Learning Guitar Scales Quickly with 3 Basic Scales

Learning guitar scales can be fun and enjoyable when you understand how they are constructed and why they work well together. Making music of scales is an important aspect for every beginner and can be great practice.

They are designed in such a way to help you write, improvise and understand music. Let’s dig deeper into understanding scales, root notes, how to use them in your playing, and 6 scales to learn and practice.

Learning Guitar Scales Quickly

What are Guitar Scales?

A scale is a group of different notes that sound great together because they are of the same pitch. This group of notes is played in a descending or ascending order that is creatively used to create a melody. Scales are also the building blocks for chords and harmony.

There is not a set particular rules for the notes or even the numbers of notes, and advanced guitarists can go a step further to create their scales. Every scale, whether it is minor, major, Lydian Dominant, and dominant, pentatonic, harmonic minor and so on, enables a player to construct different sets of chords. This is because of its structure that is the intervals betweens the notes of the scales.

The intervals between notes in a scale are also called a ‘step’. Moving your finger one fret in either direction along the neck is a half-step, while 2 frets is a full step. 


Playing Note #1 and then #2 is to play notes that are a half-step apart


Playing Note #1 and then #2 is to play notes that are a full-step apart

What is the Root Note of a Scale?

The root note is the note that a scale starts on. During practice, you’ll start on a root note when you are playing a scale. The root note of every scale is known to define the scale tonality. The root note is the place where you will get the name of the scale as well. For example, if you have a Minor Pentatonic scale (see below for specifics) and you start the scale by playing the 6th string played on the fifth fret, you will be playing the note A. Thus, your root note for this scale would be the A note. 

Finding the name of root note of any scale is generally easy since the root name is usually the scale that is named after. For example, the root note for C major is C, root note for G minor is G and root note for D minor pentatonic is D.

Understanding the Key a Song is played in

The key of a song is the collection of notes that blend to give a good sound. In most songs the keys are based on the major scales. When you notice a particular key signature in any piece of music, it usually refers to one core of the major twelve scales.

Any song that has a root note of C is also played in the of key of C . The notes of this song will primarily fall on the scale of the C or a scale that is based on C.

Why Pick a Specific Key for a Song?


1. The Range of your Singer

2. Loyalty to an original recording or performace

3. The ease of playing (G major or D major for a beginner)

4. The desire to produce a particular tone with certain instruments.

When should a Beginner start learning guitar scales?

Many people will advise you to start learning guitar scales as soon as you decide to start playing. Playing scales can teach you a lot as a beginner guitarist that will help out your overall playing and understanding:

  • Scales are good for your fingers as your first physical exercise.
  • They help your fingers to develop skill and strength.
  • Scales give you the knowledge to improvise or create solos and help you understand how songs that you want to learn were written.
  • Scales help you to understand the reason why guitarists play the notes in the order that they do.
  • They assist you in understanding the relationship between the chords and single notes, hence making you a better music composer and songwriter.
  • Scales help you to enhance your hand synchronization and finger techniques. Having these techniques increase your ability to be able to play different kinds of melodies and move quickly from chord to chord.
The first 3 Guitar Scales to Learn

When it comes to learning guitar scales some scales are used more than others and thus they are helpful to learn first. Some of these are easier to play than others. Start slowly by hitting the individual notes slowly (but in time). Speed comes with practice so don’t rush it! 

The Major Scale

This may not be the easiest of scales to learn, but it has so many modes that are generated from it that you can expand your knowledge quickly once you understand it. The Natural Minor Scale, the Dorian Scale, and the Mixolydian mode are just a few that are based on the Major Scale

Major Scale

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

This is typically the first scale a beginner guitarist will learn as it only has 5 notes per octave. This is a nice scale to begin with because it is quick and easy to learn, but can be the start of many progressions and more advanced techniques. 

Minor Pentatonic Scale

The Blues Scale

The natural progression from the Minor Pentatonic scale, the Blues scale is only slightly more difficult as it adds a 5th note. 

Blues Scale

The Final Note

Scales are a key to learning to play music and with a variety of scales to learn, it is important for any beginner to start playing and understanding scales early on. That way you can easily relate and be able to compare any other new patterns. To learn more check out these articles at GuitarOrb and LearntoPlayMusic.

If you want more great guitar content please jump over to our page for the topic, or check out the related posts to the right!