One Scale To Rule Them All


Leave A Comment And Tell Me What You Think…


  • Alan Mitchell

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Thank you for the lesson. I am happy to follow a teacher

    • PAUL

      Reply Reply March 9, 2018

      53 years of paying music and doing studio work, i never leaned any thing like this.
      i have Phat Phis Software. it does all of this for you all you do is pick your key in the major panatonic scale, or what ever key you wnat and it shows them and play thems.
      this just confused the heck out of me. everyhting i do is by ear and i did get something from this. more confusion. thanks anyways Griff

  • Dave

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Hi Griff,
    That is the best explanation of scale building I have ever heard, and it goes down so easy too!
    Thanks heaps,
    Dave (Australia)

    • Michael Skipper

      Reply Reply April 14, 2021

      Great explanation of how to build a major diatonic scale Grid. Easy to follow.

    • PAUL

      Reply Reply April 14, 2021

      Been playing for over 56 years. I use PAHTPHIS ALSO..
      All the same stuff. I apreicate the lesson Griff, but it is kind of Middle school Boring.
      I have a Guitar with the notes on the fret board. Amazon Has them.
      Your doing a great job, but you tought me this already.
      Thank You.

  • cowboy

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    your explanation is a good reason why everyone should buy the “Guitar Theory Made Useful” course…it has helped me greatly…thanks…later.


  • David

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Very nice presentation. thanks.

  • Phil

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    I strongly recommend to anyone who is serious about learning music theory to find a copy of “How To Read Music” by Terry Burrows (Carlton Books, Ltd.) copyright 1999. I found my copy at Barnes & Nobles for $22.00 in 1999, but it can be found many other places now for much less. It is the most user-friendly music theory book that I have ever used and it comes with a CD to help with the audio understanding of what is being taught. If you are in need of simple but thorough, this is what you need. I struggled with learning music for years until I found this book. What Griff is showing us here is very good, and until I saw the “scale formula” shown in block letter form, I have not seen a simpler version than Terry Burrows’.

  • Phil

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    BTW, my apology to Griff. I did not know, when I posted my previous comment, that Griff has a book available to help with music theory, but specific to guitar. My recommendation for the Terry Burrows book should only be considered in addition to any publication by Griff to enhance one’s understanding of MUSIC theory in addition to GUITAR music theory. The Burrows book helped me greatly to learn music theory and to play the piano. We are here and now engaged with the guitar, which is Griff’s expertise.

  • Royce

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    I get it, thank you. Its seems like every question i am having, after a previous lesson is being answered the next day in my inbox. Its a little scary. Ive learned a lot from you and ive been playing by ear for 30 years. Thank you.

  • raulz

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Great explanation Griff. Thanks a lot.

  • Philip

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Excellent lesson. Thank you

  • Mark

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Hey Griff,

    You always publish quality stuff and these are no different. That’s why I’ve been a customer for so long. But, I do have a question.

    When I went to the .pdf for this lesson, did I catch a mistake in the quiz portion? Did you copy and paste, then edit, the different keys down the list? Because it appears all of the exercises in different keys begin on “C”. Maybe a little editing is in order?

  • DeanSr

    Reply Reply October 8, 2014

    Wow! Very easy to follow as you presented it. Tnx


    Reply Reply October 9, 2014


  • Mike F.

    Reply Reply October 11, 2014

    Hey Griff,
    Great lesson on how to use the theory, but I printed out the pdf and each of the scales started with C. I point it out only to clarify if that is where you want us to start or was it a typo. You are an awesome teacher! Thanks so much for the lessons.

  • Rennie

    Reply Reply October 13, 2014

    good lesson very clear examples thanks making more sense now

  • Ken

    Reply Reply October 24, 2014

    Hi Griff

    I very sincerely appreciate your efforts to make your students better musicians. I think you have a gift for teaching and I appreciate all the effort you put into your program. Thank you for your very clear explanations.

    • Cliff Walker

      Reply Reply March 22, 2020

      How the notes were arranged at the start of this video is exactly how a keyboard is on piano if we were to start at middle C. Which on a guitar is the A string 3rd fret.
      If you people have access to a keyboard the intervals are more obvious with the 1/2 steps between B and C , also E and F. All of the black notes are the incidentals, whites are Naturals.
      Much easier to learn musical formulas on.
      IE: ww1/2www1/2.
      Or making chords
      Using 1st-3rd-5th notes of a scale.

  • Guitar training and release to guitar tuning.Includes a short video clip of tuning.

