Home  ›  Q&A

Finding Scales in C Standard Tuning

I tune my Guitar to C Standard (all strings down 2 whole notes) from low to high:

C F A# D# G C

Unfortunately, I did not take the time to learn the standard scales & chords before I changed tunings. Now I find it difficult sometimes to locate scales & chords as quickly or easily as I should. I like this particular tuning & don't want to stop using it, as everything I play & do is set to it, helping me develop my tone.

I recently started studying the standard scale & trying to reverse translate it, but am having a hard time with it. Is there a simpler way to do it or would it be best for me to re-tune to standard & learn the standard scale & chords completely?
I know now that I should have learned it when I started playing Guitar 10 years ago but didn't, believing it would hinder my talent & staunch my creativity. I didn't realize it might bite me in the (b)ass, to slow my development.

Answer

Firstly, if you like the tuning, stick with it.

As you're still in a form of standard tuning (so the same relative tuning as E A D G B e, albeit 2 whole steps down) the actual scale patterns and chord shapes/forms remain exactly the same.

The only thing new to learn is the notes across each string up the fretboard, as this will give you a reference point for, say, finding the root note of a given scale or chord.

So I would start by learning the notes across the fretboard. Starting with the open strings, you should be able to work this out and learn in the same time frame as E standard tuning.

With chords, start back at those open position chords...

Open E major/minor becomes open C major/minor

Open D major/minor becomes open A#/Bb major/minor

With scales, after you've learned the notes across each string, you should be able to find the low root note positions for the most common scale patterns, and my lessons can be understood in exactly the same way, because I use interval labels rather than the notes themselves.

For example, a major scale pattern rooted at the 5th fret in C standard tuning would make it an F major scale because the low C string at the 5th fret is F.

A harmonic minor pattern rooted at the 9th fret would be A harmonic minor because the low C string at the 9th fret is A.

This is just to get your bearings and is exactly the same process I teach students using standard E tuning.

Beyond these root note reference points, study intervals rather than notes. Study note relationships rather than specific note clusters in chords and scales.

It's all relative, basically and you will still find the chords, scales and theory sections on this site useful with perhaps only a few occasions where you'll need to adjust the examples given specifically in E standard tuning.

Click here to post comments

Ask Your Own Question