Scales For Absolute Beginners

This lesson is designed for those who know nothing at all about music scales. It will explain what scales are, teach you how to play your first scales, and give you some suggestions for further development.

116
Hi. I have looked at the scales resources on this site, and many of them have great value, but I couldn't find any that were good for a guitarist who knew nothing at all about scales. I have a couple of students in this position, and I put together some notes for them. I thought there may be others who would find the material helpful.

**What you can expect from this lesson**

If I've done it right, at the end of these notes you will know 3 things:
1. What a scale is.
2. How to play one scale on various positions of your fretboard.
3. What issues to consider if you want to extend your scales knowledge and practice.

**First, some definitions**

An interval is the space or distance between any 2 notes. Intervals can be described in various ways: a third, a tone, a step, and a fret are all terms that people use to talk about music intervals. In this lesson I will describe intervals by the number of frets involved.

An octave is the interval between 2 special notes. These notes will have the same sound and feel when you play them, even though they are not the same pitch.

On a guitar, the octave notes are any pair of notes 12 frets apart. The simplest example of octave notes is when you play a string open (no left hand fretting) and then the same string at the 12th fret. (This fret is often dotted on the side of the fretboard to help you find and play it)

Play this set of notes:

(highest pitch string)
1 E |--0--12------------------------------------|
2 B |---------0--12-----------------------------|
3 G |----------------0--12----------------------|
4 D |-----------------------0--12---------------|
5 A |-----------------------------0--12---------|
6 E |------------------------------------0--12--|
(lowest pitch string)

The first two notes are both E notes. The E note at fret 12 is one octave higher than the open E note. On string 2 the open note is B, and the fret 12 note is also B, one octave higher. And so on.

(By the way, acoustically an octave is created by a 2:1 proportion of harmonics. Fret 12 of your guitar is midway between the two bridges of your guitar. Playing at fret 12 makes your string half the length of the open string, and thus raises the pitch one octave.)

Next, a scale is any set of notes that leads from one note to a second note an octave higher or lower. If you start at the low note and finish at the high note, you have played an ascending scale. And obviously, going from high to low creates a descending scale.

All of these examples are scales. Try them out.

eg1 |--0--12-----------------------------|

eg2 |--0--7--12--------------------------|

eg3 |--0--7--11--12----------------------|

eg4 |--12--7--0--------------------------|

eg5 |--0--2--4--6--8--10--12-------------|

eg6 |--12--11--10--9--8--7--6--5--4--3--2--1--0--|

Some points to remember. First, there is nothing in those examples to tell you which string to play. The scale is created not by particular notes but by the 12 fret gap, so you will play a valid scale whichever string you choose. So you should try the examples on different strings. If you listen carefully you will start to hear how the patterns are all the same, even though the pitch may be higher or lower.

Secondly, if you compare example 2 and example 4, you will see the notes played are the same. The only difference is the direction of the scale. So we have played the same scale in both examples. One is ascending, the other descending.

Try creating your own scales according to the above principles. Start with any open string, end on fret 12 of the same string, and in between play as few or many notes as you choose. Or start at fret 12 and play a descending scale, finishing with the open string.

A root note is the main note of the scale, and is usually the note you start and finish with. If you play these notes...

1 E |--0--12------------------------------------|

...your root note is probably E. And if you play these notes...

2 B |---------0--12-----------------------------|

...your root note is probably B. (I say probably because if you get as far as studying the different modes of a scale, you will find out that there are exceptions to this principle. But for the rest of this lesson, the root note and first note will be the same.)

Finally the root note sets the key for your music. The key is simply the overall range of your music. If you take your music up or down a step, you have changed key. For example, here is the first line of Mary had a little Lamb in 3 different keys. If you play the tune, hum or sing it as well. That will give you a better feel as to how the key varies.

Key 1
1 E |--4--2--0--2--4--4--4---------------------|

Key 2
1 E |--6--4--2--4--6--6--6---------------------|

Key 3
1 E |--8--6--4--6--8--8--8---------------------|

Same tune; 3 different levels.

