Guitar Scale Guide Beginner

Guitar Scale Guide Beginner

The Basics

Scales are used to create melody. On the guitar, most solos come from playing melodic structures from within scale patterns. Scale theory can be complex. It is the goal of the Guitar Scale Guide to simplify scale theory for guitar so that you can play and make up your own guitar solos. Lets Begin by learning a little music theory. I promise I will try to make this as painless as possible.

A whole step is two frets in any direction. Let’s say you play a note on the 5th string 3rd fret. Now you play another note on the same string at the 5th fret. You just went up one whole step.

A half step is one fret in any direction. Let’s say you play the same note on the 5th string 3rd fret. Then you play a note on the 4th fret on the same string. You just went up one half step.

Scales are a series of whole and half steps arranged in a certain order. This order makes up a pattern or a formula.

The Major Scale


The formula for the major scale is Whole step, Whole step, Half step, Whole step Whole Step Whole Step Half Step, or W-W-H-W-W-W-H. Each note of the major scale is numbered starting from the root note. There are 7 notes in an octave. the 8th note is the root note one octave higher.

The chart above starts off with the formula for the major scale. The next thing you see is what this formula looks like on one string. The next grid shows you what the same notes of this scale looks like spread out over different strings. The root notes are red. Both of these examples are using the G scale.

The next grid contains the same scale pattern moved over to a different set of strings. The root note is C so this is the C major scale. This pattern remains the same on the last four strings of the guitar. The first note of this pattern will determine the major scale name.

The Minor Scale

Here is the minor scale formula W-H-W-W-H-W-W. This pattern is known as the natural minor scale. The first image shows the formula and the scale degrees. The scale degrees are slightly different. A flat lowers a note one half step. This scale contains a flat 3rd, flat 6th, and a flat 7th. If you make those notes flat in the major scale you get the natural minor scale.


The second example shows what the scale looks like on one string. The next example shows a grid with the same notes and what they look like spread out across 3 strings. These two examples are in the key of G minor. The last grid shows the same scale moved over to the next set of strings. This is the C minor scale. The root notes in all these examples are in red.


Now lets look at a scale grid. A scale grid is like a chord grid turned sideways. The vertical lines are now the frets. The horizontal lines are now the strings. The circles are where you put your fingers. Your Fingers are numbered on your left hand starting on the finger nearest to the thumb, 1, 2, 3, and the pinky makes 4. The thickest string is the bottom horizontal line and the thinnest string is the top horizontal line. The number 4th represents the fret where the scale is played. The number 2nd represents the scale number. There are a total of 5 scale numbers with any given formula. This is my system for learning scales. Each pattern has its own number. This example above is from the natural minor scale formula. the above example is from the key of A minor.

To play through a scale start by playing one note at a time. Start on the low string and work your way through the scale. The first note you play is in red. It is located on the 6th string 5th fret. Now move to the next note and play it. Then play the next note on that string. Move to the next string and do the same thing. Keep going and play all the notes until you reach the top of the scale.

You just played the scale in ascending order. Once you get to the top go backwards and head the other way. When you go up in pitch as you play the scale you are ascending. When you go down in pitch as you play the scale you are descending.

The Video Below Demonstrates How To Play The Scale Shown Above


Posted above are all the natural minor scale patterns for the key of Am. Each scale has it’s own number. They go all the way up to the 12th fret. You can repeat scale number one at the 13th fret and the process will start all over. This is the same scale one octave higher. You can repeat the second scale at the 17th fret. You can repeat scale 3 at the 19 fret.

Click The Top Right Hand Corner of The PDF To Print

The Video Below Shows How To Play The 5 A Minor Scales

You can print the rest of the scales below by clicking in the right hand corner. Print them out and place them on your music stand.

Now we need to learn how the scales hook together. The last part of Scale 1 is the first past of scale 2. The last part of scale 2 is the first part of scale 3 and so on. There are 4 frets between the start of scale 1 and the start of scale 2. There are 2 frets between the start of scale 2 and scale 3. Next you can see 3 frets between the start of scale 3 and scale 4. There are 2 frets between the start of scale 4 and scale 5. There is just 1 fret between the start of scale 5 and the first scale pattern one octave higher. Then the process repeats itself.

These scale patterns only hook together in this order and this order never changes. When you play in other minor keys you use these same 5 patterns. They are just found in different locations on the fret board. Once you locate one scale pattern you can locate all the others because the order never changes and they hook together the same way. So once you learn these 5 patterns you will not need to learn any new natural minor scale patterns for other keys.

The next task is to learn these scales and get familiar with them. Commit these scales to memory. If you have not done so already print the scale charts out and practice them.

The Video Below Shows Scale Techniques

The next thing to do is to hear how these scales fit in a song. Once you become somewhat familiar with these scales try playing them over the following song below. Try each scale over this song. You will be able to hear when you play a wrong note. You will be able to hear exactly how the scale fits when played with the song below.

Song in A minor

The Video Below Shows What The Scales Sound Like With A Song

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