4 Scales You Should Know

When it comes to guitar soloing, there are four scales that can be applied more often than any others. They are the Minor Pentatonic Scale, the Natural Minor Scale, the Major Scale and the Major Pentatonic Scale. Following are the most common patterns for each type. They include an easy-to-find root note on the heaviest (6th) string. These examples are all in the key of A.

Practice these patterns from the lowest-pitch root note to the highest note. Then descend from the highest note to the original root. This teaches both your ears and your fingers the full range of the pattern. Once you can do this, wander through and explore the sound of each scale. Or try them over appropriate jam tracks.

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Major Scale Exercise

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25 Comments on “4 Scales You Should Know”

  • Sam wrote on 21 August, 2008, 23:48

    great lesson just 1 error the minor scale diagram is missing F the sixth degree (2nd string 8th fret).

    All in all a good lesson

  • Storm wrote on 22 August, 2008, 0:13

    Fixed, Sam. Thanks for catching that.

  • MJK (Mike) wrote on 17 June, 2009, 6:10

    Thanks for the Print Option. Very helpful and missing on most other sites.

  • fullbirdmusic wrote on 20 June, 2009, 13:56

    Great stuff – only thing I would suggest for more beginner-level troops are the other scale patterns up and down the fretboard.
    This might explain a lot for them and clear up their confusion of the already cryptic fretboard. Thanks for making this free! cheers


  • Storm wrote on 23 June, 2009, 7:52

    @fullbirdmusic: Great suggestion, thanks! I will do that. Thanks for commenting!

  • MJK (Mike) wrote on 5 October, 2009, 11:26

    I still need more work, but two down and two more to go…

  • jack wrote on 11 November, 2009, 15:37

    thanks great site been playn for years,, with a bit of theroy on piano,, never moved it to guitar,,
    just learned songs to play,,, but lately ive been wanting to explore more,, scales and modes are the key to growing,, been looking for sites that share,, so a big thanks,,,,, i ll be here alot,,

  • tomas wrote on 28 November, 2009, 1:44

    the last one that says major pentatonic looks like the second position of F # minor pentatonic

  • Storm wrote on 2 December, 2009, 11:14

    @tomas – You’re right. A Major Pentatonic and F# Minor Pentatonic share the same notes so they also share the same patterns on the neck. The only difference is in which note you consider the root.

  • jasim wrote on 5 August, 2010, 14:15

    now I can do something when there is no electricity! (I live in Iraq 😀 )

  • Julien Merheb wrote on 17 February, 2013, 15:15

    i live in Lebanon .. i know that feel bro :’)

  • trip wrote on 23 April, 2013, 9:33

    when your country wont be under the control of those damn terrorists ill bet you will have as much electricity you want ! peace & love :))

  • Dee wrote on 19 August, 2010, 13:34

    great lesson!thanks!

  • Elvis wrote on 13 July, 2011, 5:57

    i realy like your lessons. Is there minor C,A,G,E,D keys please?

  • PopChristy wrote on 11 March, 2012, 11:03

    Hi Storm, you are a terrific teacher! Thanks for your awesome posts. My question is: Can you advise me how to adapt these scales to the baritone ukulele? (It’s tuned the same as a guitar except doesn’t have the 2 bottom strings…DGBE). Thank you. -PC

  • B wrote on 22 July, 2012, 7:50

    Elvis, I am very much a beginner but I can give you the following tip: all these scales are rooted in A. If you want C(A)GDE, just move up and down and for most it will work (i.e. same pattern but for G your 6-string root will be on the 3rd fret, for c it should be on the 8th.. D on the 10th…

    In case something like that happens (root on the 10th or higher, then maybe try finding the root on the 5th string and adapting the pattern for it. Shouldn’t take too long with a pencil and paper.

  • B wrote on 22 July, 2012, 7:52

    PopChristy, not sure if this is what you mean, but if it is tuned for four strings identically, you should be able to just follow the same pattern on the four strings. If you must go higher, slide, but then you might have to experiment to find the notes in the higher fret positions.

  • ajbuzz wrote on 2 December, 2012, 5:32

    great post! i understand the scales.. but whats the best way to link a few together for soloing

  • John wrote on 16 June, 2014, 2:08

    what does it mean that some of the finger spots are white and the others black? I’m a beginner as far as reading scales is concerned, but I would like to know what the difference is so i can play the scale?

  • Storm wrote on 22 June, 2014, 18:45

    The white dots are meant to highlight the root note of the scale. In the examples shown, all the ‘A’ notes are white dots.


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