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Watch the 1st String online guitar lesson by Joe Dalton from Fretboard Epiphanies

To figure out the notes in a major scale, you need to be armed with a few facts. The major scale consists of a series of whole steps and half steps. The major scale formula is whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. From one fret to the next on the guitar is a half step. So 2 frets, 2 frets, 1 fret, 2 frets, 2 frets, 2 frets, 1 fret would give us a major scale. You can start on any fret and on any string and you will get a major scale. If you start on the first string open, you get an E major scale. If you start on the first string first fret, you end up with an F major scale. The first string second fret which is an F# (sharp) yields of course an F# major scale. I think you get the idea. There’s some other information that‘s good to know. From A to A# is a half step, from A# to B is a half step, but from B to C is a half step. To simplify this let’s say from B to C is a half step and from E to F is a half step. Here’s a chart to help. These are all half steps:

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

On the piano, I’m sure you noticed that there are 2 white keys close together 2 times in each octave. (You’ve noticed the pair of black keys and then the trio of black keys.) These white keys are the B and C just below the pair of black keys and E and F just below the trio of black keys.

Sharps and Flats
A sharp raises the pitch one half step. A flat lowers the pitch one half step. Go back to your guitar. The first string first fret is F. The first string second fret is F#. (F sharp) The first string third fret is G. The first string second fret is Gb (G flat).

The E Major Scale
The notes in the E scale are E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#-E.

Playing the picking exercises will obviously strengthen your picking but will also drive home the whole and half step relationships within the scale.