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D Major Scale: What is it and How to play it on Guitar

Sergio J. C.
2 de October de 2022

The D major scale consists of seven notes (D, E, F#, G, A, B and C#) and has the following shape on guitar:

D major scale guitar

However, if you don’t quite understand the above chart, I invite you to read this 5-minute post to really understand what the D major scale is, its tonal distribution and, of course, how to play it on guitar.

What is the D major scale?

The D major scale is a music scale composed of 7 notes (actually called musical degrees) that has the following shape::

D major scale on staff bass clef and treble clef
notes in D major scale

Note: On the right side we can find the D major scale in bass clef while on the left we can see it in treble clef.

Therefore, these are the 7 notes or pitches that form the major scale in the key of D:

D E F# G A B C#

Thus, if we were looking for the fourth note in the harmonic scale of D major, it would be G (because it occupies the 4th position), its fifth note would be A (because it occupies the 5th position), and so on and so forth.

What are the notes in the D major scale and why?

The D major scale consists of the pitches D, E, F#, G, A, B and C#. That is cristal clear now but do you know why?

The response to this question is “becauase of the major scale pattern of steps”, which is:


W: Whole step or tone.

H: Half step or semitone.

Therefore, if we take the above structure and draw the D major scale with tones and semitones, we obtain the musical degrees mentioned above:

D major scale tones semitones whole steps half steps
D major scale notes

D major scale on guitar

Now that you understand the musical theory behind the D major scale diatonic, let’s go back to the guitar fretboard diagram:

D major scale guitar
What does a D major scale look like

If you still don’t understand the above chart, just think that a half step (or semitone) corresponds to a fret on the guitar and a whole step (or tone) corresponds to 2 frets.

Therefore, between D and E there are 2 frets (2 semitones or one tone) and between F# and G there is only one fret (because the distance is only half a tone).

In any case, to memorize and play the D major guitar scale we can break the above diagram into a series of patterns to help us.

guitar D major scale
How do you play D major scale on guitar?

How to play D major scale on guitar

At this point we are going to learn how to play the D major scale. To do this, I have written the below tab (tablature) so you can use it to practice the D major scale ascending and descending along the fingerboard.

e |----------------------------------------------12-14-15-|
B |-------------------------------------12-14-15----------|
G |----------------------------11-12-14-------------------|
D |-------------------11-12-14----------------------------|
A |----------10-12-14-------------------------------------|
E |-10-12-14----------------------------------------------|

e |-15-14-12----------------------------------------------|
B |----------15-14-12-------------------------------------|
G |-------------------14-12-11----------------------------|
D |----------------------------14-12-11-------------------|
A |-------------------------------------14-12-10----------|
E |----------------------------------------------14-12-10-|

To practice the D major scale on acoustic or electric guitar just put your index finger on the 10th fret and start following the above tab (if you don’t know how to read guitar tabs you can take a look at this link).

And if you are a beginner and are learning to play the guitar from scratch I advise you to practice it with a metronome at a speed of 80 BPM.

TIP: if you dont have a metronome you can download any free app.

What chords are in the D major scale?

As far as chords are concerned, if we harmonize this major scale in the key of D we get the following triads:

  • D major (Dmaj): D – F# – A.
  • E minor (Em): E – G – B.
  • F minor (Fm): F# – A – C#.
  • G major (Gmaj): G – B – D.
  • A minor (Amaj): A – C# – E.
  • B minor (Bm): B – D – F#.
  • C# diminished (C#º): C# – E – G.

Which has the following shape on the guitar fretboard:

D major scale harmonized
D major scale chords

And if we harmonize the major scale using 7th chords we get the follwing tetrads:

  • D major 7th (DMaj7): D – F# – A – C#.
  • E minor 7th (Em7): E – G – B – D.
  • F minor 7th (Fm7): F# – A – C# – E.
  • G major 7th (Gmaj7): G – B – D – F#.
  • A dominant 7th (A7): A – C# – E – G.
  • B minor 7th (Bm7): B – D – F# – A.
  • C half-diminished (Cm7♭5): C# – E – G – B.

The D sharp major scale (D# major) and D flat major scale (D♭ major)

To finish this article we are going to see the accidentals of this musical scale.

This is really simple, since in the case of the D♭ major scale we only have to reduce one semitone to all the degrees that form the scale.

D flat major scale D♭ staff bass clef and treble clef
D flat major scale

And in the case of the D# major scale what we have to do is to increase a semitone:

D sharp major scale D# staff bass clef and treble clef
D sharp major scale

Final summary

guitar D major scale
  • Scale degrees: D, E, F#, G, A, B & C#.
  • Alterations: F# and C#.
  • Relative minor: B minor.
  • Harmonized with triads: D, Em, Fm, G, A, Bm and C#º.
  • Harmonized with tetrads: Dmaj7, Em7, F#m7, Gmaj7, A7, Bm7 y C#m7♭5.

And that concludes today’s lesson. As I always say, now it’s your turn to pactice the D major scale on guitar, ukulele, piano, violin or whatever instrument you play.

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