Archive for the ‘Scales’ Category

The Importance of Guitar Scales

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Several explanations for the importance of guitar scales exist on the Web yet the one that makes the most sense to GLC is to compare guitar scales to the weight of your guitar expertise. You can play the guitar without much knowledge in regards to guitar scales, but at some point you’ll really want to learn them unless you want to be a lightweight. Guitar scales teach beginners how to solo and improvise and your understanding of not only the guitar, but music, will improve when you pick them up.

Do you want to be a light or heavy-weight?

Guitar scales are important because they essentially introduce you to the fretboard. These days you can skip learning the scales by reading the tablature of your favorite tunes, however when it’s time to understand how to create and form your own leads, solos, licks, etc you will be gravely behind.

What is a scale?

A scale is a group of notes arranged in ascending and descending order designed to express the types of notes used in a song or designate the key of the song. In other words, songs are composed based on a particular scale. Once you know that scale you subsequently know what notes you can play in the solo and what notes are off limits. Thus, the scale basically tells you what sounds good and what sounds bad based on the given scale.

…Now you should be able to understand why learning guitar scales from the beginning is important. It’s what separates the trained guitarist from the novice.

Understanding Guitar Scales

Guitar scales are composed of whole and half steps. The half step is when you move from one fret to the next on any given string (i.e. 1st to 2nd fret). The whole step is when you skip one fret to the next note (i.e. 1st fret to 3rd fret). Essentially, half steps mean you only slide one fret down while whole steps require you to jump, or skip a fret.

Whole steps and half steps are important in regards to guitar scales because each scale has a particular pattern. Thus, if you know where the half and whole steps are on the scale you will quickly be able to reach the notes designed for a solo. At first, learning guitar scales is confusing and challenging largely because you’re still learning the scales and unaware of the correct steps. Consequently, you need to practice popular guitar scales daily until they’re memorized.

Popular Guitar Scales

The first two guitar scales (and most popular) you need to learn are the Major and Pentatonic Scale.

Music theory teaches us that there are seven major notes — A,B,C,D,E,F,G. When someone says let’s play “C Major” they are referring to the Major Scale with the note C as its root. The root note is the first note in the scale and gets everything started. Now that you understand the correct steps in the Major Scale you can play the other notes that compose the “C Major Scale” – C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C (one octave lower).

Did you know — The majority of popular music is based on the major scale? Once you learn the key, find the root on the fretboard and know the pattern of the Major Scale you will have the notes that blend well for a solo or lick.

The Pentatonic Guitar Scale features both a major and minor version. Instead of being a heptatonic scale (seven note like the Major Guitar Scale, above), the Pentatonic scale is composed of only five notes per octave. The composition of the Pentatonic scale makes it very popular in music used around the world because any pitches of this scale may be played in any order or combination without clashing sonically.

The Pentatonic scale removes the 4th and 7th scale degrees of the Major Scale, which means that in comparison to the example (above) the C Major Pentatonic Scale would read: C,D,E,G,A,C (one octave lower). Note that the second C does not count in either scale (it’s just one octave lower) thus warranting the seven and five note scales.

The Importance of Guitar Scales

The Major Scale is very common in popular music and the Pentatonic Scale is an outstanding scale for solos because when you use it over any chord progression it’s difficult to make it sound “bad”. Thus, if you need a good starting point for scales master the Major and Pentatonic Scale.

Master Jazz Guitar

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Jazz is one of the most important and influential genres of music that was EVER created. From its origins in the beginning of the 20th century to present day, jazz music has not only made an impact as a genre but also influenced American popular music.

Therefore, jazz’s West African pedigree is evident today with its blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation and the swung note. Guitarists who desire to learn jazz guitar will ultimately learn about several subgenres of jazz music:

  • 1910s — New Orleans Dixieland
  • 1930s and 1940s — Big Band Swing
  • mid-1940s — Bebop
  • 1950s and 1960s — Free Jazz
  • 1970s — Jazz Fusion
  • 1980s — Acid Jazz (include Funk & Hip-Hop)
  • 1990s — Nujazz

Think about it. What other genre of music do you know that has been around since the 20th century in America, spread around the world and its aesthetics adapted to varied environments and many different distinctive styles?

