Scales! Tips, Tricks, and Getting Started

Blerg. Scales. Not as much fun as playing your favorite tune, but they are the fundamental theory behind all music. Instruments are built based on scales and music is created using them whether you know it or not! When you start understanding scales and actually practicing them, you’ll see your guitar skills soar.

So let’s make practicing scales easier and more fun! 

If you want some direct help with making learning and playing scales easy to do, check out Trey Xavier’s RelationShapes course on scales on the Fret Zealot app to become a scale master.

In the meantime, here are some tips showing some of our favorite scales and how to play them in fun ways (instead of running your typical drills).

E Minor Pentatonic

The E Minor Pentatonic is one of the most commonly used scales for playing lead guitar, because any open note (just strumming a string without any fingers on the neck) will give you a note that sounds good! You can see this on Fret Zealot because all the LEDs are lit up on the 0th fret location above. Yes! You’ll still sound decent, even if you hit some extra strings while shredding on those power chords.

Speaking of power chords, we suggest trying the Justin Guitar power chord lesson in the app to learn the simple power chord shapes. Then, open the Notes and Scales section of Fret Zealot and choose the E Minor Pentatonic scale. Practice your power chords on this scale just like the GIF above! You’ll be amazed at how quickly and easily you can play some classic rock rhythms… or make your own!

The E Minor Pentatonic scale is very commonly used in metal and hard rock. Some songs you might recognize that make heavy use of this scale:

Back In Black – AC DC
Black Knight – Deep Purple
Enter Sandman – Metallica
Lonely Boy – The Black Keys
Paranoid – Black Sabbath
Pride & Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan
Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix
Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

(you can play these songs in the Fret Zealot web app or within the Android and iOS apps in PLAY > SONGS)

Aside from being incredibly useful, this scale is based on a simple 5 note pattern, which means it’s easy to use and adapt when you’re soloing or just playing around! There’s an amazing course by John Robson in the Fret Zealot app (Play Lead Guitar… the Easy Way!) that teaches the shapes and soloing techniques for pentatonic scales specifically, and we highly recommend checking it out. Here’s an example of 3 octaves of a pentatonic scale shape from his course:

This simple shape is easy to memorize and can be shifted up and down the fretboard to change your key on the fly. Experiment with different note patterns and you’ll find yourself replicating some of the most famous solos out there!

A Harmonic Minor

The A Harmonic Minor scale is a common, but rather unique and exotic sounding scale. It has a combination between a jazzy and Arabic/Egyptian sound, but it actually dates to classical European music from the Baroque era. Bach was particularly a fan of this one. If you’re jamming on A Harmonic Minor, make sure you get out your effects pedal(s) to create some really interesting sounds while playing the same notes.

The harmonic scales in any key are considered dark or dramatic. It’s one of the more expressive scale types. Some artists that make use of harmonic scales are:

Dire Straits

(again…head to the SONGS section of the app to see this in action!)

So if you’re looking to find something new with a completely unique sound, A Harmonic Minor is the way to go.

C Blues

Well, blues is in the name, so you know where we’re going with this! We love the C Blues scale. The Blues scale is just a pentatonic scale with one additional note. From a visual perspective, you can easily identify it by having a “three in a row” pattern (see the bluish hue notes in the GIF above).

This scale is quite fun to play with different soloing techniques: skipping notes, sliding, bending, etc. Add in an effects pedal (e.g. distortion) and power chords are game! This is a great scale to use when practicing your improvisation skills. One of our favorite things to do is play a C Blues backing track with Fret Zealot displaying the scale so you can practice lead guitar.

Want to get into some 12 bar blues, techniques, and turnarounds? Henry Olsen’s Beginner Blues Guitar course in the Fret Zealot app walks you through everything, including some play along tracks to let you experiment on your own.

G Major Ionian

The G Major Ionian is a staple of many famous guitarists! It’s arguably the most common key that music is played in (followed by C major). Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl is an example of an entire song based on a unique string of notes in this scale. We found this convenient Spotify Playlist that has 40 examples of songs that use G Major Ionian from pretty much every genre.

