Objectives: In this chapter, you’ll learn what scales are and how to play major scales across any string.


A scale (in music) is a sequence of notes played in a specific order. You can take any set of notes, play them in order, and invent your own scale. But there are many pre-defined scales in music. The most familiar scales have seven notes. (When played, we usually play the first note again at the end of the scale at a higher pitch to make the scale sound complete. This makes the scale sound like eight notes.)

Unless you have a well-trained ear, many of these scales will sound the same. It’s hard to really hear the differences in the scale alone. You often need to hear them in context – like in a song with other instruments. There are hundreds of scales, including these…

…and a ton of modal scales such as…

…and exotic scales like…

…and more. There are hundreds of scales across Western, Eastern, and other cultures. The major scale is the most basic to Western music and the one we’ll start with in this chapter. The others are advanced and we won’t get to those for a while. The major scale is also the scale that all others are based on and compared to.

By the way, Western music doesn’t mean country music, music from the Ol’ West, or music from California. Western music is music originating from the Western hemisphere of Earth (North America, South America, and the western parts of Europe, Africa, Oceana, and Antarctica.) Eastern scales and music often sound weird to people who have heard only Western scales and music throughout their lives.

Memorize This

  1. A scale is a series of notes played in a specific order.
  2. There are hundreds of different musical scales.
  3. Western scales create sounds most of us are used to while Eastern scales sound exotic.
  4. The most basic Western scale is the major scale.

Check Yourself

Answer the following questions.