If you want to be a great guitarist it’s only natural that you want to master jazz guitar. What do you need to know?

Guitar Scales

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The Modes

What are modes? How do you play them on guitar? What do they have to do with improvisation?

The Bebop Scale

The bebop scale, a technique first used by Charlie Parker and other pioneer bebop musicians, is at the foundation of jazz music. Learn the Bebop scale and you’ve made the first step toward mastering jazz guitar.

The Lydian Dominant Scale

Tritone substitution is a common substitution for dominant chords. The lydian dominant scale is the scale you can use to improvise over such chords.

The Pentatonic Scale for Jazz Guitar

The pentatonic scale (or blues scale) is usually the first scale you learn on the guitar. Learning about how groundbreaking the pentatonic scale is not only important for mastering jazz guitar but music in general.

Pentatonic scales are often used to do a guitar solo in blues, rock and pop music, but they are also very useful in jazz.

The Altered Scale

The altered scale is used to improvise over dominant chords with altered extensions.


Ready for that “jazz sound”? Chromatics allow you to put some jazz into your guitar scales

Minor Blues Guitar Scales

There is always a major scale and a minor scale. Look into some of the more important minor blues guitar scales to understand the basic concepts of jazz.

Exotic Guitar Scales

What are exotic guitar scales? If you really want a challenge look into Arabian, Japanese, Oriental, Jewish, Indian, Gypsy and other exotic guitar scales.

Dissononance, Note Enclosure & Resolution

What is dissononance? Resolution? Note enclosure? Find out how these musical elements will allow you to master jazz guitar, particular solos.

Guitar Arpeggios & Jazz Patterns

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What exactly is an arpeggio? Furthermore, how would you classify a jazz guitar arpeggio? Understanding arpeggios and how they directly relate to jazz guitar is essential to the experience.

Jazz Guitar Patterns

Patterns are small melodic or rhythmic building blocks for your guitar solos and phrases.

Triads Over Minor Chords

Create interesting melodic phrases on minor chords by alternating triads. The result is a more diversified sound.

Jazz Style

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As previously mentioned, there are several different styles of jazz. Do you want to master Latin guitar? Bebop? Master jazz guitar in general. A few of the vital subgenres of jazz:

  • Bebop
  • Gypsy Jazz Guitar
  • Jazz Blues Guitar
  • Latin Guitar

Guitar Technique & Practice Essentials

If you really want to master jazz guitar it’s going to take some time. Thankfully, a ton of phenomenal resources exist on the Web. Of course, you can always check out one of our top rated guitar courses to really learn jazz guitar HERE!

Stay disciplined with great practice techniques (warm-up exercises, finger stretching exercises, timing drills) and you’re well on your way to learning jazz guitar. If you love jazz music then you have the necessary interest to stay the course and one day learn to play your favorite songs!

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!

Quick Music Term Reference

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

When you first pick up a guitar (especially if you bought one of those “starter/beginner packs”) it’s really easy to take the guitar out of the box, hook-up the amp and start playing.

However, somewhere between that point in time and the day when you become comfortable playing the guitar (likely a few months down the road) a lot of guitarists generally miss out on something that is fundamental to not only the guitar but music. What is it? An understanding of musical theory, philosophies and most importantly terms.

If you have played guitar for months or years you likely understand a lot of the terms below without actually knowing their name. However, it’s important to get the language down to truly consider yourself a musician.

Thankfully, we have put together a collection of commonly used, yet often confusing words that relate to music. Do your homework and your understanding of music will increase just that much more.

Chord: two or more notes played simultaneously.

Chord Tone: selected notes of a chord (i.e. G, B and D are all chord tones of a G major chord).

Fifth: an interval composed of seven half steps. The interval between the 1st and 5th step of the major scale is a fifth, or perfect fifth.

Flat: the musical symbol that indicates to lower the pitch of a note by one half step (reference half step).

Half Step: distance of one fret on fret board.

Interval: the distance between two pitches.

Key: tonal center or main pitch to which all others in a composition are related.

Major 3rd: an interval composed of four half steps (or four frets). The interval between the 1st and 3rd step of the major scale is a major third.

