Guitar Scales for Beginners

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Learning some of these guitar scales for beginners will skyrocket your understanding and playing ability.

Most people don’t even know that there are different types of guitar scales, but it is a very important part of learning how to play the guitar. If you want to learn how to play the guitar, then you need to understand what scale type you should be using when you start out.

There are many different types of guitar scales available to you, including: Major Scales, Minor Scales, Pentatonic Scales, Blues Scales, Arpeggios, Lydian Scales, Mixolydian Scales, and Aeolian Scales and it is easy to get overwhelmed and unfocused if you are just starting to learn scales. 

In this article, I will show you which scales to focus on to make the most of your time along with tips for mastering each scale.

What is A Guitar Scale?

Some guitarists may have heard the term “scales” before, but are unsure of what it means.

Finger strength and dexterity are improved by the use of guitar scales, which are arranged sets of notes played in an ascending or descending order.

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Aside from helping you learn the notes on your guitar, practicing guitar scales also helps you develop your musical ear and gives you a foundation for writing your own creative songs.

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To become a better guitar player, you must first learn how to play scales. Scales are the first thing you need to know if you want to learn to play guitar faster. With practice, you’ll be able to strengthen your fingers, begin shredding and even compose your own music.

Pentatonic Scale

You’ll need to know the pentatonic scale for riffs, solos, and melodies in rock and blues, as it’s a common five-note scale. Removed from the major scale are the major pentatonics. The C major pentatonic scale is the simplest: C D E G A C.

The pentatonic scale is primarily composed of a unique set of five notes: the pentatonic minor third. They’re simple to learn and a good place to start if you’re just getting started with scales. Both minor and major types exist.

It is because of their simplicity and magical quality that they are so widely employed in blues, country, jazz, and rock music. Below are three pentatonic scales to focus on as a beginner guitarist.

A Minor Pentatonic Scale

The A minor pentatonic scale, which contains the same notes as the C major pentatonic scale but in a different order, is commonly used by guitarists to begin their studies. A C D E G A.

If you want to master the guitar, the A minor pentatonic scale is the place to start.

The letter A is highlighted wherever it comes in the text, making it easier to see the context. You can alter your thumb position if necessary while you play each note one by one. Take note of where the chord’s notes fall in relation to the scale. Because of this, they’ll sound great when played together.

A, C, D, E, and G make up the A-minor pentatonic scale. By alternating between placing your index finger on each 5th fret string and playing these notes, you can play this scale in fifth position.

The E-minor pentatonic scale is reflected in this scale. The two scales, on the other hand, serve distinct functions in the art of playing the guitar. Lead guitarists’ go-to scale is the E-minor pentatonic, while the A-minor pentatonic scale is ideal for blues and rock riffs and melodies.

Angie, by the Rolling Stones; Tribute, by Tenacious D Love; and California, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers are just a few examples of well-known songs that make use of the A minor pentatonic scale.

The C major scale might let you express yourself more fully after you’ve mastered the pentatonic scale.

E Minor Pentatonic Scale

The open position of the E minor pentatonic scale serves as a starting point for soloing. A fretted note is followed by an open string in this Fender Play version by instructor Matt Lake. 

A pentatonic scale is essentially a shortcut to guitar scales because it has only five notes. E, G, A, C, and D make up the E-minor pentatonic scale. For the open position, the video below will walk you through the steps.

Lead guitarists and soloists rely heavily on the E-minor pentatonic scale. This scale is your best friend if you’ve ever wanted to be a lead guitarist in any band.

Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” both make use of the E-minor pentatonic scale. Other popular songs using this scale include “How Many More Times” by Led Zeppelin and “Back in Black” by AC/DC

Major Scale

The major scale is a collection of seven notes (W W H W W W W H, where W = whole step, H = half step) with specific intervals between them. You may learn more about the Major scale and which to learn first below.

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The C major scale is the most straightforward to learn. C D E F G A B C C.

C Major Scale

It is a necessity for all guitarists and musicians to know the C major scale. Because there are no sharp or flat notes in this key, it is considered the most straightforward for musicians to master.

The C major pentatonic scale can be played in a variety of ways, just as the A minor pentatonic scale.

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The key of C major is one of the most widely used in music. It’s easy to write, read, and play because it doesn’t have a key signature. A lot of novice musicians start off by learning the C minor scale.

Open E is the first note in this scale and you’ll begin with these steps:

Open the sixth (E) string, then play with the index finger on fret 1 and the ring finger on fret 3, then switch to the fifth (G) string.

To begin with, open the fifth (A) string, then play with your open hand, followed by your middle and ring fingers, respectively.

Learn even more, see our article Learn Beginner Guitar Chords.

