Archive for the ‘Chords’ Category

Struggling with Guitar Chords?

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Guitar chords look and sound simple especially when you watch a veteran play them, but they do take a little time to learn for beginners. The biggest problem with guitar chords is you generally need three fingers, all in positions using muscles that you traditionally do not use. Oh, and did we mention you need to fret each string clearly without getting in the way of the string above or below?

Learning guitar chords is all about muscle memory. When you practice playing chords, and do it the right way, you progressively get better. When you first start playing guitar chords, they probably will not sound all that great. With practice, those chords will ring nice and clearly in no time.

Struggling with guitar chords? Check out common beginner mistakes below…

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Start with Easy Chords

There are hundreds of guitar chords. However, you will find after a few months of quality practice that a lot of songs utilize the same basic chords, which makes your practice easier because A) often these are easy chords to learn and B) once you memorize these chords you will learn new songs much quicker. Start with basic, easy-to-learn chords like G, A, E, D.

Warm-Up Your Fingers

Do you remember when you were in gym class and the instructor always made you run a couple of laps before playing dodgeball? It seemed pointless, right? Warming up you fingers might sound ridiculous (‘They’ll just warm-up when I practice’), but you will be surprised how much more you will get out of practice if your fingers are ready to go. The biggest frustration with learning guitar is that you are using muscles in your fingers that you rarely would use otherwise. Your left index finger may be able to fret any string, but what about the ring or pinky finger? What about when you need to strum a chord incorporating all three fingers?

The good news is that finger strength improves A) simply by practicing, B) with daily warm-up exercises and C) even through outside means like finger weights. Okay, maybe you’re not into the whole finger weight thing, but you would be surprised how wide scale exercises (they stretch as well as warm-up fingers) will improve finger strength as well as get you ready to play chords.

Keep Your Eyes (and fingers) In The Right Places

Quick exercise. Try playing a chord. Now freeze! Where are your eyes when you play the chord?

Most beginner guitarists would probably say their eyes are focused on the neck of the guitar, or more precisely the fingers fretting the chord. It might seem like a logical practice yet the reality is you can focus too much on the fingers playing the chord. Remember when you first picked up the guitar? You were probably so sloppy with strumming/picking that your eyes were only watching the pick as you played. Now, you’ve been playing for a couple of weeks and only starring at the bridge seems ludicrous, right? The same is true with the neck. As a result, some instructors have the beginner wear a blindfold when they play each chord. Now you are no longer looking, but feeling the chord.

Keep an Eye on the Pinky

We already discussed how frustrating the pinky can be since it’s rarely the primary finger for doing ordinary tasks like cupping a ball, pointing, etc. Consequently, when beginners pick up the guitar they have a tendency to hide the pinky. Who needs it anyhow!?

Unfortunately, that’s a terrible habit especially when learning chords. A wise guitarist understands that your fingers (yes, even the pinky) always hover over the strings of the guitar even if they are not fretting at that precise moment. Why? You will be able to shift between chords much faster.

Essential Guitar Chords for Beginners

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Technically, anyone can “play” the guitar. However, you cannot really play a song until you learn some chords. Thankfully, a TON of popular songs only require a few basic chords and no it’s not just limited to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. In fact, once you journey three or four months deep into learning the guitar you will find that a vast majority of songs only require a few common chords.

Consequently, if you learn the essential guitar chords for beginners you will gain immediate access to a plethora of worthwhile tunes. Master the five beginner chords below and you’re well on your way to learning the guitar. Chords like C, D, & E Major are very important because once you know how to play the G Chord in “Silent Night” you also know how to play the G Chord on every other song that features it. Pretty cool, eh?

ABOUT THE CHORDS: All of the chords below are major chords and commonly found in contemporary music. In order to learn more about chords, namely what separates a major chord from a minor chord you should reference this beginner’s guide to scales.

The A Major Chord

The A major (often referred to as an “A chord”, and sometimes written as “Amaj”) might logically come across as the first chord you should learn because of its position in the alphabet. Unfortunately, the A major chord is a little tricky for beginners because all three fingers need to fit on the second fret (tab below). It’s especially difficult for guitarists with larger fingers.

