The Major Scales in Guitar

The first scale you might want to learn is the major scale. It is also known as the Ionian mode. The scale is used to solo over major family chords, major 6, major 7, major 9 and major 6/9 chords. The songs in the major scale is “Feel Happy” and the scale is usually used in the pop, rock, folk and country songs.

In my previous blog I talked about all the note in the entire 6 strings and fret board. It is crucial for us to know and visualize the locations of the notes because scales are made of notes. Correspondingly, we will place our fingerings based on the locations of the notes too.


How many notes in a major scale?

There are seven note in the major scales. For example, if it is a C major scale, the notes are C D E F G A B. (Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti)

How many major scales?

Since there are 12 note in the guitar fret board, so we will have 12 major scales. The root notes for each major scale are C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, A, A#/Bb, and B. The notes that are written with sharps and flats are called “Enharmonic”. You may use either one note or both in naming the notes and the guitar chords.

The Scale Formula

The major scale should be one of the first scales you learn on the guitar. For the purpose of the discussion here, lets take the C Major Scale as our starting point. First, we need to understand the major scale formula. What makes it a scale? Answer: It is a repeating sequence of intervals. Intervals are the gaps between every note in a scale. We can also visualize these notes and positions from the guitar fret board.

The root note for the C major scale is C, hence the name implies. So, let us start with the note C as it is the root note of the C major scale.

  • The interval between the root note C and the note D is equivalent to 2 fret interval or W (whole step)
  • The interval between the notes D and E is also equivalent to 2 fret interval or W (whole step)
  • The interval between the notes E and F is equivalent to 1 fret interval or the H (half step)
  • The interval between the notes F and G is equivalent to 2 fret interval or the W (whole step)
  • The intervals between the notes G and A is equivalent to 2 fret interval or the W (whole step)
  • The intervals between the notes A and B is equivalent to 2 fret intervals of the W (whole step)
  • The intervals between the notes B and C is equivalent to 1 fret interval or the H (half step)

So to summarize it, the formula for the construction of the C Major scale is:


The other 11 major scales also follows the same formula. The notes higher in pitch after C is C#/Db. So the root note for the C#/Db major scale is C#/Db. I have summarized all the major scales’ note in the table below. Hopefully, it will make sense to you now, without us really into deep discussion about the music theory!



Do you notice that all the major and minor scales share the same notes, only that the root notes are different. For example, the C Major Scales and the A minor Scales have the same notes with no sharps and flats! A MINOR SCALE

In practicing the major scales, we are actually also learning the minor scales too. Its only that in soloing, we will emphasize the root note for that scale. In A minor scale, the note A becomes the root note instead of C.

The Major Chord Construction (1, 3, 5)

From the respective scales, we can now tell what the triads are in each major chord. Triads are melodic shapes, which is where we pluck each note in a row like an arpeggio.

The C major scale = C D E F G A B = can also be numbered 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. No 1 being the root note of this scale. The C open chord consist of the notes C E G or the number (1, 3, 5). This is called the triads.

Taking another example, the D major scales = D E F# G A B C#. No 1 being the root note of this scale which is D. So, the triads or notes for the D open chord are D F# A (1,3,5).

Again, i’m not into deep discussion of the music theory on how we get the 1 3 5 triads. This will be dealt later in another discussion of the music theory.

The Major Chord Progressions (I, IV, V)

From the respective scales too, we can determine its chord progressions. Taking the example of the C Major Scales = C D E F G A B = C(I) F(IV) G(V) . This is a common three chords progressions for the C major songs. There are many popular songs using the three chord progressions. It is not limited to I – IV – V only. We can also write chord progression like this I – vi – IV – V (C – Am – F – G) or ii – V – I (Dm – G – C) The capital number being major chords and the small letter number become t the minor chords.

We can now play along with our favorite songs that follow the same chord progressions.! Knowing how the major chord progressions are made of allow us to compose our own songs too. Isn’t it great! There are many popular songs that use the

I – IV – V chord progressions that top the chart for very long. Now that you know their secrets, you can also now become the song writer!

Practicing the major scales.

Now that you have already know what is major scales and how chords and chords progressions are derived from it. All you need now is to practice the major scales vertically or horizontally across the fret board. There are 7 vertical positions of the major scales. For illustration purposes, lets take the C Major scale image as an example here.



