On this page you’ll find major scale guitar TAB, notation and fretboard diagrams. The major scale is one of the most commonly used scales in lead guitar playing. Along with the pentatonic scale, it is one of the first scales a guitarist will learn.
Here you’ll learn how to play the major scale in every key, using moveable fretboard diagrams. You’ll also find tab for playing a C major scale in 1 and 2 octaves.
At the bottom of the page you’ll also find how each major scale shape can also be used to play 6 other scales!
Want to learn more scales? You can find information, diagrams and tab for many more guitar scales at our main Guitar Scales Page.
Download our printable Guitar Scales Chart Book here.
Major Scale Guitar Shape Diagrams
Using any the fretboard diagrams above, you can play major scales with any root note. The green circles on the diagrams represent the root notes of the scale.
(The root note is the note that the scale starts from and takes its name from, e.g. the ‘C’ of C major, or the ‘E’ of E Major.)
Major guitar scale tab can be found further down the page.
How To Use The Major Scale Guitar Fretboard Diagrams
We’ve provided 5 major scale diagrams so that you have a major scale shape at your fingertips wherever you are playing on the guitar neck.
Any one of the five scale shapes above could be used to play all of the major scales. This would be done by moving the scale up and down the neck.
However, it is a good idea to learn more than one way of playing any guitar scale. Your improvisation will be much more fluent if you can play the major scale you need without having to move your hand to another part of the guitar neck in order to do so.
Examples Of The Scale Diagrams In Use
If you wanted to play a C Major scale, you could play Shape 1 at 7th Position (i.e. at the seventh fret, aligning the ‘R’ over the C note on the 8th fret of the low E string of you guitar).
If you wanted to play an A Major Scale you could play Shape 1 in 4th Position (at the fourth fret).
Notice that although just one shape can be used to play all twelve major scales, by learning them all you’ll be able to play any major scale without having to move far from where you already are on the fretboard.
Major Scale Guitar TAB
1 Octave C Major Scale
The music below shows a good way to play a 1 octave C Major guitar scale in open position.
It is based on scale shape in diagram 3, but uses open strings instead of some of the fretted notes.
2 Octave C Major Scale
The music below shows a 2 octave C major scale. This is the scale created by playing the movable major scale shape no. 1 (see diagrams at top of page) with the root on the 8th fret of the 6th string. This is probably the most commonly-used movable major scale shape.
Major Scales And Modes
The major scale diagrams above can also be used to play modal scales. Modal scales, which are based on major scales, are often used by jazz, fusion and rock guitarists.
In fact, the major scale itself can also be called the Ionian modal scale.
Despite being based on the major scale, each modal scale has a sound all of its own.
If you learn the major scale shapes on this page, you’ll also be learning 6 other scales! See our modal scales page to learn more: Guitar Modes.