c major scale

How to play C major scale – Chords, Notes and Positions

So, the scale we will be learning today is called, Open C major scale. This is one of the most important but the simplest scale because this scale doesn’t include sharps or flats.

If you have started learning to play guitar or scales very recently, then, this lesson is for you because this scale is one of the most important and beginner scales.

With this scale, it will be a kind of your fingers’ exercise and will help you open the fingers gap.

So, grab your guitar and let’s start.

So, first thing first, I am assuming that you know the names of the strings. 

  • If you don’t know, here it is. E B G D A E
  • This is in the sequence from the first string to the last or sixth string.
  • Most people get confused about one thing, That is, the first string is the bottom string when we hold the guitar. As we move upwards, then, the string count increases. So precisely, the first string to the last string is downward to upwards while holding the guitar.
  • So, we should also tell you the names of the strings. 1st finger ( Index finger ), 2nd finger ( Middle Finger ), 3rd finger ( Ring Finger ) and the 4th finger ( Pinky Finger ).

Now, we should start.

All the major scales are formed by following this pattern of alternating whole and half steps/Notes: W W H W W W H

  • W = Whole note
  • H = Half Note

So, we have 7 notes in C major scale.


  • The extra C in the last is nothing but an extra note but the main difference is the first C note is the low pitch and the last C note is the high pitch.

Here is how to play the C major scale:

  1. Play the third (3rd) fret of the A (5th) string with the third finger. 
  2. Then, play the Open string, D (4th) string.
  3. Now, Play the second (2nd)  fret of the D (4th) string with the second finger.
  4. Then, Play the third (3rd) fret of the D (4th) string with the third finger. * Just next fret to the last note.
  5. Then, Play the G string open as we know any string is played open makes the same note that is the name of the string.
  6. Then, Play the second (2nd) fret of the G (3rd) string with the second finger.
  7. Then, Play the B (2nd)  string to play the b note as we just discussed.

TILL HERE, we have learnt the seven notes but we need to play C note twice. That is firstly in the beginning of the scale and secondly at the last. So, what we do is, we go from low pitch C note to high pitch C note. 

  • Normally we play exactly this way in the major  scales. We can either come back from the high pitch note to the low pitch note or we reverse the situation and convert the high pitch note to the low pitch note and move forward to play even higher notes.

Source: Here

How to play a high pitch C major note?

So, moving forward from the last note, the last high pitch major C note is at the First fret and second string, that is B string, which is played with the first string.

HENCE, this makes the complete scale. That is, C D E F G A B C.

How to play reverse C major scale?

Now, what you have to do is to reverse the gear and play the reverse scale. 

It’s not different or hard or doesn’t include any new notes. You only need to play all those notes but in the reverse gear.

Once you play C D E F G A B C, Play C B A G F E D C.

  • Make sure you play C note four times and not three times. This complete scale should be of 16 notes.
  • The C note in the middle should be played twice but with finishings. In the middle, the first C should finish the first c major scale and the second C in the middle should start the new reverse the scale. So, between both the notes in the middle, there should be some gap which will actually bring out the perfection or finishing.

These 18 notes will make a complete C scale from the low pitch C note to the high pitch c note then back to low pitch c note.

How to practice C major scale?

  • Make sure there is enough and equal gap between all the notes in the scale. You can use a metronome to play the notes. The perfection is when there is an equal gap between all the notes.
  • Play slowly. Try to play very slowly which brings the beauty of the scale and you should listen to the notes very carefully with full concentration. 
  • Play accurately. Most people play guitar or scales very fast, but they don’t play accurately. The major issue they have is they are unable to use the correct finger and never able to learn the notes frequency in their mind. 

Hence, play slowly and accurately with the right finger.

C major Scale Fretboard

You can find all the notes of the this scale across the entire fretboard.

c major scale fretboard

Source: Here

Focus on all the C notes’ positions on the fretboard. C note is the root note of the c major scale and hence, it is very much important.

If you don’t know how to understand of use this fretboard, don’t worry here are the main points.

How to use the the scale fretboard diagram:

  • Improvise the songs on the key of c major scale by playing any of the highlighted notes
  • Find the chords that fit to your hand perfectly with the help of the highlighted notes.
  • Memorize the notes on the fretboard easily.

How to Play C Major Scale chords?

Source: Here

Now we will learn how to play main guitar chords in the c major scale. We will be playing with 4 important chords which include 3 major chords and 1 minor chord.

To find the C scale chords, we must remember all the notes. Here they are.

