Major Scale Guitar Lesson

This is a guitar lesson that tries to explain what the Major Scale is in Musical Theory. This video is part of a 2 part series. The next video you should see is The Seven Modes. There are some easy guitar tab videos such as the easy Super Mario Bros Tab or Easy Fur Elise Tab in the Guitar Tabs area. Here is the monologue for the video seen above:

A musical scale is a series of notes that differ in pitch according to a specific pattern. In popular music there are 12 notes you need to know. These 12 notes make up what is known as the Chromatic scale.

Chromatic Scale:

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#

Each of these 12 notes is a half step or semitone apart from the next note. A half step, which is also known as a semitone, is the distance from one fret on the guitar to the next or previous fret. For instance, the distance from the 5th fret to the 6th fret on any string of the guitar is known as a half step. So if you were to play the 5th fret on any string and then played the 6th fret of that same string you could say you moved up a half step from the 5th fret. Like wise if you were to play the 6th fret and then moved down to the 5th fret to pluck the same string again you could say you moved Down a half step from the 6th fret.

So the chromatic scale is made up of all 12 notes and each note is a half step away from it's neighboring notes. Every note you can play on the guitar falls within the Chromatic scale:


Click the image for a larger version.


The Chromatic scale is not too common in popular music. The most common Scale used in Popular music is the Major Scale. The Major Scale has 7 notes. Let's take a look at the C Major Scale.

C Major Scale:


The C major scale starts off on a C note and moves up 2 half steps to a D note. Two half steps are equal to 1 whole step, or 1 whole tone as it is some times called. So the distance from C to D is known as a whole step or whole tone.
The next note in the C major scale is an E which is a whole step up from D. After that we move up a half step to F, a whole step to G, a whole step to A, another whole step to B and to get to the next C note, we move up a half step from B to C. This is the formula for a major scale:

The Major Scale Formula/Pattern:

W W h W W W h

The W's represent Whole Steps and the H's represent Half steps. With this formula you can figure out the notes in any Major Scale. Another way to figure out the notes in any major scale is to learn this pattern on the guitar:

Click the  image to see a larger image.

Once you know this pattern you can start on any fret on the Low E string and Play a Major scale. Watch as I use this pattern to play the C Major scale across all 6 strings (see video above for a demonstration):


Now if we want to play a D major scale we just move this pattern Up by one whole step, which means we move it up by 2 frets. So we start the pattern off on the 10th fret of the low E string rather than the 8th fret that we started on for the C major scale:


This way of playing the major scale is some what limiting though. There are many more locations on the guitar where we find notes that are in the Major Scale. This is where Modes come in handy. There are 7 modes I want to show you. One mode for each of the 7 notes that are in the Major Scale. Click Here for the next video: The 7 Modes. Or check out the easy Super Mario Bros Tab or Easy Fur Elise Tab in the Guitar Tabs area.