Classical Guitar Scales (5 Levels)

In this video we’ll discuss how to approach scales at 5 different levels from beginner to intermediate to advanced. You can download a free PDF copy of the Daily Scales book to follow along. With each level we’ll look at how we can use scales to focus on different elements of each level.

Classical Guitar Scales: Level 1

In Level 1 we use a one-octave scale in different keys (C, G, F Major). We can use these scales to focus on the left-hand position, alternation of the right-hand fingers, and for learning the fingerboard. These techniques are the fundamental building blocks that we will build off of in all other levels.

Classical Guitar Scales: Level 2

We use an extended C Major scale in level 2 so that it now covers all six strings, from low E up to G on the first string. This can allow us to focus on the quality and consistency of tone production and also using the thumb for the bass strings.

Level 2 also opens up the chromatic scale for us to play. Here we can focus on stretch in the left-hand fingers and to begin developing independence in the fingers.

Classical Guitar Scales: Level 3

In Level 3 we begin to explore two-octave scales plus arpeggios. These allow us to start focusing on new fingerings in the right hand, like m-a, a-m, or even a-m-i.

Here we also add the expressive quality of dynamics. You can use gradual swells and decrescendo in different combinations and intensities here to give shape and intensity to the scales.

We can also add articulations at this level. We can add staccato to these scales or we could add slurs in the arpeggio.

Classical Guitar Scales: Level 4

Here we begin to focus on shifts. We use a two-octave C Major scale and focus on the shift with a focus on several elements. First, we need to be sure not to accent the note just after the shift. Secondly, we want to disguise the shift to make it transparent and almost as if it weren’t there at all. Finally, we could intentionally accentuate the shift for romantic effect.

Scales in thirds and sixths also make an appearance here for the first time. These are excellent for left-hand finger independence.

We also have scales in movable shapes. Here we can use the D Major two-octave scale to focus on rhythms, such as dotted rhythms or subdivisions or triplets going to duplets.

Finally, we can also introduce speed bursts to work on developing speed. A speed burst is just a burst of fast notes followed by a period of relaxation. This allows you to release tension from the hand on the slow notes.

Classical Guitar Scales: Level 5

Finally, in level 5 we use three-octave scales. Here we can once again focus on fluid shifts, but also fingerboard knowledge above the twelfth fret. But more importantly here we can begin combining all of the above elements into an expressive canvas. We can use dynamics, articulations, different fingerings in the right hand, and so on. Here we are really focused on musical contrast.

Finally, we use chromatic octave scales here. These are excellent for warming up the hand and even better for left-hand independence.


Be sure to download the PDF book of Daily Scales so you can bring these focus areas to your practice.