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Basic Guitar Scales

Basic guitar scale forms










major scale

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The major scale should be one of the first scales that you learn. Besides being a good warm up and technique builder, the major scale will be the starting point for all theory. This is a two octave scale. Oct is the Greek prefix for eight, so the 2nd red oval is eight notes above the 1st. Be sure to memorize where the roots are within the scale form. In order to train and your ear and your brain, try stopping on each root as you play. You should do this with all scales. Play the scale going up and down keeping as steady of a beat as possible.

Minor Pentatonic

minor pentatonic scale scale

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Minor pentatonic is the most common scale used for lead guitar in rock and blues.. Penta means five, so the pentatonic scale only has five different notes names before you are back to a root.


blues scale

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The blues scale is the minor pentatonic with an added note (in both octaves). The note that is added is sometimes referred to as the "blue note". This scale is used in blues, but it is also used in all styles of music. There is not a "heavy metal scale" or a "country scale", just a blues scale.

Major Pentatonic

major pentatonic scale

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For the major pentatonic scale shift your hand and play the notes on the 1st and 2nd strings with your 1st and 3rd fingers. Usually it is a good idea to shift your hand like this if there is more than one string where you would not be using your first finger.


minor scale

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The minor scale requires a shift on the 3rd string only. Use your 1st, 2nd, and 4th fingers for the notes on the 3rd string. Stay in position for all of the other strings.



Page 1, Intro to basic guitar scales

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