The C Major scale

//The C Major scale

The C Major scale

This is going to be our first scale and the C major scale is a great place to start. C major has no sharps and no flats and by learning the C scale in first position we can get a really good knowledge of the notes to be found in first position. This scale is going to be one octave going from C on the fifth string, third fret, to the C on the second string, first fret.

If you would like to use the free daily scale book to accompany this lesson, please feel free to Download Your Daily Scales Now

What is an Octave? The difference between the low C on the fifth string and the high C on the second string is that the vibrations are twice as fast, meaning that the note will be the same, but it will sound one octave higher.


What is the first position? The positions are simply a way of giving landmarks around the guitar, and it communicates the general region that the fingers are playing. In general a position is based on where the first finger lies on the fretboard. If the first finger plays on the second fret, then we are playing in second positon, if it is on the fifth, then we are in fifth position. When the first finger is in the fifth position then the second finger will have access to the sixth fret, the third finger to the seventh fret, and the fourth finger will have access to the eighth fret. It is particularly good for beginner guitar because we might only be playing single notes. Positions are constantly being moved around and the more complex the music becomes, the less useful positions will become. You will find that your hand is going to be moving around the fingerboard quite a bit, and that often there will be multiple fingers on the same fret.

We will be playing the C major scale in first position, so that means that the first note, on the third fret will be played by the third finger. As we go through the scale you will be using the corresponding finger with the corresponding fret. Second finger on the second fret, for example. Here is the scale:C Major Scale As you go through the scale say the note names out loud, this will begin your memorization of note names. Also, focus on making a clear sound on each string. For more tips on making a clear sound refer to the fundamentals lesson on making a good sound. Things to keep in mind:

  • Play slowly
  • Say the note name of each note as you play
  • Alternate your right hand fingers for each note
  • Make each note loud, and clear
  • Play each note with the same sound. To do this use the same part of your finger/nail each time to play the string
  • Pay attention to the fingers you are not using in the left hand, keep them relaxed and curved


Ascending and Descending Playing the scale upwards (from low to high) will have different movements from coming back down, so it is important to play the scale both ways. Be very conscious of string crossing as you work through the scale.


Here is a free scale book to help you practice:

Download Daily Scales for the Classical Guitar

2017-09-28T17:29:21+00:002 Comments


  1. douglas morris February 16, 2015 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Hello Simon,
    As a “recovering” folk song guitarist at 76 years of age I wish to send you kudos for your excellent Fundamentals and Level One courses. I am one of those students who has tried many approaches with only limited success. I do have some questions which I hope you will be kind enough to answer.

    The correct left hand/finger stretches are very difficult and, for me, at present, only possible at the fifth position with a capo. I plan to work at the proper finger placement and, fret by fret, work down to the nut. Is this productive or is it a waste of time?

    In order to sing melodies, I believe that I can and should try to use a “fixed DOH” solfege approach. Notwithstanding the pro and con discussion of fixed or moveable DOH systems, it should be useful. Naturally the actual scale note names, ABC etc. must be learned for the whole fingerboard.

    With regard to the quite reasonable fee for the courses, I wish to know what happens if a student makes rather slow progress and is not finished in the allotted time? I must confess that my experience with the Great Highland Bagpipe has shown that I do not learn as quickly as was once possible.

    Your suggestion about progressing SLOWLY is “bang on” and, I think, well supported by a countrywoman of yours, Cheryl Grice in her post on practising slowly. Enjoy!

    Doug Morris

    • Simon February 17, 2015 at 2:55 am - Reply

      Hi Doug,

      Thanks for your kind words and I am glad you are enjoying the courses!

      I think that your solution for the finger stretch in first position is a fantastic one. I believe in making the guitar suit us, not the other way around. In a perfect world, we would start playing all beginner material in the fifth position because the frets are more manageable. The first position is the hardest stretches there is for the left hand and it can take time for the muscles and ligaments to gain flexibility. But they will get there.

      Fixed Do is great, and I believe that simply singing to a syllable like “la” is fine too. The main goal is to get the process of singing going, the method can be up to you.

      If you find you need more time with the materials, just contact me and I can accommodate you :)


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