Whenever you strum a guitar chord you need to make sure that not only all of the strings that are fretted ring clearly but also the open strings. For beginners, it’s a notorious mistake to fret a chord correctly but have one of your fingers bumping into the higher or lower open string therefore altering the correct sound of the chord. Successfully playing chords (as well as shifting between chords during a song) will become easier over time. Practice, practice, practice!

Eight Guitar Chords You Need to Learn Now!

The C Major Chord

Despite the A Major chord taking precedence in the alphabet (as well as this article); the C chord is actually the first chord most beginner guitarists learn. We agree with this approach.

The fingering of the C Major is really straightforward and a much easier position when compared to the A chord. Once again, make sure your first finger is curled correctly or you will likely run into issues with your open strings not ringing properly.

Eight Guitar Chords You Need to Learn Now!

The D Major Chord

Welcome to the D major chord, another very common beginner guitar chord en route to mastering the guitar.

The D major, like most of the chords in this lesson, are pretty easy to finger and only add to their popularity. However, that is not to say that chords like D major are only limited to beginner songs. In fact, you would be surprised to learn how many of your favorite songs feature the D major (or any of the chords listen in this section).

When you play the D chord pay special attention to the third finger (fretting the second string), because a lot of beginners do not properly curl their finger and thus the string lacks tone when it rings. DO NOT strum the fifth and sixth strings.

Eight Guitar Chords You Need to Learn Now!

The E Major Chord

The popular E major chord is found in a lot of music. When you play the chord pay special attention to the first finger (third string). Unlike the D major chord, you strum all six strings, including the open first, second and sixth strings.

The E chord is unique because two correct ways exist to actually play the chord. For certain songs, the guitarist will find it easier to reverse their second and third fingers. Practice playing the chord both ways.

Eight Guitar Chords You Need to Learn Now!

The G Major Chord

When you play the G major chord focus on the curling of the first finger. Like the E major chord you’re going to need to strum all six strings. Also, the G chord is another example of where a subtle alternate hand positioning makes sense in particular cases. Can you guess the alternate positioning?

No more excuses! You now have access to five essential guitar chords for beginners. Master these simple chords and you will know how to play literally thousands of songs!

Eight Guitar Chords You Need to Learn Now!

What other chords would you define as essential for beginners?

Thanks to for the visuals.

What should I learn first — Chords or Scales?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

If you are really serious about learning the guitar then you need to know that playing the instrument is much more than looking up guitar tabs on the Internet. Thus, it’s vital that beginner guitarists begin with the sheer basics of the instrument.

Learning chords and scales may sound boring, but it’s absolutely fundamental to mastering the guitar. Why? When you first start playing the instrument you may feel like you’re blind, mindlessly wandering around the neck fretting random places without any clue as to why. However, with a solid understanding of guitar scales and guitar chords, you can immediately understand not only what you’re doing but why.

If your goal, as the next great guitarist, is to learn to play and create music then you MUST learn about scales and chords.

…But what comes first?

Before we get too far, let’s examine each term.

Chord - a group of (typically three or more) notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony.

Scale - in music, a scale is a group of musical notes collected in ascending and descending order, that provides material for or is used to conveniently represent part or all of a musical work including melody and/or harmony.

In the event that you did not already notice from the definitions (above), chords and scales are essential to the harmony of creating and playing music. They allow us to easily organize individual notes into a formula that actually makes sense.

How many guitar chords exist?

It may sound like a logical question, but asking how many guitar chords exist is an awful lot like asking how many colors can be found in a rainbow. Theoretically, the color wheel has three primary colors, but with those primary colors an artist is basically able to create an infinite amount of variations.

Such is the case with guitar chords.

Consider this: There are 12 notes in an octave, most guitars have either three or four octaves, thus with standard tuning (or even non-standard tuning) there is anywhere between 40,000 and 450,000,000 chord possibilities.

Thankfully, you do not need to memorize every single chord available. In fact, if you can learn the standard barre chords and the Major/Minor/7th/Minor 7th/Major 7th — you will be well informed. The basics break down like this:

  • 12 major chords
  • 12 minor chords
  • 12 7th chords
  • 12 Minor 7th chords
  • 12 Major 7th chords

Pretty easy, right? Considering that if you can master the 60 chords above you should be well on your way to learning the guitar since most songs only require three to four chords.

