How To Play The Guitar Scale E Major in 5 Positions

Knowing your E Major scale is integral for understanding and making music within the key of E Major. Along with knowing the key signature, you should also understand the guitar chords that belong to the key, and how to apply it to your guitar. The notes of the E major scale are E F# G A B C# D# and E. There are many ways to play scales on the guitar, and we explain it all below so you can understand the guitar scale e major.

e major scale guitar, e scale on the guitar, notes in e major, 2 acoustic guitars against a wall, guitar scale e major

Related: Learn to play the minor scale – patterns, positions, theory

The E Major Scale Notes

A key signature is the arrangement of accidentals that a key has. The key signature of the E major scale is:

F# C# G# and D#

Therefore, the notes of the E major scale are as follows:

E F# G# A B C# D#

There is always more than one way to play a scale on the guitar, and depending on where you learned from, you might play it differently than someone else.

It can be played horizontally across one single string, or it can be played vertically across all of the strings and in different positions on the guitar.

Major Scale Formula

There is a formula that all major scales are constructed off of. The formula is a series of whole steps and half steps  (also called whole tones and semitones) A whole step is equal to 2 frets.

A half step is the smallest interval in music and is represented as one fret on the guitar. The formula for the major scale is:


Let’s see how we can apply this information to the E Major scale.

E Major Scale Structurem key of e major

Practice playing the E major scale on all strings.

E Scale Structure

When you stack the notes of the major scale above the tonic, you will always get these intervals:

Root, M2, M3, P4, P5, M6, M7

   E     F#   G#  A    B    C#  D#

E Scale & 5 Positions

The CAGED system is a way of visualizing the guitar’s fretboard to allow you to memorize and play the fretboard with ease.

According to the CAGED System, there are 5 positions to play the E Major scale on the guitar’s fretboard.

E Major scale Position 1
E Major Scale Position 2
e major scale guitar position 3
e scale position 4
e major guitar position 5

E Major Chords

Diatonic chords are the chords that belong to a particular key. These chords are built up of the notes within a scale’s key signature. The diatonic chords of a major key are as follows:

I ii iii IV V vi viio

Following this formula, the chords in E major are:

E Maj, F# min, G# min, A Maj, B7, C min, D dim

Related: All about the G Major scale

Frequently Asked Questions

What notes are in E major chord?

An E Maj chord has the notes E, G#, and B. E minor is E G B. The raised 3rd scale degree makes the chord a major chord.

What is the difference between E & E Major?

E is a singular note, whereas E major can refer to a chord or a scale. When someone says the “key of E” They are assumed to be referring to E Major by default.

It is always E major unless specified otherwise. Music just works that way.

What is the fastest way to memorize a major scale?

The fastest way to memorize a major scale is to know its key signature. Study the key signatures of all the keys.

Playing them on the guitar is a great way to warm up, because the guitar has so many recurring patterns, it can be easy to just play the scales quickly without knowing what we are playing. Guitarist’s can become lazy in this way, so really think about what notes you are playing.

How many notes are in a scale?

There are 7 notes in a scale. The 8th scale degree is called the octave. It is 1st scale degree played an octave higher.

Related: How to play the A minor pentatonic scale


There are 7 notes in the E Major Scale. They are E F# G# A B C# D# and E.

The formula for building major scales is WWHWWWH.

This means that you are stacking the intervals root, M2, M3, P4, P5, M6 and M7.

According to the CAGED System, there are 5 positions to play the E major scale on the guitar.

In addition to that, the chords in the key of E major are: E Maj, F# min, G# min, A Maj, B Maj, C# min, D# dim.

The best way to learn all of your major scales is to memorize the key signatures of all the keys and practice them on your guitar everyday.

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