Playing Major Scales In Every Position

As I’ve discussed earlier, knowing the major scales all over the neck is one of the most important skills you can posess on the guitar. It gives you access to modes, keys, chord construction and much more. I have already written about the theory of major scales and how they can be constructed or ‘figured out’. It is important to know this. At some point however, you simply have to learn all the shapes along the neck. While there are variations to each shape, there are essentially only 5 shapes to learn. Of course, they are all movable shapes, so once you have learned them, you will be able to play 12 major scales (1 for each key) in 5 different positions on the neck.

The 5 shapes are below. The blue circles with numbers in them indicate which finger to use (recommended). The red ‘R’s represent where the root notes occur in that position. Please note that for the sake of demonstrating how the 5 different positions work in one given key, in this example they have been arranged in the key of G. Of course, once you can play them properly, you can move them anywhere and therefor change the key.

Major Scales

All the major scales along the neck

When practicing each shape, it is important to master the notes in that position. Of course, the end goal is to be able to move freely and fluently from one position to another, but initally you should practice each shape without moving away from the given position. A good way to do this is to start with the lowest root note, ascend through every note in the position until you have reached the highest note of that position (regardless of what note that is). Then descend to the lowest note of the position (again, this may or may not be the root). If the lowest note is not the root, ascend from the lowest note back to the root (starting note). This might sound confusing but it is actually quite simple. Here are the notes/tabs for each position.

Here is the first position.

Major Scales Position 1

Major Scales Position 1 Tabs

Here is the second position.

Major Scales Position 2

Here is the third position.

Major Scales Position 2 Tabs

Here is the forth position.

Major Scales Position 4

Major Scales Position 4 Tabs

Here is the fifth position.

Major Scales Position 5 Tabs

They are the 5 positions that you need to learn in order to master your major scales. It might seem like a lot of work, but remember, the shapes are movable, so if you can memorize all 5 shapes, you really have the keys to the fretboard! Many other scales are derived from major scales so by learning the above shapes, you are actually doing a lot of ground work for hundreds of other scales. Don’t worry if this doesn’t make perfect sense right now, just know that learning the above shapes is a massive skill. It should also be pointed out that there are quite a few variations for each shape/position. Some people play with different fingerings etc, but essentially they are still the same scales based on the same positions.


Guitar Scales Galore Cover W300

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About Genaaron Diamente

I play guitar. I teach guitar. I like making music. I'm trying to build this site up to be a valuable resource for guitar students and teachers.

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