A chromatic scale is a scale ascending and descending in half steps, the smallest interval in western music. To play a chromatic scale on the guitar, begin on the open strings. Then play the note on the first fret, second fret and third fret, continuing up to the twelfth fret, and then back down.

Here is the chromatic scale of E notated in tablature.

left hand fingering picture
the chromatic scale of E

Chromatic Scale Exercise Video

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Since this is primarily a right hand exercise, play each note of the scale four times with the following right hand finger patterns; be sure to observe strict alternation of the fingers. Play these scales free stroke, with careful free stroke preparation and follow through.

a picture of a pima chart
chromatic fingering

Follow the same left hand fingering for the six chromatic scales presented here. Move the left hand evenly, connecting all the notes and the string changes.

When individual notes can be played four times with a steady tempo, play the same scales again, this time repeating each note twice. When that can be done smoothly, play each note once. You will find that some of the right hand fingering patterns are more difficult than others, and will demand more attention. Keep in mind that these are muscular exercises, and, to train the finger muscles, they must be repeated often until you can do them easily.

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