That’s how we keep ourselves playing and learning scales on the regular. But remember that you can get some extra help with learning your scales. Check out Trey Xavier’s RelationShapes course in the Fret Zealot app. He’ll get you soloing and transformed into a scale master in no time!

Many other courses have smaller sections on scales as well, so subscribe to learn specifically how to play scales through rock, rockabilly, jazz, and blues styles!

Check out the COURSES section of the Fret Zealot app or online and see for yourself!

Press Release – COURSES Launches on Fret Zealot Apps

Music Education Tech Start-Up Launches Course Marketplace on Fret Zealot App

Innovative, New Combined Approach to Guitar Instruction and Internet of Things (IoT) Technology

Washington, DC – Edge Tech Labs is launching Fret Zealot Courses, a marketplace that allows instructors to offer video lesson programs for either a fixed price or subscription.

Fret Zealot is an LED strip that is applied directly to the fretboard of a guitar, bass, or ukulele. It is accompanied by an all-access, highly interactive Android and iOS app that includes every scale; ten thousand chords; over seventy thousand songs; a tuner with over fifty-five tunings; a metronome; customizable and programmable practice features; and various tools, including microphone listening for accuracy, application programming interface (API) integrations, and light shows. Fret Zealot partners with various guitar-centric leaders, such as Uberchord, and includes instructor-led video tutorials as well.

Fret Zealot is designed to make learning to play instruments fun and engaging. This way, aspiring musicians of all ages can learn to play intuitively, at their own pace, and on their own time.

The Marketplace’s primary innovation is that the video tutorials now sync directly with the Fret Zealot LEDs on the instrument’s fretboard, demonstrating what the instructor is teaching in real time.

Using a thin LED strip that aligns with the frets and shows players where to put their fingers, Fret Zealot products capitalize on technology to make learning an instrument easier and more intuitive. Users can learn at their own pace and on their own time, and they can start and stop with ease.

“With thousands of customers around the globe, our data is showing that players want ‘bite-size’ lessons of just fourteen to eighteen minutes,” says Shaun Masavage, Fret Zealot CEO. “No physical instructor offers in-person lessons less than thirty minutes, meaning there’s a significant gap between what’s available and what we’re delivering with the Courses feature. Fret Zealot’s technology makes it seem as if the instructor’s hands are right on your own instrument—without ever having to leave your home.”

Courses available through Fret Zealot have several key benefits:

  • They are handpicked. Instructors are chosen, and the marketplace is not open to any course submission. Quality is ensured from the start.
  • Fret Zealot data are created manually to ensure complete accuracy of the finger locations and color displays.
  • By the summer of 2020, over two thousand videos will be available. Compared to traditional instruction, the marketplace offers formidable monetary and time-saving advantages.

Fret Zealot COURSES – Behind the Scenes

We developed Fret Zealot courses because we know that the music education industry has to change. Fender’s CEO has been quoted several times saying they estimate that 90% of new players give up playing guitar (forever) after just a few weeks. It’s a shame considering how many benefits playing guitar (or ukulele or bass) has. With thousands of customers around the globe, we’ve realized why people quit (and why others don’t!). Here are the main reasons why people quit their instrument:




With guitar retention at 10% in the industry and Fret Zealot usage more than quadruple that, we wanted to make that number get even higher, and to help our customers learn faster and easier. After tons of customer research and testing in our office, we designed the Fret Zealot Course Marketplace to address each of the big concerns: time, money, and motivation.


One of the first things we learned when we dove into Fret Zealot customer research was that players want small, “bite-sized” lessons of just 14 – 18 minutes. Have you ever seen an instructor offer a 14 minute in-person lesson? NOPE. Plus, our users wanted the ability to immediately pick up where they left off, so if you have to leave a lesson mid-way through, it’s easy to find your place again. From seeing people play and learn, we realized that the visual reminders of the Fret Zealot LEDs makes these short sessions much more intuitive and useful for retaining what you learned. Now, instead of having to book an hour lesson on someone else’s schedule, you can learn on your lunch break, learn while waiting for dinner to cook, and learn on the go with no inconvenience or setup.


