The Major Scale In G: Theory, Chords, & Popular Songs

The major scale is the foundation of Western music theory, and it serves as a basis for countless songs across a variety of genres. In this blog, we’ll explore the major scale in G, one of the most common keys in popular music.

Whether you’re a beginner just starting out on your musical journey or an experienced musician looking to expand your knowledge, understanding the major scale in the key of G is an essential skill to have in your repertoire.

We will explore the music theory behind it, complementary chords, and popular songs that incorporate the g major scale.

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Understanding The G Major Scale

What Is A Major Scale

A major scale on the guitar is a sequence of notes with a specific pattern of whole steps and half steps.

It is crucial for creating melodies, chords, and improvisation in various songs. To play a major scale, you begin with a root note and follow the pattern of steps across the guitar’s fretboard.

This scale is essential for guitarists of all levels, enabling them to comprehend music theory, compose melodies, and build harmonies.

Major Scale Formula

The major scale formula on guitar follows a specific pattern of whole steps (W) and half steps (H). The formula for a major scale is:

Root (1) – Whole Step (2) – Whole Step (3) – Half Step (4) – Whole Step (5) – Whole Step (6) – Whole Step (7) – Half Step (8)

A simpler way to present the formula is simply: WWHWWWH

This formula allows you to construct major scales in any key on the guitar by applying the appropriate intervals between the major scale degrees used.

Each step represents a scale degree, where the root note is the first scale degree (1), the second note is the second degree (2), and so on.

The scale degree names are:

1st degree: Tonic

2nd degree: Supertonic

3rd degree: Mediant

4th degree: Subdominant

5th degree: Dominant

6th degree: Submediant

7th degree: Leading tone (or Leading note)

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Major Scale Notes

The seven notes & intervals of the G major scale on guitar are as follows:

Notes: G – A – B – C – D – E – F# – G

Intervals: Root (1) – Major 2nd (2) – Major 3rd (3) – Perfect 4th (4) – Perfect 5th (5) – Major 6th (6) – Major 7th (7) – Octave (8)

G Maj Key Signature

Key signatures in music are symbols placed at the beginning of a musical staff to indicate the key in which a piece is written.

In the case of the G major scale, the key signature is a representation of the specific notes used within that scale.

The key signature for G major consists of one sharp note, which is F#. This sharp affects every F note within the composition, raising it by a half step to F#.

The presence of the sharp symbol in F# in the key signature ensures that the G major scale follows the appropriate pattern of whole steps and half steps to create its distinct sound.

Related: How To Play The Gsus Chord On Guitar

Playing The G Major Scale

The root notes are highlighted in blue, which is where the major scale starts.

2 Octaves

2 Octaves G Maj, relative minor, major scale descending, c major, c d e f

All G Major Scale Positions

All G Major Scale Positions, c major chord, b minor chord, e minor scale, e minor chord, root notes

Notes Across The Board

All G Maj Notes Across The Board, minor scales, middle finger, bass clef, ring finger

Complementary Guitar Chords

When harmonizing the G Major scale on guitar, here are a few commonly used guitar chords that complement the g major scale notes (G A B C D E F# G), and help create a harmonic foundation:

G Major

The tonic chord and the “root” or first note of the G Major scale.

G Maj - bass clef, index finger, note names, piano keyboard

A Minor

The second chord of the G Major scale.

Related: All about the A minor scale

A min - bass clef, index finger, note names, guitar tab, tonal center

B Minor

B Minor is the third chord of the G Major scale.

B min - black key, treble clef, scales share, two notes, black keys

C Major

The C Major is the fourth chord of the G Major scale.

C Maj - bass clef, note names, treble clef, octave higher, one fret, one octave, open strings

D Major

The fifth chord of the G Major scale.

D Maj - open position, white keys, tenor clef, alto clef, music, sharp

E Minor

The sixth chord of the G Major scale.

E min - root note, barre chord, entire fretboard, treble clef, open position


The seventh chord of the G Major scale.

F# dim - tenor clef, alto clef, scale degrees, g a b c b c d e, music theory

These chords provide a solid harmonic framework when playing in the key of G Major.

Experiment with different strumming patterns and progressions to create melodic and rhythmic variations while maintaining the harmonic compatibility with the G Major scale.

Remember, there are numerous other chords, variations, and substitutions available, so feel free to explore and experiment with different voicings to add depth & color to your musical compositions.

Popular Songs That Use The G Major Scale

The G Major scale is widely used in many popular songs across various genres. Here are five well-known songs that prominently feature the G Major scale on guitar:

“Wonderwall” by Oasis:

The verse and chorus of this iconic song revolve around the G Major scale, using chords like G, Cadd9, Dsus4, and Em7.

“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison:

This classic tune features a catchy melody that follows the G Major scale, with chords such as G, C, D, and Em.

“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd:

The main riff and chords in this rock anthem, like G, C, and D, are derived from the G Major scale, giving it a distinct southern rock sound.

“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day:

The acoustic guitar part in this popular ballad is based on the G Major scale, using chords like G, Cadd9, Dsus4, and Em7.

“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd:

The intro and verses of this timeless song are built around the G Major scale, featuring chords such as G, D, Am, and C.

These songs demonstrate the versatility of the G Major scale and how it can be used to create memorable melodies and chord progressions. Learning to play these songs will not only help you master the G Major scale but also add some popular tunes to your repertoire.

Related Guitar Scales

The Harmonic Minor Scale

The E Major Scale

The Minor Scale: Patterns, Positions, & Theory

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

Frequently Asked Questions

What notes are in G major chord?

The G major chord consists of three notes: G, B, and D.

These notes are derived from the G major scale, which includes the following notes: G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#.

The G major chord is formed by taking the 1st (root), 3rd, and 5th notes of the G major scale, resulting in the notes G, B, and D played together.

This combination of notes creates a bright and happy sound associated with major chords & scales in general.

If you wanted to play a G Maj 7 chord, the notes would be G B D F# .

What is G minor and major scale?

The G minor scale and G major scales differ in the arrangement of intervals between notes.

G major follows the pattern W-W-H-W-W-W-H, creating a bright and happy sound. G minor follows the pattern W-H-W-W-H-W-W, giving it a somber and melancholic quality.

The third note also varies, with G major having B and G minor having B♭, affecting the overall tonality.

The choice between G minor and G major depends on the desired mood, with major sounding uplifting and minor evoking sadness or seriousness.

What is the major scale on the G string?

When playing the G major scale on the G string of a guitar (standard tuning), the notes and respective frets would be as follows:

Open G String: G

2nd fret: A

4th fret: B

5th fret: C

7th fret: D

9th fret: E

11th fret: F#

12th fret: G (octave)

By playing these notes on the G string, you would be playing the G major scale in a single string context. Remember that the G major scale has the pattern of whole step (W), whole step, half step (H), whole step, whole step, whole step, half step just like all other major scales.

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