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Electric Guitar Lessons

http://www.electric-guitar.co.uk/Lessons/

Contents
Introduction to the Electric Guitar..........................................................................5
How does the electric guitar work?.....................................................................5
The anatomy of the electric guitar.....................................................................5
First Notes...................................................................................................... ........8
Holding Your Electric Guitar................................................................................8
Sitting Down................................................................................. ...................8
Standing................................................................................... .......................8
Hand Position............................................................................................. .........8
Playing a Note..................................................................................................... 9
Congratulations................................................................................................10
Writing Down Electric Guitar Music......................................................................11
Tablature................................................................................................. ..........11
Chord Diagrams..................................................................................... ...........11
Changing Strings.................................................................................................13
Step-by-Step Guide..................................................................................... ......13
Tuning Up Your Guitar..........................................................................................15
The Basics........................................................................................................15
Tuning the Guitar to Itself ................................................................................15
Using Harmonics...................................................................................... .........16
Some Quick Tuning Tips....................................................................................16
Electronic Tuners............................................................................................... 17
Basic Musical Theory...........................................................................................18
Musical Notes...................................................................................................18
What is a Scale?...............................................................................................18
What is a Key? .................................................................................................18
The Basic Scales............................................................................. ..................19
Playing the Major Scale.................................................................................... .19
The Natural Minor Scale................................................................................. ...19
Introduction to Chords.........................................................................................21
The Theory....................................................................................................... .21
Major Chords.................................................................................................21

An Example: The C Major Chord ...................................................................21


Minor Chords.................................................................................................22
An Example: The C Minor Chord....................................................................22
Some Common Chords ....................................................................................23
Strumming.............................................................................................. ..........24
Where Now?................................................................................................... ...24
Songs to Develop the Basic Chords .................................................................24
Barre Chords....................................................................................... .................26
Why Moving the C Major Shape Up the Neck Does Not Work...........................26
The Solution................................................................................................. .....26
The Barre.......................................................................................... ................26
Playing Barre Chords........................................................................................27
The Major Shape Based on E.........................................................................27
Practising Barring..........................................................................................29
Barring With a Root Note on the Fifth String..................................................29
Minor Shapes.................................................................................... .............30
Getting Used to Barring....................................................................................31
Strumming............................................................................................ ...............32
The Crucial Tip..................................................................................... .............32
Practising Keeping Rhythm...............................................................................32
Muting with Your Fretting Hand.........................................................................33
A Typical Eighth Note Pattern............................................................................33
Speeding Things Up............................................................................. .............34
A Typical Sixteenth Note Pattern.......................................................................34
Integrating Muting into a Strumming Pattern...................................................35
Where to Go from Here.....................................................................................35
Three Part Major Key Harmony............................................................................37
The Three Part Harmony...................................................................................37
The Diminished Chord......................................................................................37
The Three Part Harmony for Other Major Scales ..............................................38
Using the Three Part Harmony..........................................................................38
Why Not Four Part Harmony?............................................................................38
Seventh Chords.................................................................................................... 40
Deriving the Four Part Harmony ......................................................................40
The Major 7th ..................................................................................................40

The Minor 7th ..................................................................................................40


Four Part Harmony Results ..............................................................................41
Dominant Seventh Chords ...............................................................................41
Minor Seven Flat Five Chords (the 'Half Diminished Seventh') ......................... 42
Conclusion................................................................................. .......................42
Lead Effects.................................................................................. .......................43
Hammering On.................................................................................................43
Pulling Off.................................................................................. .......................43
Sliding........................................................................................................ .......43
Bending.............................................................................. ..............................43
Pentatonics.................................................................................. ........................45
Basic Arpeggios...................................................................................................47
Arpeggio Shapes........................................................................................ ..........48
Playing Fast................................................................................................... .......50
Harmonic Minor................................................................................................... .52
Dexterity.................................................................................................. ............53
String Skipping..................................................................................................... 55
Modes........................................................................................ ..........................57
Tapping...................................................................................... ..........................61
Sweep Picking........................................................................................ ..............65
Example 1.................................................................................................... .....65
Example 2.................................................................................................... .....65
Example 3.................................................................................................... .....66
Example 4.................................................................................................... .....66
Example 5: Final Fantasy Arpeggios.................................................................66
Example 6.................................................................................................... .....67
Harmonisation Part 1...........................................................................................71
Harmonisation Part 2...........................................................................................74