  • Mark a Wales uk

    Reply Reply March 3, 2016

    Cheers Griff
    Yet another quality lesson. I have tried the test as like others have pointed out
    They all started from C I took this as a misprint and have carried out the test
    As C D E F G etc

  • Paul

    Reply Reply March 3, 2016

    Hey Griff; if E to F is a natural 1/2 step (I assume that means there is nothing between those 2 notes) how the heck does E# exist??? I’m TOTALLY CONFUSED! Please explain!
    Thanks in advance for stopping my brain from hurting trying to figure this out.

    • Kevin

      Reply Reply May 23, 2016

      Paul: Since there is nothing between E and F, there is no such thing as E# or Fb. It is the same with B and C.

  • Shane

    Reply Reply March 3, 2016

    You Rock dude! I’ve been silently following your tutorials for months now and you’ve taken me back to stuff i learnt 28 years ago. I just love it!

  • Lonnie

    Reply Reply March 3, 2016

    That has cleared out a lot of my, scrambled scales in my head, thanks Griff for that lesson

  • BB

    Reply Reply May 23, 2016

    Ya thats nice .Formula is simple and clear . I was not so clear so far . Now I look forward to formation of minor scales formula and clarity on Diminished note . Thanks Griff .

  • Rob

    Reply Reply May 23, 2016

    Wow Griffer! Watching this was an “A-HA!” Moment. Goosebumps. Thanks large for this!

  • dave

    Reply Reply May 23, 2016

    Another great lesson.Thanks again.

  • Ralph

    Reply Reply May 23, 2016

    Isn’t the major scale also know by a Modal name? I know that’s a long way in the future, but maybe this is a convenient place to start introducing the Modes.

    • R

      Reply Reply March 14, 2019

      The major scale would be the Ionian mode

  • Paul Warner

    Reply Reply May 24, 2016

    These are good lessons. I have found in my experience when I am talking to somebody about music, I will ask them what scales they use, or if they know how what chords gets played in a certain key, or if they know how to embellish a chord, in most cases they do not know this stuff, and yet they want to create music. This I find frustrating because I think having this knowledge is important and well worth learning. Thank you for such great lessons so that at least we all have an idea behind what makes music. Paul

  • Lee

    Reply Reply May 24, 2016

    I was introduced to the 2 1/2+3 1/2 theory on major scales by a college friend when I showed intrest in guitar. It is just as Griff says. Best advise ever. It’s like engineering, it’s all about formulas.

  • charles ejike ike

    Reply Reply September 17, 2016

    Nice experience! Thank you

  • Joe Pace

    Reply Reply September 17, 2016

    Hey Griff kinda confused you say not to use double sharps or flats in a scale and for instance in the Amaj scale there is a c#, f# & g# please explain lost Joe

    • Maynard E

      Reply Reply September 18, 2016

      Hi Joe
      A double sharp is, for example, a C##, where instead of a half step above C, which is C#, you would add another half step above C#, which would be a D. So a double C## is actually a D.

      Same for a double flat, for example, a Bbb, where instead of a half step below B, which is Bb, you would add another half step below Bb, which would be an A. So a double Bbb is actually an A.

      The term double has to do with the half steps; and has nothing to do with the number of sharps or flats in a Major Scale. You can have scales with five or more sharps or five or more flats.

      As Griff points out, you will rarely see double sharps or flats used in guitar blues music. ME

  • Paul Warner

    Reply Reply September 17, 2016

    When I first started learning guitar it seemed like all the songs were in the key of C, which in a very short time got very boring, so I learned how to transpose to different keys by learning what you have taught here. I could learn any song I wanted to play, and transpose them to any key I thought would be exciting to learn. I spent so much time outside the key of C that now when I play a C chord it sounds interesting and wonderful to the ear. Funny how things go..

    • Cliff Walker

      Reply Reply March 22, 2020

      And what’s cool is transposing to another key the intervals remain the same.

  • Dick

    Reply Reply September 18, 2016


    Great lessons. Unfortunately, I did not save the first couple and am wishing I would have. Would you give us a link to them?


  • David Morin

    Reply Reply September 18, 2016

    Since our Western music is based on a 12 tone musical system which is laid out clearly on a piano keyboard, it seems that all this would be much easier to demonstrate using a keyboard image rather than a bunch of blocks.

  • 95Corrine

    Reply Reply August 2, 2017

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    Your page can go viral. You need initial traffic boost only.
    How to get it? Search for: Mertiso’s tips go viral

  • Mark d.

