The Major Scales Patterns
If you haven't yet learnt the Major scales, this is the page for you. Here you can find the five most important fretboard patterns to learn for use when playing solos in any Major key.
Boring as they are to play, scales are essential finger drills to train your them to land in the right places. Here's a tip to help relieve the boredom of scale playing, once you have learnt just one pattern properly, have some fun by playing the notes from this pattern over a slow backing track played in the same key, for example once you have learned pattern 1, find a suitably slow backing track in A Major and, starting from fret 5 on the Low E string with your second finger, play some notes in any order and see how they fit in with the backing track, you will notice some notes sound better than others in certain places, also add in any techniques you may already learned like hammer-ons, pul-offs, finger slides etc.
As you can see from the diagrams, there are just five different patterns to learn, but if you look closely you will see that the two bottom sets of fretted notes in each diagram after pattern number one, form the top two rows of the next in numerical sequence going down the fretboard, but note that different fingers are used in each case.
Note that the red circles in the diagrams are the root notes or first notes of the scale and must always be played with the finger shown, for example, if you were playing the A Major scale, (first pattern) the starting note 'A' is on the 5th fret of the Low E string and it should be played with your second finger.
The black notes that appear above the root notes are included because they are also notes that fit into the scale, but always begin scales on the root notes, later on you will see how these other notes can be useful for moving around the fretboard.
As you play the scales, think doh, ray, me, so, far, la, tee, doh, listen to the pitch of the notes, you should be able to tell immediately if you have played a note that doesn't belong in the Major scale, or it does belong, but has been played in the wrong order.
Playing the Major Scales in E Major
It will not take you long to discover, if you don't know already, that the first pattern cannot be fretted in E Major, that is with the first E fretted, however you can still play this pattern by starting on a Open E, and using other open strings as appropriate. Striking open and fretted strings is good practice for you too.
At the 12th fret, all the patterns repeat again into the high register, at the 12th the E note, and thus Major pattern one can be fretted normally.
Once you have learned all the patterns and can play them confidently without mistakes, to help your knowledge of the fretboard and scale notes, it will help you to be able to identify each note from the scale as you play it, this will assist you a lot, further down the line as you progress.
A couple more words of wisdom to finish on...
Don't try and learn any other scale patterns until you have mastered the Major patterns shown here, if you do you will inevitably become confused.
Another point is avoid making up your own patterns, tempting though it may be, stick with these, as there are plenty more standard scale patterns to learn yet.
When you have all the guitar Major scale patterns etched indelibly into your memory, you can move on, the choice is yours depending on what type of music you would like to have a go at playing. You can now learn the minor scales, or if you like blues, learn the blues scales next or for Rock and Metal learn the Pentatonic patterns, it doesn't really matter the order in which you learn them as you need to know them all anyway.
Here is a list of the Major Scales In All 12 Common Keys.
If the F# Major scale seems confusing, refer to the Circle of Fifths diagram here
Note the use of a lower-case 'b' in place of the proper musical flat symbol, that I cannot get in this font.
C Major Scale C • D • E • F • G • A • B
Relative Minor: A Minor
G Major Scale G • A • B • C • D • E • F#
Relative Minor: E Minor
D Major Scale D • E • F# • G • A • B • C#
Relative Minor: B Minor
A Major Scale A • B • C# • D • E • F# • G#
Relative Minor: F# Minor
E Major Scale E • F# • G #• A • B • C# • D#
Relative Minor: C# Minor
B Major Scale B • C# • D# • E • F# • G#• A#
Relative Minor: G# Minor
F# Major Scale F# • G# • A# • B • C #• D# • E#
Relative Minor: D# Minor
Gb major: Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F
Db major: Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C
Relative Minor: Bb Minor
Ab major: Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G
Relative Minor: F Minor
Eb major: Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D
Relative Minor: C Minor
Bb major: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A
Relative Minor: G Minor
F major: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E
Relative Minor: D Minor