This is Ground Control to Major Scales!

This is Ground Control!

While visiting my family over the weekend, my younger cousin Jonah brought his guitar to my parents house. (Hey Jonah, sounding really good my man!) The following is some of the things we worked on. Firstly, I mentioned the importance of MELODY. Our leads/solos should revolve around a melody or theme. It’s a great idea is to learn as many melodies as possible on the guitar, ESPECIALLY super-simple children songs.

This Serves Two Purposes:

1. By learning lots of melodies, you will develop a better sense of where notes are on the neck.

2. It will help you to sharpen your ear, and improve your sense of melody.

This familiar melody as shown is played on the high E string and the B string.



Figure out the rest of the phrase on your own!

Here is another seasonal melody also played on the first two (high) strings.



Again try and work out the endings.

[If you are REALLY STUCK, email me for the ‘answers.’]

Try and play as many melodies as you can on the guitar, you may want to keep a running list of these melodies for future reference.

Another concept we worked on was playing scales on a SINGLE STRING. While not as efficient or even practical for actual playing, it makes for excellent practice. It also serves the purpose of getting familiar with the intervals of the scale, neatly laid out on a single string.

Here is the MAJOR SCALE!




All scales are simply a series of WHOLE STEPS (two frets), and HALF STEPS (one fret) between notes. The type/sound of scale is determined by where these HALF steps occur. The half step/one fret interval (in a major scale) is between the 3rd and 4th notes, and between the 7th and 8th/ OCTAVE.

Since this is all on a single string, you can play this pattern on any/all of the open strings. The first note is the OPEN STRING, the KEY of the scale is the same as the string you are on, E B G D A or E. The ROOT is 0, the OCTAVE is the 12th fret, and the Second octave is the 24th fret.

Take Note of This One!

There are just two intervals that are one fret (half step) apart; the rest are two frets (whole step) apart. This applies to MAJOR, MINOR and any other MODE of scales. So when playing melodies or riffs within the scales and you aren’t sure if the next note is one fret or two frets away, you have 5 in 7 chance that it is two frets.

Understanding the major scale and it’s intervals will help you more than any single piece of knowledge – the mechanics of all western tonal music is based on the MAJOR SCALE. Enjoy your leftover turkey and dive into the major scale!

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  • I think I know the two songs Andy tabbed… anyone else care to take a guess? Hint, one is a “festive” tune for this month 😉

  • I agree 10 fold. Learning everything the major scale has to offer will progress your ability in every way. Cheers

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