C    C#    D    D#    E    F    F#    G    G#    A    A#    B 

So, the first chord for the scale is the C chord which is also called the root note.

1st Chord = Root Note = C Major Chord

2nd Chord = 1st Note/Root Note + 5th Note = F Major Chord

3rd Chord = 1st Note/Root Note + 7th Note = G Major Chord

4th Chord = 1st Note/Root Note + 9th Note = A Minor Chord

Hence, the four chords of the C Major scale are C major, F major, G major and A minor.

C Major Scale Guitar Positions

C scale: Position 1

The first position of this scale starts with the root note on the 8th fret of the (6th) E string. This position contains three root notes, found on the 6th string, 4th string, and the 1st string.

C scale: Position 2

This second position of the c major scale starts with the root note on the 10th fret of the 4th D string. This position includes only two root notes, with the second root note falling on the 13th fret of the (3rd) G string.

C scale: Position 3

This position of the c major scale also contains only two root notes. The lowest root, and the starting point for this position of the scale, is on the 14th fret of the (5th) string. The second root note is on the 13th fret of the 3rd string.

The Key of C Major

As I just mentioned in the beginning of this lesson, this is the simplest scale as this scale doesn’t include any sharps or flats. So, the relative minor of this scale is A minor. Hence, C Major scale and the A minor scale both use the same notes.

Songs in the Key of C Major Scale

You can play all the major scale songs on C major scale. It only depends and reflects on the singing ability and vocal quality. To start initially, you can plan any song on C. In fact, any song can be played on any scale, and it only depends on your improvisation.

If you are comfortable singing in C Major scale while hitting the PERFECT PITCH and PERFECT NOTES, you can Transpose any Major scale songs in this scale to play the guitar.

Hollywood songs on C Major Scale:

Bollywood Songs that can be played on the C major scale

As we discussed above that A minor scale and the C major scale, both uses the same notes, so some songs that are played in the C major scale and some in the A minor scale.

Tip: You can use the following website to find the key of the songs.


Also check out, How to play G major scale.

What are the chords in the C major scale?

There are mainly 4 main guitar chords in the c major scale. They are 3 major chords and 1 minor chords. These chords are C major, F major, G major and A minor.

These chords are formed with the method of root note, then root note + 5th note, then, root note + 7th note and lastly, root note + 9th note. The root note of C major scale is C chord.

How do you find the C major scale?

All the major scales can be found by this pattern of alternating whole and half steps/Notes: W W H W W W H where W means Whole note and H means Half note.

So, by applying the method in the following notes C    C#    D    D#    E    F    F#    G    G#    A    A#    B , we get the 7 notes of the C major scale. These are C D E F G A B C.

What is the C major scale guitar?

A scale is nothing just a series or succession of notes. Scales are played in the sequence of notes, one note at a time then next note. All major scales are made of eight tones, which ascend in alphabetical order. The major scale always follows this pattern of alternating whole and half steps: WWHWWWH

So, we have 8 notes in C major scale. These are C D E F G A B C.

How to practice the c major scale?

The best way to practice any scale is to play with the help of metronome and start playing slowly.
Most people play fastly but wrongly. They don’t use the correct finger on the correct string and play fastly and guess what, they become habitual of playing wrongly.
So initially, play very slowly but correctly and with the help of metronome and gradually speed up but make sure to play accurately.

What is the key of C major scale?

C major scale is the simplest but important scale. This scale doesn’t have any sharps and flats.

The key of the C major scale is A minor. Both the notes use the same notes.

What is the dominant scale degree of C major?

The dominant degree in the key of C major scale is the note G. The dominant triad is basically formed by the notes G–B–D in the key of C Scale.

What notes are in the C major Chord?

The notes of a C major chord are the C, E AND G.

These notes are formed this way 1st (the root note), 3rd note from the root note, and 5th note from the root note, which are C (the root note), E and G.

What is the relative minor of C Major?

A Minor is the relative key of C major. All the major keys have a minor key and they both uses the same notes.

As A minor is the relative key of C major, similarly, C major is also a relative key of A minor.

What is C Major pentatonic scale?

In the C major scale, remove the 4th and 7th scale degrees from the scale, that is, F and B and you are left with C D E G A. These 5 notes make C major pentatonic scale.

Which songs can be played on C major scale?

You can play Stairway to Heaven, Let it be, Wish You Were Here, Hotel California, Come Together, Gravity, Wonderwall etc songs on C major scale.

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