Beginner Guitar Scales
Open Chromatic Scale

As a beginner, when you learn how to play guitar, practicing guitar scales is essential to develop finger dexterity and precision. The first scale to learn (it's also the easiest to memorize and most complete!) is the open position chromatic scale.

The chromatic scale is simple to remember and it will teach you how to use all your fingers on your fretting hand. Practice this scale until you can play it smoothly up and down, even if you only plan on playing guitar chords to accompany songs.

There is a metronome at the bottom of the page, which you can use to keep a steady beat.

Before you begin, make sure your guitar is in tune. This is important because your ears will get used to the correct pitch, and if you play out of tune you will develop incorrect pitch recognition.

You can open a free guitar tuner here. The tuner will open in a new window which you can re-size and move to the side for further use.

Diagram of the chromatic scale for guitar

To play this scale begin on the low E string (the thickest string), and play it open.

Next play the string at the first fret using your first finger. Make sure that you get a clear note and that it rings (sustains) for a long time.

Next; play the note on the second fret using your second finger, then, the third fret with your third finger, then the fourth fret with your fourth finger.

Now move up to the 5th string (A string), and play the open note, then the first fret with your first finger, second fret second finger etc., until you played the first four frets, using all four fingers.

Note! When I say "move Up", I'm referring to pitch, not the strings position on the guitar.

Play all the notes that are shown on the diagram in order, starting with the open string and using each of your fingers on the corresponding frets. Notice that the G string only has four notes including the open string, all the rest have five notes.

Tips to Learn Guitar Scales

  • Practice everyday.
  • Practice the scale forwards and backwards.
  • Start slowly, then speed up after you can play the scale smoothly and clearly, take your time. If you start having trouble keeping up slow down until you can keep up smoothly.
  • Develop an even rhythm using a metronome. Start slowly (at 40 beats per minute), and count while you pick the notes toward the floor. Count 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, - 1 -2 - 3 - 4, - 1 etc. You can use the metronome below, but I recommend downloading, or buying one of your own. You can choose a free metronome download here:Free Metronomes To use a metronome, play the note exactly at the click, and sustain the note until the next click.
  • Next use alternate picking and play the same note twice per click: pick the first note downward then the next note upward, down, up, down, etc. Count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 etc.

/ / Chromatic Guitar Scale