You already know the sound of the major scale – from childhood lullabies, to Mozart, right through to Katy Perry – the Major Scale is deeply embedded in society (and in your ears!). You are off to a great start; now let me show you the easiest way to approach the major scale on guitar.
Basic Music Terminology Before I get into too much detail, here are a few simple rules to remember:
- Ionian Mode = The Major Scale
- 9th of a scale or chord = 2nd
- 11th = 4th
- 13th = 6th
- Tonic = home or resting chord
- Root = first note or bass note.
Major Scale Example
Major Scale Visual Example
All the white notes on a Piano create the C major scale.
Real Life Example
How this Scale fits on the Guitar
A white circle means that note is the root note of the scale. A number indicates what finger to use (1: first finger, 2: second finger, etc). You can easily move the shape up and down the fret board to play in different keys, just position the white dot over your chosen root note.
When to Use the Major Scale
Use it only on tonic major chords. Watch out, not all major chords are tonic chords. The Lydian Mode is your mode of choice for any non-tonic Maj7 chord. The Major Scale is a great scale to ‘blanket’ tunes with when you are starting out jazz guitar. If you learn the Major Scale really well, you will also learn 7 others at the same time. Awesome, right? 7 for the price of 1! Check out Major Scale Modes to see how.
How to Improvise with the Major Scale
- 7th, 9th and 13th (or 6th) are the most colorful notes in the Ionian mode
- The root, 3rd and 5th sound plain and nice.
- DANGER: emphasizing the 4th note of this mode sounds really nasty. (Which could be a good thing if you are a nasty guitar player).
I highly recommend you check out How to Solo on Major Chords immediately. In this lesson I show you the easiest and most effective approach to improvising over tonic major chords.
Major Scale Mode Summary
|Scale||Major Scale/ Ionian|
|Chord||Maj7, Maj9, Maj13|
|Notes||R, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7|
|C Major Scale||C, D, E, F, G, A, B|
|Chord/ Guide Tones||3rd and major7th|
|Color Tones||9th, 13th,|
|Sam's Tip||Welcome to the most common scale in the world. It's really important you know this guy well - spend some time exploring it.|
- Arpeggios and Scales go hand in hand. Learn or brush up on your maj7 arpeggios here.
- Apply this scale on a real tune. Check out Autumn Leaves now.
- Return to jazz guitar scales here to learn another cool scale.
Free Major Scale Mode Lessons
Thanks for checking out this lesson, please feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions.
~ Sam Blakelock | pickupjazz.com