You Are Playing Your Scales Wrong (The Map Technique)

scales tricks and hacks Sep 04, 2023



Are you tired of practicing your scales in a monotonous, repetitive manner, only to find that you're playing lacks the heart and soul you desire? Many guitarists fall into the trap of mindlessly running through scales without truly understanding how to use them in their playing. In this blog post, we'll explore a game-changing technique called the Map Technique that will revolutionize the way you practice scales and elevate your playing to new heights.

The Problem with Traditional Scale Practice

Before diving into the Map Technique, let's understand the flaws of traditional scale practice. Most guitarists approach scale practice by mindlessly running through the notes in a linear fashion. While this method isn't inherently bad when first getting to know scales, it fails to simulate how we naturally play in solos. Playing scales this way may improve technical proficiency, but it falls short in cultivating musicality and creative phrasing.

The Philosophy of the Map Technique

The Map Technique is more than just a practice exercise; it's a philosophy that emphasizes understanding and deep exploration. The idea behind the Map Technique is to practice scales the way we play them on stage – in phrases and musical ideas. Think of it as exploring different regions on a musical map, delving deeper into each area and understanding its unique characteristics.

The Importance of Hyper-Focusing

A key aspect of the Map Technique is hyper-focusing on a specific part of the neck or scale. Rather than mindlessly running up and down the entire scale, pick a small section and thoroughly explore it. This focused approach allows you to appreciate the nuances of the scale, understand the roles of different notes within it, and eventually translate that understanding into emotive and expressive solos.

Applying the Map Technique with Blues Scales

Let's see how the Map Technique works with blues scales. For instance, take the A blues scale. Instead of playing the entire scale repetitively, focus on a small segment of the scale, such as a four or five-note pattern. By exploring this section deeply and experimenting with different phrasings, you'll discover the richness and versatility of this limited pattern.

Practicing Sequences for Diatonic Scales

For diatonic scales (e.g., major or natural minor), you can employ sequences as a part of the Map Technique. Sequences involve playing patterns that skip notes within the scale, creating interesting musical ideas. This approach mirrors the way you'll naturally play solos and helps you internalize the unique feel of each note in the scale.

The Importance of Phrases and Motifs

Playing scales in phrases and motifs is a fundamental element of the Map Technique. Rather than treating scales as mechanical exercises, think of them as musical ideas. Phrases and motifs add personality and character to your solos, making them more engaging and captivating for your audience.


By incorporating the Map Technique into your practice routine, you'll transform the way you approach scale practice and ultimately, you're playing. Embrace the philosophy of hyper-focusing on small sections of the scale, exploring each area deeply, and practicing in phrases and motifs. By doing so, you'll not only improve your technical prowess but also infuse your playing with soul, creativity, and musicality.

Remember, practicing scales is not just about gaining speed or technical prowess; it's about truly understanding the language of music and expressing yourself through the guitar. The Map Technique will equip you with the tools to navigate the fretboard with intention, creativity, and passion – transforming your playing from ordinary to extraordinary. So, go ahead, take out your guitar, and embark on the journey of mastering the Map Technique. Your musicality and audience will thank you for it.

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