Introduction to the Electric Guitar

Before we start playing some music, this lesson kicks off our course by
providing a simple introduction to how the electric guitar works and a guide to
the different components which make it up.
Of course we have all seen and heard the electric guitar in action hundreds of times.
Since the 1950s this instrument has been associated with some of the most iconic figures
of the music world. Without question the electric guitar has played a pivotal role in the
development of today's popular music. But many people know little about how the
instrument actually works. How is a sound that can be heard by thousands of people at a
live gig produced as a result of a guitarist hitting some metal strings which are less than
a millimetre in thickness? Obviously this is not something that the majority of people will
ever need to know, but for those of us who want to play the instrument it is necessary to
have a small amount of (not very) technical knowledge.
You may find that you have to return to the latter part of this lesson as our course
progresses to remind yourself what certain parts of the instrument do. However, we
begin by considering what the electric guitar will actually be doing whilst we play our
music how it changes the notes we play into the sounds that we hear from the
amplifier.

How does the electric guitar work?


What makes an electric guitar different to an acoustic guitar is what happens in the body
of the instrument (indicated in Figure 1 below). As with an acoustic guitar, vibrations of
the instrument's strings produces musical notes that we can hear. Each string is by
convention set up to produce a different pitch when it is plucked, but by pressing a string
down in different places on to the fretboard, each string can produce notes of several
different pitches. An electric guitar differs from an acoustic guitar insofar as it converts
the notes that are being produced into an electrical signal which can then be routed
through an amplifier and speaker.
But how are these notes converted into an electrical signal? The answer to this question
lies with the slightly raised bits of metal located in the centre of the instrument's body the pickups. These are magnets wound with coils of wire, which change the vibrations
within their magnetic field caused by the guitar strings into electrical energy (in the form
of a vibrating current within the coil). This signal then passes through a simple electrical
circuit, being modified by tone and volume controls on the body of the guitar, before
passing down the lead into an amplifier or other device which converts this electrical
signal into something that we can hear.

The anatomy of the electric guitar


The diagram below provides a guide to the location of the electric guitars major
components, some of which have already been mentioned in this lesson. It is not
necessary to memorise them all at this stage, although many have common sense
names which you will quickly pick up (sorry) as you play the guitar more.

The body
The body of the instrument is where the strings are strummed, plucked or picked. It is
also the part of the instrument which rests on your leg if you are playing the guitar
seated. As well as being the most visually distinctive part of each model of electric
guitar, the body contains the electrical circuits and components which convert string
vibrations into electrical signals.
1. Bridge
The bridge unit of the guitar holds one end of the strings in place. The strings
feed over several (usually six) saddles before being anchored within the body of
the instrument.
2. Pickups
Each pickup unit houses six magnets wound with coils of wire. As already
described, these transform the vibrations of the strings into electrical signals.
3. Tone Controls
4. Pickup Selector
The pickup selector determines which pickup(s) will be used to sense string vibrations.
Typically the neck pickup will produce a brighter sound.
5. Output Jack
One end of the lead is plugged into the output jack of the guitar and the other
into the amplifier.
6. Strap Buttons
The strap of the guitar is fixed to these buttons. Often these buttons will be part
of a strap-lock system which prevents the strap from falling off the instrument at
inconvenient times.
The neck
The neck of the instrument is where a guitarist places their fingers to alter the length of
strings and so the pitch of the sound that is produced by the guitar.
7. Fingerboard (or fretboard)

