Guitar Lesson 4

The Major Scale

Musical notes are named according to the first seven letters of the alphabet.

A         B            C            D            E            F            G

Have a look at where these notes can be found across the fretboard. Figure 1 shows the notes that lie on the E and A strings.

Figure 1: Note locations on E and A strings


Flats and sharps are located between each of these notes, except between B and C, and E and F. This can be better understood by looking at the distance between each note in terms of tones and semitones. (Fig. 2)

Figure 2: Note intervals


Each fret on the fingerboard of a guitar represents one semi-tone. This is why notes B and C are located next to each other, whilst notes C and D have a fret (semi-tone) in-between them.

Scales consist of a run of notes with a specific pattern of tones and semi-tones between them. For example if you play all of the notes on a guitar string as you go up the fretboard you would be playing the chromatic scale, which is so called because it contains a continuous run of consecutive notes.

The Major scale is the name given to a run of notes with the following pattern of tones and semi-tones:

Figure 3: Major scale intervals


Taking any note on the guitar and following this pattern will give you a Major scale in the key of the starting note and ending on the same note but an octave higher. The figure below shows how this pattern can be used to give you the scale of F Major:

Figure 4: F Major scale

It is also a good idea to think about where these notes lie on the rest of the neck. As well as playing the scale up one string you can play it over different strings and up the entire neck. Below shows the F Major scale going across the fretboard over two octaves –try and work out other places in which you could play the scale

Figure 5: Notes of F major

Now try the same process but in another key – the key of C perhaps. Take any C note on the fretboard and progress up the Major scale following the w-w-h-w-w-w-h intervals. You should notice that the feel of the scale is the same but in the key of C.

Now write out the notes of the scale, starting with C.


Q; Do you notice any thing different about the notes in the C Major scale?

A: There are no sharps or flats in the C Major Scale. This is because the note C is the starting point upon which all music theory is based.

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