**A picture to hang your hat on**

If you are a visual person, try this picture. You are in the stairwell of a multi storey building. There is a flight of stairs connecting each floor. As you walk up or down the stairwell you count the steps. You discover that there are 12 steps between each floor. This means that if you start at the foot of one flight of stairs and go up 12 steps, you will be at the foot of the next flight. Or if you start on the 3rd step of one flight, 12 steps later you will be on the 3rd step of the next flight.

This is a picture of our scales and octaves. Step 5 on the 2nd flight and step 5 on the 3rd flight are octave steps, and the scale is the set of the steps you take (up or down) to get from one to the other. A five foot person might touch down on every step and create a 12 stride scale. A six foot six walker might only touch down on every second step, and thus create a six stride scale. And the bank robber being chased by the police might get from one landing to the next in only two strides. A different kind of scale again.

**The major scale**

As we have seen, in theory there are many note patterns that could form a musical scale. However a few special patterns have come to predominate. The major scale is the most important and commonly used pattern in all Western music. So in the rest of this lesson we will learn the basics of this scale pattern, and then finish with some suggestions about further areas to work at.

Start by playing these notes on string 1. Play them often enough so that you can hear the sound of the scale as a whole. At this stage don't worry about your fingering. Fingering is important, but that is a matter for further study.

1 E |--0--2--4--5--7--9--11--12--|

Now play these notes on string 2...

2 B |--0--2--4--5--7--9--11--12--|

As before, you will see that it doesn't matter which string you choose. The overall sound of those 8 notes remains the same, because they are in the same proportions to each other. Try the same pattern on the other strings.

Now play these notes...

1 E |--1--3--5--6--8--10--12--13--|

Again, you should hear the same scale sound as before. We didn't start with an open string, but the first and last notes are 12 frets apart, and the proportions between each note in the scale are once again the same.

Finally, play this set of notes. It is a different scale, created by two small changes in the pattern. By now, you should be able to hear the change in the sound of this pattern and hence know that this is not a major scale.

1 E |--0--2--3--5--7--8--10--12--|

(If you're curious, you've just played an E minor scale!)

What is it that makes a major (or any other) scale? The answer - intervals. The interval between each note in the scale has a certain pattern. Change the pattern, and you change the kind of scale you are playing.

Let's look at our major scale again. This time we will also record the interval (the number of frets) between each note in the scale.

1 E      |--0---2---4---5---7---9---11---12--|
interval 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

or more generally,

note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
interval 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

So all you need to do to produce a major scale anywhere on the guitar is to find your starting note and then play an 8 note scale with this 2-2-1-2-2-2-1 pattern.

**A scale by any other name...**

Our next step is to learn briefly how major scales are named. Because there are 12 frets between the octave notes, there are in fact 12 different major scales. The scale type is the same, but the root note is different in each case. This creates 12 different keys. The first key, and the only key we are going to study in this lesson, is the key of C major. The notes of the scale are named using the first seven letters of the alphabet, like this:

note   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8
name C D E F G A B C

(Remember that the scale has 8 notes, but the first and last notes are the octave notes. They have the same essence, so they have the same name.)

You will recall that there are 12 frets in an octave. However we have only named 7 of those frets by letter. The other 5 frets are named by using the adjacent letters plus a sharp or flat sign. For example, C and D are the first 2 notes of the C major scale, so between C and D there is a 2 fret interval (remember the pattern? 2-2-1-2-2-2-1). So what about the note in between? This note can be named in two ways: C sharp (1 fret up from C) or D flat (1 fret down from D).

The sign for a sharp is a stylised hash symbol (#) and the sign for a flat is a stylised b. So C sharp is written as C#, and D flat is written as Db.

Put all this together and you get the names for every fret in your octave. They go like this:

A
A# or Bb
B
C
C# or Db
D
D# or Eb
E
F
F# or Gb
G
G# or Ab
(and back to A)

If you play all 12 of these notes in a row you have played a special scale known as a chromatic scale.

You can now use these note names to identify the note of every fret on your guitar. For example, the frets on string one are named like this...

1E fret |--0--1--2---3--4---5--6---7--8--9--10--11-12--13-|
name E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F etc
(Gb) (Ab) (Bb) (Db) (Eb)

...and the frets on string 2 have exactly the same 12 note names, except they start with B rather than E.

