Chromatic Scale Guitar Tutorial

In this video we will be exploring what the chromatic scale is and how to practice it on the guitar.

The chromatic scale is a 12 note scale that includes all the notes within the octave. This will include natural notes and accidentals. So for example, we can play the E chromatic scale starting on the open string E and playing every fret from 1 to 12. To play it efficiently use positions 1, 5 and 9. In other words, play frets 0 1 2 3 4 with fingers 0 1 2 3 4, then play frets 5 6 7 8 with fingers  1 2 3 4 and then frets 9 10 11 12 with fingers  1 2 3 4. It’s a good one string scale to practice position shifts and familiarizing yourself with the notes on all the strings til fret 12. Note that the 12th fret is the octave of the open string.

We can p;lay a longer version of the E chromatic scale is to start it on thw low E 0r open 6th string. This time we will play the first five notes in the same way :  0 1 2 3 4 with corresponding LH fingers then move to the open 5th string and so the same thing. Continuw doing this all the way up the strings. The only string that is different is the third string – only play till fret 3. This is because the 4th fret is a B (same as the open 2nd string).

To vary this scale you can try playing rhtyhmic variations. These include the following rhythms:






  • Paul Witty

    Thanks Sergio, chromatic scales are just a great workout. Countour them in groups of 3, 4 right up to 6. I like them in 3rds and fourths as well. I discovered a great way to play the scale when I learn’t the Rock Around the Clock solo… refer to the fast descending run at the end. Think of a 5th position scale, like 5 6 7 8-8 where the pinky slides between two notes, repeat on the next string. This one is great for staying ‘in the box’. Of course there is a 4 notes per string version that would look like E: 5 6 7 8 A: 4 5 6 7 D: 3 4 5 6 etc. Treat the G string accordingly in both patterns.

    • Sergio

      Thanks Paul, that would provide a good stretch for the pinky. I might also post chromatic octaves which is great fun but a killer of the fingers!