Major Chord: a chord consisting of root, major 3rd and perfect 5th.

Major Scale: the seven note scale to which all Western (American and European) music is compared. The major scale is: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step OR symbolized by the “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do” saying. The G minor notes in order are G, A, B, C, D, E, F.

Minor Chord: a chord consisting of root, minor 3rd and perfect 5th.

Minor Scale: seven note scale with the following intervallic formula: whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, and whole step.

Minor Scale (Pentatonic): five note scale derived from the natural minor scale. The Pentatonic scale leaves out the 2nd and 6th steps of the natural minor scale, creating the following intervallic formula: minor 3rd, whole step, whole step, minor 3rd, whole step.

Minor 3rd: an interval composed of three half steps (or three frets).

Mute: to muffle or lightly muffle desired strings. Can be achieved by lightly touching the strings with the fingers of the fretting hand or with the heel of the picking hand.

Octave: an interval composed of 12 half steps.

Open string: when a string is played but not fretted.

Root: the lowest note of a chord in the fundamental position (i.e. G is the root of a G chord).

Scale: a series of tones that follow an intervallic formula within one octave.

Sharp: the musical symbol that indicates to raise the pitch of a note one half step.

Tonic: the key note of a scale (i.e. A is the tonic of the A minor pentatonic scale).

Vibrato: the sound achieved by wavering the pitch of a specific note.

Whole Step: distance of two half steps (or two frets).

Want more music theory? Visit or They are both phenomenal references for beginner music theory.

5 Useful Guitar Scales

Monday, March 7th, 2011

When it comes to the guitar, scales harmonize the organization of music. What we mean by this is that without guitar scales the instrument would be much more difficult to understand and play, therefore likely not making it near as popular.

As we all know, most Western music divides the musical octave (when one note is twice as high as another) into 12 sections, called semitones. On the guitar, each semitone is represented by a fret. Scales start and stop on the octave, and the most common scales (Major and Minor) consists of seven different notes, other scales may use more or less than seven notes.

Therefore, if you know the pattern of a particular scale you can seemingly move that same pattern anywhere on the fret board to adjust to a particular key.

Several different scales exist (major to minor, blues to pentatonic) but today we wanted to examine five important guitar scales/modes that you may have never heard of before.

1. Dorian

The Dorian scale, or mode, is the second of the seven musical modes. It is similar to the natural minor except for the raised sixth. The Dorian scale is the minor scale that appears when a major scale is started from the second note (second scale-degree). In order for Dorian to be part of the system the notes have to be exactly the same as the parent major scale’s notes (i.e. a major built on the second degree of the parent scale will have its third and seventh degree lowered a half step).

Check out the Dorian positions.

2. Ionian

The major scale, identical to the Ionian mode, is the cornerstone of western music for over five hundred years. As with other diatonic scales, the major scale is made up of seven notes (eight if you include the octave). The Ionian scale, or mode, is the first of the seven musical modes. This major scale is also the parent scale to six other scales known as the “church modes”.

Check out the Ionian positions.

3. Lydian

Lydian is another major mode that is built on the fourth degree of the Ionian mode. The formula is as follows: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7. Lydian is only one note different than Ionian but the one alteration, the raised fourth degree, makes a huge impact. The Lydian scale is the scale that appears when a major scale is played with the fourth note (fourth scale-degree) as the root.

Check out the Lydian positions.

4. Mixolydian

Mixolydian is the fifth of the seven musical modes. It is similar to the major scale except for the lowered seventh. The Mixolydian scale is the scale that appears when a major scale is played with the fifth note (fifth scale-degree) as the root. Similar to Lydian, Mixolydian’s single alteration adds a whole new spectrum to the guitar’s sound.

Check out the Mixolydian positions.

5. Phrygian

The third of seven musical modes is the Phrygian scale. It is similar to the natural minor except for the lowered second. The Phrygian scale is the minor scale that appears when a major scale is started from the third note (third scale-degree). Phrygian has a borderline dark side with a deceptively catchy feel, too.

Check out the Phrygian positions.