Okay, so how do guitar scales come into the equation?

Just like guitar chords, there are several different scales available for the guitarist’s arsenal and just like guitar chords, you do not have to know every single scale to be a professional guitarist.

Rather, scales are an extremely useful tool for not only understanding how the guitar works but what makes good music. Again, in music, a scale is a group of musical notes collected in ascending and descending order, that provides material for or is used to conveniently represent part or all of a musical work including melody and/or harmony.

A lot of aspiring musicians are really put off by scales because A) they falsely believe learning scales limits their creativity or B) are only necessarily if you want to be good at solos.

Actually, those two misconceptions could not be further from the truth. Learning scales is extremely useful because if you only limit yourself to playing standard chords you will never break out of the ordinary. You MUST connect your chords with scales. If you need a literal example, most would agree that no one was better at mixing chords with scales than Jimi Hendrix.

Learning scales will only enhance your understanding of music theory, therefore making you a stronger musician. Scales are there to support your melodies, arrangements, harmonies, but by no means a substitution for inspiration.

Simply put, lack of understanding of scales will foolishly force to erratically wander around the fretboard for years until you unconsciously learn to find the strong notes. However, with scales you can discover the “strong notes” in weeks or months.

What should I learn first — Chords or Scales?

The traditional response is scales first, chords second. However, some innovative guitar teachers are actually preaching the exact opposite. The theory for the later is that scales actually complement chords. Because the scale is defined by its root note, the chords are hidden inside the scale and by learning chords first you will in turn know more about the scale.

Truthfully, learning chords or scales first might come down to personal preference (if you’re self-taught) or the decision of your private instructor. The order is important, but not nearly important as making sure that you learn both scales and chords efficiently. They both matter, so take the time to learn them!

Beginner Power Chord Basics

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

While one can certainly appreciate the electric guitar for a wide variety of reasons, for me, and probably a great deal of other guitarists, the aspect that really separates the electric guitar are the loud, thundering guitar riffs that are often composed from power chords.

You got the power!

Power chords are, without debate, the signature of modern rock, grunge rock, hard rock and metal (NOTE: If you are a true beginner and are not sure what I am talking about, peep the opening riff to Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water” for a classic example).

The interesting thing about power chords is although they are organized into the chords category they are technically not a “chord”. Why? In music and music theory, a chord is three or more different notes that are sounded simultaneously. They are further broken down into “Major” or “Minor” Triads. However, a power chord is an abbreviated version of the full triad chords playing only the root and fifth notes of the scale as a chord. In other words, it’s not technically a “chord” because it only has two notes.

Due to one less note, most beginners would assume that power chords are easier to play. While true in theory, the importance of learning music theory should not be de-emphasized. In order to learn power chords effectively, you will NEED to really understand the names of the notes on the neck of the guitar.

Interesting enough, power chords have a history that dates back to the birth of blues music although the guitar technique was probably not fully realized and used effectively until the 90s grunge era. At that time, most bands relied on power chords almost exclusively, as they were simply easier to play and more appropriate for the genre when compared to “traditional chords”.

Power chords are incredibly versatile in the sense that you can literally move them up and down the guitar neck. This is not possible with regular chords, therefore giving it yet another distinct advantage. Again, this is where your knowledge of the note locations on the guitar neck will really come in handy.

Remember: Each power chord only contains two notes — the root note and another note called the “fifth”. The power chord does NOT contain the note which traditionally tells us whether the chord is major or minor. Consequently, power chords are neither defined as major or minor chords.

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Additional notes:

  • Guitarists may optionally omit the pinky finger on a power chord to strum the two-note chord we discussed (above). However, some guitarists will still stick with the full, three-note version as it tends to sound more “full”.
  • Another common technique for three-note power chords is to play the root note with the first finger and then let the third finger cover the other two notes. As a result, still only two fingers are technically needed.
  • Power chords ideally sound best with moderate to maximum distortion, although personal preferences may differ.

Everything Country Guitar

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

So you dig country music. It’s your scene. You love the Southern twang, the heartfelt lyrics and generally depressing subject matter.

Today, our focus is on learning aspects of the guitar that are specific to country music.

