How Major Guitar Scales are Made
Guitar scales are extremely important exercises that should not be overlooked if you are serious about becoming a good guitar player. There are multiple benefits to learning, practicing and understanding guitar scales. Guitar scales help increase increase your speed and strength. They can improve your dexterity and precision. They can help you to familiarize yourself with the entire neck of your guitar. They are also incredible exercises toward becoming a lead guitar player.
There is a good amount of music theory behind the Major Guitar Scale, but we will only touch on some of the basics here. The goal of this lesson is to give you a basic understanding of how major guitar scales are formed.
Let us first take a look at a Major Scale, a C Major Guitar Scale to be specific. Beginners usually start at the C Major scale because there are no sharps or flats, making it a bit easier to understand.
As you can see from the image above, the C Major Guitar Scale contains 7 different notes, or tones. After the 7th note, the B in this example, the scale starts from the beginning again back to C .
The first note of a major scale, the C in this example, is referred to as the Root note . The eighth note of the major scale, the C in this example, is referred to as the Octave.
So how did we arrive at the notes in the C Major Scale? How are Major Guitar Scales Made?
First, it helps to look at the entire range of notes in music as a starting point, and they are:
As you can see from above, there are 12 different notes, but we only need 7 of them to form a major scale, a C Major Scale in this example.
The first step is to find the first note of the C Major Scale. This is referred to as the root note. In this case, the root note would be a “C” because we are forming the C Major Scale.
Now that we have the first note, how do we find the other 6?
Well, luckily there is a very simple formula for finding all of the notes of any major scale.
The formula is as follows:
Huh? Let me explain…
The W stands for a “Whole Step” and the H stands for a “Half Step”.
Lets look at our notes again:
When we start at C in the above string of notes and go up a “Whole Step”, we arrive at the note “D”. If we were to go up a “Half Step” from C, we would arrive at the note “C#”. So, with a whole step you move up 2 notes and with a half step you move up one note.
Lets go through the entire formula now based on the above string of notes to form the C Major Scale.
Here is the pattern again: W-W-H-W-W-W-H
Step 1: Starting at the C note, we move up a whole step to arrive at a D.
Step 2: From the D, we move a whole step to arrive at an E.
Step 3: From the E, we move up a half step to arrive at an F.
Step 4: From the F, we move up a whole step to arrive at a G.
Step 5: From the G, we move up a whole step to arrive at an A.
Step 6: From the A, we move up a whole step to arrive at a B.
Step 7: From the B, we move a half step to arrive back at C again.
There you have it!
Try it on your own now and see if you can make the D Major scale.