Scales For Beginners

author: high voltage date: 03/09/2005 category: guitar scales and modes

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This lesson was created specifically for beginner and possibly intermediate guitarists interested in learning guitar scales!
Gmajor scale 1st position r=root note
   r                     r                    r
   2  4  1  2  4  2  3  4  1  3  4  2  4  1  2  4
   ----------fingers used (optional)-------------
Gmaj 2nd position 
                      r                    r
   1  3  4  2  4  1  2  4  1  2  4  1  3  4  1  3  4
Gmaj 3rd position 
                    r                      r
   1  2  4   1  3   4  1  3  4   1  3   1  2  4   1  2  4
Gmaj 4th position 
               r                         r
    2   4  1   2   4  1  2    4  1   3   4   1   3   4   1   3
Gmaj 5th position 
           r                           r                            r
   1  3   4    1   3   4   1   3   1   2   4   1   2   4    1   3  4
These are the 5 positions of the Major scale. The root note is the note that determines what the scale is called. Such as, Gmajor, Amajor Bbmajor etc. Some of these scales require some position shifts, i.e. where you have to adjust your hand to get to the next note. I've notated the fingerings as to make this a little easier. The Major scale is based on scale degrees. I II III IV V VI VII VIII these are determined by half and whole steps. A half step you can think of it as going up or down one fret. Like from B to C or D to D#. A whole step is like going up two frets. B to C# or A to B.
I-II     whole step
II-III   whole step
III-IV   half step
IV-V     whole step
VI-VII   half step
VII-VIII whole step
VIII is just an octave up from the root note (B-B). An octave is eight steps up. Same note, just higher or lower than the root. With the 1st position of the Major scale, you can make that Amajor by moving the root note on the low E string up to the 5th fret. Hence, the A major scale. By memorizing these you can play in any key by finding the root note somewhere on the fretboard. Make a recording of just the G major chord, then play the scale, and improvise something over it. Or you can use these chords: Gmaj, Amin, Bmin, Cmaj, Dmaj, Emin, F#min (or diminished) Minor scales are the same as the relative major scales, except that they start on a different note. The scales above you can use over Eminor, because Eminor is Gmajor's relative key. This means, that the notes are the same in both scales, and the chords are the same, it would just be that Eminor is the most prominent chord. Most rock music is in Eminor, minor keys are very dark sounding, whereas major chords, sound happy, or bright.
G Pentatonic Major 
   r               r              r
              r              r
             r                r
            r                 r           
      r                     r                   r
These are the 5 Pentatonic scale positions. Gmajor (again) Pentatonic can be thought of as Eminor Pentatonic. Just start on a different note. Try this. Record a progression - E - A - B use power chords (5chords) then play these scales over it. Memorize these scales by their root note (r) and you can play in any key just knowing these 5 positions. Pentatonic scales are used commonly in blues or rock. They're only 5 notes, as compared to major or minor (7 notes). Practice these two types of scales in each position, try to use a metronome if you have one, this will enable you to play these scales cleanly and accurately. A good thing to do is find the first root note from the low E string. Play the scale starting on the root, play the scale up then down to the Low E, then back to the root note. Example:
This way, you will remember where the root note is, there are usually at least two root notes in a scale, try starting on all the root notes for each position and doing this. This way, you can find a starting point on any string. Also pay attention to how the notes connect to each other up the fret board. That's all for now, keep it up!
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