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Movable Major Guitar Scale Form Lesson

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. Hi Jon… It can be used everywhere that you can start on the 6th string (1st fret, 2nd fret, 3rd fret, etc.). This is when it helps to know the names of notes on the 6th string. I’ll be posting a lesson this week that will add to this. – Tomas

  1. Hi Tomas,
    This movable scale is going to be SO useful, and it’s pretty simple to learn too! Thank you very much! I really look forward to your lessons each week.

  2. Were you teaching the scales with a 22 fret guitar ? I have a 19 fret guitatar and found it a little difficult to follow the scales I love your lesson they are so well don hope to see a lot morejune

  3. I’m glad June pointed out that she found the fingering difficult. I didn’t realise there was a 22 fret guitar! No wonder the stretches are tough for those of us with a 19 fret instrument. This should have been made clear.

    Best wishes


    1. Hi Tony,

      I have both a 19 fret (my most used) and the 22 fret I used in the video. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much difference in the stretch. The frets are the same distance apart and it’s bit of a stretch either way. It’s really more about practice than how many frets…

  4. about the moveable scale in A 6th string 5th fret 7th fret 9th fret there was no problem understanding that part but to continue the scale why do you go to the5th fret and start on the 5th fret? What is the connection with the 6th string and the 5th string in this moveable scale?

    1. Hi Jon… I’m sorry but I don’t really understand your question. The only thing I can offer is that the 5th fret, 5th string is simply where the next note of the scale is. If you’d like to try rephrasing the question I can try to give you a better answer. – Tomas

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