Beginner Guitar Scales: 5 Essential Scales

Are you looking to learn some beginner guitar scales that will spice up your playing? Then look no further!

beginner guitar scales

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 5 essential beginner guitar scales that will make you sound amazing.
  • 3 quick and easy tips to help you improve your musicality.
  • 2 must-know lessons to make your scales sound fantastic.
  • The no1 secret to working out musical keys.

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Guitar scales are essential to know if you want to take your guitar playing to the next level. We’re going to show you 5 essential beginner guitar scales that will help get you started on your guitar journey. Let’s get started!

1) Beginner Guitar Scales – The Minor Pentatonic Scale

The minor pentatonic scale is one of the most commonly used guitar scales of all time. If you want to be a rock star, then you MUST know this scale.

For today’s lesson, we’re going to learn this scale in the key of E.

This means that the first note of the scale is the note ‘E’. This is also known as a root note.

The root note is the first note in a scale, this tells us what key the scale is in.

Not sure what a root note is? Check out this article: Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

Let’s learn it! Here’s the tab:

beginner guitar scalesIt should sound like this:

2) Beginner Guitar Scales – The Blues Scale

Another common beginner guitar scale is the blues scale, this scale is perfect if you want to play blues music.

If you love the sound of Eric Clapton or B.B king, then this scale is for you!

We’re going to keep things simple and learn this scale in an open position.

This scale is in the key of E. This means that the first note you’re going to play is an E.

Here’s the tab:

beginner guitar scales

Here’s what it sounds like:

3) Beginner Guitar Scales – The Major Pentatonic Scale

The major pentatonic scale sounds positive, vibrant and is perfect for pop and country!

We’re going to learn this scale in the key of G.

Let’s take a look at the tab:

beginner guitar scales

Pro Guitar Tip!

So far, we’ve learnt all of these scales using open strings.

Here’s a neat trick which you can use to get two scales for the price of one!

It’s really simple, all you have to do is:

Start your scale shape on the A string instead of the E string.

Let’s take a look at what this would look like for each beginner guitar scale.

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The Minor Pentatonic Scale – A string version

This time, we’re going to start our minor pentatonic scale on the A string instead of the E string.

This means that this scale is now in the key of A.

Here’s what it looks like on the tab:

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The Blues Scale – A string version

This scale is also in the key of A, because the first note in the scale is an A. Therefore it is an A blues scale.

Here’s the tab:

The Major Pentatonic Scale – A string version

This scale shape starts on the 3rd fret of the A string, this note is a C. Therefore, this scale is a C major pentatonic scale.

Most of this scale works when you transfer it over to the A string.

However, the last note changes, instead of playing of an open string. You’re going to play the 1st fret of the B string instead.

Here’s the tab:

c-major-pentatonic

Intermediate Beginner Guitar Scales – The Major and Minor Scale

If you fancy an added challenge, these major and minor scales are perfect!

Let’s check them out.

1) Beginner Guitar Scales – The Major Scale

The major scale is the bigger brother of the major pentatonic scale. Many people mistake them for two different scales.

However, they use exactly the same notes. The major pentatonic scale just uses less of them!

The major scale is perfect for pop, jazz and blues music! This scale sounds bright and vibrant. Let’s learn it 🙂

We’re going to learn this major scale in the key of G.

Here’s the tab:

beginner guitar scales

2) Beginner Guitar Scales – The Minor Scale

Another common beginner guitar scale is the minor scale. Just like our major scale, this scale is the bigger brother of the minor pentatonic scale.

The two scales use the same notes, however the full minor scale uses a couple more notes than the minor pentatonic scale.

We’re going to learn this scale in the key of E.

Here’s the tab:

beginner guitar scales

Advanced Beginner Guitar Scales – Learn Scales in 2 Octaves

So far, we’ve learnt each scale pattern in one octave. To take your guitar playing to the next level, it’s essential that we learn these scales in two octaves.

All we’re going to do here is, extend our regular scale patterns.

We’re still playing the exact same scale, however instead of stopping at the first octave, we’re going to carry on until we reach the next octave.

Let’s take a look at each scale pattern in it’s 2 octave form.

1) Two Octave E Minor Pentatonic Scale

This scale pattern is larger than the original minor pentatonic scale pattern.

Here’s the tab:

beginner guitar scales

E minor pentatonic (open position)

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

.

Can you see how we’re still using the first part of the scale, but now we’ve extended it to use the rest of the strings.

It’s still the exact same scale!

2) Two Octave E Blues Scale

Here’s the tab for a two octave blues scale in the key of E.

e-blues-scale

We’re still using the first half of the regular blues scale, we’ve just added a few notes to complete the second octave.

3) Two Octave G Major Pentatonic Scale

Here’s the tab for a two octave G major pentatonic scale.

beginner guitar scales

Can you see how the first half of the G major pentatonic is exactly same as the previous scale pattern? All we’ve done is add notes to complete the octave.

