L5: 5 Positions of C Major

What You Need to Know

In order to complete this level you’ll need to read this excellent article by Brett McQueen of UkuleleTricks.com. Pay particular attention to the information under the heading: “The Most Practical Way to Play a C Major Scale.” Concentrate on learning the patterns on strings 1, 2 & 3 (A, E & C).

NOTE: Brett calls the bottom strings the top strings and vice versa. This is a matter of perspective which is why it is good to always reference strings by number or note name rather than ‘top’ or ‘bottom.’

Numbering Scale Positions

Brett uses numbering for his scale posiitons similar to that found in the guitar world. However, there is more than one system out there, so it can be confusing to label them this way unless someone has had training in a particular system. I prefer to label the position according to the lowest fret, so that a scale that begins at the . . .

  • nut = open position
  • 2nd fret = 2nd position
  • 4th fret = 4th position
  • 7th fret = 7th position
  • 9th fret = 9th position

Brett labels the above positions 1 through 5, but by referencing fret numbers you convey more information in the label. Of course, the most important thing is that you learn the patterns and are able to play them at a fair tempo.


Earn your Soloing Level 5 patch by demonstrating the following:

  • After printing out some staff/tab paper (pdf), write out each of the five playing positions of the C major scale. Write the appropriate fret numbers on the tab below the staff (numbers should only appear on strings 1, 2 & 3).
  • Using the above work as a reference, create an exercise that incorporates all five playing positions of the C major scale. Write/tab this exercise on staff/tab paper. Play your scale exercise, saying the names of the notes as you play. Tempo (speed) does not matter, but keep a steady beat.
  • Write/tab an original melody of at least 16 bars using the the C major scale. Incorporate at least three of the major scale positions. Play this melody, keeping a steady beat.