Check it out…

Country Chords

Although the “current country scene” has produced a little more diverse (and much more pop) sound with artists like Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift; in my opinion the true country sound was made famous by the older acts, legends like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash who often used a rather basic sound to let their amazing songwriting shine. Which is really what country music is all about.

In order to nail county you should get a good grasp on the basic chords. The essential guitar chords for country music include D, G, C, A and E. They obviously progress from there. The beautiful thing about country music is that it’s a perfect fit for songwriters (who also play the guitar) because it is one of the few genres still that does include a ton of unnecessary noise. It’s basic and to the point.

Country Rhythm

Get rhythm when you get the blues/
Come on, get rhythm when you get the blues/
A jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine/
It’ll shake all the trouble from your worried mind/
Get rhythm when you get the blues/

Johnny Cash may have not been the most skilled musician of all-time but he was an incredible songwriter with that notorious deep voice. His hit “Get Rhyhtm” was all about turning to music when you “get the blues” and yes…rhythm is part of the sound that you love. Rhythm guitar will take some time to learn. My best advice is to listen to a lot of country (which you might or might not already be doing) and practice on basic rhythm patterns and strumming daily.

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Country Scales

Forget country, in any preferred genre learning the scales that truly make music tick is one of the most important early lessons for an aspiring guitarist. The blues were very innovative with scales so a lot can be learned by studying such ground-breaking discoveries as the 12 Bar Blues. Learn them early!

Country Songwriting

In the end, great country music comes down to the songwriting. Country music is a great avenue for beginners because the old-school style is fairly basic but that does not mean country music is also a weak genre. It’s not. What really makes country is the songwriting! If you love to play guitar but also love songwriting then this genre is a great place for you to become the next country legend.

Country Music Resources:

Country Music — Wikipedia
Goodwin Music

Phenomenal Guitar Apps

Monday, December 13th, 2010

If you’ve been watching television of late you can probably testify to the abundance of Christmas ads. And if you’re someone who takes pride in being up-to-date on the latest electronic products you can also probably testify to easily one of the hottest gifts of Christmas 2010 — the Apple iPad.

I know my favorite iPad commercial is the one in which Apple quickly highlights many of the iPad’s incredible features including (drum roll please) the ability to hook up your electric guitar and use the small device as an amp!

Pretty cool, right?

What’s also great about any Apple product is the ability to download apps, many of which are free. So in celebration of the new iPad and that guitar amp feature, we thought ’tis the season to highlight some of the best guitar apps on the market.

Check it out…

ChordBank for Guitar

Everyone likes stuff that’s free. Consequently, ChordBank is awesome because you get access to over 1,300 guitar chords for the price of nothing. That’s zilch, zip, nada. Strum to hear any chord played out loud or pluck individual strings to pick out individual notes. It’s all there with 22 complete fingerings.


Gibson Learn & Master Guitar

You may recognize Learn & Master Guitar, one of GLC’s top five rated guitar courses available. You may also recognize Gibson guitars, arguably the most famous guitar manufacture in the world. Together? They form quite a potent combination — the Gibson Learn & Master Guitar.

This application provides you with essential tools to help you become a better guitar player as well as free full length lessons from the award winning Learn & Master Guitar.



Don’t own a guitar?

PocketGuitar is a good place to start. It will transform your iPhone or iPod touch into a virtual guitar. Users can press and strum strings and when they get tired of being the next Slash, of course you can always jam out with the electric bass or ukulele. PocketGuitar also has some really sweet distortion effects as well.


Fret Surfer Guitar Trainer

The Fret Surfer Guitar Trainer is seriously worth noting (no pun intended). For the price of $3 (less than a bottle of water these days), owners can learn every…single…note on the guitar. It’s a great resource with tons of customizable features.



GuitarToolKit features both a stellar reputation (very highly rated on iTunes) and loads of killer guitar utilities. The tuner is amazingly accurate and you also get a library of over 500,000 chords.


Do you agree with our list? If not, what fantastic apps can you add?


Strum Guitar with Big Fingers: Myth or Reality?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

It’s true, we’re all created differently. It’s also true that some of us have bigger fingers than others. Thus, is it harder (gasp) if not impossible to play the guitar for some with large fingers?

Myth or reality?

Granted, GLC has received it’s fair share of people who claim that the guitar is just not meant for them.

