Basic Scale Theory - Guitar Lesson 2
Written by Philip du Toit   
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:15

 

 

In the picture below the plain (white) notes on a piano CDEFGAB[C] represent the key of C:
 

 

In the above picture, follow the white notes from the bottom C to the next C on the eighth note.  This is the scale of C.  Try and memorize the steps in between the notes of the C scale:

 

C and D is one tone from each other, or two semitones.
D and E is one tone from each other, or two semitones.
E and F is one semitone from each other.
F and G is one tone from each other, or two semitones.
G and A is one tone from each other, or two semitones.
A and B is one tone from each other, or two semitones.
B and C is one semitone from each other.
(key specific – the key of C)

 

Let’s reduce this to note intervals.

In any key, where the notes in the scale is indicated by 1-8; the note intervals are:

1-2    tone (two frets apart)
2-3    tone (two frets apart)
3-4    semitone (one fret apart)
4-5    tone (two frets apart)
5-6    tone (two frets apart)
6-7    tone (two frets apart)
7-8    semitone (one fret apart)

 

Tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone

This is a fixed pattern for all keys.

 

 

Take time to understand this...

 

 

Keep this in mind for all scales on the guitar.  If you know and have a feeling of the relationship of the strings and frets to one another, then you will be able to play scales and work out chords all over the guitar.  You should be able to sing any major scale as well.  It is always better to learn with more than one aspect of your brain:

 

1. Try and visualize the chords and scale patterns on a guitar
2. Get the feel of certain chord formations and scales on the guitar
3. Listen to scales and chords and try to work them out by ear and listen if it sounds correct.

 

 

In the above picture, the notes in the key of C are in a fixed relationship to one another.  In other words, the scale of C# Major will look the same, except that all the notes will move one fret up.  Note that the D (2), the G (5) and the B (7) are open notes in C major, so in C#, they will be played on fret 1 (D#, G# and B#).  Train your hand and your ear to play a C Scale, C# scale, and then a D Scale, etc.  You can also continue the scale for another octave (8 notes) after you played the whole scale.  See if you can work out the notes.

 

 

Take time to practice and understand this...

 

 

You can also play a scale staring from the first string.  Let’s take the scale of F as an example:

 

 

 

In the above picture, follow the scale of F through two octaves.  Now the key of F# can be played on the same principle, just move all notes one fret up.  Note that the open notes will move to fret 1.  Practice this scale- and hand formation for all the different keys, moving up the neck of the guitar.  This is a handy formation if you want to play melodies or lead guitar.  Listen to the scales and practice your ear to identify the correct notes in the scale.  We will use this scale theory when we will build chords in the next lesson, so it is essential that you at least grasp the theory behind this, in order to understand chord theory later on, even if you are still practicing your scales.

 

Note how the notes in the two consecutive F Major scales are numbered (1 through 15).  This numbering will apply when we expand chords to play more jazzy stuff.

 

 

Take time to understand this...

 

 

You can work out the notes of any key by using the note relationships (tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone).  Remember that each following note on the guitar increases or decreases one semitone (depending if you move up or down).

 

 

Take time to understand and practice this...

 

 

You might want to revisit this lesson once you start to understand chord theory.  For now we just covered a normal (western pentatonic) major scale, even though there are many other scale types.  We will use the major scale as reference for all chord types, even the minors.

 

 

  Advance to:

 

  Lesson 3 – Basic Chord Structures

 

 

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