Note: As with all of the scales/modes above, you will notice that the mode is the same as the C major. The difference? There is no difference; it’s the chords that create the magic. Playing a scale over a C major chord will sound exactly like playing a C major scale. However, playing a scale over a D minor chord will sound “Dorian” and so forth.

Train Your Ear — Theta Music Trainer

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Theta Music Trainer has a nice ring to it.


The program was constructed to provide a complete set of online games designed to teach the fundamental skills of music by utilizing the latest developments in music learning techniques. What exactly are the ”latest developments” in music learning techniques? How about a quicker, faster and potentially more effective way to learn music theory?. We’re talking about learning to play music by ear (and hopefully your heart) rather than being bogged down with too much theory taught in too many hours of class time.

Theta Music Trainer insists that despite the common misconception, you can develop a “natural ear” for music without having the natural ability from birth. The “natural ear”, rather, is an acquired skill. One taught through labor and practice.

Which leads us to the central point…

Regardless of your skill level, musicians share a common desire – a desire to demonstrate a ”better ear” when it comes to the music. A musician with a strong ear is ultimately more skilled and more confident. They can memorize music faster, more accurately, imagine melodies and utilize other assets necessary to become a better musician.

That’s where Theta Music Trainer believes they have the remedy. Where other “dry” courses left off, Theta was created with the purpose of injecting an element of fun and excitement into a musician’s daily ear training routine. For example, instead of simply doing the same drills over and over, the training is based around ten different games each designed to strengthen a particular area in the ”musicianship”.

Really? Something that can beat your traditional music theory class in high school? We’re interested.

What you have to really like about Theta Music Trainer is that the games are simple but very effective. You’re not getting a Ps3 (who would expect such on the ‘net) but you are getting a very productive gaming environment. Games are broken down into useful categories/fundamentals such as Melody, Harmony, Rhythm and Sound. You’ll still need to understand a few basics about music theory, however the “Beginner” lessons are fairly accessible for even the rawest talent.

Additionally, the games do not include two, three or even four levels of difficulty but twenty! I’m sorry, but I’m not even sure some of the highest selling games on the XBOX market do that kind of range. That’s certainly refreshing because whether you choose to pay per month ($7.95 p/ month) or per year ($4.50 p/ month), you want to make sure that you can stretch your money as far as possible.

What’s also great is that Theta Music Trainer provides a fairly extensive training and progress reports. Mix that with the opportunity for new subscribers to enroll in a 30-day course which breaks the training into daily workouts (balanced mix of ear training and music theory) and you have a quality package for a reasonable price.

For more information, check out:

Blues Guitar – The Essential Questions for Beginners

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Guitar Lessons Critic has always been drawn to the blues guitar. Do not ask us why. When you truly love an art, or a form of art (in this case blues music), sometimes you cannot truly describe why you love it. You can only feel it.

We always try to encourage a similar type of behavior when it comes to learning the guitar. Why? Like anything, you can over-think or over-analyze a new practice. Sure, you have to think when you learn the guitar. But you also have to let it come natural and sometimes just let your instincts take over.

The blues are quite possibly the greatest raw expression of emotions emulated through music. The blues have even expanded so far as to largely influence jazz as well as rock and roll. Consequently, it’s natural to want to learn an art that has been so influential on others.

…BUT the blues guitar is not for every beginner.

You must ask yourself three central questions. However, before we get into the specifics, let’s start with a very brief introduction of the blues and the crucial guitar elements to the genre.


Blues is a name representative of both a musical form and music genre that originated in African-American communities. The blues are characterized by the twelve-bar blues chord progressions and the blue notes. While based on a particular form, the blues genre also possesses other characteristics such as specific and often depressing lyrics, bass lines and instruments.

The guitar has generally played a very critical role to the blues…

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Question #1: Can YOU Play Chords?

Which brings us to the first question. Can you play guitar chords? If you cannot even play the most basic open chords, then blues guitar lessons are definitely not your most ideal starter lesson. Why? The basics of the blues revolve around the 12 bar blues pattern which requires you to understand the basic chords (A, B, C, D, E, F and G).

Chords are actually easier to learn than beginner guitarists might think at first glance. Several online videos and tutorials will present the basic knowledge and techniques needed to pick up these major and minor chords.