The fingerboard is the part at the front of the neck. This holds the frets - strips of
metal placed horizontally across the fingerboard at specific intervals that create
different musical notes. To play a particular note, depress a string immediately
behind one of the frets. This pulls the string taught across the fret and alters the
length of the string to create the desired sound.
8. Nut
The nut is located at the top of the neck. This guides the strings toward the
machine heads.
9. Position Markers
When playing the guitar it is useful to have marks on the side of the neck, as
well as on the fingerboard itself, to signify certain frets. These are typically
placed just behind the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th and 21st frets.
The headstock
The end of the neck furthest from the body of the guitar is called the headstock. The
primary function of this is to house the machine heads of the instrument. Some guitars,
most notably those made by Steinberger, do not even have a traditional headstock.
10.Machine Heads or Tuning Keys
The most important components of the headstock are the machine heads. This
is where the other end of a guitar string terminates. A tuning key tightens and
loosens a string so that it creates a sound of the desired pitch when it is played
open (i.e. without any notes being fretted).
11.Truss Rod Adjustment
The truss rod runs the length of the neck, its purpose being to keep the neck
rigid. If your guitar has been set up correctly, you should not need to alter the
truss rod. It can be altered from the illustrated position, although this is not
recommended for a beginner as incorrect adjustment can cause serious damage
to a guitar.
12.String Trees
String trees are often omitted from electric guitars. Where present, they assist in
guiding the strings toward the machine heads.
Finally
Now that you know what the different parts of an electric guitar are called and what they
do, you are ready to start learning about how to set up and play the instrument. The next
lesson in the course covers first notes, but if you need to put strings on your instrument
or tune up, you may want to check out our changing strings or tuning lessons first.

First Notes
It's time to start playing your first notes on the electric guitar. This
lesson begins by showing you how to hold the instrument before progressing
on to left hand techniques and fretting notes.
Before we can do much more in the way of learning how to play the electric guitar we
need to start making some music. Well, that might be going a bit far - at this stage we
just want to show you how to hold the instrument and play some notes. Be assured there is much more exciting stuff to come in a few lessons time.

Holding Your Electric Guitar


Sitting Down

The easiest way to play your electric guitar to start off with is to sit down and have the
instrument's body resting on your right thigh ('right' and 'left' are described in this
lesson for a right-handed guitarist with a right-handed guitar. If you are left-handed
please switch the terms). To hold the instrument in place use the inside of your right
forearm. If you have difficulties maintaining the instrument in a balanced position it may
help if you put on the shoulder strap.
This posture is different from that used by classical guitarists who typically rest the guitar
on their left thigh and maintain the instrument's neck at a 45 degree angle to the ground.

Standing
If you want to play your instrument standing up you are going to need to put on that
shoulder strap. Put it over your head and your right arm through the strap so that the
instrument naturally hangs with its weight across the upper-right area of your back. You
will probably need to adjust the length of the strap so that the guitar hangs with its
bridge at roughly waist height. This is the length which makes it easiest to play the
instrument although you can adjust the instrument to different heights depending on
your personal preference.
The neck should be held at an angle that is slightly above horizontal so that the strain on
your flexed left wrist is reduced.

Hand Position
Although a guitar has only six strings, it can play all 12 of the musical notes because of
the frets on its neck. By pressing a string down just behind one of the frets, its effective
length is shortened and so higher notes can be produced from the string than when it is
just played 'open'.
This process of pressing a string down behind a fret is called 'fretting' or 'fretting a note'.
There are two standard left hand positions which can be used for this.
The first is the 'classical' position in which the left thumb is placed against the back of
the neck at all times. This is illustrated below.

An alternative position, which many may find more comfortable, wraps the left thumb
around the neck so that it rests on the top edge of the fingerboard. This technique has
the added advantage of allowing the thumb to fret notes on the 5th and 6th strings.