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    On my bucket list I’m going to fly to California to meet the man Griff. Thank you so much I have learned way more in the last two years since having bgu 2.0 and watching your videos then I have in the previous 40 you are an outstanding teacher. I have taught several things from swimming to Hanging sheetrock it’s funny how you forget that the basics are what makes it all work thanks again Griff 🙂

    • Pete

      Reply Reply March 25, 2023

      You’d have to catch him on tour in California because he lives in Texas.

  • Mke H.

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    In the pdf for this lesson why is there a “C” at the beginning of some of the example scales? Are we supposed to create the scale for each key starting on “C”? Is it a typo? I’m confused.

  • "Scraps"

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    Great Griff— I’ve never had it explained so clearly! Now I have to write a few scales!!

  • Louie

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    You’re a great teacher Griff, very clearly stated

  • Norman Blackmore

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    Good video Griff. When I teach this, I use the terms “Interval”, “Tone” and “Semi-Tone”.

    E.g Major Scales always have the following Intervals: Tone, Tone, Semi-tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semi-tone!
    It has a nice ring to it: easy to say, easy to remember. 🙂

    • Cliff Walker

      Reply Reply March 22, 2020

      But Norman, every tone, all 12, are semi-tones. For this lesson to write it your way would be numerical.
      2212221 instead of ww1/2www1/2.
      Same differences transposed.

  • Ian Robins

    Reply Reply March 9, 2018

    Great lesson Griff. Theory made easy! I’ve always been a player by ear rather than theory but I get this. I think it’s the math that I struggle with in theory. Never was mathematically minded. I’m with Norman Blackmore thought. Having come originally from Australia, I’m more familiar with tones and semi-tones. Thanks for another great lesson!

  • rich

    Reply Reply March 10, 2018

    thanks for making it so simple, great lesson man!!!!

  • rich

    Reply Reply March 10, 2018

    going by the rule of no double sharps, explain the a scale please

    • Barry

      Reply Reply September 12, 2019

      You’re confusing a double sharp and a scale or key signature with two sharps. A double sharp example would be C## (aka D). The A Major scale has two sharps, F# and C#, so you have A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G-A. This matches the whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half step pattern explained in the lesson.

      Hope this helps

      • Barry

        Reply Reply September 12, 2019

        Sorry, I meant to say D… ;^)

        D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D… Two sharps in the key, no double sharps. That’s what I get for multitasking…

        Sharps appear in key signatures in order of the circle fifths, which I’m sure Griff will cover. F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#…

        • Cliff Walker

          Reply Reply March 22, 2020

          But Norman, every tone, all 12, are semi-tones. For this lesson to write it your way would be numerical.
          2212221 instead of ww1/2www1/2.
          Same differences transposed.

  • Joe Accardo

    Reply Reply March 11, 2018

    Hi Griff, I was always intimidated by theory, I found it very confusing. But your simple approach to scale building has given me confidence and a renewed interest in music theory. Thanks for the great lessons the last few days.

  • Chris Roper

    Reply Reply March 14, 2018

    Thanks GH. At the moment I’m cutting pieces of card 2″x2″, with letters A-G on them. Plus the accidentals, sharps on one side and flats on the other. There are more cards, blank, which will represent the whole tone/step (I’m English) between notes 1&2, 2&3, 4&5, 5&6, 6&7. As you are well aware, the distance/interval between 2&3 and 7&1 or 8 (octave) will take care of itself.
    I’m planning to show your method, with my cards instead of your computer graphic to enlighten my son 45 and grandson 9. I have told them how your stuff would have helped me 50 years ago!
    I hope they get rich and famous so they can look after me extravagant amps and axes into my old age!

    Thank you.

    • Chris Roper

      Reply Reply March 14, 2018

      That should have read,”…..look after me with extravagant amps, etc”.

      I’m also going to try the major scale building with both guitar and keyboard available for demo. I think the keyboard is a more visual mental aid than the fretboard and I’m hoping that together they’ll do the trick. I’ll let you know.

      Chris Roper.

  • Grant Reid

    Reply Reply December 31, 2018

    You just know how t make everything more understanding and less boring, thanks!

  • Clifford

    Reply Reply February 7, 2019

    Griff- you didn’t explain when a incidental note in a scale would be considered a FLAT or Sharp other than they are not mixed within a scale.

    I learned the first note is the ROOT note, as is the 8th note, which is also the beginning of the next octave and the ROOT note of a scale is also be the KEY of the tune.

