Monday, October 12, 2009

Beginners Guide to Playing Major Guitar Scales

Guitar scales are extremely beneficial guitar practice exercise and if you aren't learning them, then you are at a serious disadvantage. Three important benefits of learning guitar scales are as follows:

The constant upward and downward left to right movement of your hand across the fretboard builds lots of strength in your hands. The stronger your hands become, the easier it becomes to hold down the strings and produce clean sounds on your guitar. You are definitely going to need strong hands, especially when it comes to playing those difficult barre chords.


Most beginners spend most of their playing time at the same general area of the guitar, usually on the first 5 frets. When you play guitar scales, your fingers and hands travel all across the fretboard of your guitar. You will play notes and areas of the guitar that you may rarely play or familiarize yourself with.


One of the biggest challenges you will need to overcome as a beginner guitar player is the pain you will most definitely experience in your fingers. There is a good chance you have already experienced this annoying pain. It is because the skin and flesh on your fingertips is very delicate and in order to prevent further injury, your fingers will naturally develop calluses from continuous playing. Calluses are your best friend and when they finally form, you will see a huge difference in your ability to play the guitar. You will be able to play for longer periods of time as well as hold down strings more firmly.


Now that we have seen the benefits of learning guitar scales, let us jump right in and learn your first scale. I am going to show you how to play the C major scale on your guitar, because that is the first scale I was taught. This is often the first guitar scale that most beginners are taught because the notes of this scale contain no sharps or flats.

The C Major scale consists of 7 different notes plus an eighth note which is just a duplicate of the first note but an octave higher: C D E F G A B C. The first note is known as the root of the scale and the last note is better known as the octave of the scale. The 1st note, or root of the scale tells you what the name of the scale is.

So how are the notes of the C Major scale found you may ask?

Lets first look at all existing notes in music first:

C - C#(or Dflat) - D - D#(or E flat) - E - F - F#(or G Flat) - G - G#(or A Flat) - A - A#( or B Flat) - B

Each scale begins and ends with the same note and all major scales adhere to the same general rule known as whole steps and half steps:

W W 1/2 W W W 1/2

So to get the C Major Scale, we start at C and go one whole step to D, then another whole step to E, then a half step to F, then a whole step to G, then a whole step to A, then a whole step to B, then finally a half step to C again giving us:


So now that we know how to find the notes of the C Major Scale, how do we play this on the guitar?

First lets take a look at the strings of the guitar, which will give us a good starting point to finding the notes of the C Major Scale:

E ---------------------------------1 String (High E)

B---------------------------------2nd String

G---------------------------------3rd String

D---------------------------------4th String

A---------------------------------5th String

E---------------------------------6th String (Low E)

The easiest way to finger the C Major scale would be as follows: 5th string 3rd fret (C), then a whole step to the 4th string (open d), then a whole step to the 4th string 2nd Fret (E), then a half step to the 4th string 3rd Fret (F), then a whole step to the 3rd String (open G), then a whole step to the 3rd string 2nd Fret(A), then a whole step to the 2nd String (open B), lastly a half step to the 2nd string 1st Fret (C).

Ralph Serpe







1 comment:

Angele Martin said...

If you have the knowledge that practicing guitar scales gives you, your natural talent will give you the seed of a melody and your knowledge of the scales will allow you to quickly develop your ideas and see how your tune sounds at the first, fifth, tenth or twelfth fret. The basic point to why you need to learn guitar scales is that you can learn in a month of practicing scales what ten years of playing hit and miss might give you. Time is short.