Non-musical scales I.




Related sections




The non-musical scales are considered scales that are made up of notes with no musical arrangement or principle. These scales exclusively aim to be played on and on for practicing and mastering certain guitar skills. They can be classified into the following types:

  • Scales for warming up - beginner or advanced level

  • Scales for finger stretching

  • Scales for finger independence - for fingers moving separately from the others, which is fundamental for fast playing

  • Scales for positioning - these scales are for changing fret positions quickly and accurately

Obviously, these different types are related to each other; If you practise a certain type of these exercises, it will help improve in the rest of them.

Yet, practicing these kinds of scales is even more boring than practicing music-related scales; so be prepared for that.

All in all, the non-musical scales are as useful as the music-related scales. The typical problem beginners encounter is that they can't move their ring finger and little finger independently from the other. (To my knowledge, the reason behind is that in the nervous system the connections of the neurons responsible for moving fingers independently are not complete) This is why this should be improved by practising. The non-musical scales particularly help make these fingers move.




One of my students, András Budai attends medical school (his scale pattern idea is published in OSIRE - guitar - Tips and tricks section).



I asked him about this theory of mine. All he said was that there is still a lot to explore and prove in this field of neurology. Yet, since I am considered an outsider to this, I can have my own opinion. J


In addition to this, there are some other things to consider when speaking of the relation of the ring and the little fingers. You can find out more on this in section Fingering statistics by Sápi.


As you can see, my methodology employs the non-musical scales for warming up the fingers and practicing the optimal picking technique. The optimal picking technique, as it is thoroughly described in another section, is the alternate picking regardless of string change.  You can use the non-musical scales to practice this, play them up and down, back and forth, the way you like.


Basically, I don't like splitting up the exercises into groups by level of knowledge, as they imply some sort of hierarchy which I don't really like. Yet, they still need to be classified in a way, as far as difficulty to play; so there are two levels: beginner and advanced levels. This only indicates that complete beginners do not start with the advanced exercises in any way. I will indicate the advanced exercises with red color.


The question is still valid; Apart from these exercises, do I need to use a hand gripper? Well, I am not a fan of this kind of working out. In my opinion, practicing the scales will definitely give your fingers the necessary physical strength; the rest is all about technique. In fact, not how hard you can press the string matters, but finding the optimal way to carry out the same thing making the least effort, lasting the longest. I am confident that playing the guitar takes 70 % technique and only 30 % physical strength.


And all this is 100 % controlled by your mind!


This means that even though you have the physical strength to press the string, all that is useless if you haven't got the right technique. Obviously, I am not against sports; a musician should still stay in shape by doing some kind of sports...


I suggest you try playing the non-musical scales from a relatively comfortable fret position. The position I find to be comfortable is the G note on the E6 string.



Transposing the non-musical scales could be another exercise. The mirror images in the related sections will show you the different scale structures, as well as there some videos to showcase how to play the scales (even on an acoustic guitar).


Before you start with the scales, here is the ultimate exercise to strengthen your fingers: J


Related sections


Non-musical scales II. - Warming up

Non-musical scales III. - Crisscross exercises

Non-musical scales IV. - Pyramids

Non-musical scales V. - Exercises with fingers stuck on the fretboard

Non-musical scales VI. - Warble

Non-musical scales VII. - Positioning exercises

Non-musical scales VIII. - Scales by Sápi fingering I.

Non-musical scales IX. - Scales by Sápi fingering II.

Non-musical scales X. - Scales by Sápi fingering III.

Non-musical scales XI. - Scales by Sápi fingering IV.

Non-musical scales XII. - Scales by Sápi fingering V. - Non-musical scales I. - Summary