Knowing and understanding guitar scale patterns is an essential part of becoming a well-rounded, skilled guitarist. Knowledge of scale patterns will help you improve your improvisation, assist you in writing leads, and will make jamming with other musicians much easier. In this post, we will highlight the five guitar scale patterns that every guitarist should have in their repertoire.

Major Scale

Understanding the Major Scale, and the way in which other scales relate to it, is essential for proficient guitar playing. The Major Scale features a cheerful, bright tonality to it and is the most significant scale in popular music . The Major Scale is created employing the whole step – whole step – half step – whole step – whole step – whole step – half step interval. To picture this on the neck, take a look at the F Major Scale Pattern Chart below. The orange notes represent the root note of the scale.

F Major Scale

Observe the pattern of W-W-W-H-W-W-W-H from root note to root note. Now that you have the pattern of the Major Scale comprehended, it is possible to move onto the interval of the scale. The interval of the major scale is 1 ,2 ,3 ,4 ,5 ,6 ,7. Looks simple enough, right? C Major is the simplest example because the pattern contains no sharps or flats. In the C Major Scale you have C ( 1 ), D( 2 ), E( 3 ), F( 4 ), G( 5 ), A( 6 ) , B( 7 ), C( 8 ).

Natural Minor Scale

The Natural Minor Scale (also known as the Aeolian mode) is one of the most often used scales in modern rock music. The Natural Minor Scale has more of somber, gloomy tonality compared to the Major Scale. To build the Natural Minor Scale, you flatten the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes of the Major Scale.

F# Natural Minor Scale

Keep in mind that the all minor scales have minor thirds. The minor third is the note that gives the scale its minor tonality .

Major Pentatonic Scale

The Major Pentatonic scale can be found everywhere in music. Listen to everything from country to rock , and you can trust in hearing the Major Pentatonic Scale . The Major Pentatonic Scale is quite similar to the the Minor Pentatonic Scale, but the position of the root note varies between the two scales.

The Major Pentatonic scale is comprised of 5 notes ( hence the -penta prefix ), all of these are found in the Major Scale. The Major Pentatonic Scale Formula consists of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd , 5th, and 6th notes of the Major Scale.

Major Pentatonic Scale Pattern

This pattern is also the 2nd position for the Minor Pentatonic Scale. The big difference is the position of the root note. A tip for training your ear to the Major Pentatonic Scale is to play the matching major chord prior to play the scale. For example , play the A Major chord, before playing the A Major Pentatonic Scale (root on the 5th Fret of the 6th string).

Minor Pentatonic Scale

The Minor Pentatonic is quite possibly the most common guitar scale in rock music. Memorizing the Minor Pentatonic Scale patterns will considerably improve your soloing abilities and improvisation capabilities. To create the Minor Pentatonic Scale, you will take the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th notes of the Natural Minor Scale.

Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern

Chromatic Scale

The Chromatic Scale is unique in the fact that it uses all 12 tones in the octave. So the A Chromatic Scale would consist of A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, and then back to A . The Chromatic Scale is a great way to add a unique flavor to your playing .

Chromatic Scale Pattern Chromatic Scale Pattern

I hope you found this post useful and informative (if you did , please share it!) There are some more great lessons online to learn from. I highly recommend JamPlay. They have a huge collection of video lessons with great instructors. Remember to always practice scales using a metronome. There are good, free metronomes online, such as Best Metronome and Metronome Online. Learn the scales slowly, playing each note accurately and cleanly. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below.

  • Michael Crutcher

    This is a bad example of the chromatic scale. It leaves out one note per string. That can be fixed by including the open string note, but then it isn’t consistent with the other scale graphics.

    • Mike Stith

      Thank you for your feedback, Michael. I try to make the charts so that they are movable anywhere on the neck and don’t rely on any open strings. I don’t believe you have to have 5 notes per string, all 12 notes in the scale are accounted for, they are just spread across more strings.

      • Michael Crutcher

        Okay,then you have notes missing from the diagram for the chromatic scale. Let’s put it at the 5th fret. Assuming this, you’d have the notes A, A#, B, C on the 6th string, and the notes D, D#, E, F on the 5th string. You’re missing the C# note, and the subsequent F#, B, D#, G# notes on the other strings.

        Basically, your diagram is not the chromatic scale. In b order to have the chromatic scale there had to be stretches by one fret or position changes by one fret,

        • Mike Stith

          You are absolutely correct. I updated the chart to accurately reflect the chromatic scale.

          • Michael Crutcher

            Now you may want to check your fingering. That one works, but the more efficient way for a guitarist to play the chromatic scale is to stretch out of position by one fret with the first finger, and slide back to position for each string, except the 2nd string, for which a position change is unnecessary.

            Like this:







            Another way to do this, if you’re starting high enough up the neck(5th fret or higher), is to play the 4 fret pattern, and change position to the previous fret at each string change(except for the change to the 2nd string; position change there is unnecessary).

            Like this:







          • millo lailang

            ‘Michael Smith’, Your pattern is good. But I think the pattern of the post will be much easier for beginners. Just a minor difference.
            In your pattern, you are fretting the C note on the 5th fret of the 3rd string which results in having to skip the first fret on the 2nd string. This could be uncomfortable for the beginners.
            But at the end of the day, he has to learn to do it your way too. Its inevitable :)

          • Michael Crutcher

            The pattern of the post doesn’t show which fingers should go where. It just shows 5 notes per string except for the 3rd string. Without explicit instructions, it looks like we have 5 fingers, or at least there it’s no indication of which finger to slide.

  • dj vj

    “The Major Pentatonic Scale Formula consists of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th notes of the Major Scale.”

    Umm, no, it doesn’t. The Major Pentatonic drops the 4th and 7th from the major scale, leaving the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th notes.

    Also, the post relates the Minor Pentatonic to the Major scale and *not* to the Minor Scale. It is a lot easier to drop two notes from the minor scale than to flatten two notes and drop two notes from the major scale. You should know the relationship, but for a post clearly geared towards beginners, probably want to make it as clear and understandable as possible.

    • Mike Stith

      Oops! You are correct. I updated the Major Pentatonic scale to include the correct notes. I also revised the Minor Pentatonic scale as you suggested for clarity. Thank you for your suggestions and taking the time to bring this to my attention.

  • frank

    Are the Minor and Major Pentatonic scales known as the scale patterns?

  • Rieni Otten

    The way you present the major scale is incomplete. In your example, open
    strings should be played but you don’t indicate that at all. For
    example, F en G on 6th string, followed by the open A string, then B flat, C, open D string, E, F.

  • seaofglass

    I think you did a great job posting scales mentioned. You have it nailed down.

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