You may have questions about all this, such as Why does this scale run from C to C, and not A to A? or Why not 12 letters to name the 12 frets between the octaves? Good questions. There are answers, but to deal with them we would need a more extensive knowledge of historical music theory and sheet music notation. It's like asking why does one culture write left to right, and another culture right to left?

So for the present just accept that we start with C. In music C could be described as the default scale. It's the only major scale that has no sharp or flat notes added. Every other major scale needs to use at least one sharp or flat to fill in the gaps. This makes the C major scale easiest to learn at this point.

So, C it is. Let's play this scale on our guitar. There is a C note on string 2, fret 1, so we could play it as follows:

2 B |--1---3---5---6---8---10--12--13--|
note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
name C D E F G A B C
steps 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

Congratulations! You have just learned your first official scale.


**Scale patterns on the fretboard**

So far we have focussed on playing scales on single strings. This is a good way to learn about scales, because you get a better sense of the intervals that you need between the various notes. But to play scales smoothly at speed, we need to use the notes on different strings. We will do this now, using the C major scale as our template.

Remember the essence of a scale - a pattern of notes leading from a starting note to the same note an octave higher or lower. So if we are studying the C major scale we need to know where each C note is on our guitar.

For a guitar using standard tuning the pitch of the open strings is as follows (remember that string 1 is closest to the floor):

String 1 = E
String 2 = B
String 3 = G
String 4 = D
String 5 = A
String 6 = E

So if you know those values, and if you have learned the 12 note names of your chromatic scale above, you should be able to work out the name of any note on any string and fret on your guitar. You may not be able to do it instantly, but that skill will come as you practice. For example, on string 5 the open string is A. Therefore the note at fret 1 is A#. At fret 2 the note is B, and at fret 3 it is C (see the tab below).

1 E |----------------------------------|
2 B |----------------------------------|
3 G |----------------------------------|
4 D |----------------------------------|
5 A |-0--1--2--3-----------------------|
6 E |----------------------------------|
note: A A# B C (C#, etc)

For our second C note we will use the C on string 2. The open string is B, so the C note is on fret 1:

1 E |----------------------------------|
2 B |-0--1-----------------------------|
3 G |----------------------------------|
4 D |----------------------------------|
5 A |----------------------------------|
6 E |----------------------------------|
note: B C (C#, etc)

And so we can play our C major scale across strings 5, 4, 3 and 2, starting at the low C and ascending or the high C and descending. All we need to do is play the same notes in between that make up the C major scale. Here is the C major scale, both ascending and descending:

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |-------------------0--1---||-1--0-----------------------|
3 G |-------------0--2---------||-------2--0-----------------|
4 D |----0--2--3---------------||-------------3--2--0--------|
5 A |-3------------------------||----------------------3-----|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
note: C D E F G A B C C B A G F E D C

As you play this scale, try to hear the major scale sound. The notes and the intervals between each note are exactly the same as when you played your major scale on one string.

**A brief detour**

By now you need to start thinking about the fingering for your fretboard hand. Play these 4 notes:

1 E |--1--2--3--4------------------

You could have played all 4 notes by using just your first finger and moving your hand sideways for each note. But a better fingering is to play them with all four fingers, keeping your hand steady, as below.

1 E    |--1--2--3--4------------------
finger 1 2 3 4

Your hand at this point is said to be in first position, because the first finger is playing the note on fret 1.

Now play these notes.

1 E    |--2--3--4--5---------------

Again, the best fingering is to use all four fingers and keep your hand steady:

1 E    |--2--3--4--5---------------
finger 1 2 3 4

In this case your hand is in second position, because your first finger is playing the second fret note. Both sets of notes are identical in terms of finger movements and patterns. The only difference is the positioning of your hand.

In the scales that follow I will add the hand position and fingerings that I use. Feel free to use them or not as you wish.

**Back to C major**

We can expand our C major scale further as we learn more about the notes on our fretboard. In the previous example, we played the C major scale from the C on string 5 to the C on string 2. But in fact there is a C note on each string of your guitar somewhere between the open string and fret 12. As we learn where they are, this opens up possibilites for new ways to play our scales. Some scales will be the same as the one above, but played in a different position on your guitar. Others will be different scales - still a major scale, but covering a different octave.

