F Major Scale | Ultimate Guide to Major Guitar Scales

electric guitar leaning on amplifier

Thanks to its warm and uplifting sound profile, the F Major guitar scale is a classic choice for rock and pop musicians.  The notes of the F Major Scale include:

I – F

II – G

III – A

IV – Bb

V – C

VI – D

VII – E

As a heptatonic scale, F major has seven distinct notes with a flattened B.  The eighth note, called the octave, is where the note sequence repeats at a higher pitch.

Below, you’ll find several helpful diagrams.  They are illustrations of your guitar’s fretboard.  The numbered dots show where to fret the strings, with each number stating which finger to use.

Here’s what each number means:

·        0 – no finger; play the open string

·        1 – index finger

·        2 – middle finger

·        3 – ring finger

·        4 – pinky finger

Lastly, an R represents a root note, which is an F in this case. Finally, an X means not to play the open string.

How Do You Play an F Major on Guitar? 

When someone says, “play F major,” they refer to either the F major chord or the F major scale. So let’s assume they’re talking about the F major chord.

f major scale guitar

Figure 1 represents the fingering for the F major chord.  Because your index figure presses on all strings (like a bar), F major is what’s known as a bar chord.  This chord is particularly tricky for beginners.  If this is your first time playing the F major chord, it may even be downright painful.

To make things easier, you can ignore the E and A strings. Then, if you just fret the bottom two strings with your index finger, you’ll get a similar sound with less effort.

Below, we dive into the nuts and bolts of the F major scale.

What Notes are in the F Major Scale?

Once again, the F Major guitar scale includes seven notes, not counting the octave.

I – F

II – G

III – A

IV – Bb

V – C

VI – D

VII – E

You can find this note sequence in several positions on the fretboard, as indicated by this diagram:

f major scale guitar

Know that every major scale is constructed based on the spaces between each note.  You may encounter something like (W-W-H-W-W-W-H) to describe a major scale.  With F Major, this means that, after playing the root note of F, you count two whole steps, followed by a half step, followed by three whole steps, and a final half step to the next F.

For reference, a single note is a half-step.  A whole step means you skip two notes.

So, what happens if you use the same notes in F Major but start on a different root note?

The answer is that you’ll have a different scale.  For example, F Major’s relative minor is D.  This means that if you play the same notes, but your tonal center (a.k.a. “root note”) is D instead of F, you’ll be playing the D minor scale.

What Are the 7 Chords in the Key of F Major?

We’ve covered the F Major chord, the keystone of the F Major scale.  However, there are other chords you need to know, too.

I – F Major

ii – G minor

iii – A minor

IV – Bb Major

V – C Major

VI – D Minor

vii° – E diminished

Each note has a chord.  However, whether that chord is major, minor, or diminished depends on the scale of that note.  Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to remember. 

The 2nd and 3rd notes of a major scale are always minor chords.  The 7th note is the oddball, a diminished chord — basically a minor stacked on a minor.

The CAGED system allows you to play these chords anywhere on the fretboard, not just the first few frets when playing rhythm guitar. In addition, each chord shape (C, A, G, E, and D) may be played down the fretboard with any root note. 

However, because you won’t be using open strings as you move down, you’ll need to turn them into bar chords.  Again, a bar chord is where you use your index finger to fret all six strings.  With the open chord shapes, the nut at the top of the fretboard does this for you.

How Do You Solo in the Key of F Major?

The most rewarding part of mastering scales is soloing.  Incredible lead guitarists give their listeners goosebumps.  You’re almost there!  But first, you need to familiarize your fingers with the notes in the F major guitar scale.

Developing Mastery: Phase 1

f major scale guitar

Play the notes above in ascending and descending order multiple times.  Focus on keeping your wrist stationary as you keep your index, middle, and middle fingers above the first, second, and third fret.

To test yourself, use a metronome.  If you don’t have one, you can use an app or go online.  Set the speed low, between 40 and 60 bpm (beats-per-minute).  Play one note between the 1st fret on the E string and the 3rd fret on the D string with each tick.  Once you can play through the scale repeatedly without error, increase the metronome speed and try again.

Developing Mastery: Phase 2

Once you are intuitively aware of the F Major guitar scale pattern, you’ll want to branch out to other positions so you can command the entire fretboard.  Here are all the notes in F Major for the first twelve frets:

f major scale guitar

Repeat what you practiced above.  Start at the first fret on the E string like before, except don’t stop at the octave. Instead, play the next octave up until you reach the 1st fret on the final thin string.  Then, play back down through both octaves until you again reach the first fret on the E string.  Congrats!  You’ve mastered two positions.

Play the F Major scale in a few more positions.  For example, you can start on the 3rd fret on the D string or the 7th fret of the A string.  With a bit of persistence and patience, you’ll have mastered the F Major guitar scale!  

Achieving Mastery: Playing Along to a Jam Track

Now that you’re confident playing the F major guitar scale, it’s time to get to the fun part!  Look up “Guitar Jam Tracks F Major” and find a YouTube video you like. Then, let it roll and let loose.  There are no rules when it comes to soloing.  Simply keep an ear out for key changes and embellish the melody any way you see fit!

Looking to jam along to a classic?  Here are some popular songs in F Major:

·        Come Together by The Beatles

·        Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty

·        Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen

·        Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane

F Major Scale Theory and Summary

In conclusion, the F Major is a heptatonic scale, which means it has seven notes.  It includes a flattened B (Bb) and follows the ratio common to all major scales: W-W-H-W-W-W-H.  The F Major scale is easy to learn — but it takes time. 

Knowing how to play the F major scale in several positions is an impressive leap toward becoming an exceptional guitarist.  The great news is that once you learn F major, you can play in any major key with a shift of the wrist.

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