May 2nd, 2007
One of the good (and bad) things about guitar is that when you want to play a scale all you have to do is know that scale's fingering on the fretboard and you can then apply that fingering to any note in any position. This is good because all you have to do is remember one shape for any given scale and you can apply that shape to any key. The bad part is that players tend to rely on shapes and aren’t really playing what they hear or feel. But for the sake of learning it is very important to know basic scale shapes on guitar. This lesson will teach you the condensed and extended versions of both the major and minor scale on guitar
So you already know that a major scale is derived from a series of whole and half steps (if you didn’t know that then you should read my post on how to build a major scale). Now we can take that idea to create a finger pattern that can be applied to any note on the guitar.
Below are two different major scale shapes that you can use to play any major scale. The black notes indicate the first note of the scale.
FYI: the notes in these two major scale versions are the exact same, but they can just be played in different ways. You should practice both.
These major scale shapes only work when you are starting from where the black note is. In other words, if you start from the 5th fret on the low E string you will be playing an A major scale because the note that the black dot starts on is the A note. If you start from the 8th fret you will be playing a C major scale b/c the 8th fret on the low E string is a C note. If you start from the 3rd fret you will be playing a G major scale and so on.
Now lets look at the minor scale shapes on guitar. So far we haven’t talked about how you make a minor scale. I will cover that in a later lesson. But just to give you some brief overview, a minor scale is the same as a Major scale but with a flat 3, 6, and 7. So if you take the major scale and move the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes down a half step you will have a minor scale.
Below is the minor scale shape on your fretboard. The same rule applies; whichever note the black note starts on that’s what minor scale you are playing. So if you start on the 3rd fret you are playing a G minor scale:
Now what you should do is get out your metronome and start it at a slow tempo and practice these scales in both positions, going up and down. If you don’t know how to practice with a metronome then read my post on How to practice with a metronome.
If you have questions please post them to the comments. Goode luck!