Guitar Theory

Guitar Theory

This section of the free guitar lesson course is divided into two sections: Scales and Guitar Chord Theory. First we will learn how scales are constructed and then we will study how chords are formed using what we have learned about scales. If you really want to learn to play guitar you have to have an understanding of guitar music theory. Which really just means how everything goes together.

Guitar Theory Scales

Although our notes start with the ‘A’, all scale studies start with the ‘C’ major scale. The reason for this is simple: only the ‘C’ major scale contains no flats or sharps. Now we have other scales in other keys that also contain no flats or sharps but they are actually something we call “modes” and are in reality the ‘C’ major scale being played in another key. So my original statement stands: only the ‘C’ major scale contains no flats or sharps. Here is the ‘C’ major scale:

cmajor Guitar Theory

WHOA! What the #$** is that?
Okay, let’s make it a little simpler:

c scale Guitar Theory

As you remember each fret on our guitar is 1/2 step in a scale. Look at the spacing between the notes of the ‘C’ major scale. It goes something like this:

C-whole step-D-whole step-E-half step-F-whole step-G-whole step-A-whole step-B-half step-C

We can also write it like this:

C-2 frets-D-2 frets-E-1 fret-F-2 frets-G-2 frets-A-2 frets-B-1 step-C

If we take any scale numbering the notes we find that the major scale ALWAYS follows this pattern:


w=whole step   h=half step

   w     w     h     w     w    w     h
1  ^  2  ^  3  ^  4  ^  5  ^  6 ^  7  ^  8

By learning to play this simple pattern on your guitar (whole step, whole step,half step,whole step,whole step,half step) we can figure out the major scale of any root note. The root note of our major scale also determines what “key” a song is in. In other words all songs in the key of ‘G’ are built around the ‘G’ major scale. And speaking of the ‘G’ major scale; using the above formula we can determine the scale contains the following notes:

G – A – B – C – D – E – F#(sharp) – G

Remember that there are no notes between the ‘E’ and ‘F’, or the ‘B’ and ‘C’. This is crucial bit of information that will trip you up something fierce if you try to build scales without remembering it.
Here is what the ‘G’ major scale looks like on your guitar:

g scale Guitar Theory

Here is the same scale played in a different manner on you neck:

g scale2 Guitar Theory

And another way:

g scale3 Guitar Theory

Learn this pattern and practice playing it with different starting notes and using different strings. Try a new scale each day and see how many ways you can play it. If you replace the notes of the ‘G’ major scale with the numbers 1-8 you can use the above patterns to find the major scale of every key. Just move the pattern until the number 1 is on the root note of the scale you need to find. This is one of the beauties of learning theory on the guitar; once you learn a neck pattern you can transfer it to any key by sliding it up or down the neck.

2 Responses to Guitar Theory

  1. Raymond says:

    what can I say; but thank you.

  2. ask says:

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