To many, this is the most important obstacle to learning an instrument. Just like buying a guitar, Fret Zealot can be a big purchase. The long term savings, though, are huge. Guitar lessons rarely cost less than $30 per half hour. With at least one lesson per week to keep progress going, you’re looking at $120 per month at minimum. What if you have something come up that forces you to take a few weeks or months off? All of your progress is mostly gone, and you have to start the money train all over again. Fret Zealot is a one-time purchase, and the Courses feature has options for both single purchases and an all-inclusive subscription. You’ll have a virtual guitar teacher available to you 24/7 and a database of all of your past lessons for a fraction of the cost as traditional instruction!



The ultimate barrier to entry. We LOVE playing music around here. But even we can get sick of scales or repetitive exercises – we want to play the hits! If you’re caught in a teacher’s program and practice cycle that you find boring… then it fails its purpose! The goal of Fret Zealot is to be the ultimate toolbox for learning guitar and give you all the tools necessary to learn YOUR way. We even made a post about how to customize your Fret Zealot installation here. Some people love to use our scales feature so they can practice solos and riffing. Others use the chord progression feature to practice changing hand positions. Others dive right into songs, learning on their own or using the free video lessons for getting started. Just like we purposefully designed Fret Zealot so it would fit on YOUR favorite guitar (instead of permanently installing Fret Zealot onto a guitar of our choosing), we designed our app so that you can learn YOUR way. The Course Marketplace takes this one step further by branching out in specific styles, skills, and songs and taking you step by step to mastering the skills you want to learn. You also get to choose WHO you learn from, so you have a guitar instructor that matches your learning style and needs. There are infinite styles and techniques to learn on your instrument, and we’re using our Courses to deliver that variety to you! 

Check out the Course Marketplace and see for yourself!

The Many Health Benefits of Playing Guitar

It isn’t cliche. It’s true. It’s scientifically proven, even, that playing guitar has a lot of health benefits. Playing guitar is good for your brain. Playing guitar is good for your body. Playing guitar is good for your soul (and emotional health). There are a lot of studies out to support it with SCIENCE now, too.

So here are some of the ways playing guitar will improve all of that:

Playing guitar 

  1. Reduces The Effects of Stress
    This is good all around, right? We hear about stress as the silent killer all the time. shares Suzanne Hanser’s summation of the health benefits of playing an instrument. Hanser is the chair of the music therapy department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. “Research shows that making music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression. There is also increasing evidence that making music enhances the immunological response, which enables us to fight viruses.”
    The American Psychological Association reports the same citing that music can be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery. It also literally reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases production of the “antibody immunoglobulin A and the natural killer cells that fight off viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness.” Next time you’re feeling the pressures of life, pick up your guitar and start playing. You will feel better, and maybe you won’t get sick or have a heart attack.
  2. Lifts Your Mood  
    How many times have you heard someone say “Music is my therapy,” or “Music is my church.” There is a reason for that. Music can boost your mood. The sounds and vibrations themselves are therapeutic and can be used to treat pain. Being creative and emotionally expressive is therapeutic. Completing something new is healing and boosts confidence. Whether you play music as a hobby or as a professional, you will feel better. Or, simply listen. That works, too.
  3. Improves Brain Function  
    One of the benefits of playing guitar, and playing an instrument in general, is it improves your brain’s cognitive function no matter what. Numerous studies report playing music enhances a child’s development and prevents dementia in older adults.