Don’t worry about not playing it perfectly at the beginning or if it sounds too raw (sound like scale). Practice with a metronome or a backing track that are abundantly available on YouTube. Just type in C Major Scale guitar backing track in your browser, and there you are plenty for you to choose from and have fun with your solo!

Mastering The Guitar Fret Board

When I first learn the guitar at the age of 13, at the time there was a close friend of mine who was playing our favorite song over a chord progressions. I was immediately in love with the sounds of the guitar. I was quick to ask for my first guitar lesson from him. I learned the open chord shapes of C F and G with much difficulty and pain in my four fingers. In three weeks I was able to play the chord progressions for our favorite songs. Perhaps, it was such an accomplishment. Remembering it and seeing young or beginner learning guitar today is of no different to how I started to learn the guitar. We were missing the most important lesson the Fret board.

Understanding and getting familiarized with, and being able to visualize the fret board as a whole is very important as a beginner. If I were the guitar teacher, this will be the first topic that I will incorporate into the learning process. Getting to know the instrument above all, is crucial because learning chords and scales requires understanding of the fret board and all the notes on it.


1. Open Strings’ Musical Alphabet.

The seven musical alphabets are A, B, C, D, E, F, G. The musical alphabet only contains seven letters. After G we return to an A, but this A will be higher in pitch that the A upon which we started.

The six open strings notes are E, A, D, G, B, E. (Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie). – Fret no: 0

This is the standard tuning for a six strings guitar. Some people are very good with tuning it “by ear”. But don’t worry, if you are not good with it, there are tools to help you with tuning the strings, and it is very easy. The tool is called “guitar tuner” which you can purchase at almost every music stores. I have mine and its brand is Korg Tuner. You can also get a free download of the app from your smartphone. Just type in “guitar tuner” and you will get a list of free guitar tuner apps. Awesome right! Thanks to the advent of technology. As a rule of thumb, you need to get your guitar in tune first before you begin playing every time!

2. Knowing the notes up and down of your guitar neck.

The open strings are my first reference point. These reference points will be areas of the fret board where you can be extremely confident of the note names in order to find notes around them whilst you’re developing your fret board memorization.

Knowing the musical alphabet up and down a string

We are now going to lay out the musical alphabet horizontally up one of the guitar strings. As the alphabet starts with the letter A, we shall do this on string 5(A). See how we are going higher in pitch as we move the fretting hand towards the guitar body.

You will see that the notes are not evenly spaced. There is a fret-sized gap between the letters except between B to C and E to F which are immediately next to one another. The distance of two frets (e.g. A to B or C to D) is called a tone or whole step (W) (depending on where in the world you live). I learn it as a ‘tone’ so I shall adopt that name going forward. The distance of one fret (e.g. B to C or E to F) is called a semitone or half step. (H)

3. The Sharps and Flats.

We’re starting to see the musical alphabet now, but how do we name the frets that fall between the musical alphabet?

Raising a note one fret towards the guitar body makes the note sharp (♯) meaning higher in pitch by one semitone. For example, we have a C at the 3rd fret on string 5(A). The note C♯ (“C sharp”) will therefore one fret higher in the 4th fret


Lowering a note one fret towards the nut makes the note flat (♭) meaning lower in pitch by one semitone. For example, we have an D at the 5th fret on string 5(A). The note D♭ (“D flat”) will therefore one fret lower in the 4th fret.3.

4. The Enharmonics.

Two notes which have the same pitch (for example C♯ and D♭) are called enharmonic. Exactly how they are named depends on the key and scale you are using. You will find that you see one name for a note more often that the other (for example we see B♭ more often that A♯, or F♯ is seen more often that G♭). That being said, you should be familiar with both possible names for these notes.

When you play every single fret up and down to the 12th fret, you are playing a chromatic scale.


I have been learning guitar for many years now and have progressed from beginner to a confident intermediate player. Learning the fret board in such detail has helped me with many of the other courses I am studying, especially modes, triads, chord progressions, arpeggios and soloing.

So there you are! I hope that this article has provided some invaluable insight into the layout of the fret board to help you in your mission to learning all the notes and becoming a more confident guitar player.

Put in the time and I guarantee you will see results. Good luck!

The Essence of Guitar Solo

If you are a beginner to intermediate level, and/or people who take playing guitar just as their pastime activity, struggling to move to the next level, The Essence of Guitar Solo helps you to overcome the barriers to your playing creativity.