Question #2: Do YOU Understand the Guitar Neck?

We’re not talking about being able to locate the guitar neck on the instrument. We are, rather, talking about the knowledge or expertise that allows you to know the different places you can form chords on the neck. Yes, more than one location exists.

Do you understand the fret spacing between each note? If you have no idea what fret spacing is then, again, you’re probably not well suited for blues guitar lessons just yet. Fret spacing is a central element to blues because you essentially must memorize these in order to easily play blues chord progressions and scales in different keys.

You’ll probably note that most blues songs generally follow a very similar (and sometimes simple) pattern, but the trademark of the genre is how the guitarist often moves around the neck depending on the current key. If you are unsure of whether or not you’re playing in Key of A or Key of D then you should avoid blues lessons for now.

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Questions #3: Have YOU Ever Taken Lessons Before?

The term “beginner” is often tossed around loosely on GLC. When we talk about blues guitar for beginners we are assuming that you have some previous knowledge or instruction on the guitar. If you have never taken private lessons and/or learned from a self-taught course, then we would definitely advise you to spend at least two months to learn the sheer basics of the guitar before diving into blues guitar.

Terms to look up: string names, notes, chords, strumming techniques

Rest easy. You’ll be surprised by how fast you can pick up the basics of the guitar and how fast you can progress into blues guitar. However it would be a misconception to suggest that you can learn blues guitar from day one. Take the time to gain an understanding and appreciation for the guitar, and then transcend into the musical genre you desire to master.

…Until next time, best of luck strumming…

Essential Blues Scales

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Guitar scales in blues music are one of the most important factors to consider when playing blues guitar. If you fail to learn the fundamentals behind these vital gems, you will consequently fail to gain a real understanding of the notes you’re playing or how to eventually create your own sound.

Today’s lesson?

Discover the two essential blues scale patterns – pentatonic scale and blues scale:

Pentatonic Scale in E
E: Open & Three, A: Open & Two, D: Open & Two, G: Open & Two, B: Open & Three, E: Open & Three

Blues Scale in E
E: Open & Three, A: Open, One & Two, D: Open & Two, G: Open, Two & Three, B: Open & Three, E: Open & Three

(letters represent the strings and the numbers represent the frets)

If you studied the above diagram, you’ll easily note that the blues scale is more or less the same as the pentatonic. The only difference is the extra note, in this case, the Bb. This note plays an important function in blues guitar as it’s often referred to simply as “the blue note.”

The blue note is what gives the blues it’s unique style and sound. GLC could attempt to describe what this sound does to your music, but don’t you think it would be a lot more practical just to try it yourself? 

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The best way to play with the pentatonic and blues scales are with a backing track. It’s important to hear how the scales sound within the context of a song. See if you can locate something with a particular “blues feel” or merely build your own with such handy devices as the looper pedal.

Once you have the backing track, try to shred some licks. What exactly is a lick? Guitar licks are essentially phrases written using these scale shapes. Hence, they’re perfect for incorporating the scales interactively into the sound rather than just settling with a simple collection of notes.

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The world of improvisation (a trademark of the blues) is sure to open a broad understanding of the different blues scales and how they blend into the musical process. Thus, you must possess these basic skills in order to become a successful guitarist who can improvise and create brilliant riffs.

1. You should be able to visualize the scale on the fret board and play them instantly.
2. Your fingers should be able to instantly play each note of the scale on the entire fret board.
3. You must also know how many notes are there in the scale, what are their degrees and where you can exactly use a particular scale.
4. The last but not the least and the most important thing is to reproduce the scale in a musical way without the monotony of just playing the notes of the scales on the fret board.

If you fail to meet any of the four vitals above, than it’s a clear indication that your knowledge of guitar scales is less than 50 percent. Unfortunately, this will really affect your improvisation skills.

Fret not (no pun intended). The people who possess all of the above are in the minority and that is the minority group of “guitar masters.” It will take a lot of determination, hard work, and patience to become an expert.

Patience, it would seem, is the key to everything.

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.

YouTube Preview Image provides one of the best examples of the CAGED technique.

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.