Basic Scales

This lesson is good for beginners and people who want scale knowledge. There is a little theory, and a two scales.

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Ultimate Guitar
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This is a lesson for beginners. It talks about scales, how they are formed, and how to play them. Since this is a lesson for beginners, I will show you two basic scales I learned in the first two months of guitar lessons. These will be the Major Scale and Minor Pentatonic. Scale Before I begin with the lesson, I want to give a definition of a Scale. A scale is a group of notes collected in ascending (going up) and desending order (going down). Scales are formed from keys and are used in haromny, melody, and soloing. Major Scale The major scale, or ionian scale, is one of the most commonly used scales in music along with the pentatonic and blues scales. You can use it in rock, but it used alot in country music. The construction of a major scale, is the 1 2 3 4 5 6 and 7, of the key. This means, in the key of C, C D E F G A B, you take the 1 2 3 4 5 6 and 7 notes and put them on the fretboard and play. Most people just got really confused after that bit of theory, and are asking "how do you play this?". It is very simple. This is the tab for the major scale in the Key of C:
Ascending
E|--------------------------------7-8--|
B|---------------------------8-10------|
G|--------------------7-9-10-----------|
D|-------------7-9-10------------------|
A|------7-8-10-------------------------|
E|-8-10--------------------------------|
   2 4  1 2 4  1 3 4  1 3 4  2  4 1 2 (These are the fingerings)
this is actually a two octave scale, which means after you finish the first octave, you go an octave higher. (We won't go into detail with that right now) The notes are, starting on the E strings 8th fret, are C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. Now play the scale, as you can probably tell while playing, it has a happy sound. The major tone is a happy tone. (Note-the ascending means going up, to play descending, go backwards. Some might find this diffcult at first, but it trains your fingers and builds speed) Minor Pentatonic Scale Some might be thinking, why teach us the major scale, and not the minor scale. I do this for a few reasons, 1-this is an easy scale to learn, and 2-it is the scale most used in all kinds of music. And if your like me and like rock and some blues, the pentatonic minor is the most common one used in that style of music. A Pentatonic scale, unlike most scales, have 5 notes in them. In a minor pentatonic, they are the 1-b3-4-5-b7 of the key. The b3 and b7, means the notes are flatted, which means they are lowered. Now we will be using the key of C again, to show the differences between the major scale and a minor pentatonic scale. Key of C C-D-E-F-G-A-B 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 to build the minor pentatonic, you take the 1-C, b3-Eb, 4-F, 5-G, b7-Bb. See, five notes, C-Eb-F-G-Bb. Now to play this, again in two octave form, you would play like this.
Ascending
E|--------------------------8-11-----|
B|---------------------8-11----------|
G|----------------8-10---------------|
D|-----------8-10--------------------|
A|------8-10-------------------------|
E|-8-11------------------------------|
   1  4 1  3 1  3 1  3 1  4 1  4 (fingerings)
Once again this is a two octave scale, but I won't get into much detail with that. Just know that the notes are C-Eb-F-G-Bb, and start over again. And to play in descending you just go backwards, it will be hard, but it builds speed, strength, and trains your fingers. Okay there might me some unclear parts, if there are any problems, then send me a message. I'm metalcore16. Thanks, rate me.

