How to Play Tremolando Scales on Classical Guitar

Scales help us to refine and polish our playing. Classical guitar is physically demanding. Scales and other exercises allow us the time and place to work on our form, positioning, and movements.

Variations on regular scale practice, such as tremolando scales, can keep us challenged and moving forward.

What are Tremolando Scales?

Tremolando scales are a practice method where we play each scale tone more than once.

Instead of Do Re Mi Fa Sol, for example, we may play Do Do Do Re Re Re Mi Mi Mi, etc.

The right hand plays each note multiple times before the left hand moves to the next note. The most common number of notes per scale tone are 2, 3, and 4.

The Benefits of Tremolando Scales

Tremolando scales allow time on each note to fully focus on the right-hand movements. We still change notes in the left hand, but not as frequently as the right hand plays.

This extra time on each note can allow us to increase the speed at which our right hand plays. Like speed bursts, we can stay in control and aware while pushing our boundaries.

Another benefit of tremolando scales is that we can practice listening to one note connecting to the next. We can gauge the gap between notes and make it as consistent and small as possible.

And we can also listen to the way one note connects to the next when the left hand changes notes. This is training in legato (smoothly connected notes) playing. It’s one of the great skills of classical guitar technique.

One more benefit pertains to rhythm and internal pulse. Playing I/M alternation in the right hand, we can practice the art of steady rhythm. We can use a metronome for this. Likewise, we can see to keep the volume intentional and precise.

Scale Practice Tips

As long as we use good form, positioning, and movements, just about any scale practice is good practice. However, here are some tips for more effective practice.

Above all, use good technique

Scale practice can do more harm than good if we use our hands poorly. We can ingrain bad habits and create more work for ourselves in the future.

Instead, focus first on good classical guitar techinque. This includes sitting position, left-hand form and thumb placement, and right-hand movements.

Use a metronome

A metronome can help us develop internal rhythm and better timing. This is useful whenever we practice guitar technique. (Don’t worry, it gets easier in time!)

Go slow enough to remain aware of every note

Speed creates the illusion of perfection. Strive to hear each and every note. This skill of listening and hearing will directly improve our playing of pieces of music.

Create variation

We can create infinite variety in our scale practice. This helps us to engage and challenges our skills. Some ways to create variations are dotted rhythms, accents, and dynamics.

We can also play each scale tone 2, 3, 4, or more times.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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