Fact! The vast majority of guitarists will find a reliable excuse for not mastering the guitar. Fact! Fat fingers are a liability but one that you can overcome. In reality, learning the guitar with ”bigger fingers than average” is both a vice but not a complete hazard. You can rock with big fingers but it’s going to take a little extra patience. For now, here are a few tips for those who find big fingers an unwanted hurrdle to their guitar playing.

TIP #1: Buy a Guitar with a wide neck

The primary complaint with big finger guitarists is that “my fingers are too big or fat”. Thus, they have trouble fretting the strings accurately. The strings buzz because the fingers are too wide to fit the strings. Well, the easiest remedy is simply to invest in a guitar with a wider neck. Acoustic guitarists should look into a “jumbo” body guitar as they have the widest neck. Electric guitarists? How about a Gibson Les Paul style rather than a strat or telecaster style? Sure, it’s a minute difference but like football, every inch counts, right?

TIP #2: Use a Plectrum for the right hand

A plectrum is a nice aide for those with big fingers as the strumming and plucking will be substantially easier. Highly recommended for beginners, you’ll learn to strum well as you advance.

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TIP #3: Innovative Chord Techniques 

Cover the old-school guitarists because this is going to hit them hard. You do NOT have to play all chords exactly how the local guide or Internet expert expert advices. Simply, many chords may be played the exact same way with one less finger (the A major is a prime example). The bottom line is that if you find it easier to strum the chord with two rather than three fingers please strum the chord with ONLY TWO FINGERS!


Truthfully, you can master the guitar with fat fingers. In fact, some advantages even exist to having such a dilemma (bar chords anyone?). Regardless, we all find roadblocks in our attempt to learn the guitar. The point is to overcome those issues and enjoy something that not only you’ve invest time but also money into.


Guitar Basics and Theory

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Before you pick up the guitar for the first time you should know a few simple yet very important basics (or rules if you will) to the guitar. Like any new hobby, the individual improves over consistent and effective practice. If you pick up bad habits early on they’ll be very hard to break later.

Key point: Learn the right way from the beginning.

Aches and Pains

Your fingers will hurt for awhile. This is inevitable. One of the biggest complaints new guitarists gripe about is pain in the fingers. The truth of the matter is that you’re using new muscles in a different way and they’re going to get sore. Think about the first time you went snowboarding or ice skating. Were you really sore the next day? Same thing goes for learning the guitar. Thankfully it will not last after a good month of playing.

Accuracy is better than Speed

If you’re into the guitar because you want to learn it fast, than you are in it for all the wrongs reasons. Likewise, just because you play fast does not mean that you are in fact a good guitarist. Take time with each lesson (even the most mundane) and follow the instructions slowly in order to ensure that you do not pick up bad habits.

Technique is Important

At times you will come across a technique and might even feel that it’s easier to do this your own way. This is especially true with chords, as sometimes the fingers and positions listed do not appear to make a lot of sense….YET. Keep in mind that many techniques have you position your hands and fingers a certain way because later on this hand and finger is important for transitioning quickly to say, another chord.

Practice is NOT a Chore

The moment it becomes one, the second you should drop playing. Keep in mind that you got into the guitar because it looked like something entertaining to do. Push yourself in practice but always keep it lively.

You Can’t Do it Alone

There are several hobbies that you can learn on your own. The guitar, is not one of those. The cold hard truth is that you need help. Thankfully, the internet is very fertile when it comes to guitar lessons, instructional videos, and other material designed to improve your skills. Not only that, but they are more affordable than ever before.

Click Here! For our outstanding review of some of the greatest online guitar courses on the Web.

Now, to guitar music theory…

Guitar music theory is something you may have heard about before. It’s the idea of applying musical theory to the guitar in order to recognize patterns or styles of music. Understanding this theory will enable you to play any style of music because you will see that music can be broken down into parts. It’s the science of music.

Music theory applies to the guitar through scales, steps, chords, and chord progressions. Each of these aspects contribute to the overall song. If you learn these, than you will learn all of the components of the science of the song.

One online guitar expert likes to compare guitar music theory to a recipe. For example, if I was to say that I’m making supper and I needed the following: tortilla, rice, beans, chicken, salsa, and cheese - you would assume that I’m making a delicious burrito. Which is true.

