Major and Minor Scales

Scales can be considered the back bone for any aspiring solo guitarist. The knowledge of scales leads to a fundamental understanding of the fret board, the workings of the harmonic and melodic vocabulary needed to advance your playing, and most importantly, the ability to play what is in your head.

Scales can come in many different shapes and arrangements. Different cultures have different scales or "arrangements" of notes that are indigennous to their heritage and region. For our purposes we will address two of the most popular scales in western music: Diatonic and pentatonic. A pentatonic scale is a five note scale. The blues scale is pentatonic. The diatonic is a seven note scale. There are two fundamental types of diatonic scales: major and minor. There are three minor scales: natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor. Also derived from our major scale we have modes. Finally we have synthetic scales; these scales are constructed to accompany a chord progression or some other device where conventional major and minor scales fail to suffice. For our purposes we will not address the number of whole and half steps designated for each type of scale.

The following are all the C major scales from 1st position to 12th starting on either the low E or A strings. These fingerings should be learned and memorized. The position indicates where your first finger is most of the time (thus a third position scale denotes that your index finger is at the third fret). Different positions of the same scale will serve you better in certain situations than others would. Follow the fingerings and learn each scale ascending and descending. It is recommended that if you are unsure of the notes on the fret board you should use these scale positions to correct the problem. All the notes in the C Major scale are C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. After you learn the different positions the names of the notes should be plugged into the various scale shapes. This will save you time and energy when compared to the usual "memorizing" the fret board. Learn the scales, the plug in the names.

Also if you are unclear of the notes down the fingerboard you can plug the names of the notes into a given position up one octave (above or after the 12th fret). This method of learning the notes may be more practical than just memorizing the names on the fret board.