Guitar Major Scale
The Major scale is most fundamental component of modern Western music –
from classical to pop to country to metal, its relevance spans the spectrum. The notes of the major scale
define which notes exist in a given Key and therefore define which notes are the fundamental building blocks
for constructing harmony both in terms of chords and melody. For example, the notes of the G-Major scale
G A B C D E
Consequently, much music written in the Key of G will be constructed using these notes. For
guitar, this applies to both rhythm and lead guitar.
Click Here for DVD Course
that Teaches the Guitar Major Scale
Often it is instructive to think of the guitar Major scale in terms of the “step pattern,” that
is the distance between each of the consecutive notes. Going from root to root, the pattern is:
W W H W W W
Where W stands for Wholetone (two frets apart) and
H means Halftone (1 fret apart).
Even for music that is not based on the Major scale directly, we define the music in terms of
changes to the Major scale. For example, we still associate it with a given musical Key which defines a working
framework for understanding the music based on the notes of the major scale of that Key. We may be sharping or
flatting certain notes within the Key, but the notes of the Key are location from where we start.
This point was especially driven home for me during a flash of insight that occurred while
listening to a recording of Randy Rhoads giving a guitar clinic. At one point during the clinic, the late guitarist
started taking questions and members of the audience began to ask him about licks or chord progressions that he had
recorded. For every answer, the first thing that Randy said was the Key that the piece of music is in. To me, this
clearly communicated that he perceived the Key to be the most important aspect of the music he was describing. He
could have just started naming chords, or positions or patterns. He didn’t. He stated the Key. From that point
forward, I started to take the notion of Key and the notes of the guitar Major scale more seriously. If you have
not reached this point yourself, I would encourage you to do the same.
To be truly effective at playing the guitar, you need to learn the notes of the major scale at
all positions on the neck, in every key. This may sound daunting, but usually it amounts to memorizing a handful of
patterns – between 5 and 7 depending on which ones you use – and then having the discipline to practice the
patterns in different Keys. Unlike a piano, which has non-uniform white and black keys (i.e. ivory and ebony – not
musical Keys), all notes are treated equally on the guitar. Clearly, the frets get smaller as you ascend up the
neck – this is a matter of physics and acoustics. However, all notes are affected equivalently without regard to
Key. Therefore, once you learn the patterns for one key, you can easily shift the same patterns all around the neck
in order to play in different Keys.
Of course, I’ve just touched on the subject of the guitar Major scale. For a DVD course that
does a great job teaching the Major scale and all other aspects of playing the guitar, get Steve Krenz’s Learn and
Click Here to Get Learn and Master