    Will you be doing a lesson on relative minors? And how to mix Major and Minor scales?

    circle of fifths?

  • Randy

    Reply Reply February 8, 2019

    could you post # 2 again, I missed it some how. and would like to your answers to 1 and 3 so I can check myself

  • Cliff

    Reply Reply February 23, 2019

    Good major scale lesson Griff.
    Do you have a lesson on how chords are derived within a scale?
    And similar lesson for minor scales and chord creation in minor scales?

  • R

    Reply Reply March 14, 2019

    I have always used the whole step half steps. Do you cover the cycle of 5ths and 4ths as a quick way of listing all the keys?

  • Harold

    Reply Reply March 25, 2019

    Thank you Griff. I like the way you present these lessons. Do have one suggestion. When representing the half steps it would be clearer I think, if you moved the blocks together to represent no spaces between half tones.

    Thanks again for simplifying the theory. Wish I had someone explain this way 50 years ago.

    • Chris Roper

      Reply Reply June 11, 2019

      50 years ago! Ain’t that the truth. I spent decades getting my head round music stuff. If I’d had the last two go GH’s lessons plus circle of fifths, I would have had more time to enjoy than struggle.

      Best wishes Harold.

      Chris Roper.

  • David Robbins

    Reply Reply March 26, 2019

    A very good explanation, thank you Griff.

  • Wayne Brehaut

    Reply Reply June 8, 2019

    Perhaps Rule 1 should include “in alphabetic order”?

    • Wayne Brehaut

      Reply Reply June 8, 2019

      Or a more accurate version of that, since we won’t always start with “A”. I’m sure some mathematician could supply a succinct statement involving “cyclic” and “modulo” and similar…or a substring of adjacent letters from “ABCDEFGABCDEF”.

      • ian richardson

        Reply Reply November 3, 2021

        Hi Wayne.

        Interesting, I have no idea what cyclic and modulo means to a mathematician.
        But as you say we won’t always start with A I have an idea about what you might mean.
        If I am wrong then at least I’ve had a go at it.

        The English alphabet does indeed begin with A.
        Most people do write the chromatic scale from A, in alphabetical order including the sharps and flats.. (The natural notes of which would be A B C D E F G….A which is the A minor scale). Octave to Octave..8 notes hence do re mi etc.

        I think Griff does it the right way from C because then we have the C Natural Major scale in the chromatic scale. Major always comes before minor.
        C Natural Major having no sharps or flats gives us the intervalic formula for building Major scales in all 12 keys. A Natural minor (coming from the C Major scale) giving us the intervalic formula for minor scales. These both being unaltered scales, not something like say a harmonic scale. ( From A the natural notes would be A B C D E F G which is the A minor scale, C Major’s 6th degree and relative minor mode).
        C Major can be seen as the Mother of all scales. The C major scale also being where we get the modes from. Again we should write the Chromatic scale from C.

        So musically speaking the musical alphabet begins with C not A. So we have a middle C.
        The C Major scale also gives us it’s 7 chords again with no sharps or flats.
        And 7 modes, no sharps or flats.

        Only when we then build scales in the other 11 keys do we need sharps or flats. This is shown on the outer edge of the circle of 4ths and 5ths, the number of sharps or flats in each scale. So the G Myxolidian mode of C Major is the same notes just starting on G A B C D E F ..G
        The G Major scale in it’s own right would be G A B C D E F#…G. One note difference. to give the half step to the Octave. Unaltered scales of course.

        So is the word modulo the same as a mode?
        On the piano keyboard the Chromatic scale repeats as it does on the guitar from the 12th fret…or 13th in the case of C and F…cyclic?

        The same happens in standard tuning in the open position, it goes around in 4ths and 5ths of the C Major scale.

        Music theory is math, music in essence is the sound of maths (I pinched that from someone else and make no claim on it). Intervals are maths, fixed distances between any 2 given notes. Intervals.
        Of course there is a second interval, that of time which gives us timing and rhythm.

        I don’t know if you know any music theory, if you do then you will know all this and I run the risk of making myself look a total twit.
        I just found your comment interesting and the words modulo and cyclic struck a chord, if you’ll pardon the pun.
        If I do have the stick the wrong way around I’d be interested to know. Even if it does make me look a twit, it won’t be a first. Or if I have not I’d be interested to know, that would impress my niece no end..And of course I can baffle people even more with words like cyclic and long as I know what it means in case someone else does..
        Then I’ll be a twit again.

