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The circles indicate positions on the fingerboard for tones in the specific scale (circles with darker color represent root notes, the first note in the scale). The numbers below the diagram indicate the frets.

The horizontal lines are representations of the strings. From lowest to the highest string, these are E, A, D, G, B and e. The vertical lines are representations of the frets, including the nut as the thicker line. And last, the dots on the top are representing the typical configuration of fret inlays on a guitar fingerboard.

C Major scale diagram

The picture is a schematic representation of a fingerboard. The purpose is not to create a realistic representation, but a conception by which the needed information quickly can be identified.

Notes refer to pitches, which are distinguished by the variation of sound waves.
In Western music there are 12 unique pitches and in total 17 names of notes. The names of the notes are:

  • C
  • C# (C sharp)
  • D
  • Db (D flat)
  • D# (D sharp)
  • E
  • Eb (E flat)
  • F
  • Fb (F sharp)
  • G
  • Gb (G flat)
  • G# (G sharp)
  • A
  • Ab (A flat)
  • A# (A sharp)
  • B
  • Bb (B flat)

The reason behind the difference of unique pitches and names is due to the circumstance that five of the pitches has two names. C# and Db are actually the same tone from a pitch perspective. The names are interchangeable depending on the musical context.  

The purpose with a scale formula is to explain how the scale is constructed based on intervals. This could be helpful information since all scales in a category has the same intervals.
The formula is described by steps, which can semi-notes or steps. The Major scale could be described by these methods as follows:

  • Semi-note intervals: 2 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 1
  • Steps: Whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half

In both cases, it starts from the root note and continues to the next octave.

The diagram show the G Major scale on one string and numbers indicating semi-note intervals:

Scale diagram with intervals

A degree is the place a tone has in a scale when counted forward from the root. A Major scale includes seven tones, and can therefore be written as one to seven.

Major scale degrees: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

Sometimes degrees are written to include the next octave tone and is usually written with “R” as the first degree, signifying the root note.

A second way to write Major scale degrees: R - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

The root note is the note after which the scale (or chord) is named. For example, in the C Major scale, the note C is the root note. The root note the first root in a scale.

"Scale type" is in this case used to describe the scale based on how many notes it contains. Names such as pentatonic and octatonic describe scales from this viewpoint.
Pentatonic, for example, is a type of scale that contain five notes. Pentatonic is also especially associated with the two scales called Pentatonic Major and Pentatonic Minor. To summarize, pentatonic can both refer to a five-notes scale in general and a specific scale.  

Short notation for chords is used on this site when chords related to a scale is presented. This notation is not as visual as chord presented in pictures, but is a great way to present a chord quickly and within short space.
Six figures are used, either a number or an “X”. The numbers tell which frets to play on and X means don't play. The short notation is used for the six strings and from the lowest (6th) to the highest (1st) string.


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