Furthermore, the scales, steps, chords, and chord progressions are the key ingredients of a great song. The better each of these ingredients are, the more well defined and unique the taste.

To make a song you need to incorporate different terms like: a major scale, a chord progression, and rhythm. A scale is typically a major or minor scale. It represents the relationship that notes have to each other.

The C Major Scale, for example, is defined as: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.
A G Major Scale is defined as: G A B C D E F# G.

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Each of these feature what is known as a step sequence. The step sequence utilizes such terms as “whole” or “half steps”.

The C Major for example: C whole step, D whole step, E half step, F whole step, G whole step, A whole step, B half step C.

After you understand the scales and steps, you must progress to the chords. A chord is like a scale as you typically only hear two types - major and minor chords.

A C Major chords looks like this: (C E G), the intervals that define this are: C 2 steps E 1.5 steps G. A major chord is defined as: 2 steps – second note – 1.5 steps – third note and a minor chord is defined as: 1.5 steps – second note – 2 steps – third note.

Time to progress to the progressions – the chord progressions that is. If you can start to add these variations in to the progression: ACE, DFA, CEG, FAC, GBD, EGB, and BEG you will have ultimately achieved a song. You may of course alternate what chords you want to play. 

Learn these simple terms and you have in fact unlocked the foundation to the song. If you do the dirty work now, the basics, theory, and terminology of the guitar will ultimately improve your overall intelligence and appreciation for the guitar.

The CAGED Method

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I promise you that The CAGED Method is not a name of a band (although that would be pretty sweet). The CAGED Method, is in fact, a simple way to learn the sheer basics of the guitar.

What is The CAGED Method?

It’s a method that is designed to get your fingers use to switching chords quickly and ultimately building up strength and dexterity in your hands. The method is titled as such because it educates the beginner guitarist on the main chords that are in the majority of songs. And what exactly are those chords? The C, A, G, E & D.

To learn more about each chord, click the following links: C, A, G, E, D. Or, keep reading to learn more about the CAGED method below.

The primary purpose of the CAGED system is to learn the fretboard. Guitarists who incorporate this technique will also learn just about any scale.


In order to begin, the guitarist should look at the octave shapes formed by the Root Notes of each of these chords. The Root Notes are the red notes above. It’s important that you learn these so well that you don’t need to think about them. As you get better at finding the notes on the fretboard you will find it easy to find these chords in any position almost instantly.

By removing all of the notes except for the octave shapes, you can see these patterns more clearly. Note that what you are left with are all the possible ways of fingering movable Octave Patterns.

If the guitarist proceeds to arrange the notes so that they form the word “CAGED,” the individual will then be able to chart every note on the entire fretboard.

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If you practice these chord positions regularly until you know them by heart and make sure you practice them in all twelve keys, you will eventually master the CAGED technique. Practice and working on the twelve keys is incredibly important. If you can’t use them in all keys, then you are never going to see any benefit from using this method.

The other primary use of the CAGED system is to help with guitar solos. The chord shapes and positions learned through the CAGED method is instrumental in the foundation needed to discover chord tones, arpeggios, and scales anywhere on the fretboard. You can discover this wealth of information very quickly if you are indeed familiar with the method.

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A great guitar solo isn’t just about choosing the right scale (that’s easy to do for most chord progressions) but is related to the accurate and creative use of chord tones. Scales can be put to good use in a decent guitar lead, however they are often used as the core, the foundation if you like. The best solo’s have character.

They always fit the music perfectly and most of the time this is done by knowing the best notes to use at the best time. Some have the “ear” for a guitar solo while others will learn the proper use of chord tones through practice techniques like The CAGED Method.

Produce Great Guitar Tabs

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

For those of you who are new to the guitar, you may be wondering what exactly is a “guitar tab”?

Great question.

A guitar tab is a term used by guitarists that derives from the word “tablature,” or “a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.”


Several years back, someone came up with an idea that would help amateur guitarists learn songs quicker. And thus the “guitar tab” was born. Guitar tabs provided an ideal alternative to reading actual sheets of music. We like to call it “Sheet Music for Dummies.” Instead of attempting to read the notes and break down the content that way, some genius (or geniuses) discovered a way that even a ten year old could understand.

