Chromatic Scale Guitar Lesson (How to Play)

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This is a simple, complete, step-by-step chromatic scale guitar lesson. You’ll learn the basics of the chromatic scale and how to play it.

What is a chromatic scale?

A chromatic scale is all 12 notes from Western theory played sequentially in semitones/half steps.

The fact that the chromatic scale contains all 12 of these notes makes it the parent of all scales.

Chromatic scale formula

The chromatic scale formula is:


How to play chromatic scale guitar patterns

When learning guitar scale patterns you need to remember that they can be transposed.

So, even though this chromatic scale starts with the root note C, you can move it to any other root note and it will behave in the same way.

And the only reason to have a root note in a chromatic scale is to imply a root. The root is usually determined by the musical context.

C Chromatic Scale

As you can see, this C chromatic scale moves across 2 different octaves on the fretboard.

C chromatic scale guitar diagram

Notes in the C chromatic scale

The notes in the C chromatic scale, ascending, are:


C chromatic scale PDF

E chromatic scale on one string

This chromatic scale shape is played within a single octave on a single guitar string.

E Chromatic Guitar Scale (Single String)

E chromatic scale single string PDF

Chromatic scale fretboard diagram

Even though this fretboard diagram uses the root note E, you can use any root note that you want.

Chromatic scale fretboard diagram

Chromatic scale guitar diagram PDF

Chromatic scale guitar summary

The chromatic scale is the mother of all musical scales in Western harmony, and is played using all 12 notes consecutively.

That’s it! Pick a root note and play every note up until the octave, and you’ll play a chromatic guitar scale.