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Major Scales on the Guitar

Several commonly used guitar major scale forms are shown below. The form numbers are arbitrary and these forms may be labelled differently in other books.

 

Form 1 Major scale form 1 Form 2 Major scale form 2
Form 3 Major scale form 3 Form 4 Major scale form 4
Form 5 Major scale form 5 Form 6a Major scale form 6a
Form 6b Major scale form 6b

 

Here is an example of using the above scale patterns in two different keys, G and F.

All of the above finger patterns could be used to play the notes shown below.

G major scale

intervals W W H W W W H

G major: notes G A B C D E F# G

The following animated graphics show how these notes can be played at several locations on the fretboard.


First in G at the second position using a portion of form 1

G major using from 1


Next in G at the fourth position using a portion of form 2

G major using from 2


Then in G at the seventh position using a portion of form 3

G major using from 3


A fourth example in G at the ninth position using a portion of form 4

G major using from 4

More examples can be created, however four will be enough to illustrate the concept of tranposable scale forms.

 

To transpose this scale to key of F, the same forms can be moved down a whole step (from G to F). Notice that this moves the first form to the open position (using some open strings). This form will have to be modified (or ignored) in the key of E, Eb, D and lower because those open strings move off the fingerboard. You might be able to use that scale form 12 frets higher (one octave) if necessary.


First in F at the open position using a portion of form 1

F major using from 1

 


Next in F at the second position using a portion of form 2

F major using from 2

 


Then in F at the fifth position using a portion of form 3

F major using from 3

 


Finally in F at the seventh position using a portion of form 4

F major using from 4

All of the above fingerings for F can be used to play the notes shown below.

F major

intervals W W H W W W H

F major: notes F G A Bb C D E F

Notice how the same scale forms, moved to a different fret position, can be used for each of the two keys (G and F) above.This is how the guitar works. A single scale pattern can be used in several keys simply by moving the pattern to a different fret.

 

There are several other ways of playing scales on the guitar. Shown below are three of the many additional possibilities for playing a G major scale

More G Major

 

two notes per string

 

G major using 2 notes per string

 

four notes per string

 

G major using 4 notes per string

 

cross string version using as many open strings as possible
string order 3, 4, 2, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2

 

G major using open strings when possible

 

All of the above can be used to play the G major scale below.

G major

 

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©1997 Michael Sult