In this lesson, we will be learning about the chromatic scale. We will start by learning what a chromatic scale is and then we will learn a common shape for the chromatic scale. Once we have that down, we will learn a lick that uses a small portion of the chromatic scale.
If you start on any note on the guitar and play every note all the way up to the octave of that note, you will have just played a chromatic scale. For example, if you start on an open E on your low E string and play every fret in order, all the way up to the E on the 12th fret of your low E string, that would be a chromatic scale. Now that you know what a chromatic scale is, lets learn a common chromatic scale shape that uses all six strings on the guitar. We have provided you with the scale diagram and tab so that you can see exactly what is going on. Learn how to read scale diagrams here!
Start out by playing your open low E string. Now play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fret of your low E string with your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers. Repeat that pattern on the next A and D strings. The pattern changes a bit once you get to the G. Play the G string open and then play just the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fret of the G string with your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers. The B and high E strings repeat the pattern that we started with on the low E string. That is pretty easy, right? This scale is great to use as a daily exercise or as a warm up before a gig. You don’t have to think much about the shape and it works out both your left and right hand at the same time.
You may be thinking, “This is great, but it’s not very musical or practical.” That is why we have provided a lick for you to learn. This lick is just an example of what you can do with a portion of the chromatic scale in your playing. Let’s take a simple progression in the key of G and use this lick to “tag” or end the progression. Our progression will be G C G D G C G D G and we will be using a bluegrass or country feel. The tab and the notation for the lick is provided for you. Learn how to read guitar tabs!
Start out by playing the progression G C G D G C. The lick comes in right after the 2nd C in the progression. The notes in the lick are all 16th notes except for the last note which is a half note. Start out by playing your open B string. After that, play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th frets on the B string with your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers. Now play your open high E string. After that, play the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fret of your high E string with your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers. Thats the whole thing. The lick is actually played over the last G, D, and G chords which you won’t hear in the video.
Take this scale and use it to get your left and right hands in shape. Use the lick to come up with ideas for your own new licks.