Major Scale Theory
So here it is in text… the basics of the major scale. We’ll get the theory out of the way so we can get into some phrasing exercises and some reflections on how to use this thing we call the major scale.
Above you can see every major scale note on the fretboard. And unless you’ve spent a whole lot of time studying the lesson on Intervals (see the songwriting section), you probably haven’t mastered every note and every phrasing on it yet.
Major Scale Pattern / Formula
- Every single major scale for every single key follows the same pattern:
- W – W – H – W – W – W – H
- Whole step – Whole step – Half step – Whole step – Whole step – Whole step – Half step
- the distance between 2 notes:
- half step = 1 fret
- whole step = 2 frets
Major scale on the guitar fretboard
On the guitar you can play a whole major scale up to the 12th fret and see the pattern on one string.
A very good idea would be to try to memorize or learn the major scale for each of the keys A through G. Below is a chart that shows every key’s major scale.
As you notice, C is the only major scale that has no sharps or flats: C D E F G A B
There are many ways to play the major scale, or many positions to play it in anyway. We’ll look at a couple here:
- Static positions: Major Scale Boxes
- When we play the scale in one place at a time without running up the fretboard. Look below and you can see all of these positions for the C major scale.
- Dynamic Positions: Major Scale Boxes
- Playing the major scale dynamically is basically just you practicing moving between nmajor scale boxes.
Okay now that you can see the charts and where the notes fall on the fretboard, lets start in on some exercises. These exercises are to help remember the structure and the placement of the notes and to practice with a metronome to build clarity and speed. They’re not supposed to create interesting phrasing yet.