Last Updated on April 3, 2021 by Klaus Crow
Photo by Bigstock photo
If you know how to play the major scale in one position and you’re ready to learn to play it all over the fretboard then this lesson is the next step.
If you haven’t played the major scale before you might wanna check out this post first: How to Play The Major Scale Guitar Guide for Beginners and Intermediate.
The major scale is the mother of all scales and your reference point for all other scales. That’s why it’s so important to master all of these five scale shapes.
The five C-A-G-E-D scale shapes (C shape, A shape, G shape, E shape and D shape) surround the entire fretboard. The “shapes” are sometimes also referred to as “positions”. In this post we use the G major scale as an example. So all five scale shapes (see below) are G major scale.
You can apply these scale shapes to all 12 keys by simply moving the shapes up or down the fretboard. For example: If you move the five shapes up a whole step (2 frets) then all the shapes are in the key of A, so you have five A major scale shapes.
The five scale shapes are derived from the CAGED system. If you’re not sure what the CAGED system is all about check out: What is The CAGED System? (The Keys to The Fretboard)
Each scale shape is related to a chord shape and surrounds that chord shape so you can easily identify the name of each scale shape. In each diagram below you can see the scale shape and the chord shape (made up of the red and green dots) that is surrounded by the scale shape.
PLAYING THE SCALE SHAPES
If you look at the diagrams, play each scale shape starting from the lowest root note (the red note) then play all the way up (ascending) to the last note on the high E-string, then play all the way down (descending) to the first note on the low E-string and then play up again to the first root note you’ll hit upon. The tablature shows you how to play each scale shape ascending and descending.
– Practice the scale shapes with a pick using alternate picking technique (down, up, down, up, etc.)
– Practice slowly first and make sure each note sounds clean and clear.
– Try to visualize the chord shape in each scale shape.
– Make sure you can play each scale shape thoroughly before moving on to the next.
– Be patient and persistent, it takes some time to get them all under your belt.
– Repetition and regular practice is the key to success!
G Major Scale – E Shape / Position 1
G Major Scale – D Shape / Position 2
G Major Scale – C Shape / Position 3
G Major Scale – A Shape / Position 4
G Major Scale – G Shape / Position 5