The major scale sound is the most common scale sound in the music of the Western World. The word scale means a ladder of notes and in the case of major scales that ladder is made up of distances of tones and semitones.

A tone is the distance of 2 frets and a semitone is the distance of 1 fret. A major scale is:

major scales spacing tones and semitones

The note we begin on gives the scale its letter name. That note is called the root or key or tonal center.

major scales c major

Why Should I Learn Scales?

Well, to begin with there is not a guitar player or musician alive that doesn’t play scales whether they know it or not. All of our music is divided into scales and all of the chords that we use in the music we listen to and play are derived from scales.

Scales are the templates of music and are actually derived from nature in a round about way. They are a simple mathematical organization and expression of acoustical properties in nature. The primary elements of music are Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. All Melodies are rooted in scales and all chords are derived from scales.

Guitar Mechanics

The guitar’s design is a manifestation of the same properties of acoustical physics that create scales. To truly have an integrated understanding of how the guitar works the player must have the complete picture of the entire fretboard. It is only then that the mechanics of the instrument are revealed as simple and elegant.

Once you begin to understand how scales are formed, you should have a look at our post on the Nashville number system.