Here are the 6 C notes:

1 E |--8------------------------
2 B |-----1---------------------
3 G |--------5------------------
4 D |-----------10--------------
5 A |---------------3-----------
6 E |------------------8--------

So using these root notes we can create scales in various positions on our guitar. You have already learned to play the C major scale like this...

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |-------------------0--1---|
3 G |-------------0--2---------|
4 D |----0--2--3---------------|
5 A |-3------------------------|
6 E |--------------------------|

...but it could also be played like this:

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------|
3 G |----------------2--4--5---|
4 D |-------2--3--5------------|
5 A |-3--5---------------------|
6 E |--------------------------|

The scale is identical. The only change is that you have chosen notes on different strings to create the scale. My suggestion for fingering is to play the first scale in first position (play C with your third finger, D open, E with your second finger, and so on), and the second scale in second position (so you will now play C with your second finger, D with your fourth finger, E with your first finger and so on).

The six patterns that follow are all examples of a C major scale. Each pattern is distinguished by which pair of strings the first and last notes are on.

Pattern 1

From string 5 to string 2
Play in first position (play note 1 with your third finger)

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |-------------------0--1---||-1--0-----------------------|
3 G |-------------0--2---------||-------2--0-----------------|
4 D |----0--2--3---------------||-------------3--2--0--------|
5 A |-3------------------------||----------------------3-----|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|

Pattern 2

From string 5 to string 3
Play in second position (play note 1 with your second finger)

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------||----------------------------|
3 G |----------------2--4--5---||-5--4--2--------------------|
4 D |-------2--3--5------------||----------5--3--2-----------|
5 A |-3--5---------------------||-------------------5--3-----|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|

Pattern 3

From string 6 to string 4
Play in seventh position (play note 1 with your second finger)

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------||----------------------------|
3 G |--------------------------||----------------------------|
4 D |----------------7--9--10--||-10-9--7--------------------|
5 A |-------7--8--10-----------||----------10-8--7-----------|
6 E |-8--10--------------------||-------------------10-8-----|

Pattern 4

From string 6 to string 3
Play in fifth position (play note 1 with your fourth finger). You will need to move to fourth position for the last 2 notes.

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------||----------------------------|
3 G |-------------------4--5---||-5--4-----------------------|
4 D |-------------5--7---------||-------7--5-----------------|
5 A |----5--7--8---------------||-------------8--7--5--------|
6 E |-8------------------------||----------------------8-----|

Pattern 5

From string 3 to string 1
Play in fifth position (play note 1 with first finger)

1 E |----------------5--7--8---||-8--7--5--------------------|
2 B |-------5--6--8------------||----------8--6--5-----------|
3 G |-5--7---------------------||-------------------7--5-----|
4 D |--------------------------||----------------------------|
5 A |--------------------------||----------------------------|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|

Pattern 6

From string 4 to string 1
Play in seventh position (play note 1 with fourth finger)

1 E |-------------------7--8---||-8--7-----------------------|
2 B |-------------8--10--------||-------10-8-----------------|
3 G |----7--9--10--------------||-------------10-9--7--------|
4 D |-10-----------------------||----------------------10----|
5 A |--------------------------||----------------------------|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|


And there you have it! Hopefully you understand something of what a scale is all about, and can play your first scales up and down your fretboard.

**For further study...**

Scales in music is a huge area. There are lots of good resources on this web site and elsewhere. Here are my tips for other areas you should look at.

1. Work on your fingering.

It's worth taking the time to learn healthy techniques for both your left and right hands.

2. Develop practice strategies.

There are lots of ideas around. One exercise that I give my students is the mini scale. They start with notes 1-3, and when they have mastered those notes, they add one note at a time until they can play the scale:

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------|
3 G |--------------------------|
4 D |----0--2--0---------------|
5 A |-3-----------3------------|
6 E |--------------------------|

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------|
3 G |--------------------------|
4 D |----0--2--3--2--0---------|
5 A |-3-----------------3------|
6 E |--------------------------|

1 E |---------------------------|
2 B |---------------------------|
3 G |-------------0-------------|
4 D |----0--2--3-----3--2--0----|
5 A |-3-----------------------3-|
6 E |---------------------------|

and so on.

Another tip here - make sure that you practice your descending scales as much as your ascending scales.