  • Chris Roper

    Reply Reply June 11, 2019

    Hi Mr Hamlin,

    Very much like the video I sent you yesterday? Except, I suppose mine was in bad English!!
    Important, I think, to let people know that having a bit of music theory (they’ll hate the word theory!) won’t stop them being Jimi Hendrix!! Do you have plans for a circle of norths and fifths video? Together with the last two it’ll save people years of struggling to get their brains around music….all music! But you know that only too well.

    Cheers Griff
    Music thanks you,
    Chris (Soppy Ol’ Grandfarver) Roper

  • Thurman Moore

    Reply Reply April 29, 2020

    I have worked with this for years but I used a prepared chart. Now i know how to put it together mentally and on paper. Thanks.

  • Hi Griff, looking at the comments for this lesson I guess it must just be me that didn’t get the questions….I got the lesson and the answers but no questions 🙂 I really need this stuff so can you help
    Regards, Sweetpea

  • Stephen Nash

    Reply Reply January 12, 2021

    Excellent Structure to help us to “know how to fish”.

  • Donald Dellario

    Reply Reply April 15, 2021

    Great stuff, Griff. Appreciate the exercises!

  • Ken Orlob

    Reply Reply April 20, 2021

    Thanks Griff! I actually took in person lessons for a few months from a local guy here and while we didn’t do as much playing as I’d have liked he did teach me this, so I had the WWHWWWH drilled into my head pretty well. Also how to build major, minor, 7th, diminished etc. chords. I assume we’ll be going there next.

  • Byron B. Carrier

    Reply Reply April 30, 2021

    I like it that C Major (Ionian) uses the white keys only on the piano. But that’s just the Ionian scale, the popular “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.” If we were to start and end on A, using only the white keys, we’d have A Minor, Aeolian. Start on E and have another minor, the Phygrian. Start on G, stay on the white keys, and have G Blues, the Mixolydian (with the major 3rd on the bottom and a dominate (lower) 7th on top). D starts the Dorian scale. F gives us a jazz scale, the Lydian, which has that odd raised fourth sound. B is most interesting, the Locrian Scale, which has it’s own sort of harmonics.

    The advantage of this system is that any keyboard gives a visual reference of the steps of the scale and where the two half-steps appear. It’s a great way to get used to the sound of a scale, simply by droning on one of these notes and listening to what happens when you improvise on the white keys. For blues lovers, try G. For minor blues lovers, try A, E, or D.

  • Dick Spindler

    Reply Reply May 9, 2021

    Great lessons Griff. Sometimes I forget how I got to where I am with my music experience and it’s great to go back to the roots, the very beginning, and review it all again. Every time I do it, I continue to learn something new or gain a better understanding of how it all goes together. That you.

  • Jim Hilton

    Reply Reply January 29, 2022

    Griff; Thanks. When I first started to play my instructor gave me a finger exercise, OK so I did it. But after awhile doing the same pattern any where I went off the 6th or 5th string I could go one or two octaves. Hum wonder what this means? It means just what you taught in this lesson for a major scale. The common fingering on the fretboard to match your lesson is:

    starting on the 6th string: 2nd finger (root) 4th finger (w) (6th str.); 12 4 (5th) ; 1 34 (D str.) 1 34 (G str.); 2 4 (B str.) and
    12 (1st string) . Yes pattern for any major scale.

    I did this pattern for about 6 months until the light went on – yes I know some of us a brighter than other, but better late than never. I wish I would have known this to begin with as well as your lesson of today. Your lesson is spot on and easy to understand. Thanks

  • Charles Hart

    Reply Reply February 3, 2022

    Wonderful,clear explanation and graphics. Thank you for starting my day with an “AHA” moment. Also loved your song with the great horn section.

  • John Edwards

    Reply Reply March 29, 2022

    Essential concept for all musicians and, for me, a good review. Thank you, Griff for you clear explanation.

  • Chris Harrison

    Reply Reply May 19, 2022

    I am a classically trained musician who decided he wanted to learn guitar and all the cool instruments that all the cool kids played lol! I have always been amazed at the really good sounding musicians who did not know very much about theory (so what! they sound great!) – they had the essence of music inside them and they just worked with it on an instinctive level. These theory lessons really speak well of BGU in that you treat the whole patient 🙂 I am looking forward to diving in to the courses I have bought so far and trying to make a competent guitar player out of myself from all my old orchestral / vocal chops. Wish me luck!

  • Joan

    Reply Reply March 5, 2023

    Great explanations Griff! You eliminated much confusion!

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