Learning Guitar Scales – A 3 Step Guide

Wondering how you start learning guitar scales? This guitar lesson will show you 3 simple-steps that will turn you into a scale master. 

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 6 scale hacks that will turn you into a lead guitar guru.
  • 4 essential guitar licks that will make you sound amazing.
  • The no1 secret to learning scales fast.
  • 2 quick & easy tricks which will accelerate your scale progress.

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

Step 1) Understanding and Learning Guitar Scales

So, what is a guitar scale?

  • A guitar scale is a group of notes which can be played together.

Scales can be used to create catchy or rippin guitar solos. They are heard EVERYWHERE in music.

Major And Minor Scales

Guitar scales can be broken up into two categories. Those are:

  • Major scales.
  • Minor scales.

The first scales that you should learn are:

  • The ‘major pentatonic’ scale.
  • The ‘minor pentatonic’ scale.

Let’s learn them.

The Major Pentatonic Scale

 

learning guitar scales

This example is in the key of ‘G’. Therefore it is a ‘G major pentatonic scale’.

Here’s what it sounds like:

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

learning guitar scales

The minor pentatonic scale is an essential scale for blues and rock. This minor pentatonic scale is in the key of ‘G’. Therefore it’s a G minor pentatonic scale.

What Is A Pentatonic Scale?

A ‘pentatonic scale’ is a 5 note scale. The best way to understand pentatonic scales is to think of them as smaller versions of their related scale types.

  • The major pentatonic uses the same notes as the major scale.
  • The minor pentatonic uses the same notes as the minor scale.

Let’s take at a look at the difference major and minor scales and their pentatonic siblings.

Here’s a major scale:

learning guitar scales

Here’s a major pentatonic scale:

learning guitar scales

Can you see how they both use the same pattern? However there are less notes in the major pentatonic.

This is the same for the minor scale. Let’s compare.

Here’s the minor scale:

learning guitar scales

Here’s the minor pentatonic:

learning 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.

Notice how the minor pentatonic uses the EXACT same notes from the minor scale, it just uses less of them.

Let’s learn how to play the major and minor scale in more detail.

The Major Scale

The major scale is one of the most commonly used guitar scales in music. Let’s learn it.

This example is in the key of ‘G’. Therefore it is a G major scale.

learning guitar scales

The numbers bellow the tab relate to what fingers you should use. For example, on the 3rd fret of the low E string. (6th string.) You must your 2nd finger. On the 5th, use your 4th finger.

learning guitar scales

To learn more about how to read guitar tabs, go here: How To Read Guitar Tabs

Using individual fingers for each note in a scale is a great way of enhancing your dexterity and technique.

The Minor Scale

There are many different variations of the minor scale. However, in this lesson we’re going to learn the ‘natural minor scale’.

For this example, we’re going to learn this scale in the key of ‘G. Therefore this is a G minor scale.

learning guitar scales

Pro Scale Tip!

When you learn guitar scales, you MUST play each note slowly. Learning scales slowly makes it easier to remember each pattern.

Now we’ve learned how to play each scale, let’s take a look at how we can practice them.

Step 2) How To Practice Guitar Scales

One key aspect which many guitarists miss when learning scales is how to practice them. This is often why scales get seen as being boring.

In most cases it’s because they’re not being practiced in the right way!

We’re going to show you four awesome ways to help you get great at learning guitar scales.

1) Learning Guitar Scales – Going Up And Down The Scale

This is the first technique that most people go for when learning guitar scales. All we do is go up the scale then come back down.

Make sure you take your time with each of these scales and go through each note slowly and precisely.

We’re going to be using the G major scale for all of our examples today, but you can apply this to ANY of the scales we’ve learnt so far.

Here’s the tab:

learning guitar scales

2) Learning Guitar Scales – The String Skipping Trick

The next exercise we’re going to look is what’s known as string skipping.

All we’re going to do here is:

  • Play the first string (The low E string)  in the scale.
  • Skip over the A string. (5th string.)
  • Go to the next string (The D string) and play the notes of the scale on that string.
  • Go back to the string before. (The A string.)
  • Then skip again!

You repeat this until you get to the end of the strings!

So it would go like this.

  • Scale Notes on E string. (6th string.)
  • Scale Notes on D string. (4th string.)
  • Scale Notes on A string. (5th string.)
  • Scale Notes on G string. (3rd string.)
  • Scale notes on D string. (4th string.)
  • Scale Notes on B string. (2nd string.)
  • Scale notes on G string. (3rd string.)
  • Scale notes on E string. (1st string.)

Here’s the tab:

learning guitar scales

If you master this, try doing the same exercise but backwards.

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Enter your email address to learn our best guitar tips and tricks today!