicing some chord switches. I have a lot of free time so doing chord switches every time gets really boring so i learned how to do the A minor pentatonic scale. A lot of people said that its a good scale to start on scales. Now that i can play it at least decently, I have no idea what to do with it (or scales, in general)hence, the title.

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Practicing your scales is a great habit to have. Now that you have the basics down, you can experiment with those chords in songs. In other words, try finding some songs with the chords that you have practiced and see how well you do switching between them.

Another thing that I have seen (and heard) musicians do is to experiment with chords, trying to play them with different techniques (like playing the chord as an arpeggio). For instance, instead of playing C-E-G as one solid chord, strum through the three tones with a pattern such as C-C-E-C-G (I don't know how that would sound, but it is just an example).

Hope that answers your question!

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I think the other answers are good advice but possibly too advanced for someone who has only played for a month. So I would say start with what I have here and move on to some of the other advice when your comfortable with this stuff or if it seems too easy.

You could start learning to solo.

Thinking back to when I was in your position, I was surprised to learn how quickly you can start to practice soloing. Once you're comfortable with playing the scale ascending and descending, play around with it and skip some notes or repeat others. Boom, you just improvised a solo.

Play along

On the advice of my guitar teacher, I started trying to solo along to the music I was listening to anyway. I have noticed that most guitar players start soloing this way. I also learned that even musicians who don't play or write music that contain solos, found it beneficial to practice soloing from time to time.

Finding the key

It might seem tricky at first to figure out what key the song is in to play along with. My guitar teacher gave told me the key of a few songs I wanted try but figuring the key of a song is a skill which comes quick. If you know how to play the song, it's very often just the root note of the first chord or note. Simple songs tend to not change key, however, it is quite common for the chorus to change key. Also, this site might help: http://www.songkeyfinder.com/popular or this one for less popular songs: http://musictheorysite.com/namethatkey

Major or Minor?

One of the most useful tips I got at this stage was how to solo in a major key when all you know is the minor pentatonic. You can do this by following the exact same pattern you know but start three half-steps (frets) down. Now the root note is the second note you play. For an example, to play along to a song in the key of A major, move down three frets where the first note you would play is F sharp.

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Scales are useful to know when playing melodic lines (i.e., solos). This is how a guitarist can be told, "this song is in [key X]" and instantly know which notes will sound good in the song.

Pentatonic scales are useful because, even though some notes are technically in the "key" of a song, a smaller set of those sound better than "in the key".

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Well done. You've now cracked one of the essentials in a guitarists 'useful things to know'. If you can play Am pent., then you can move it up one fret and play Bbm pent, or down a couple and play Gm pent.Find all the places - the pattern's the same - and be able to go up and down the scale wherever.

But, that's not even half, being able to play in all the 12 keys. The notes, in a scale order, are somewhat like the letters of our alphabet. We all know that B follows A - in the dictionary - but not all the time in words.

Your next job is to mix up some of the notes. Take four or five of them, preferrably close to each other, and play them in a different order. Just keep the same notes, but time them differently as well.Most times, the 'tunelet' will sound good. You might even hear a familiar riff come out! That's because tunes are made up from a series of notes from a scale, usually. But, unlike letters in a word, they can be played in any order, not just going up or down, to produce a tune. Get used to doing this with more notes, and try it in different keys. The only difference will be where your hand is on the fingerboard.

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Congratulations on your progress! There a number of ways you can proceeed from here, and I would recommend trying all of them to see what resonates with you going forward.

1. Learn the degrees of the scale you are playing for each note

So, a pentatonic scale sounds great because it is all the most harmonious notes of the A minor scale. These are, in order, A, C, D, E, and G; or in other terms, Root, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, minor 7th, and root. By stopping on any note and working out it's name and relation to A, you begin to develop an ear for what each note sounds like. Then, as you get used to the scale, you'll be able to 'hear' the note you want to play before you play it, and your fingers will know where to go.

2. Learn the next shape up/down the fretboard

The pentatonic scale has 5 shapes in all, then they repeat. Learning the next shape will begin to give you access to the whole range of the fretboard, and it sounds really cool to play up one shape and down the next!

3. Learn the 'color' tones.

So I mentioned earlier that the a minor pentatonic is 5 of the 7 A natural minor notes, but it is a lot more than that. It is also the template for the blues scale, the natural minor scale/aolean mode, the dorian mode, the phrygian mode and beyond! While they may seem daunting, all three can all be viewed as simply the pentatonic scale with 2 extra notes thrown in! And the blues scale has just one extra note! Look up A blues/phrygian etc, you'll see what I mean.

Start with the blues scale. The next time you practice, simply add the 6th fret of the A string(Eb), and the 8th fret of the G string(also Eb), and listen to the bluesy color that comes out. You will find that doing the same for natural minor, dorian, and phrygian have a similar result, but blues is the usual place to start.

4. learn the A min7 arpeggio

So here's something cool: there's only a one note difference between the A minor pentatonic scale, and the Amin7 arpeggio. If you remove the D, then the Notes you're left with are A, C, E, G, or in interval terms, Root, minor 3rd, 5th, minor 7th, and there you have an Amin7 arpeggio! Great little arpeggio, sounds really cool, and learning the notes & intervals involved begins to show you how chords and scales are connected, and how they both connect to your ear.

Summary

Play around with these ideas. Mix and match them. See if you can work out the blues scale in another position, or play a min7 arpeggio with the blue note thrown in. For a nice warm-up exercise, Make a 2 string melody and move it up/down through the different shapes. (make sure to practice with a metronome too, if you aren't already)

Enjoy!

Alex

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“What Should I Do With Scales On A Guitar?”

There are many scales, Pentatonic scales, Major and Minor scales, Melodic minor scales, Diminished Scales, Whole Tone Scales. With all these scales it’s important to learn some off the basics so that the other scales begin to have more meaning.

Doing the Pentatonic is fine (there is a Major and a Minor Pentatonic), but I suggest you learn the Major scales in many positions on the guitar as an important first step.

There are many ways of learning Major scales on guitar, bur here's one I found helpful. Terre Roche, entertainer, guitarist, teacher, offers a set of Major scale chords on cue cards she calls Fretboard Vitamins. They are a clear way of learning how to play Major scales in all keys. If interested, you can find these Fretboard Vitamins on her website, https://www.terreroche.com/

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