For the next several weeks, we will be learning our major scales up and down the fretboard in all five positions and in all twelve major keys. Seem like an impossible task? Don’t worry. It’s not so bad, but in case you missed it, you will most definitely want to take a look at the introduction to the major guitar scales method we’re using to do this, and you might want to read up on the music theory for major scales.
The beauty about learning our major guitar scales with this method is that it not only teaches us the scale patterns but it inevitably teaches us the theory behind each major scale and the individual notes of each scale and how they interact and relate to one another. If we know how the notes interact with one another on the fretboard, we can begin to start crafting some interesting melodies and solos.
This week we are going to learn the F major scale. Before doing this, you should know the five scale positions of C major across the fretboard. If you don’t, put the brakes on and do it now, because this is crucial for this lesson.
The Anatomy of an F 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 F major scale has only one flat–a Bb.
F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F
In other words, from F to G, we have a whole step, from G to A, we have a whole step, from A to Bb, we have a half step, from Bb to C, we have a whole step, from C to D, we have a whole step, from D to E, we have a whole step, and from E to F, we have a half step.
If we know our C major scale in all five positions across the fretboard, all we need to do to make it F major is to change the B’s to Bb’s. Pretty easy, huh?
Guitar Scale Position #1: F Major Scale
The 1st position of a F major scale starts on the low open E string and roughly spans the 1st to 4th fret.
Guitar Scale Position #2: F Major Scale
The 2nd position starts on the G note of the 3rd fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 2nd to 6th fret.
Guitar Scale Position #3: F Major Scale
The 3rd position starts on the A note of the 5th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 5th to 8th fret.
Guitar Scale Position #4: F Major Scale
The 4th position starts on the C note of the 8th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 7th to 11th fret.
Guitar Scale Position #5: F Major Scale
The 5th position starts on the D note of the 10th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 9th to 13th fret.
As you can see, all the positions have some overlap with one another.
Click to enlarge
You guessed it. Your homework is to learn all five scale positions in F major. If you know your C major scale positions, this shouldn’t be too hard, because all you have to do is change one note. Again, you want to make sure that you are not just memorizing the patterns, but rather, you understand exactly which note you’re playing. As you practice these scales, verbalize each note out loud.
It’s easy to fall into the patterns, and this is okay, but don’t take shortcuts in just learning the patterns!
Further Application & Resources
Ultimately, the end goal is to have a complete grasp of the fretboard in all twelve keys. If we can do this, we can be better equipped to start crafting some solos and improvising. However, while learning these positions is a start, you want to be applying your knowledge in some other ways.
As you start to become more comfortable with your C major scale and the F major scale positions, choose a scale position, ascend in C major, and then descend in F major. If you find yourself getting stuck in the patterns, this will be sure to break you of it!
Sometimes the best thing to do is try to find a group of folks to jam with. Have someone lay down a rhythm for you and then try soling over top of it. If you don’t have anyone to play music with, consider getting some backing tracks for guitar that you can solo over.
Another really excellent guitar scale method out there I would recommend is Craig Bassett’s guitar scale course. His method systematically takes you through the process of gaining a complete mastery over the guitar fretboard.
Questions & Comments
Hopefully you aren’t too lost or confused, but if you are, post your questions. Any thoughts about learning the guitar fretboard this way? More guitar scales to come!