A complete guide to playing the D major scale for guitar. D major TAB, notation, and scale patterns / fretboard diagrams for electric, acoustic and classical guitars.
- Intro & Tips
- 1 Octave Open Position D Major Scale Guitar TAB / Notation
- Alternative 1 Octave D Major Scale Guitar TAB / Notation
- 2 Octave D Major Scale Guitar TABs / Notation
- 3 Octave D Major Scale For Guitar
- D Major Scale For Guitar Scale Pattern
- 2 Octave D Major Scale Using Pattern TAB / Notation
- Notes In The D Major Scale
- D Major Scale For Guitar: Conclusion
- Useful Links
Relevant Pages Elsewhere On Guitar Command
- Play any major scale anywhere on the guitar neck: Major Scale Guitar
- Guitar scale patterns and how to use them: Guitar Scale Patterns
- Info on guitar TAB and how to read it: How To Read Guitar TAB
- The ultimate online guitar scale reference: Guitar Scales
- Master the guitar neck: download our comprehensive Guitar Scales Chart Book: Guitar Scales Chart Book
- Practice improvising using a variety of scales: Guitar Scales Backing Tracks Albums
D Major Scale For Guitar: Introduction
As is the case with most things on guitar, there are several ways of playing a D major scale.
Below you’ll find TABs and notation for playing 1, 2 and 3 octave D major scales in a variety of fretboard positions and fingerings. We’ve included what we consider to be the ‘best’ ways of playing the scale, but feel free to experiment with fingering, etc. to find what works for you.
The 1 and 2 octave D major scales can be played on electric, classical and acoustic guitars. The 3 octave scale is suitable only for electric guitar; if you try it on either an acoustic or classical guitar you’ll run out of frets! Even on most electric guitars you’ll find yourself at the very top of the fretboard.
Beginners should start with the 1 octave open position D major scale before progressing to the other scales on the page.
You’ll also find a major scale pattern that can be used to play not only a D major scale, but also every other major scale, simply by moving the fretting hand to different fretboard positions.
- Additional major scale patterns (and information about major scales) can be found on this page: Major Scale Guitar
Scale Playing Tips
When playing guitar scales, aim for an even tone and tempo. It is highly beneficial to practice scales with a metronome. Start slowly and only increase the tempo when you can play the scale smoothly, clearly and evenly.
1 Octave Open Position D Major Scale
This is the standard way of playing a 1 octave D major scale on guitar. It uses open strings to give your fretting fingers a rest at certain points in the scale!
Alternative 1-Octave D Major Scale TABs
Below are two alternative ways of playing a 1 octave D major guitar scale. Note that although the notes of the scale are exactly the same as those above, several of the notes are being played at different frets.
2nd Position D Major Scale
4th Position D Major Scale
Note: In guitar music, the Roman numerals above the notation show the fret at which the fretting hand should be positioned. For example, ‘II’ means position your fretting hand so that the index finger is ready to play at the 2nd fret, ‘IV’ means position your fretting hand so that the index finger is ready to play at the 4th fret.
2 Octave D Major Scales
Below is guitar TAB showing two ways of playing 2 octave D Major scales.
The TAB below shows how the previous TAB can be extended to make a 2-octave scale. You’ll have to change fretboard position as you play the scale in order to be able to reach the highest notes.
Below is an alternative way of play a 2 octave D major scale on Guitar. Note that this is the same as the scale produced by playing the D major scale pattern further down the page.
3 Octave D Major Scale TAB
Playing a 3-octave D major scale requires a number of fretboard position changes. This scale can only be played on an electric guitar; you’ll run out of frets on a classical or acoustic guitar!
D Major Scale For Guitar Scale Pattern
Below is a pattern for playing a D major scale starting at the 3rd fret of the low D string.
- You can find out how to read scale patterns on this page: Guitar Scale Patterns
In the pattern above, the tonic notes of the scale are represented by green circles. The other notes of the scale are represented by black circles.
(The tonic notes of a scale are the ‘name’ notes of the scale, i.e. the ‘C’s in a C major scale, the ‘D’s in a D major scale, etc.)
Play a one-octave scale by starting from the lowest green note and stopping at the next green note. Play a two-octave scale by continuing to the highest green note, as shown in the TAB below.
2 Octave D Major Scale Using Pattern
(Note that this is the same as the TAB for the 2 octave scale shown further up the page.)
- You can find more scale patterns for playing major scales on this page: Major Scales On Guitar
The beauty of movable scale shapes is that once you’ve learned one shape, you can move it to different fretboard positions in order to play other scales.
For example, by moving the above pattern 2 frets down (i.e. starting at the 8th fret of the bottom E string instead of the 10th fret), and keeping all the fingers in the same position relative to the new starting note, you’d be playing a C major scale.
Likewise, by playing the pattern 2 frets higher (i.e. starting at the 12th fret), you’d be playing an E major scale.
By learning just one pattern, you can quite literally play every major scale! However, most guitarists learn more than one shape for each scale so that they are not restricted to playing the scale at a particular position on the fretboard.
- You’ll find additional patterns for playing major scales on this page: Major Scale Guitar
Notes In The D Major Scale
A D major scale, like all major scales, is heptatonic, which means that it contains seven notes before repeating again at the octave.
The notes in a D major scale are: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D (Octave)
The D major scale contains two sharpened notes: F sharp and C sharp.
D Major Scale For Guitar: Conclusion
We hope that you’ve found everything you need on this page in order to be able to play a 1, 2 and 3-octave D major scale on your guitar.
If you have any questions on playing this scale then feel free to ask them in the comments section below; we’d be happy to help. We also welcome any comments or suggestions on how we can make this page even more helpful!
Check out the links below for more guitar information…
- For the ultimate online guitar scale reference, visit this page: Guitar Scales
- For a useful overview of major scales, including several additional scale patterns and TAB examples, see this page: Major Scale Guitar
- To find out more about guitar scale patterns and how to use them, see this page: Guitar Scale Patterns
- For information on guitar TAB and how to read it, visit this page: How To Read Guitar TAB
- You can download a comprehensive printable guitar scale book here: Guitar Scales Chart Book
- Practice improvising using guitar scales with our specially-produced backing tracks: Guitar Scales Backing Tracks Albums