So i've had a lot of trouble getting my head around scales, but I think I partly understand them, as follows. I guess i'm asking two questions here.

MAJOR Scale has the following intervals: W W H W W W H

So the C Major scale has the following notes, which in this case happen to be:
C D F G A B C. This is because when you jump A WHOLE step from C it lands on a D etc

If I were to start on an A, it would become the A MAJOR? And therefore the notes would be A B Cshp D E Fshp G (sorry can't find the hash key on the MAC).

Is this correct?

Also, how does this translate to tab. I saw a tab earlier as follows:


I can't get my head around how this makes its the C Major scale, or what identifies it at such? I've read you start and finish on the root note. In this case it would be C but here it's starting on an Open E and doesn't hit a C until 6 notes in, namely A string 3rd fret.

I would be very grateful for anyone that could help me understand.

Many thanks for any help, J
first..a very strong suggestion...study theory..in doing so..most - if not all your questions about scales chords and how they work together will become much clearer..

the key of A major has three sharps F# C# and G#...so that scale is A B C# D E F# G# A

you can begin any scale on any degree of the scale and still be in the scale..thus the pattern you are asking about is the C major scale beginning on the low E note..and it ends on a high G note..then descends back to the low E but it is a C major pattern because it containes all the notes of the C major scale--CDEFGAB...

so you could start the scale on any note of the C scale and it will still be the C scale..thus -- EFGABCD..are all in the C scale but starting on a note other than C..

should you study theory this will become clear as to why you can do this and still call it C major..

hope this helps
play well

Last edited by wolflen at May 6, 2016,
A major scale has a G#.

Don't let the shapes dictate you. This is the problem with the guitar. It is such a shape based instrument.

You could play those notes anywhere on the fretboard and in any order, and it will be the C major scale..... IF the harmonic backdrop is a C major chord.

It is the harmony that dictates what scale you're using.

If you played those notes over a A minor chord, you will not be playing the C major scale. You'll be playing something else.
Yes, starting that pattern on A would make A Major. The major scale is defined as the notes you get by using that interval pattern from a given root.

Quote by Jamieclarke1983

I can't get my head around how this makes its the C Major scale, or what identifies it at such? I've read you start and finish on the root note. In this case it would be C but here it's starting on an Open E and doesn't hit a C until 6 notes in, namely A string 3rd fret.

A scale is a set of notes, regardless of their order. Your example is C major, it's just starting on the lowest possible C major note, which is the open E string.

When you're writing a scale out, you start on the root note, but that's only for writing. You can play a scale any way you like, and it's actually good practice to do so.

So for the sake of your own education here, think about what that tabbed pattern would be if you started it on the F (low E string) and then the G, etc. Scales are only useful to your playing if you can play them everywhere on the neck.

I'd highly recommend the following:

1) Learn the notes of the C-major scale on each string individually. Basically learning the white notes on the piano on each string which will give you a solid base to build the rest of your knowledge on.

2) Focus on the scale degree of each note. For a major scale ( in any key) it's: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. In C that would be C,D,E,F,G,A,B.

The power of knowing this will be apparent when you want to learn any other scale.

For example, to make that C major scale a C lydian scale, all you have to do is to raise the 4th note (F to F#).
So by changing just one note (moving ALL F's to F# across the neck) you have a totally new scale under your fingers.
Incidentally this is also the same notes as the G-major scale but that's for another post

The above was only an example, your task at hand is learning the notes of C-major on each string individually before thinking about anything else.

3) Practice each string saying the note name and scale degree while slowly moving up and down each string. Do this to a drone of a low C so you really hear the C as the tonic/1'st scale degree.

Drones is just a note/notes held for a long time to practice over, you can easily make one yourself with garage band or something similar. Great practice tool though.

4) Learning the different ways of organizing scales on the fretboard (3-notes per string, box fingerings etc...) will be much easier and you'll see the benefits of each approach and also not be "stuck" in any one pattern if you know the neck like this.

5) Find a good teacher or a good book and really learn the theory behind all the scales and chords. But like I said before, make sure to learn all the "white keys" on your instrument first. Will be much easier to apply and understand the theory you learn after that.

Hope this helps

Best regards