The Major Scale Construction Kit

Now that you know what a whole and half step is, and how to find any note on the guitar, you know everything you need to know in order to understand the building foundation for most of the songs you have ever played- The Major Scale. Once you understand this lesson, a giant door of understanding will open for you! So, let''s take this one step at a time starting with what a scale is.


The term, Scale, is used to indicate a specific set of notes based on an ascending (and sometimes descending) sequential pattern of whole and half steps. There are several different TYPES of scales but the one we''re focusing on here is the Major Scale.


In order to explain the major scale to you I'm going to illustrate how to construct it in a generic way followed by a specific application on the guitar neck. I'll do that by showing you the pattern first and then we'll build a specific major scale up the neck of the guitar. We're going to end up with 7 note names in all. First, study the graphic below. Each blue oval represents a note of the scale. Each adjacent pair of notes, as the scale ascends, shows the distance that should fall between them. After studying the graphic below, read the text that follows for further explanation.

The Major Scale Pattern

The major scale pattern


We're going to build the F major scale. In order to build the F major scale, we start with the "F" note and find the successive notes that fit the pattern shown above. Just for your information, the "F" note is referred to as the "root" note of the F Major Scale. All you have to do is start on the 1st note of the scale (in this case "F") and move up a whole step (which is 2 frets) then another whole step then a half step and so on. The notes that result from this process are the notes that make up the F major scale. In other words, the notes must fit the pattern. the pattern is a constant.

Step through the animation below for an example of how to build the F major scale and find the note names for it. We're going to stay on the 6th string to illustrate the simplicity of the major scale pattern.


The reason for showing the scale ascending on one string is to demonstrate that there is a set pattern that every major scale follows. Please don't think that I'm implying you should use the above example to play the major scale. If you'd like to see a good example of fingerings for playing the F major scale all over the guitar neck, check out the lesson called, Major Scale Fingerings in the Theory section.