If you are that kind of people, be rest assured that this is not about solely getting you to read/write music notations. There are a lot of musicians out there that can play music extremely well without relying on the music notations. You might have heard about people “playing by ears” before this.

In order to play music well, we need to know..

1. Fundamental Theory.

The course will be providing you to build a solid foundation of music theory. Let’s face it, we are going to be forever stuck with our old playing simply because we do not know what we are doing. It is not enough by simply learning and memorizing chords alone and play a few songs with it. We need to know what and why we are doing it!

You are going to build a solid foundation by learning how the musical language of notes, scales and chords work together to make songs on your guitar.

2. Master The Entire Fret board

The guitar consists of strings and frets. Each individual string and fret location has a note to it. Here you need to master and be able to visualize the notes in the entire fret board. A note or a combination of notes are what makes chords. You can use notes and chords together in your solo. The course will bring you laser focus training on how to:

  • How to read chord charts and Fret board diagrams.
  • How to read guitar tabs.
  • Learn notes (triads) that make the chords.
  • Learn all 5 positions of the major scales and to connect them smoothly in the entire Fret board.

3. Strumming & Picking

How you strum and pick add spice to your songs. Even if you play a few chord progressions, let say the I IV V, how you strum and pick can make the chords you are playing sound melodic or inaudible, although you are using the same chord progressions. From the melodic sounds you have just created, you will be able to compose your own songs too. In this course, again will bring you to the laser focus training on how to:

  • practice easy workouts that will improve on your picking speed and accuracy.
  • Learn how to practice using the metronome for your timing speed and accuracy.
  • Learn the essentials strumming patterns for popular songs.
  • Discover finger picking techniques and patterns.

4. Chord Progressions

Songs are made of chord progressions. Here you will

  • Learn important chord progressions, learn to play songs easily and/or write and compose your own songs.
  • Play open chords and barre chords and how to effectively use them in your chord progressions.
  • Identify common chord progressions that are used in all styles of music.
  • Some easy exercises to test your knowledge of chord progressions.

5. Soloing With Confidence

You don’t have to show cast your solo. You maybe just jam inside your music room, knowing that you are enjoying playing your solo and you love the sound of it. You now know the sky is the limit in your ability now. As long as you have the passion and determination in your training. You also have the excellent training resources that will bring you there.

You may also choose to show cast your talent, knowing at the back of your mind that you know what you are doing. Confidence comes from knowing the right scales and chords to play for that particular songs. You know that you are more confident when you:

  • No longer playing guitar solo that sound like scale.
  • already learn and master skills like bending, vibrato, hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides that will make your solo very expressive.
  • discovered and practice easy riffs and licks that you can instantly use in your solo.
  • are able to impress your family and friends with your new acquired skills.

These are the essence that you need to learn to take your solo playing to the next level. An overall basic understanding of the guitar and music that it is creating. Use all the knowledge and training here as a stepping stone for you and for the betterment of your skills and abilities in guitar soloing.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, and wishing you all the best in your life long journey to learning and most importantly enjoying your guitar soloing endeavor.

You won’t regret your decision!

About Edgar

Hi everyone and welcome to my The Essence of Guitar Solo website. Guitar has been a passion of mine ever since I was a young kid. Internet has not been around when I was young and I have to rely on some guitar chord books and a circle of friends who share the same interest with me in learning some chords and solo. I have to say that the resources to learn and master the guitar was limited during that time. And to be honest, my understanding of music and playing guitar was also limited to the knowledge gained from that circle of friends or the chords we played over some popular songs during that time. To put it in other words, I wasn’t able to improve on my skill sets and abilities due to poor understanding of the essence and understanding of the fret board.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot about music theory, a lot about chords and scales mastery. And most importantly understanding and mastery of the guitar fret board, where all the notes lies, to help me get better at playing guitar. Many thanks to the courses offered online that provide quality resources with very affordable prices!!

Have you ever feel giving up in your guitar learning journey? Which I did!! No surprises!! It was due to inability to find a very good guitar teacher in my area and limited access to good quality guitar learning resources. Thanks to the advent of the internet, we can now look for it at our fingertips in my website here.

I don’t want you to stop playing and get stuck like me too. This is the goal of my website. I will direct you laser focus to the guitar training online that suits your needs and requirements. These online training will bring your guitar playing skills to the next level. That is a guarantee.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,