Introduction to Guitar Scales – Chromatic Scale

Out of all the guitar scales available, the chromatic scale is the most important because it is the foundation of music.  The chromatic scale contains every musical note, chord, and all the scales possible.  Once you have learned to play the chromatic you only need to take away notes to create every scale possible. Once you have a scale you subtract a few more notes to get an arpeggio.  The chromatic scale is also a great way to learn the note names all over the fret board.

To help you learn the fret board better I suggest you play these guitar scales slowly while saying the note names out loud. Speed is not important for these guitar scales. Focus on learning these scale shapes and the names of the notes. You should play these scale shapes on different areas of the guitar neck and different strings.   You should also play them both ascending and descending.  Let’s jump into it and learn these scale shapes.

chromatic scale shape 1

When you play this chromatic scale shape ascending you should start with your first (index) finger and you will slide up one fret with your 4th (pinky) finger. When you play it descending you should start with your 4th (pinky) finger and slide down with your first (index) finger.


chromatic scale shape 2, one string

You start this chromatic scale shape with an open string. You can and should practice this shape on all strings; I chose to make the chart on the G string. You can continue this shape past 1 octave.

chromatic scale shape 3

This chromatic scale shape works backwards on the neck. When ascending, you will slide up on the high E string with your 4th (pinky) finger. Descending you will slide down with your first (index) finger.

You can use these scale shapes for future reference to help you visualize a new scale.  All guitar scales are formed from these scale shapes. You can take any of these scale shapes and take away a couple of notes then you will find that you have all your guitar scales in these 3 chromatic scale shapes.  From here you need to learn which notes need to be omitted.

As you continue on your journey do not forget these scale shapes. The chromatic scale will always be a very important part of music. There is no end to things you can do with the chromatic scale. As you see, you can use the chromatic scale as a reference point for learning and visualizing, but this guitar scale also comes in handy in soloing as well. Check future lessons for more lessons that utilize the chromatic scale.