Archive for December, 2009

Learning Guitar String Notes – First Step to a Solid Beginner Foundation

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

A lot of beginner guitar players like to jump in and learn to play chords. While that can be fun it doesn’t always provide you with the foundation needed to grow as a more advanced guitar player. I feel it’s important that beginners learn to play the notes on each string first before they begin chords. After all everything, chords and scales, are made up of notes.

This post is going to cover how you can find the notes on each string following an easy to understand pattern. We’ll first discuss the concept of half and whole steps and how this translates to the guitar neck, then we’ll talk about the spacing between each of the 7 musical notes and finally I’ll show you how to find those notes on the guitar neck.

After you read this post I suggest you watch the short video at the end. It explains this post in more detail and gives you a solid example you can follow and try on your own.

Whole and Half Steps

The idea of whole or half steps comes from the piano, unfortunately we’re playing the guitar so we need to understand what that means in terms of a guitar neck. Thankfully it’s quite easy. The guitar neck is divided up in frets. Each fret denotes one half step, so a whole step would be two frets.

Understanding this is the first step to finding the guitar string notes. The second step is understanding how many steps are between each note A through G.

Space Between Notes

We’re only going to worry about the spacing between the 7 major notes A through G. There are sharps and flats in between there but that’s for a more advanced lesson ;) . The spacing between most notes is one step, or two frets with a couple of exceptions. The spacing between B and C is only one half step as well as between E and F. Below is a listing of the space between notes both in steps and frets.

A to B = Full Step or Two Frets
B to C = Half step or One Fret
C to D = Full Step or Two Frets
D to E = Full Step or Two Frets
E to F = Half Step or One Fret
F to G = Full Step or Two Frets

Now that you understand the spacing between notes we can look at some examples on the guitar neck.

Starting with Open String Names and Notes

A quick refresher on the string names, starting from the top Low E we have, E, A, D, G, B and E. The names of the strings also denotes the note when played when you strike that string in the open position (no frets pressed down).

So a quick example on the lo E string.

Starting open we have an E, so if we refer to the listing I gave above what comes next?

That’s right an F note, and the spacing between an E and an F is?

That’s right, only one half step it’s one of the exceptions. So we go from open up one half step to the first fret and that’s an F note.

The next note is a G note, and the spacing between an F and a G is one full step so this time we go up two frets, or to the 3rd fret.

Let’s do one more.

We go from the G back around to an A. What’s the spacing? One full step, so we slid up two more frets to the 5th fret on the low E string and that’s an A note.

Hopefully you can see where I was getting these spacings from, don’t worry if it’s still a little unclear, the video below will explain in more detail. Take a few minutes to watch the video below it will explain all of this in more detail. After watching I urge you to grab your own guitar and give this exercise a try.

Like to learn more great beginner lessons like the notes on each string? Why not try a self study course to learn at home? You can learn more about a program designed to be used at home here in this Learn and Master guitar review. It’s a 25 disc set designed to help you learn from home on your own time and terms.

Intro to the CAGED System – Locating all Major Chords on the Guitar Neck

Monday, December 7th, 2009

As a beginner learning to play the open major chords is a very big accomplishment. It opens a door to learning to play some popular songs and even write some of your own. When you want to stretch your legs a little further you need to enter the realm of barre chords.

Learning the same major chords at different positions can be a little more difficult. After all there are a lot of frets and a lot of note combination’s to choose from.

In this post I want to introduce you to a unique system that is sure to help you find, play and memorize several versions of all seven major chords on the guitar.

The CAGED guitar system is a method of finding 5 different versions of all 7 major chords using familiar chord shapes from the open position. As the name might have given away those shapes are from the C-A-G-E-D major chords.

A quick example: If you barre the 5th fret and play an E chord shape you have an A Major chord.

The system works like this. Using those 5 chord shapes you can find five versions of each major chord at different locations on the neck. You do still need to find those variations and if you want memorize them, but this system makes it a lot easier to locate them.

I’ve created a brief video below that explains the CAGED guitar system and also provides a complete example of finding four different variations of the E chord using the D, C, A and G chord shapes as barre chords. Take a few minutes to watch this video and then grab your own guitar to give it a try.

Interested in learning more guitar tricks and techniques like the CAGED system? Not interested in taking private guitar lessons? Why not try a learn guitar dvd course? Learn at your own pace from the comfort of your own home.

Understanding Guitar Scales – The First Step to Playing Lead Guitar

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Note: This is a guest post by Ian, from

For a lot of beginner guitar players the thought of having to learn scales can seem a bit daunting. Chords, sure they weren’t too difficult to handle, but moving into the realm of scales is something completely new. Thankfully there are easier scales to learn then others.

The pentatonic guitar scales are probably the easiest to master and that’s what this article will cover. If you haven’t yet learned some basic musical theory, names of each string and some of the notes on the neck you might want to consider getting a quality guitar lessons dvd to grow your foundation. I know when you want to learn something new you want to do it right now but trust me on this, knowing the basics about theory and the neck will make this a lot easier.

So back to the lesson

There are 5 notes in each pentatonic scale. This is what makes it so attractive to beginners since most other scales have 7 or more notes. To go along with this the scale has 5 distinct shapes it follows depending on which note of the scale your starting at.

Once you memorize the shapes it’s just a matter of knowing where the notes are in the scale and then pick up the scale using the proper position (1st through 5th position) based on that note.

Here’s an Example:

A simple A Minor Pentatonic scale on the 6th string (low E) starts at the 5th Fret. It then slides up three frets, then two frets, then two frets then finally sliding three frets to finish the scale. Those are the 5 main notes in the A minor pentatonic scale.

So let’s take it a step further and play it on more then just the 6th string. In first position your going to start at the first note of the A minor pentatonic scale, that’s the 5th fret of the 6th string. From there you’re going to follow the 1st position shape for a pentatonic scale. I won’t describe the exact shapes since it would take quite a bit of time to explain, but they are readily available online.

For the second position you would start at the 8th fret of the 6th string. This is the second note of that scale if you remember from just a few moments ago. I bet you can see the pattern now, the 3rd position starts on the 3rd note of the scale and so on and so on.

The key to pentatonic scales is

  • memorizing the 5 different shapes
  • Knowing where the scales are on each string

Since the shapes stay the same through out you can see how it’s easier to learn pentatonic guitar scales then any other type of scale on the guitar neck. Of course it takes some serious practice but it’s well worth it once you start to integrate these scales into your practicing and jam sessions.