3. Create other patterns with your scales.

There are many ways you can take the basic scale notes and weave them together in different combinations. Here is one example. It is based on pattern 1 with the third notes added (a musical third is 2 notes up in the scale from the previous note. In the scale of C major, C to E is a third; so are D to F, E to G and so on.)

1 E |---------------------------------------------|
2 B |----------------------------0-----1--0--3--1-|
3 G |----------------0-----2--0-----2-------------|
4 D |----2--0--3--2-----3-------------------------|
5 A |-3-------------------------------------------|
6 E |---------------------------------------------|
notes C D E F G A B C
E F G A B C D


4. Explore other kinds of scale.

We have only looked at the major scale here. The arpeggio, pentatonic and minor scales are other patterns that you should try out when ready.

5. Learn to play scales over more than one octave.

By combining your scales you can play music that covers more than one octave. Here is one example to give you the idea. It combines pattern 2 and pattern 5. If you can already play these two patterns, the only detail of technique you need to consider is the fingering when you move from the first octave to the second and back. The shift is between 2nd position and 5th position, and it happens on string 3, so I have given the fingering for each note on that string.


(ascending)
1 E |-------------------------------------5--6--8--|
2 B |----------------------------5--6--8-----------|
3 G |----------------2--4--5--7--------------------|
4 D |-------2--3--5--------------------------------|
5 A |-3--5-----------------------------------------|
6 E |----------------------------------------------|
| 2nd position... | 5th position...
fingering: 1 3 1 3

(descending)
1 E |-8--7--5--------------------------------------|
2 B |----------8--6--5-----------------------------|
3 G |-------------------7--5--4--2-----------------|
4 D |-------------------------------5--3--2--------|
5 A |----------------------------------------5--3--|
6 E |----------------------------------------------|
| 5th position... | 2nd position...
fingering: 1 3 1 3


6. Put your scales to use.

There are of course thousands of ways to do this. One simple idea is to play the melody line of any song using one specific scale pattern. For an example, see Doe, a deer from the Sound of Music (I have recently loaded a version of this song onto U-G - choose the chord version, which also has the melody line). You will see that this song uses the 8 notes of a major scale, and to play it smoothly you need to know your scale well. You could take a song like this and learn to play it with each of our 6 scale patterns.

Happy scale surfing!

