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Guitar Theory Made Easy Lesson 2 – Major Scales

​Even though the major scale is not one of the most common scales for use in pop and rock music it is very useful for understanding music theory. Many other scales are better understood in relationship to the major scale. In addition it will help in the future to understand how chords are constructed.


Interval Formula For Major Scales

The formula for a major scale using intervals is as follows:



W – Whole Step

H – Half Step


in the diagram below, in addition to the letters, I use a rounded arch to indicate a whole step in a pointed arch to indicate a half step.

Using this formula you can create any major scale. The name of the scale will depend on the note you start on. If you start on the note A it will be an A major scale.


Whole Steps And Half Steps

In the video I mentioned the concept of whole steps in half steps, also known as whole tone and semitone. It’s really helpful to understand the concept of intervals to explain scales and chords. There are quite a few more intervals than these two. If you’re interested I’ve created another basic guitar theory lesson on intervals that you might like to check out. 

Your assignment for this lesson should you choose to accept it:

1. Watch the short video completely to the end

2. Practice the C major scale on one string using numbers as you go.

3. Practice the movable C major scale starting on the eighth fret, also counting the numbers.

4. Post any questions in the comment section of this post and I’ll do my best to answer them.

If you haven't already you may want to check out the previous lesson:



When the major scale is used in rock music it tends to create a happy or upbeat sound. Here’s a list of some songs you may want to check out that use the major scale.


Examples Of The Major Scale

 The main theme from Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson, (starts at 2:32)

Friends” - Joe Satriani

Jessica” - The Allman Brothers Band

Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan

Jump - Van Halen” Song in a major key and solo uses the minor pentatonic. Great contrast!

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Kurt Cobain) – Nirvana

“Reelin’ in the Years” (Elliot Randall) – Steely Dan

“Light My Fire” (Robby Krieger) – The Doors

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  1. is C major and A major scale the same? when i click on the C major link on your site, it brings me to the A major scale. I don’t know any music throey, but is that what it means?

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