Learning scales is essential for your development as a guitar player. The first step in learning music faster with the guitar is knowledge of scales. So by practicing your scales, you’ll be able to build finger strength, start shredding and even write your own songs.

Essentially, scales are organized sequences of notes played in an ascending or descending order.

Therefore, we separated the 2 most essential guitar scales that every beginner should know: the Pentatonic scale and the Major scale.

Pentatonic Scale

A pentatonic scale is a popular five-note scale that you’ll need to know for riffs, solos, and melodies, especially for rock and blues. The major pentatonic scale is taken out of the major scale (see below later). The easiest one is the C major pentatonic scale: C D E G A C.

A Minor Pentatonic Scale

Guitarists usually start with practicing the A minor pentatonic scale which has the same notes as the C major pentatonic scale but in another order: A C D E G A.

This is the first shape of A minor pentatonic scale you should learn and practice on your guitar:

For a better overview, the A is highlighted wherever it appears. The numbers within the circles show you which finger you should use (1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4= pinky).

A famous song that utilizes the A minor pentatonic scale is “Stairway to Heaven” from Led Zeppelin. After getting the hang with the pentatonic scale, it is recommended to get into the C major scale to expand your expressiveness.

Major Scale

The major scale is a set of seven notes with characteristic intervals between them (W W H W W W H, where W = whole step, H = half step). You can read more about the Major scale here.

The easiest one is the C major scale C D E F G A B C.

C Major Scale

The C major scale is an absolute must for guitarists and musicians in general. It's considered the easiest key for musicians to learn because it doesn’t contain any confusing sharp or flat notes.

As with the A minor pentatonic scale, there're different shapes to play a C major scale, here’s the first shape:

For a better overview, the C itself is highlighted wherever it appears. A famous song that uses the C major scale is "Let it be" from The Beatles.

Enjoyed this article?

Here at Fretello, our mission is to make learning guitar easier, and to help people like you to get started. That's why we've created the Fretello Masterclass series. It is a library of content to build your guitar knowledge & skills, exercise sheets to improve and hone your technique, and challenges to most popular riffs and songs. Best thing about it is it's totally free.

Ready for your step-by-step beginner guitar lessons?

As guitarists ourselves, we know that starting guitar can feel overwhelming. But, it shouldn't be. That's why we've created the Fretello Learn Path. With our structured guided lessons, it's simple, fun, and rewarding. Try us out for free and see how much you can improve in a week!