The word scale comes from the Italian word scala, which means ladder. A scale is
simply a collection of pitches that have been arranged into a specific ascending and
The melody that a vocalist sings comes from one or more scales. The notes that
are played in guitar solos and riffs come from scales. The chords that are used in
songs come from scales.
There are many different types of scales and many fingerings for them. A basic
knowledge of scales will make it much easier to understand and perform music. In
essence, scales are to music what addition is to mathematics-a foundation upon
which more advanced principles can be developed.
The Major Scale
The major scale is by far the most common scale. Since the guitar is an extremely
visual instrument, it makes sense to be able to “see” scale fingerings on the neck.
Below you will find a fingering for the major scale. All of the scale forms that we will
examine are moveable.
In other words, you can play these scales on any fret of the guitar. This will
come in handy when you learn guitar solos and start to improvise your own.
The black notes represent the root notes of each scale. The root note is the
note that indicates the letter-name of a scale or chord. So, if you play the above
scale form so that the root notes are on C’s, you would have a C major scale. If
the same scale form is played with the root notes on A’s, you would have an A
Here is the fingering:
Below you will see the same scale fingering shown in tab.
Practice the C major scale forwards and backwards.
To your guitar success,
Don J. MacLean
Don J. MacLean is one of the world's leading authorities on accelerated learning systems for guitar-with students using his methods in
© Copyright 2012 Don J. MacLean. All Rights Reserved.