4) Two Octave G Major Scale

Here’s the tab for a two octave G major scale. This one’s a finger twister so make sure you practice it slowly!

g-major-scale-2-octaves

5) Two Octave E Minor Scale

This E minor scale can be a little tricky to play, so make sure you practice it slowly and carefully. Nail each note!

e-minor-scale-2-octavesThese scales are a lot more challenging than the initial scales that we learnt. Learning two octave scales is the quickest way to get amazing at guitar scales!

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again. Click here to download your copy.

What Is A Scale?

A scale is a group of musical notes. Technically, you could pick a few different notes and group them together, and call it a scale.

Scales usually contain 5-12 different notes. Scales fall into two main categories, major and minor.

Along with major and minor scales, you also get pentatonic and blues scales.

If you can have a good understanding of these scales, you’ll be rocking in no time.

There’s loads more to learn about guitar scales, click here to find out more: Learn Guitar Scales In 8 Easy Steps

beginner guitar scales

Why do I need to know beginner guitar scales?

Now you’re probably wondering… “Yeah it’s great learning all these scales, but do I actually need to know them?”

In short, the answer is yes. You need to know guitar scales dude! We’re going to show you 3 reasons why you need to learn guitar scales.

1) Scales Improve Your Musicality

Learning scales is a great way of increasing your musicality.

Musical scales can be used to create melodies. They also allow you to improvise!

Without scales, it’s almost impossible to create a solo or to write a tune. It’s SO important that you know how to play beginner guitar scales.

Here are a few scenarios when you could use beginner guitar scales:

  • If you’re in a band, and you’re asked to take a solo.
  • If you want to write a melody line to a song you’ve written.
  • If you want to write a rockin’ guitar riff.

If you’d like to learn more about lead guitar, check out these articles:

Beginner guitar scales are essential to know if you want to create amazing sounding solos.

Check out this killer article from Guitar World, to find out what the 50 greatest guitar solos of all time are: 50 Greatest Guitar Solos

2) Learning Scales Enhances Your Technique

Scales are a great way of enhancing your guitar technique. Fretting notes and playing individual strings can be hard when you’re first starting.

By learning beginner guitar scales, you’re forcing yourself to play things correctly. This is perfect for developing your guitar technique!

3) Scales Make You Sound Amazing

Learning guitar scales is a quick fire way of sounding amazing.

If you learn guitar scales, it gives you the skill to take guitar solos, to write melodies and to enhance your technique.

We guarantee that if you learn guitar scales, you WILL become an amazing guitarist.

beginner guitar scale jams

When can I use these guitar scales?

It’s great learning guitar scales. However, it’s pointless knowing guitar scales if you don’t know when you can use them.

In this section, we’re going to show you when you can use beginner guitar scales.

To know when we can use beginner guitar scales, we need to understand a little about musical keys.

What’s a musical key?

A musical key is a group of scales and chords which work together.

How does this relate to guitar scales?

Okay, listen up. This is important.

Each guitar scale belongs to a specific musical key. We can break musical keys into two types.

Those are major keys and minor keys.

  • For every major key, you have a major scale.
  • For every minor key, you have a minor scale.

Pretty simple right?

beginner guitar scales

How does this work?

What this means is that if you have a song in a major key, you can play the following scales.

  • The Major Scale.
  • The Major Pentatonic Scale.

If a song is a minor key, you can use these scales:

  • The Minor Scale.
  • The Minor Pentatonic.

All you have to worry about is what key that song or backing track is in.

For example, if you want to practice the G major scale/G major pentatonic scale, your backing track/song has to be in the key of G major.

Or, let’s say you wanted to practice improvising in the key of E minor.

You could use a:

  • E Minor Scale.
  • E Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Can you see how the names of these scales relates to the key?

This works for ANY key, so for example if you learnt a C major scale, you could play it over a song in the key of C.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re improvising, writing a melody or creating guitar riffs. As long as your musical key lines up with the appropriate scale, you’ll be fine.

 

beginner guitar scale

How do I work out a musical key?

Okay, now we understand how musical keys relate to beginner guitar scales.

Let’s find out how we can work out a musical key.

It’s SO easy, this trick is going to blow your minds. I hope you’re ready for this..

To work out the key of a song, all you have to do is check the first and last chord of a song. That’s it!

It almost sounds too easy doesn’t it? Let’s put it into practice.

Here’s a chord progression:

G Major |E Minor |C Major |D Major |G Major

So if we follow our rule, let’s check the first and last chord of this progression.

As you can see, the first and last chord is G major.

Therefore, the key of this song is in G major.

See, easy right!

Let’s try another one.

What key do you think this progression is in?

E Minor |A Minor |D Minor |E Minor

If you look at the first and last chords of this progression, you can tell that this chord progression is in the key of E minor.

To learn more about musical keys, go here: Guitar Keys: An Essential Guide

Why is this useful to know?

This is so important to understand! If you can work out a musical key, it means you can use your beginner guitar scales.

By using your beginner guitar scales in a musical context, you will become a better guitarist.

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

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