How to Play the Major Scale Pattern

Understanding how to play the Major scale pattern will show you how to apply it to any key. It is a great place to start learning the best solo scales for beginners too. However it is far more than just that, and you will get a lot out of learning this information because it is such an important reference as well which we will explain further in this guitar lesson. As you learn and practice this scale pattern, you should also focus on the intervals which it encompasses. This will allow you to move the scale pattern to different locations on the guitar neck and thus you will know how to play the major scale in any key you want to. This is great because by understanding how this works you increase your versatility as a guitar player many times over, instead of just knowing one scale.

It is important to understand that the intervals are the spaces between the guitar notes. For instance you have half steps and whole steps. Here is a guitar lesson with some basic yet essential information about how you can learn more about the guitar notes for beginners and it includes some simple graphics of these intervals to make it easier to learn them.

If you look at the diagrams shown here you can see that the intervals are the same for the Major scale whether you play the G or the A. To play the G Major scale you should use the pattern in the second position (where your first finger plays the notes on the second fret). By moving the Major scale pattern up one whole step to the fourth position (first finger playing the notes on the fourth fret), you will be playing the A Major scale. This scale pattern will hold true for any key you want to play on the guitar.

The G Major Scale Pattern

The G Major Scale Pattern

The A Major Scale Pattern

The A Major Scale Pattern
The notes will change depending on which Major scale you are playing. However, remember that the intervals will not change, unless you incorporate open guitar strings but we will save that for another guitar lesson since this one focuses on the actual pattern that can be moved around the neck.

Applying the Pattern to any Key

The way that you can apply this Major scale pattern to different keys is by using the root note as a guide for where you start from. In these diagrams you can see the dots of the guitar neck (3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th) and they should be used as a guide helping you remain aware of where your fingers are while you are playing. If you notice also in each of these scale diagrams that there are actually three of the dots which are in red, they indicate where the root notes are located within the scale. So you can use these to select which key you want to play the scale in, based upon the root notes.

Here is an example of how this works. Say you want to play the C Major scale. You already know that you can use the scale pattern explained in this free guitar lesson to play the Major scale. The diagrams show the fingerings for G as well as A plus you can see the root notes which they have too. So for the C Major scale you would want to be in the seventh position, as you can see this is why learning the most common notes on the guitar is also important. Now you can simply use the Major scale pattern here in the seventh position and you will be playing the notes from the C Major scale. As we mentioned earlier, you can use this technique to apply it to any key that you want to.

The major scale is more than just a good scale for beginners to learn and practice though. The reality is that the chords in songs are actually structured around it, and essentially all music is based upon it as well. This is the theory aspect of learning how to play the guitar thus it is much more than just a good exercise in playing scales on the guitar. Songs for instance are written and played based on how they relate to the major scale. This includes all the keys, notes and the chords too. As you can see, with all the importance of knowing this scale, it will be something that you will wind up using in many ways as a guitarist including learning songs and even writing songs. Knowing this information will also help you convey ideas to other musicians since it is such a universal reference point within all music.

2 thoughts on “How to Play the Major Scale Pattern

  1. This makes it easier to learn the scale all over the neck. Like learn it once and move it around to know it in other keys. Thanks!

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