How are the scales coming? This week we pass the half way point of our journey to learn all major scale positions across the fretboard in all twelve keys. If you’re jumping into this lesson mid-ways through, you might want to consider starting at the beginning with learning your C major scale positions.
So far, we’ve covered:
This week we’re going to look at the A major scale.
The Anatomy of an Eb Major Scale
If you went through and constructed major scales for all twelve keys based on the half step, whole step pattern, then you’ll know that an A major scale has three sharps–-a C#, F#, and a G#.
A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A
In other words, from A to B, we have a whole step, from B to C#, we have a whole step, from C# to D, we have a half step, from D to E, we have a whole step, from E to F#, we have a whole step, from F# to G#, we have a whole step, and from G# to A, we have a half step.
If we know all five scale positions for D major (which has a F# and a C#), all we have to do is raise the “G” notes by a half step to “G#.” This gives us that third flat sharp in an A major scale.
Guitar Scale Positions #1: A Major Scale
The 1st position of an A major scale starts on the E note of the low open E string and roughly spans the 1st to 4th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #2: A Major Scale
The 2nd position starts on the F# note of the 2nd fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 2nd to 5th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #3: A Major Scale
The 3rd position starts on the G# note of the 4th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 4th to 7th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #4: A Major Scale
The 4th position starts on the B note of the 7th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 7th to 10th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #5: A Major Scale
The 5th position starts on the C# note of the 9th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 9th to 12th fret.
As you can see, all the positions have some overlap with one another.
For next week, learn all your A major scale in all five scale positions. Again, if you learned your D major guitar scales a couple weeks ago, this should be pretty simple because all you are doing is changing one note–a G to a G#.
Further Application & Resources
Hopefully by now you’re really starting to plow through these lessons. You should be able to start seeing and being able to identify the different notes and their name across the fretboard. If you’re still having difficulty with only learning the patterns, then be sure you are practicing ascending and descending scale positions in different keys.
For example, you might choose to ascend the 3rd scale position in A major, and then descend in that same position on a G major scale. By descending in G major, you’re quickly forced to be able to identify which notes need to be changed within the scale position to make the scale G major. In the case of this example, you would have to switch your all your G# and C# notes in the A major scale to G and C notes to make it a G major scale. If you incorporate this exercise into your practice, you’ll quickly be forced outside of simply thinking in patterns.
If you’ve been enjoying this guitar scale series, you might want to take a deeper look into Craig Bassett’s guitar scale course. His method systematically takes you through the process of gaining a complete mastery over the guitar fretboard beyond just major guitar scales.
Lastly, in our last guitar scale lesson on Eb major guitar scales, Chris from Classical Guitar Blog so generously offered his print-out of the different scale positions. While the print-out is in C major, it can be helpful to be able to see the positions charted out on a sheet of music.
Questions & Comments
As always, post any questions or comments. If you are stuck, chances are a reader on the blog or myself will be able to help you out. Let’s hear how it’s going for you.