Learning how to find any major scale when playing guitar is a skill all guitarists should know.
The reason this is so important to learn is that they are the foundational building blocks of music. So learning a lesson in this area of the guitar will really benefit your playing. For this lesson, we are going to use the scale of C Major.
What makes the major scale fun, is that the notes become the “Do Ra Me” we all know from either school or movies. If you’ve heard this Do Ra Me before it is because it represents the major scale. We use the C major scale for this example because it has no sharps or flats in the notes. Any major scale is made up of 8 notes. By knowing how to find these 8 notes, you are able to find any scale for creating an unlimited arrangement of possibilities.
If we look at the C Major scale, we start on C and go through the alphabet we get the notes C D E F G A B C. As you can see, no sharps or flats. Easy to understand. If we give each note a number value we get 1-8. The C is the 1 the B is the 2, C is the 3 and so forth. Up to 8 notes (the 8th note representing the 1 of the next octave) and these 8 notes in all keys are what you want to master!
8 Notes Of The C Major Scale:
C D E F G A B C = Notes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 = Numbers
Do Ra Me Fa So La Te Do = Syllables
This works with all Scales. Major or minor. They just have different notes because of the difference in keys, but the formula stays the same. Master this. Remember it. It will serve you well throughout your guitar study.
How To Find The Major Scale
Any major scale can be found on the guitar on any fret on any string if you just know the formula! That’s right, the musical formula! The way it works is simple. One fret represents a “1/2” step. So for example, if we moved from a B note to a C note which is right next to it, that would be considered a 1/2 step. If we move two frets, that would be considered a “Whole” Step.
The major scale can be broken down into a formula that uses this information. The Major scale formula using 1/2 & whole steps are. W-W-H-W-W-W-H. This magical formula will allow you to find any scale on any fret on any string. Let’s look at it in more detail.
Key= C Notes = C D E F G A B C Formula = W-W-H-W-W-W-H
C W D W E H F W G W A W B H C As you can see in the formula, the notes line up. In the scale, we have an E & F which are next to each other & line up perfectly with the formula as note 3 & 4. Which have a half step between them. This works every time, on any string on any fret. Master this formula and you’ll be able to enhance your music theory & fretboard knowledge.
The more you understand how your notes work in relation to each other, the better you are going to be able to create music. The better you are going to understand how it all fits together & works in harmony. That is why it is so important to learn how to find the notes in any major scale. Then expand on it by flattening the third & 7th & finding the minor scale note formula. It’s a science & this secret information allow you to have musical insights that many guitarists do not.
Why Start With The C Major Scale?
We start with the C Major scale because it is easy to understand & allows us a simple place to start building our musical foundation. Once you learn the C major scale you can then (with the formula that you learned in this lesson) move on to other scales. G A D E etc.
By mastering this formula, your going to open doors to how music works & how the notes fit together to not only form scales but chords as well. In fact, you master this formula & many others that the guitar holds, & you’ll be able to skyrocket above the crowd.
But it does take time. You must put in the work. It doesn’t happen overnight. But if you work on it a little each day, you’ll see it benefit you in other areas of your learning. Be patient & have a steady stride. This will allow you to learn in a fun & enjoyable manner.
If you’ve gone through this lesson & really understood the importance of knowing your notes, you’ll see how easy you can find your notes in the major (& minor as well) scale all over the fretboard which will allow you to build chords, play unique interesting rhythms, scales & melody lines that are unique to you & your own sound. As well as give you insight into how the “Masters” used them. But that’s for another lesson.
But that is what we are going for. Learning the techniques needed to create our own originality as well as pay tribute to those who inspired us to play in the first place. For me personally, it was the Masters!!
Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Angus, Eddie, Randy, Priest, Maiden, Sabbath Kiss, Metallica, Etc, Etc, Etc. We all play the same notes on a fretboard that has six strings, it’s just how we utilize those notes on those six strings that makes the difference.
By knowing some basic music theory like knowing how to find your major or minor scale anywhere on the fretboard at any time is really going to propel you forward in your music. So take some time & figure out those notes. Have fun. Write it down on paper. Make a game of it.
Until next time, take care & let me know if you have questions.