Hopefully you’ve carefully gone through the previous lesson Beginner Guitar Scales and you have that C major scale right underneath your fingers. I would strongly suggest not moving forward until you do as we’re building a foundation that we can continue to build upon. Scales aren’t meant to be learned and forgotten, they’re meant to be remembered and ultimately used.
Scales Aren’t Exercises!
Something you need to understand about scales is that they aren’t exercises, but what all music is built upon whether it’s Classic Rock, Jazz, Blues, Classical or Folk. Of course they are great technical practice, but that’s only one reason you want to practice scales. Check back for part three where I give several specific examples of where you can use one scale form to more effectively and quickly learn several songs.
The G Major Scale
In part one we learned that the distances between the notes in any major scale are Tone Semitone Tone Semitone. Repeat that in your head a few times and try to memorize it. It’s easy to remember!
What if we want to create a G major scale? Can we just go G A B C D E F G? The answer is no, because the distances to create a major scale are wrong! As it sits, the distances are T T S T T S T. That’s not right! Luckily this is easy to fix. All we need to do is raise the F to an F#. G A B C D E F# G. Now we have T T S T T T S. This is why there is an F# in the key of G, to preserve the distances (also called intervals) of T T S T T T S. It’s that simple.
Something to take note of is that this scale is surprisingly similar to your C scale. There are only two differences. One is that it starts on G instead of C and the other is the F# instead of the F. If you already have the C major scale down, then you’ve already put some work into learning your G major scale.
Now Let’s Play it!
With any scale we want to start on the root note. Remember the root note is the naming note of the scale (chords and arpeggios too). So if we’re playing a G major scale we want to start on G. There are a few G’s here so we need to make sure we are starting on the right one. Usually we will want to start on the lowest G in the position we are playing in. Right now we’re in open position and the lowest G here is on the third fret on your low E (sixth) string. When we start on the lowest root it ensures that we play all of the notes in that key in that position.
Now let’s play up the scale in alphabetical order, just like we did with the C major scale. Start on your low G and work your way all the way up to the highest G in open position (the position you are playing in). In order G A B C D E F# G A B C D E F# G. Now we go from the high G back past your starting root note to your low, open E. So, G F# E D C B A G F# E D C B A G F# E then back up to your starting note. E F# G. The reason we go past your root to the low E is because those notes are a part of this scale and are in open position. We don’t want to leave them out. Remember that we start and end on our root note because it is our tonal center (we’ll talk about tonal centers later).
Practicing and Technical Considerations
Again, just like with the C major scale, lay this in carefully. It’s not a race! You’ll be surprised how much quicker you can learn something by just practicing it slowly and without mistakes. Also use your pinky on that fourth fret. Fourth finger, fourth fret. It’ll feel like a bit of a stretch at first, but your fingers eventually get used to it.
Where to Now?
Why not try our scales course if you’re serious about learning scales? We go through how scales connect across the entire guitar fretboard and more importantly how to use scales to make music! It doesn’t cost anything to get started, so sign up for free now.
This step by step method clearly reveals the mystery behind the guitar fretboard. You’ll no longer be looking at scales as random unrelated patterns, but as a whole comprehensive system that you can eventually use to make music!