    One of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s otolaryngologist says listening to or playing music provides a total brain workout.  “Music is structural, mathematical and architectural. It’s based on relationships between one note and the next. You may not be aware of it, but your brain has to do a lot of computing to make sense of it.”  It also improves long term memory recall, jump-starts creativity and improves eye hand coordination. 
    By the way, an oto-laryng-ologist is fancy for ENT, or an ears, nose and throat doctor.
  4. Boosts Confidence
    Part of this is up to you. Because, if you give up and don’t actually learn to play, then it won’t boost your confidence. But, if you do practice and learn, you will be so proud of yourself as you succeed one song, one chord and one riff at a time. Learning any new skill is good for your brain, but learning to play an instrument is completely different engages a different part of your creative mind. Ultimately, as you continue to learn and grow, your self esteem will grow as well. Achieving “little” successes and “little” goals, leads to greater successes and accomplishments, setting a pattern of reinforced positive experiences. Positive experiences build more positive Some think you could have more success in love, too.
  5. Connects You With Other People
    You’re a rock. You’re an island. We get it. Having alone time is important, and practicing alone is therapeutic. But hanging out with people is important, too, especially people you get along with. Music is a unique way to connect with other people in a distant or intimate way, whether you chat favorite guitar riffs, the best and worst bands of all time, or you’re jamming around the bonfire. All you have to do is go to a local open mic to experience this. (Don’t let one bad open mic turn you off from finding other music lovers in your community, though.)

There you have it, the benefits of playing music, and in our case, playing guitar, are never ending. Playing guitar is essentially good for everyone from the inside out, no matter the age, from children to adults. Music truly is a unique gift in this world that we can all embrace alone and together.

If you want to get started, download the Fret Zealot app or on your computer and explore all of the ways you can tune, practice and play. Here’s a list of chords to get started, and you can download our free beginner’s guide here.

Fret Zealot fits almost any guitar with any neck length, and we have a new Fret Zealot for ukulele available as well.

Explore our store and pick up your guitar or ukulele and play! 

Featured Artist – Marc Daniels Country Rock

Welcome to our first Featured Artist post! We want to share the stories AND music of some of the local artists we work with to help people learn their music (so send us an email at if you want to be featured!). In our last blog post, we talked about the 5 Reasons to Play a Local Open Mic Night & What to Expect. It’s fitting that we talk about a new and upcoming artist this month, Marc Daniels, that did just that to get his start. True, his ‘open mic nights’ might have been in the form of bonfires with the stage being a flatbed truck, but it’s all the same to us!

The music industry can be brutal and our goal with Fret Zealot is to help everyone, not just the big players. In our experience, working with local artists is more fun anyway! You learn real stories and find unique ways to work together. In this case, we added one of Marc Daniels’ songs to the Fret Zealot app and he actually did a personal demo of it live! Check it out below:

Check out Marc’s Fret Zealot demo of “Redheads” above!

Marc Daniels first came onto the music scene in a big way in 2016, which coincidentally is when we were about to launch the first Fret Zealot versions. We’ve both come a long way in just a couple years! Fittingly so, Marc’s first album name was The Starting Line. From this album came his popular song Redheads (available to learn in the Fret Zealot app!).

Since we’re still in the heat of the summer here, we’re obligated to share the Summer Song music video:

Just this year, Marc Daniels released his latest album: “#Holdmybeer”. Yes, Sir! Marc has humble roots, though, coming from family in Spokane, Washington and summers on the lakes of Northern Idaho. 

Even though his music career is taking off, he notes that every artist has to start somewhere. Marc experimented with different cover bands before truly finding his country rock soul. He comments in his interview with CountryMusicJunkies that his song inspiration has both classical and contemporary roots, which he’s found to be particularly appealing to the current generation of country listeners. In the busy modern world, his listeners want to be reminded of the simpler things in life like relaxing by a lake or even a meal with friends at a diner. “Struggle, loss, love, and connection to people” is a part of all our lives, so remembering the good experiences is what his music is all about.

Fret Zealot’s toolbox of app features lets you discover your style, express your creativity, and accomplish your own individual goals. So get out there, have experiences, make mistakes, learn, and find your sound! Thanks, Marc, for teaching us how it’s done!