75 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    peterk
    Some interesting responses! Maybe some more background to this lesson would help. I'm a part time self employed guitar teacher, and recently one of my students wanted to learn "Stairway to heaven" (along with a million other people). So we worked through it, and when we got to the solo I said, "The solo is based on a pentatonic scale, so it might be good if we learned that first". He said, "What's a scale?" So that was my catalyst. A student who actually is a good intermediate level guitarist (He can play "Stairway to heaven perfectly up to the solo). But he doesn't know the first thing about scales. I agree totally that just doing scale exercises is soooo boring. Mix it up, play particular songs, riffs, solos, whatever. But if you understand the principles as well as the practical stuff, they complement each other. btw, I wonder if my title is unfortunate. I wasn't thinking of beginner guitarists , only those who feel like total beginners when it comes to scales in their music. I wouldn't dream of covering stuff like this with a novice guitarist.
    crabboyjimmy
    I've been looking for a nice well laid out explanation of scales. Thank you for this. And thanks to anyone who is willing to take the time to help someone else learn!
    Thallid06
    This post is, hands down, the best explaination of scales I've ever found. Because of thise post, I now understand everything that has been confusing me for over half a year now. So many other people would leave out key details that just render the whole thing useless but you were able to explain everything perfectly. None of the questions I had before I read this have been left un-answered. To anyone skimming the comments to figure out if reading the lengthy article is worth your time then just take it from me that it is. Take your time, read it over a few times, take notes and you will learn what scales are and what they are used for. peterk keep up the good work man. This couldn't have been more informative. If you have any other posts I'll be sure to check them out.
    peterk
    Hi Roadie, Pleased to help. On the issue of 12 scales or 15... That's really an issue beyond the scope of this lesson. There are 12 frets between the octave notes, so there are exactly 12 different sets of major scale notes that we can create. However in some cases the same set of notes is given 2 different names depending on context, which creates more than 12 scales. Remember how we can call string 2, fret 2 either C sharp or D flat? It's the same issue with scales.
    coffinguitarist
    voodoochild23 wrote: I hate the idea of 'scales for beginners'. Its restrictive, boring, pointless. Actually, i hate scales altogether. Memorize the notes on the fretboard by learning songs for a year, get used to seeing the intervals, and you wont need to run up and down and up and down this nonsensical stuff to know how to play within a scale. No offence to whoever made this lesson, clearly a lot of effort was put into it etc. I just despise it.
    My Guitar Teacher says a good guitarist knows how to play a song they have never heard before by knowing what key its in.
    LnyBrd
    Nice work. Don't pay attention to comments from those who actually attempt to have a thought by claiming to have the revelation that scales don't make sense. scales are the very foundation of music theory and understanding what you are playing and how to take it from one thought to another...very nice work man!
    Afterhours
    Good lesson. You obviously put alot of work into this. I thought the analogy of the stairs was interesting, although I think a better visual representation of intervalic relationships would be an actual keyboard.
    robert.higham.3
    we all hate things but we have to do them,and sometimes wotherwise hen we do them we find out we enjoy the learning proccess,then later on we are glad we learnt them because it opens what would have been restricted confusius(ed)
    shpangler
    izzizz wrote: good lesson. quite detailed. good for beginners.
    +1, good job!
    peterk
    andreirosete wrote: can somebody teach me how to transpose a scale!!?!?!?!
    You can use this lesson to transpose notes, scales, chord progressions etc. Just take the interval between the original key and the key you want to transpose to, and change everything by that interval. Example - Say I want to transpose a song from F to D. D is 3 frets lower than F so just lower everything by those 3 frets. The F major scale goes: F G A Bb C D E F The D major scale goes: D E F# G A B C# D (D to F = 3 frets; E to G = 3 frets; and so on) Same with chords - G minor becomes E minor; C 7th becomes A 7th, and so on.
    JakeIsInsane
    voodoochild23 wrote: I hate the idea of 'scales for beginners'. Its restrictive, boring, pointless. Actually, i hate scales altogether. Memorize the notes on the fretboard by learning songs for a year, get used to seeing the intervals, and you wont need to run up and down and up and down this nonsensical stuff to know how to play within a scale. No offence to whoever made this lesson, clearly a lot of effort was put into it etc. I just despise it.
    Aww screw you. This was a great lesson.
    wizewesley
    Thank you for the lesson. After 100 years trying to to play , finally found the key.Thanks again.
    Robling
    Thanks Peterk, learned all this as a kid then stopped playin for over 15 years! Great refresher course, though I need my callouses back!
    maclll
    I have been on my own trying to learn scales through the internet and have found it extremely confusing. No one really explains very much concerning the theory behind the scales. Just trying to learn the pentatonic scales which are only 5 notes, it seems every individual shows something different on their page. Trowing in blues notes just compounds the confusion. Pete, your lesson is the first that I have seen to actually really explain the scales and the actual climbing and descending octaves. You have taken considerable time and effort to put out an excellent lesson myself and I see others greatly appreciate. Yes, having a teacher would be the right way to go but in hard economic times, resorting to finding great lessons like your's really provides incentive to not just give up and quit.
    josmatto