To begin with, open the fourth (D) string, then play with your middle finger on fret 2 and your ring finger on fret 3.

Open the third (G) string, then play with your middle finger on the second fret.

Using the index and ring fingers on the second (B) string, play open, then fret 1 and fret 3.

Play open, then index finger on fret 1, then ring finger on fret 3 on the first (high E) string.

The following tunes make use of the C-major scale The Beatles’ Let It Be, John Lennon’s Imagine, Carly Simon’s You’re So Selfish, and Foo Fighters The Pretender. Practice your C major scale and you will playing a ton of songs in no time. 

A Major Pentatonic

The A chord is well-known to most people. Make sure this A chord is the best you’ve ever heard!

The bright, melodic lead lines that may be achieved with the major pentatonic scale are fantastic. In addition, there is an A chord in it.

The purpose of this exercise is to show how the chord, scale, and lick all fit together. Barre the first finger on the A chord. You should be able to get your third finger in position now.

It’s important to remember to utilize the fingers that are depicted for each note. It’s easy to tell the difference between the major and minor pentatonic scales by the brighter, cheerier tone of the major scale.

G Major Scale (Open Position)

The G-major scale will accomplish two things for you as a beginner: Many popular songs are written in G major, which is a fantastic location to begin learning music and guitar theory. As with the C-major scale and the G-minor scale, you’ll begin with an open E:

Open the sixth (E) string, then play with the middle finger on fret 2 and the ring finger on fret 3, then finish with the open string.

Play open, middle finger at fret 2, then ring finger at fret 3 on the fifth (A) string.

Play open, middle finger at fret 2, then pinky finger at fret 4 on the fourth (D) string.

Play open, middle finger at fret 2, then pinky finger at fret 4 on the third (G) string.

Using your index and ring fingers, play on the second (B) string.

Open the first (E) string, then use the middle finger on fret 2 and the ring finger on fret 3 to play a melody.

G major tunes include Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Lynyrd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama, The Beatles song “Blackbird” and the iconic Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine.

A Blues Scale (Fifth Position)

Blues scales are actually pentatonic scales with an extra note added; they’re a little more basic than they first appear. Knowing how to play these scales is vital because the blues is a guitar-heavy music. To play a song in the A-blues scale, you’ll need to play the notes A, C, D, E, Eb and G on your guitar. On each of the six strings, your index finger plays the fifth fret as in the A-minor pentatonic scale:

Fret 8 on the sixth (E) string with the pinky finger

fret 6 of the fifth (A) string, followed by fret 7 of the ring finger

At fret 7, place your ring finger on the D string.

Fender Stratocaster: frets 7 and 8: ring and pinky fingers on third (G) string

fret 8 on the second (B) string with the pinky finger

Fifteenth fret of the E string using the pinky finger

Here are some examples of music from many genres that make use of blues scales:

Enter Sandman,  Sunshine of Your Love,  Roadhouse Blues by The Doors are just a few of the many songs that use this scale.

Instrument Specific Scales

The above guitar scales are great for any beginner guitarist but what if you are only focused on learning acoustic or electric guitar. Below are specific recommendations for each.

Acoustic Guitar Scales for Beginners

The most important scales to learn as a beginner on an acoustic guitar are those that you can utilize in any kind of music (you will use them more than others).

Minor pentatonic, blues, and natural minor are the three most commonly used acoustic guitar scales for beginners. It’s hard to tell the difference between these three, the major pentatonic, major blues, and major because they all have similar rhythms and notes in common.

1. Music Scale in A Minor Pentatonic The minor pentatonic scale comprises five distinct notes, as the name “Penta” suggests. The scale degrees are one, flat three, flat four, flat five, and flat seven in number. As a rule of thumb, the notes of an A-major scale are a-c-d-e-g.

2. Two-Color Scales With one additional note, the blues scale differs from the minor pentatonic scale. Adding a flat five to the notes of the pentatonic scale is all that is needed. One, flat 3, 4, 5, 5, and 7 are the scale degrees you get from this. A, C, D, E flat, E, and G are the notes in the key of A.

3. A Scale of Natural Minor Seven notes make up this scale. One, two, flat three, flat four, five, flat six and seven are the scale degrees. A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are the notes in the key of A.

Scales in the key of C The pentatonic minor scale is also found in the natural minor scale, if you pay attention. If you’re a beginner, you may not be familiar with the C Major Scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.

The sole variation between the A minor and C major scales is the initial position of the first note. A minor’s notes begin at A, while C major’s begin at C. For this reason, the major scale and minor scale have the same notes, which is why we referred to them as “similar.”

A natural minor scale is therefore an excellent foundation for learning the major.

