The Major Scale

As an example, lets look at the A major scale. As the name suggests, the scale starts on the note ‘A’, and contains the following 7 notes:

Notes of the A Major Scale

‘A’ is referred to as the root note, and we arrive back at A (the octave) after the 7th note (G#), an octave higher. If we refer to our Chromatic Scale (immediately below), we can see the Step Pattern that this scale uses:

Notes of the A Chromatic Scale

The interval between the 1st and 2nd notes of the A major scale (A and B) is two semitones (A to A# = 1 semitone, A# to B = 1 semitone), or one whole tone. On the guitar this would be an interval of two frets, since one fret = one semitone.

If we write out all the intervals like this for all the notes of the A major scale, we find that:

1st (A)to2nd (B)= 1 tone(2 frets)
2nd (B)to3rd (C#)= 1 tone(2 frets)
3rd (C#)to4th (D)= 1 semitone(1 fret)
4th (D)to5th (E)= 1 tone(2 frets)
5th (E)to6th (F#)= 1 tone(2 frets)
6th (F#)to7th (G#)= 1 tone(2 frets)
7th (G#)tooctave (A)= 1 semitone(1 fret)
Intervals of the A Major scale

So we have found the Step Pattern for a major scale:

A^B^C# ^ D ^ E ^ F# ^ G# ^ A
Step Pattern for a Major Scale

On the guitar, we could play it on the G string (3rd string) like this:


This applies to all major scales. So, if we wanted to work out the scale of C major, for example, referring to the chromatic scale presented earlier, we would end up with:


Exercise: Try working out the major scales for B, D, E, F, G and C#.