    Awesome post peterk. I've been playing guitar and bass for about 6 years now, and spent all of my time learning other group's songs. It's a nice party trick and such, but really at the end of the day I had nothing to show for my years of effort. Now I'm in a band, and I've begun to find it extremely difficult to aid in the writing process because I lack knowledge in scales. I've taken some high school level courses on theory, but had a hard time applying it to the guitar. I'm so glad I found a nice instruction like this. To the naysayers of scales, like voodoochild23 (not trying to badmouth you or anything buddy), I feel like you are ignoring the musicality behind playing guitar. These fundamentals are ESSENTIAL if you want to flourish as a musician. Unless you're content with only playing another musician's material. But how do you think Jimi Hendrix or Dimebag Darrel came up with their stuff? I'm sure it all stems from when they first picked up a guitar and banged out dem scales! Anyway, thanks for your help peterk!
    Khetag Lagkuti
    Thank you very much! You not only show mere tabs and say "It's C major,believe it or not", but explain the very essence of things.I wonder if you are going to post some more lessons on a matter of scales(or other fundamental and necessary staff)
    peterk
    On part 5 of the "for further study", I believe the ascending part should end 5-7-8, not 5-6-8...
    You're quite right. Thanks for picking up that typo.
    headless01
    Excellent!!! This has solved many questions of mine. Very detailed and is explained very well. If people would just read it ALL instead of scanning through it, then u may have a higher rating. Cheers dude, keep up the good work!!
    Velvet_Blue
    Awesome! I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for this lesson. I've been strumming around on an acoustic for years, but just got an electric and am learning the C Pentatonic and C Major scale. I have a feeling I don't learn quite like others do, but this lesson helped me understand immensely! It was laid out perfectly and very easy to understand. I've printed it out so I can go over it often so it will really sink in. Thank you so much!
    deathroman13
    This is such a good lesson. I tried learning about scales but every lesson I found was so confusing and now thanks to this article I understand the basics of scales.
    hamann
    Hey! Just wanted to say that I, as a beginner, really did benefit from this but I do have to say that Scales probably isn't the most efficient way of learning how to learn guitar. I DID learn though alot from your lesson and I thank you dearly for it. I can see that this probably took you a CONSIDERABLE amount of time to write. Keep up what you do man and whether it benefits you yourself or not, it sure does benefit all the people out there, like myself. So thanks again man. Deeply appreciated. Peace
    JnRowe
    I've been looking for a long time for something about scale! Now i understand. Thanks man/woman
    Obfuscation
    Thanks bro, this helped me a lot. Mind adding me so i can ask you a few questions? Thank you.
    2maxfaith
    thanks 4 the help pal , for the 1st time I am able to grasp what scales are all about.
    ToolCreedence
    Very heplful. I've been trying to play solos just using the regular notes on the strings (no flats or sharps). Now I understand why that sounds alright
    Yabba Who
    What an awesome lesson! I've been playing guitar for 30 years and I still learned something from this. Thank you!
    garyr
    Thanks for the great info. Re the value of scales, here's what one old finger picker said: "The practice of scales enables one to solve a greater number of technical problems in a shorter time than the study of an any other exercise." A. Segovia.
    benjo74
    Excellent lesson, scales are, as already said so important! yes, they are a painful and mundane but the reward will be in your playing. Learning is different for everyone so the negativity is just opinion and not of any help to anyone. nice one peter
    peterk
    P.S Would you guys reccomend getting lessons of a guitar teacher, or should I just keep trying my best with books and lessons on the internet?
    Scotty, you've asked the wrong person - I'm going to be biased, because I'm a guitar teacher! As always, there are different factors. A book resource is good if you are looking to learn a particular song or type of song - eg, the riffs of AC/DC. But to get the best out of it you may need to know some underlying guitar skills or theory. Getting value out of it will depend on how good you are at self teaching. A teacher resource can be good if you are having problems making progress generally - and in fact your comments on this lesson show that, because it's not just the UG lesson that's helped you, but my experience as a teacher in putting it together in a useful way for you. A good teacher should be able to see quickly where you are strong and weak and identify a lesson plan that will improve your playing and get you where you want to be. Of course one on one lessons will cost. Shop around. I give all my students their first lesson free so they can see what they will get from me as a teacher and whether it's worth it. hth, Peter.
    peterk
    A minor correction. If you get as far as the 2 octave scale at the end, the fingering for both ascending and descending scales is marked as 1-3-1-3. The descending scale fingering should have been 3-1-3-1 (as you will see when you try to play it!).
    jrmarcellana
    im very happy i learn guitar scaling... now im on a band lead guitar, bass player... if i didnt know how to scale i cant do stuff like pick sweeping and some licks.. scales are ver usefull... thanks peterk im playing guitar for 2 years and always practicing from the start.. please add me at friendster and facebook... keisserjohn@yahoo.com more power on UG and you all guys you rock... dont mind the bad comments because they doesn't deserve to be a musician.. rock and roll yow... add me again keisserjohn@Yahoo.com on friendster and facebook thanks you!
    dor4231
    Thanks a lot... I am from Israel and I am not know English so good and I was understood this one. Thanks for the easy language and keep doing good job. You helped me so mach.
    Sakke
    I find this very clear. Everything is quite well explained.Thumbs up and keep going man,I'm sure you could make some other lessons too for those who need.