The Secrets of Beginner Guitar Scales

Musical scales are the base for much of what we do in the guitar as well as other instruments. In this article I explain the secrets of beginner guitar scales, and also more advanced scales.

Beginner Guitar Scales

Perhaps, one of the most shocking secrets is that most guitar scales are in fact related.

See for example the case of the major scale. This is scale, that corresponds to the white notes in the piano, has exactly the same notes as the natural minor scale: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. The only difference is the starting point: C for the major scale, and A for the natural minor.

A similar thing happens to many other scales. Another example is given by the modes, such as Dorian, Frigian, and Locrian. These modes also have the same notes as the major scale, but starting from different initial notes.

From these examples, you can see that while learning the major scale is the foundation of all music, there are in fact many variations that you can learn over time.

Playing the Major Scale

To play the major scale on the guitar, the only thing you need is to learn the shape of the scale in the instrument. Here is a simple shape that you can transpose to any major key:

C-major scale

C-major scale

Using this scale shape, you can find a scale for D major by moving this shape two steps to the 4th fret. The same process can be done in other keys.

The G Major Scale on Guitar : What You Need to Know

Infrequently Used Modes

Among the guitar scales that can generated from the 12 notes of western music, some modes are rarely used. This is another fact that is an advantage for the learner. This means that you can concentrate initially only the scales that are frequently used. You rarely need to practice other scales, and if such a scale becomes necessary you can study it.

In fact, some of these scales are only used in some kinds of music. For example, a few scales are particular to Japanese music or to Indian music, which means that you’ll rarelly have to use them at all.

Modes of the Major Scale

The major scale has seven modes, one for each starting note. This means that you just need to learn the major scale, and these modes will have identical notes (with different starting points):

  • Jonic (same as major)
  • Doric
  • Frigian
  • Lidian
  • Mixolidian
  • Eolic (same as natural minor scale)
  • Locrian

A Quick List of Other Guitar Scales

Here are some of the scales that exist and that you can use:

  • Acoustic scale: the same as the Lydian b7 scale.
  • Aeolian mode or natural minor scale: the common natural minor scale.
  • Algerian scale
  • Altered scale or Super Locrian scale:
  • Anhemitonic scale
  • Augmented scale
  • Bebop dominant scale
  • Beta scale
  • Blues scale
  • Bohlen–Pierce scale
  • Chromatic scale
  • Delta scale
  • Diatonic scale
  • Dorian mode
  • Double harmonic scale
  • Enharmonic scale
  • Enigmatic scale
  • Escala nordestina
  • Flamenco mode
  • Frigian scale: a mode of the major scale
  • Gamma scale
  • Gypsy scale
  • Half diminished scale
  • Harmonic major scale
  • Harmonic minor scale
  • Hexatonic scale
  • Hirajoshi scale
  • Hungarian “Gypsy” scale/Hungarian minor scale
  • Hungarian major scale
  • Insen scale
  • Ionian mode or major scale
  • Istrian scale
  • Istrian scale
  • Iwato scale
  • Jazz scale
  • Locrian mode
  • Lydian augmented scale
  • Lydian mode
  • Major Locrian scale
  • Ionic Major scale
  • Major bebop scale
  • Major pentatonic scale
  • Melodic minor scale
  • Minor pentatonic scale
  • Minor scale
  • Mixolydian mode or Adonai malakh mode
  • Neapolitan minor scale
  • Monotonic scale
  • Neapolitan major scale
  • Neapolitan scale
  • Non-Pythagorean scale
  • Octatonic scale
  • Pentatonic scale
  • Persian scale
  • Phrygian dominant scale
  • Phrygian mode
  • Prometheus scale
  • Quarter tone scale
  • Scale of harmonics
  • Slendro Scale
  • Synthetic scale
  • Tetratonic scale
  • Tritone scale
  • Tritonic scale
  • Two-semitone tritone scale
  • Ukrainian Dorian scale
  • Vietnamese scale of harmonics
  • Whole tone scale
  • Yo scale

Learning More About Beginner Guitar Scales

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