Hi Greg!
Thank you for asking!

When I first learned about the altered scale, I used the concept "Melodic minor up a half step", because the melodic minor patterns were already familiar to me. So initially I used that concept, but nowadays I think in terms of the altered scale instead of thinking melodic minor.

The most important thing is to get the patterns under your fingers, and then use the scale over an altered chord resolving to its I chord of some form, to hear the notes. For instance, record yourself laying down a G7altered chord that resolves to a C minor or C major (in slow or free tempo), and use the G altered scale (Ab melodic minor) over the G7, and then resolve to C major or minor. Do this over and over and really listen to the notes within the scale relative to the G7 chord. After awhile you'll start to hear it better, cause in the beginning it can be tricky since the scale can sound almost too dissonant at times.

I have a really low action on my Maton guitar :) Daddario 12-53 but I change the 12 to a 14, so the top string is actually pretty heavy.
Hope this helps Greg!
Have a wonderful day and thanks for checking out the lesson! :)