52 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Duke_Jr
    Great little lesson!! To help out Wrangler... All scales are composed of tones, both full tones and half tones. In the case of a major scale, it works like this: 1-1-1-1/2-1-1-1-1/2. Now in the case of a guitar, a 1/2 tone or step is simply going from fret to the next. A full tone is 2 frets. So for an A major scale your notes would be: A B C# D E F# G# A. You can use this pattern for any major scale in any key. Hope this helps!
    ratedRocker
    ermmm.... tones and notes are the same thing, right?? so all major scales follow 1-1-1-1/2-1-1-1-1/2... but I'm a really new to scales and things... so its like... I get the pattern 1-1-1-1/2... B to C#.. are a full tone cause they are 2 frets apart (did I get it right??) but C# and D... aren't they a consecutive frets?? so that makes them a 1/2 tone... D to E, E to F# and F# to G# are full tones... followed by a 1/2 tone of G# to A... so the pattern goes like 1-1/2-1-1-1-1/2... how do I understand how many full tones to play before the half tone?? sorry if its a very silly question... cant hurt to learn, eh??
    Sdp3030
    I kinda get scales now... I need someone to really explain scales to me, I have just gotten really into learning the guitar and know the basic but nothing about scales
    metalcore16
    actually thats a good idea cfh12804, in the next few months i'll create a really good lesson about keys and some little theory things. (i'm actually gonna take an AP music theory class, and i will put lessons up from what i learn if i believe it will help with guitar)
    metalcore16
    scales are what solos are made of. for example if your a kiss fan, and know ace frehley's work, he uses the pentatonic scales and blues box scales, and his live solos are in the key of A almost always.
    Duhjlimos
    This was a very well written lesson. Are you by any chance a teacher? But yeah, 10/10! Very well done!
    mo4form
    Why do they think we know what they're talking about!!? Not everyone has private tuition. And I know the "beginners" thing - nobody plays on one string you patronizing emos.
    Takuun
    Great for those with very little music theory, or those just getting into scales. I was able to follow through it without a problem.
    cfh12804
    thanks man. do you think you could do me a favor and put up a lesson about keys and stuff. i have no idea what key of a or anything like that is
    HeyPetray
    A great place for beginners to start. This is just enough information and material to practice with. It's easy for tutors to drift into other (un)related lessons. Well done
    jamescicio
    great lesson you have rationally explained the scales , i knew the C major scale but didnt realize i knew it until now, so thanks
    TimH09
    so far this is my first real lesson that ive gotten, and the 2nd set sounds awsome, im gunna look into it more, ive been doing rythem guitar for about a year now, and i want to learn lead also, so i better get my butt into gear xD
    wrangler\m/
    i have a small question.. if i want to make a major scale in the key of A..how do i do that?? A B C D E F G A..i guess,but how do i know where to play the notes i.e on which string..as evry string has all these notes.. im new,,u can tell.
    sandy_lang
    Thanks metalcore. I am just picking up the guitar again after a frustrating set of begginer's lessons. I JUST "got" the scale and your lesson reaffirms it. I found this great cheat sheet on the web and it really works wonders for me. Just keep staring at it and it will come to you! http://www.halfhill.com/cheatsheet.pdf I've practiced those scales and have come up with a variety of little blues riffs on my own as a result.
    Timone Pearson
    I have been looking for scales for the guitar. I actualy play piano and the guitar thing was very new. But thanks this helps alot.
    xnotorious
    OMG!!!! This is the only place that i've found what the definition of a scale is, sure i figured out what a scale was like after playing them for a few days but this finally confirms it, totally badass guide!
    Stompnd
    wrangler\m/ wrote: can no one help me?? A B C D E F G A is the scale the strings on a guitar are so if you have your E string if you play that note open (by itself no left hand) each no you play starting at fret 1 goes up a pitch, i.e. E-F-F#-G-G#-A-Bb-C-C# # = sharp - meaning the note is a halfstep up from the original note b = usually equals flat - meaning the note is a halfstep below the original note. hope that helped. =) Look Up
    angel81
    wow dude, i love this shit, i play a lot with the pentatonic and i know lots of riffs on it but now i know how to make a pentatonic from a major xD, thanks!!!
    Krieger91
    so to play these scales in any other key all i have to do is start from any other note?? in other words...to do a major scale in the key of G..i follow the same pattern (GABCDEFG) but starting from the 3 rd fret of the E string?? or the 10th fret of the E?? and for a minor penatonic in A..i just follow the same pattern from the 5th??
    browsy19
    great lesson man i just had a question say for example i was playing a song where the 1st chord was g does that mean the solo would begin with a g note?
    bigtuna91
    wrangler\m/ wrote: i have a small question.. if i want to make a major scale in the key of A..how do i do that?? A B C D E F G A..i guess,but how do i know where to play the notes i.e on which string..as evry string has all these notes.. im new,,u can tell.
    Just mastering the key of C is a good way to start. It contains no sharps or flats. The key of G contains one sharp, F#, all other notes remain the same (C D E F# G A B C) The key of D contains two sharps, F# and C# (C# D E F# G A B C#) This is the order in which sharps will appear: F C G D A E B, always starting with F#. To tell which key you are playing in, check a half step up from the last sharp. The key containing F# C# and G# is the key of A, since A is a half step up from G# Any minor scale simply begins three half steps below the root (beginning note) of its major scale.
    Barry Regan
    Been looking all over and this was only one that made it easy, and it works great!! You have a teaching gift,use it.
    gunnersandmash
    good guide, but I don't like your fingering for the major scale - I use three on a string so you can sweep pick if necessary. Like this E ----- B -----5-7-8----- G -----4-5-7----- D -----4-5-7----- A -----3-5-7----- E 3-5-7-----