The Scale of C Major

There are few chord combinations as important and widely used as C, F, and G. Once you know these 3 chords you can play a wealth of songs; in the millions. This is why these chords were chosen to start you out on, because the more you enjoy playing the more you will stay dedicated to learning. And I guarantee you there is a song out there that you love that is based on these 3 chords.

These 3 chords did not combine by some magical force. There is somewhat of a science to it. When you play these 3 chords together or 4 if you include the E Minor, you are playing in the Key of C.

It can sometimes be useful to know what key you are playing in, especially if you are playing or improvising with other musicians. When playing with other musicians it’s helpful to know what key you are playing in, because this will tell you what chords and notes you can use to sound good with them.

We’ve seen how all music consists of 12 notes: A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#. A# is also known as B, D# is also known as E; and so on.

There is a major key based on each of these 12 musical notes – B Major, C Major and so on. Each of these keys consists of an 8 note scale. You probably learned it in elementary school, doh, re, mi, fah, soh, la, ti, doh. Every major scale consists of this pattern and for C Major it looks like this:


All the chords in the Key of C Major consist of some combination of these notes, and the scale of C Major consists of all of them.

Exercise: The Scale of C Major

This tab below shows how to play the scale of C Major (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C):


When practicing this scale, you can either count out loud, 1, 2, 3, 4 (the count should be even) or if you want to learn the notes you can alternately say the names of the note as you play them (C, D, E, F,G,A, B, C).

You can pick them all with downward strokes or alternate between up and down strokes. The important thing is that you do it evenly. Once you get to the highest C on the G string then you can make your way back in reverse.

Below: The Scale of C Major in Reverse


The best way to train your fingers is through repetition. Take your time and master it, a veteran bluesman used to tell me, “the slower you go, the faster you will get there”.