Electric Guitar Scales

The electric guitar scales has its scales that are commonly used for the instrument. Below are some of the most common for a beginner guitarist to learn.

Major Scale

All other music scales are derived from this one. From heavy metal to classical music, this scale underpins most popular music. Metal, Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd, for example, all use major scales and pentatonic patterns as the basis for many of their compositions. You must master this pattern in order to play the electric guitar.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A-sharp/B-flat, C-Sharp/D-flat, D-sharp/E-flat, F-sharp/G-flat, and G-sharp/A-flat are the 12 major scale fingers in all 12 keys.

Natural Minor

The Aeolian scale, or pure minor, is another name for this scale. Rock, jazz, classical, and Latin music all employ it to add a deeper undertone to their songs than the major key does. The minor scale has a more somber tone than the major scale, which has a more upbeat sound. Santana’s “Moon Flower” and “Europa” songs are examples of this sound.

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In each of the 12 keys, this scale’s fingerings are C-sharp/D-flat, D-sharp/E-flat, F-sharp/G-flat, and G-sharp/A-flat.

Minor Pentatonic Scale

From country to blues to jazz to rock, this scale may be heard practically everywhere. Individuals just getting started with songwriting will find them to be an excellent resource. This scale can be used to compose music right away.

To play the minor pentatonic scales, you need to know the finger placements for the major pentatonic scales, which are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and A-sharp/B-flat on the aforementioned instruments.

Major Pentatonic Scale

Country, melodic rock, jazz and bluegrass all use the same scale. It is most commonly utilized for major-key progressions.

You can play it with your fingers in the following positions: A (sharp/flat), B (flat), C (sharp/D), E (flat), F (sharp/G flat), and G (sharp/A flat).

Tips for Learning Guitar Scales for Beginners

Now that you know what scale you want to study, it’s time to get down to the enjoyable part: practice. You can learn to play guitar like a pro in a matter of days if you follow the advice in the following paragraphs.

Use the Entire Scale Pattern by Moving Up and Down the Scale

In addition to getting you acquainted with the scale, this will serve as a warm-up session. Take a look at all of the patterns you wish to learn and proceed down and then up without stopping. Make sure your fingers are moving steadily by using a metronome.

Try Skipping Strings

Breaking out of the up and down movement will assist you improve your managing abilities. When we begin playing on the 6th string, or low E, we are skipping strings. Next, play the fourth string instead of the fifth.

It is possible to skip a string by playing the sixth string, for example. After then, switch to the 5th string and play down to the 3rd. Skip the second string and proceed to the fourth string. In the next step, we’ll advance to the third string, then the first string, and so on.

Try Skipping Notes

The number of times you skip notes in the scale indicates how well you’ve gotten the pattern down. It works by playing the root note, skipping the next, then playing the next, and so on until you reach the end.

Once you’ve reached the end, begin at the bottom and skip notes as you make your way back up. Odds and evens should be played sequentially.

Bursting Notes

Speed bursting is a technique that involves rapidly playing the first note, followed by the next three notes. Then, starting on the second note, quickly play the next three notes.

You could want to practice the 1-234s, 2-345s, 3-456s, etc. In addition, work your way down the list, starting with 6 543, moving to 5 432, then 4 321, and so on.

Soloing exercise

In the absence of an accompaniment, what good is the guitar scale? This is a simpler and less challenging exercise than the one before it.

Find a music in a key that you are familiar with. Here is one I like to use in C on Spotify.

The relative minor can be found by searching for it.

Use the scale to play some notes.

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And that’s all there is to it. You’ll benefit from this workout in a variety of ways:

Instead of only playing eighth notes for every note in the scale, it teaches you how to play notes in the scale at various times.

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Instead than playing each note sequentially, there are other ways to perform the scale.

Instead of merely playing guitar, you’ll learn about song structure. This is a crucial aspect of the music-making process, not just guitar playing.

Conclusion Learning Guitar Scales for Beginners

Now that you know what scale you want to study, it’s time to get down to the enjoyable part: practice. You can learn to play guitar like a pro in no time if you follow the advice in from this post. As always, let me know if you have any questions.

FAQ

Why Learn Scales?

Learn the above scales for a variety of purposes. To name only a few:

In order to gain a deeper appreciation for the music.

To improve one’s ability to write songs and improve one’s ability to compose.

To enhance your coordination between your fingers and hands.

To expand one’s repertoire of musical styles.

To improve one’s abilities as a musician, writer, and performer.

Is there any order I should learn guitar scales?

When it comes to music and the various scales that exist, you need to plan which ones are most important for you to learn and perfect. Until you have a firm grasp on the fundamental scales associated with the type of guitar playing you do, only make a list of all the other scales you employ.

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