Music Theory for Guitar: Major Scales

I’ve talked before about the music theory behind guitar scales some, but for this guitar lesson, I want to back up just a bit.

In that lesson, we learned that a scale is simply a group of notes (pitches) arranged in ascending and descending order. There are different types of scales: major, pentatonic, melodic minor, harmonic minor, whole tone, etc. We’re not going to get into the differences between each one in this lesson, but we are going to look explicitly at the major scale. Most of the music we hear on the radio is based on the major scale, so if we know the major scale, this will give us a huge foundation from which we’ll learn other things in the future.

Before we talk more about the major scale, we need to know about half steps and whole steps. All of the pitches (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) are separated by whole steps except that E to F and B to C are separated by half steps.

If you start on the 1st fret of the low E string, which is an F note, and move up one fret to the 2nd fret of the low E string, which is an F#, you’ve moved up one half step. If you were to move up two frets, you would have moved up a whole step. A whole step equals two half steps. […]

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Guitar Scales for Beginners 101

Learning guitar scales is one of the best ways to start learning how to solo and improvise over the guitar fretboard. In this guitar lesson, we will not only learn two guitar scales: major and pentatonic, but we’ll also learn when to use these scales and when not to use them.

Major Guitar Scale

In a previous lesson, we learned the theory behind a major scale. We learned exactly what makes a major scale a major scale and how to build a major scale from any starting note. For this lesson, let’s look at the C major scale on the guitar fretboard. […]

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How to Transpose or Change the Key of a Chord Chart

What do you do if you find a chord chart of your favorite song, but it’s not in the right key?

The term transpose simply refers to changing the key of a song. You can transpose a piece to either a lower pitch or a higher pitch. So for example, you find a chord chart is in the key of A but you want to play it in the key of G. Surprisingly, this isn’t very difficult to do if you know a small bit of the theory behind it.

Let’s look at this.

Scales and Roman Numerals

Each song is generally based upon a scale. Most popular songs that you play on the guitar are based on the major scale. There are seven notes in a scale. So in the key of C major, you have the notes: C D E F G A B.

The chords of that song are then built off of each note of the scale, which would give you seven chords for that key. However, each of these chords will have a different sound. Based upon a major scale, some chords will be major, others minor, and one chord will be diminished.

We don’t have time to look into how each of these chords are built, but a major scale has this structure, which can be represented by roman numerals:

I ii iii IV V vi vii^o

The uppercase roman numerals represent major chords. The lowercase roman numerals represent minor chords. The lowercase roman numeral with the superscript circle represents a diminished chord.

So let’s take a C major scale and use the above roman numerals. In a C major scale, you will have the following chords […]

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Guitar Games Review: Learn Guitar & Fight Space Monsters

Lately, we’ve had some great lessons about guitar scales, learning the fretboard, and theory. If we’re really honest though, this stuff isn’t always very fun to digest. However, unbeknownst to me until just lately, there is a fun way to put all of this material into practice.

Just recently, I received an email from William Wilson, a classical guitarist from San Diego. William has put together a very fun and interactive resource created to help you learn the guitar fretboard, guitar scales, and theory called Guitar Games. I asked William if he would let me try it out and write up a review, and he gave me the okay.

Guitar Games Features
The goal of Guitar Games is to help you learn the guitar fretboard, guitar scales, theory, and how to read music. They’ve created a variety of interactive and fun games to help you learn all of this information that can often times be very boring.

I was pretty skeptical when I first received William’s email. I was honestly expecting the games to be cheesy and not very helpful. How can you possible make theory and learning the fretboard fun? It seems like a paradox.

However, I was pretty surprised once I took a look. […]

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3 Reasons Why You Should Know Some Music Theory

Music theory. You know, it’s the way we understand how music functions and operates. If we’re honest, it can be kind of boring. It can be dry and tedious. For some, it can just be plain scary and nonsensical.

I love playing music, but I can’t say I fall head over heels for music theory. Maybe you’re like me.

However, understanding a little bit of music theory for guitar can only help us and make us better off as guitarists and those who compose or write songs with the guitar. Here are some reasons why.

1.) You Gain a Better Understanding of the Guitar Fretboard.

Music theory helps us understand how the notes on a guitar fretboard connect into the music we play. When we have a little bit of understanding of theory, the notes on the fretboard aren’t just merely notes, but there is actually a connection between them, and they relate and function together in a particular way. If we understand how the notes connect and relate to one other, how much more easily can we then creatively express ourselves through our guitar playing.

2.) You Gain a Better Understanding For How Chords Function.

Different chords have different characteristics such as major, minor, augmented, or diminished. It’s in a better understanding of music theory that we understand how different chords are characteristic to different scales and how those chords function in those scales. In our understanding of music theory, we also learn how to […]

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Guitar Scale Anatomy: the Theory Behind a Major Scale

Note: This is Part 2 of “Guitar Scale Anatomy.” Guitar Scale Anatomy: Part 1 can be found here.

In Part 1 of Guitar Scale Anatomy, we started to look at how guitar scales function, so we can have a better understanding of how these scales relate to the songs we play. We provided a working definition of a scale and looked at how half steps and whole steps between notes contribute to the formation of a scale.

As you can recall, the way the half steps and whole steps are arranged between notes in a scale are one of the ways that give the scale a particular quality such as major or minor.

For this part, I’m going to reference back to our previous examples in which I gave you two “E” scales. While both were “E” scales, one was an “E” major scale and the other was […]

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Guitar Scale Anatomy: Theory Explained Behind Guitar Scales

In this lesson, we look at how the notes of a guitar scale interact and relate with one another. When I first started playing guitar, it was suggested that I learn guitar scales up and down the guitar neck so I could learn the guitar fretboard. However, learning patterns will only get you so far. You need to know how the notes function in a guitar scale so you know how to use them to improvise and crafts solos and lead lines. […]

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