This lesson is apart of a larger lesson series that will help us learn the ukulele fretboard. So far, we’ve learned how to play a C major scale and a G major scale on ukulele. Now, it’s time to learn how to play an F major scale.
Scales not only help us learn the ukulele fretboard, but they also allow us to understand the music we are playing. For example, if we know the notes across the fretboard, we can build chords, craft solos, and look at a piece of sheet music and play it.
Each of these lessons build on the other, so if you’re just joining us, you will want to start learning the C major scale first.
Alright. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
How to Build an F Major Scale
First, we want to build an F major scale in theory. This way, when we get to actually playing these scales on the ukulele, we understand what we’re playing.
You might be wondering why I chose to teach an F major scale and a G major scale after a C major scale. If you recall, a G major scale has only one sharp (#). As you’ll find, once we build an F major scale, the scale has only one flat (b). Remember that sharps raise the pitch of a note a half step; flats lower the pitch of a note a half step.
As you remember, a C major scale has no sharps or flats, so it makes sense that the next easiest scales to learn would be a G major and F major, since they are only changing one note from a C major scale.
Do you remember the major scale interval pattern we talked about in the first scale lesson? It is whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.
Because we want to build an F major scale, we can start on an F note, apply this pattern, and build a major scale. Let’s visualize this on the piano keys.
From F to G, we have a whole step, from G to A, we have a whole step, from A to Bb, we have a half step, from Bb to C, we have a whole step, from C to D, we have a whole step, from D to E, we have a whole step, and from E to F, we have a half step.
From this, we see that the notes found in an F major scale are: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F.
We can see an F major scale represented on a musical staff:
Let’s build an F major by starting on the F note on the 1st fret of the E string.
Notice the pattern of half steps in whole steps in the above example by looking at how many frets separate the notes in the scale.
How to Play an F Major Scale on Ukulele
We want to be able to play an F major scale in five different positions across the ukulele fretboard. To do this, we are going to refer to the C major scale we learned in the last lesson. Again, by now, you should be pretty comfortable and familiar with the C major scale.
Tell me again. What is the only flatted note in an F major scale?
All of the other notes in an F major scale are notes we already know how to play on the ukulele. This means we can take each of the five C major scale positions we learned and change all the B notes to Bb.
F Major Scale: Position #1
For this position, assign your index finger to fret any of the notes that fall in the 1st fret, your middle finger to fret any of the notes that fall in the 2nd fret, your ring finger to the 3rd fret, and your pinky to the 4th fret.
Compare this position with the first position of the C major scale. As you can see, it’s not much different. We are just lowering the B note to a Bb on the top string and bottom string.
F Major Scale: Position #2
This position is a little different. For the notes on the top two strings, your four fingers will hover over the 2nd to 5th frets. When you get to the notes on the bottom two strings, your fingers will shift to hover over the 3rd to 6th frets to fret the notes.
F Major Scale: Position #3
Like the last position, for the notes on the top two strings, your four fingers will hover over the 4th to 7th frets. When you get to the notes on the bottom two strings, your fingers will shift to hover over the 5th to 8th frets to fret the notes.
F Major Scale: Position #4
Assign your index, middle, ring, and pinky finger to fret the notes that fall between the 7th and 10th frets.
F Major Scale: Position #5
For the notes on the top two strings, your four fingers will hover over the 9th to 12th frets. When you get to the notes on the bottom two strings, your fingers will shift to hover over the 10th to 13th frets to fret the notes.
By now, you’re probably noticing a lot of the same patterns between the C major, G major, and F major scales. This is nice because your fingers are probably getting used to many of these shapes.
However, since your fingers are getting used to these shapes, you have to be really intentional about saying the notes you are fretting out loud. The goal in all of this is to understand what you’re playing. That understanding will help you in the long run. Shapes will only take you so far.
If you’re looking for some practical ways to apply your newly acquired knowledge of the ukulele fretboard, take a look at my post 3 Easy Songs You Can Fingerpick On Ukulele Today. For each of the songs I teach, I include sheet music. I recommend printing this music off and identifying the notes on the staff and seeing where those notes fall on the ukulele fretboard.
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post your comment below! Let’s talk about it.
Were are the chords for us left-handed players?
Sorry. 🙁 No chords for lefties yet.
This is a wonderful service you’ve provided to help us better understand and begin to master the ukulele fretboard, Brett. Hopefully many of your students will really benefit from this topic. It’s a great help to me! The layout and graphics are excellent. Many thanks. Always a pleasure to see your latest “Ukulele Tricks”. Tony Tucker, Thailand
Thanks, Tony. I’m always glad to hear how you’re enjoying the lessons. Hope you’re doing well!
Thank’s Brett, I am working on my ukulele while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, Really enjoying it.
Hi Alan, that is really, really cool. I imagine the ukulele to be a great companion for that! 🙂
Just walked into Mammoth Lakes Ca.
Do uou think I would be able to download the Strumming tricks onto a Sansa Fuse MP3 player ?? It would be fun to go through the lesson while on the trail but I dont get to a computer very often. Or should I just wait till I get home in Washington? Thanks Bret
I fell in love with the Ukulele and got one for my birthday but was worried I wouldn’t be able to master it. You’ve truly made it so much easier! Thank you so much for what you have done, not only to keep the Uku culture alive but to help everyone who’s mildly interested in it! 😀 God bless! 😀
Hi Vanessa, happy belated birthday to you! The ukulele is a great birthday gift! Glad you’re enjoying it.
Great site about ukulele lessons and how to learn on your own. I am a professional musician (piano is my instrument) and am able to use your tips easily, to teach myself ukulele on my own. Also, great site layout and congrats on the site! 🙂
II’m interested in your First Ukulele Lesson and Then Some book, which is free (awesome). If I send you my email address to get the book, will it be added to any marketing lists? Please be honest.
Hey Sarah, I promise never to distribute your email address to a third party marketing list. The free ukulele lesson book is a “thank you” for signing up to my Ukulele Tricks’ newsletter. Occasionally, I send out email updates with new lessons, tips, and other information, just to stay in touch. As you know, I also sell my premium Ukulele Strumming Tricks course, so I do plug that occasionally because that’s how I support myself and this site, which allows me to keep offering free materials on Ukulele Tricks like the lesson book. And just so you know, if you don’t like the lesson book or the lessons I send out (I think you will though ;)), you’re able to unsubscribe at anytime. If you have any other questions, just let me know! 🙂
Thanks for the guidance. I am learning the Uke and working on “Vincent”, aka “Starry Starry Night” in the key of F. Most tutorials are in G, which I don’t understand why, but I am new at the Uke and needed to transpose the G tutorials to F.