The Root of a Guitar Scale
(Video Guitar Lesson 4 of 5)
Every guitar scale has what is called a root. This is the main note that the scale is named after, and build from. It’s the main note that you hear all of the other notes of the scale in relationship to.
If you have an A major scale, then the root is the note A. In a scale chart, the root is often indicated in some different way than all of the other notes of the scale form. In the scale chart below the root is indicated by a gray oval. It could be indicate by a different color, or different shape…just something to let you know where the root is.
A Major Scale
You will notice that there are 3 gray ovals in the above guitar scale fingering. In a major scale there are only 7 different notes before it starts over an octave higher. Oct is the prefix for 8. So by the time you reach the 8th note in this A major scale form, you are back to an A note.
So the scale you have been playing so far in this guitar lesson has been a 2 octave A major scale. From the root on the 6th string to the root on the 4th string is 1 octave. Then from the 4th string root to the 1st string root is another octave.
Many scale forms that you play on the guitar are about 2 octaves. Because that is the range from the 6th string to the 1st string.
You also see an extra note higher than the root on the 1st string in this particular scale form. Many guitar scale forms do not neatly go from root to root. And that extra note is one you will want to know when using this scale form to improvise your own guitar solos.
The major scale form that you have been playing also does not have any open strings. So you can actually move it up or down the neck to get any major scale you need. All you need to do is line that first note on the 6th string up with whatever root note you want.
The 6th string, 5th fret is an A note. So that’s why this was an A major scale. But if you put your 2nd finger on the 6th string 3rd fret and played the scale, you would be playing a G major scale. Start on the 6th string 7th fret, and you have a B major scale.
Definitely knowing the names of the notes on the neck of the guitar...especially the 6th string is essential to being able to move this scale form to where you need it.
Guitar Scales that Don’t Start on the Root
The root of the scale is not always the lowest note in a scale form. Technically a scale is suppose to begin and end on the root note. But on the guitar that’s not always feasible.
In a guitar scale fingering you are going to play all of the note possibilities within one position on the neck of the guitar. Most of the time this means that the lowest and or the highest note in the scale form will not be the root of the scale. The most basic scale forms will start on the root, but just keep in mind that guitar scale forms will not always be that way.
Below is an E major scale form where the lowest root note is on the 5th string, and the highest root is on the 2nd string. Even though you may not start on the root note, it’s still very important to know where the roots are within the scale form.
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