Learn your first scale for ukulele: The C Major Scale

In this lesson I will show you how to play the C major scale in the open position on ukulele.

Learning scales will not only help you to enhance your chords and understanding of chords in the future but it will also give you an understanding of melody, help you to write songs and even to improvise on your ukulele.

In the musical scale there are 12 notes in total (7 natural notes and 5 sharps/flats). Every major scale (there is a major scale for all 12 notes) takes a unique combination of 7 of these 12 notes which gives you the notes that are available in that particular key.

C Major contains only natural notes. This means that it doesn’t contain any sharps or flats (it would consist of only the white notes on a piano). Starting from C you will play C, D, E, F, G, A and B before finishing on C, an octave above your starting point.

Click here to download a pdf with the music, tablature and a diagram of the C Major scale for ukulele: C Major scale for ukulele handout

For the sake of good technique and for developing good habits in the future, you should try to use a different finger for each fret. Since only the first three frets of the ukulele are used in this scale, you can use your first finger (your index finger) anytime the first fret is played, your second finger (middle finger) anytime the second fret is played, and your third finger (ring finger) anytime the third fret is played. This way, you will not need to move your hand and you will end up with a smooth sounding scale.

Below is a sound recording of the C major scale on ukulele so that you can listen to how it sounds (I have demonstrated the scale both ascending and descending – try to master the scale ascending first on it’s own before attempting the descending version):

You should start off as slow as necessary in order that you can play each note of the scale evenly and cleanly.

Scales are fantastic as a warm-up exercise so I’d recommend playing this scale each time you start your practice session!

Lesson written by Alex Danson. More lessons available here.