The guitar tab has saved or destroyed the industry depending on the person you ask. The purists view it as “an easy way out.” The 21st generation appears to generally accept it as the way of the future.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the term “tablature” originates from the Latin word “tabulatura”? In Latin, tabula is a table or slate. To tabulate something means to put it into a table or chart.

While standard musical notation represents the rhythm and duration of each note and its pitch relative to the scale based on a twelve tone division of the octave; tablature is instead operationally based, indicateing where and when a finger should be placed to generate a note. Thus, the pitch is denoted implicitly rather than explicitly.

The rhythmic symbols of tablature inform the musician when to start a note, but usually do no indicate when to stop sounding it. Consequently, the duration is at the discretion of the performer to a greater extent than is the case in conventional musical notation.

When dealing with guitar tabs, the number of resources available on the web are incredibly diverse. However, while this wealth of knowledge is generously available to anyone –  it does not exactly mean that all guitar tabs posted on the web are A) correct, B) correct, and C) correct.

The Guitar Tab

Below is a guitar tab from the Red Hot Chili Peppers that was posted on

Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: By The Way
Song: Zephyr Song

h = hammer
b = bend
x = scratch
r = release











Verse 2


Chorus 2







Bridge 2









If you have never seen a guitar tab before, the above language may look like something fresh off the Matrix. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as complicated. And the acting is much better…

The guitar tab presents the six strings on the guitar, starting with the high e and working all the way down to the low E. The number on each string is the fret at which you play the note. So, for example, if it reads “6″ on A, the guitarist will locate the A string and slide down six frets from the top of the guitar neck. Boom! That’s your note.

If the numbers are stacked on top of each other (as is the case with a lot of “Zephyr”), the tab is informing you to play a chord. Place all your fingers on the strings (according to the tab) and strum. Boom! That’s your chord. Most guitar tabs will provide a key at the top, just like the one for “Zephyr.” An “o” will generally indicate a string you play with the chord that is open. Other symbols like “h” (hammer on), “b” (bend), and “r” (release) are used to describe advanced guitar techniques.

There are numerous benefits to guitar tabs with the most important being an easy way to learn a song when you cannot read sheet music. However, there are also several disadvantages to guitar tabs. Guitar tabs are easy to pick-up, but as we mentioned previously, they’re not always 100% correct. Most guitar tab web sites do provide a rating system in which users can rate the accuracy of each guitar tab. Use this to your advantage and only consult guitar tabs with a 5 star rating (from four or more individuals).

Also, guitar tabs fail to tell you how long you should play a specific note or chord. If you are very familiar with the song, the length of the note or chord should come fairly natural. The best recommendation is to listen to the actual recording while you attempt to learn the song.

Produce Your Own Guitar Tabs

As you become more proficient with the guitar, you may or may not desire to produce your own guitar tabs. If this is something that you would like to do eventually, please take the task seriously. It’s important to remember that your tab could possibly educate hundreds if not thousands of others on the specific song. You need to treat the tab with care.

1. Be accurate. This is by far the most important rule. If the tablature or chords are not correct then the guitar player will fail to learn. Play along with the song and ensure that every note is 100% accurate. Also, make sure you provide additional details such as if a capo or a different tuning is required.

2. Use correct chord names. Every combination of notes has a name so make sure you find the right one for each chord. Otherwise, if the chord is used in another person’s tab correctly, it will sound wrong and probably upset the guitarist.

3. Be a fan. The reader will trust your tab(s) more if they know it is coming from someone who really enjoys the band song. The first thing in your tab after the song name and artist should be a short sentence about how much you like this song and/or artist.

4. Do not be meticulous. Guitar players do not want to be treated like babies, so do not try to map out every single beat and tell them when to use upstroke/downstroke. The beginner guitarist that is reading your tab has more than likely already heard the song and is familiar with the content.

5. Tab a new song. You will find that a lot of songs are “tabbed” over and over again. This is done for a reason. The song is very popular and a lot of people want to learn how to play it. However, how many people do you think will truly consult your tab when a million other “Hotel California” tabs exist. Tab a new song or one that does not have many tabs on the internet.

Fun Fact: According to, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin is by far the most coveted of all guitar tabs.