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Lyle Ronglien >> Beginning Guitar VI - Scales >>



Beginning Guitar VI - Scales

Lesson 1 - The Major Scale

Lesson Sample in E major

Lyle: It's important to know the major scale because other scales, chords, arpeggios, and the formulas regarding music theory all relate to it. Since this is a "Beginning Guitar" series, I'll be keeping the theory stuff pretty tame. The main thing is that you learn what the scales are and memorize everything you can about them.

Lyle: Let's start with a single string major scale starting on the open 1st string:

1 - E major scale

Lyle: Playback the TAB notation so you can see and hear it on the virtual fretboard. Look at the physical layout of the scale and the spaces between the notes. You'll see that the notes have numbers assigned to them. These are called the scale degrees:

R = Root note or tonic
2 = Major second
3 = Major third
4 = Perfect fourth
5 = Perfect fifth
6 = Major sixth
7 = Major 7th

Lyle: Good thing to memorize right there, you'll refer to this as you learn more about scales and theory etc. There are 7 different tones followed by the "octave" which is the R/root again. In this case, this is the E major scale.

DanT: w-w-h-w-w-w-h

Lyle: Memorize that, thank you DanT. The physical layout of the major scale, no matter where you start on the neck, goes, - whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.

Lyle: Whole step = 2 frets, half step = 1 fret.

Lyle: Here's a jam track in the key of E that you can practice playing this scale up and down the 1st string with:

Jam Track for E major scales

Lyle: The major scale is also known to me as the " Doe, Ray, Me, Fa, So, La, Tee, Doe" scale. It just might be the most melodic scale out there and the most used scale. It sure doesn't sound bluesy or rockin' but it is melodic. As you learn and practice the E major scale on the 1st string, notice how the half steps are between the 3rd and 4th and the 7th and octave notes. All the other notes have two frets between them.

Lyle: W-W-H-W-W-W-H

Lyle: 2 wholes and a half, 3 wholes and a half. It's so important to memorize that formula. From here the world of music theory can unfold for you.

Lyle: Now try playing this major scale formula starting on each E note from each string!

2 - E major scale - all strings

BigTX: Why is E to a F# a whole step, not E to a F?

Lyle: E to F is a half step, E to F# is a whole step. But to make the E major scale fit the major scale formula, you have to # the F to make it fit the formula.

BigTX: Gotcha, two frets.

DanT: There is only a half step between B and C as well?

Lyle: Right, that is for the natural note names, but in the key of E you have to raise the C to C# to fit the formula of the whole step, half step formula.

Lyle: Here's another place to learn the E major scale, the open position:

3 - E major scale - open position

Lyle: That is a pattern that covers just 1 "octave", meaning from E to E. Here's a pattern that goes from the low E 6th string to beyond the open E on the first string:

4 - E major scale - open position 2

Lyle: Remember that you can practice playing these E major scale patterns along with the looping jam track. It will help you, or I hope, inspire you to practice them by having a jam track to play along with.

Lyle: Next I'd like to show you my favorite major scale patterns that I use often. These are also "moveable" patterns too. Once you memorize the fingerings, you can move them up and down the neck to get to different keys. Here's pattern that you can start on the 5th string E and the same pattern on the 6th string E:

5 - E major scale patterns 1

5 - E major scale patterns 1

DanT: Can you use these same patterns for say the C major scale by starting on the C notes?

Lyle: Yes, these are the moveable patterns. Start with the root on the 8th fret and you've got yourself the C major scale.

Lyle: Here's a two octave pattern that starts on the 6th string. This is a great finger exercise scale too. You may notice it's a little tough at first until your muscle memory takes over, you have to train your fingers.

6 - E major scale - pattern 2


6 - E major scale patterns 2

Lyle: All major scales use the same formula, but not the same fingering patterns. Here's another fingering pattern for the E major scale:

7 - E major scale - patterns 3

7 - E major scale patterns 3

BigTX: Does this work for C on the 8th as well?

Lyle: Yes.

sammy_andrews: And D at the tenth too?

Lyle: Yes. Here's an example of how you can move the formula and pattern up just 1 fret to get from E to F major scale.

8 - E and F major scales

8 - E and F major scales

BigTX: So are these the major patterns for the Majors, or are there others?

Lyle: These are some of the main fingerings for the major scale.

Lyle: Try these two octave patterns for the G major scale. You should recognize these patterns from earlier in this lesson:

9 - G major scales

Lyle: Like you might have asked earlier, you can move these patterns up and down the neck to get to any of the other keys.

9 - G major scales

Lyle: Here's the A major scale in one octave patterns up the neck:

10 - A major scale practice

10 - A major scale practice

Lyle: You can take any of the major scale patterns that I've shown you here and move them up and down the neck to get to all the different keys, as long as the pattern didn't have an open string in it. Here's a couple video examples of how I took a major scale pattern and practiced playing up the neck:

ascending scale pattern example 1

ascending scale pattern example 2

Lyle: Try to memorize some or all of these major scale patterns and practice them up and down the neck.

Lyle: That's all for this lesson. Talk to you all next lesson when we explore the natural minor scale!

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