In practice many players will use both techniques depending on what notes they are
required to play. Some barre chords, for example, are almost impossible to play without
using the classical left hand position.

Playing a Note
Once your left hand is in one of the two positions described above, place one of the
fingers on your left hand slightly behind a fret and press the string down, ensuring that
none of your other fingers rest on any of the other strings.

Now grab your plectrum between the thumb and index finger of your right hand (as
shown below) and strike the string on which you have fretted a note.

The note should sound clear, as if you had just played an open string without any notes
fretted. If you hear a buzzing noise, you have placed your finger too far from the fret. If
the note sounds muted (i.e. it doesn't ring out clearly) then you may have placed your
finger on top of the fret or not have pressed the string down hard enough onto the
fretboard.

Congratulations
...you have just played what is hopefully your first of many notes on your electric guitar!
Practice playing a few different notes using different fingers on frets positioned all over
the neck until you get used to the idea. Initially fretting notes may become painful as the
metal strings dig into your fingertips. If you stick at it, however, your fingers will build up
calluses and you will find that you can play for longer without any discomfort.
Now that you know about the concept of fretting notes, we can get your guitar set up
properly for playing some music.

Writing Down Electric Guitar Music


Two of the most important tools for communicating guitar music are
tablature and chord diagrams. They are used throughout the rest of this
course of guitar tuition and are ubiquitous on the internet so it is a good idea
to get to grips with them right away.
Although music for the guitar can be written using standard musical notation, on the
internet and in many music books it is often written using tablature. This form of
representing guitar music is widely used because it is very simple to learn and very quick
to write especially on computers - no special symbols are required to represent musical
notes. Tablature is often used in conjunction with a related method of transcription chord diagrams. This lesson will provide an introduction to both techniques.

Tablature
Tablature (or tab for short) will show you at what fret to play on what string, what tuning
to use, as well as indicating effects such as hammer ons, pull offs, tapping, slides and
bends, for example. One disadvantage to tablature is that it gives no exact indication of
timing, although in some tabs the spacing between notes can give a rough guide. For this
reason, sheet music typically provides both tablature and standard musical notation.
Here is an example of a line of tablature, labelled to show what each part represents.

As you can see, a complete guitar tablature consists of six lines that represent the strings
of a guitar (tablature can also consist of seven strings or four strings for a bass), however
sometimes only a few of the strings will be represented. If this is the case the strings
which are represented will usually be stated. On most tabs the lowest string represents
the string on the guitar that is nearest your shoulders.
The numbers on tablature indicate what fret to play the note at and are read from left to
right so that the note furthest left on a line of tablature is played first. If notes are above
each other (as in the first bar of the example), then this indicates that they should be
played simultaneously. The letters on the left of the tab (E, A, D, G, B, E) show the tuning
to be used. There are many symbols that can be used on tablature to signify a special
way of playing a note. Typical examples are listed below.
/ = slide
bu= bend up
bd= bend down
h = hammer on
t = tap
^ = vibrato
pm= palm mute

Chord Diagrams

Although not all chord diagrams will look the same, their primary purpose is to show you
where to put your fingers on the neck of the guitar to create the intended chord. Often,
additional information is included as shown in the example below.
This example chord diagram shows the chord of D major (as used in the Introduction to
Chords lesson).

The labels on this example explain almost everything about chord diagrams, but there is
one extra feature that often causes confusion. The top horizontal line on this grid
represents the nut of the instrument. However, if the chord is intended to played further
down the neck, the top line may well represent another fret. If this is the case, the fret
number will be shown next to this line.

Changing Strings
If you have not done so already, sooner or later you will have to
replace a string on your electric guitar. This lesson guides you step-by-step
through performing this simple procedure.
It may not be particularly exciting, but being quick at changing strings on your
instrument is an important skill to have as they are prone to break at the worst possible
time. On most guitars fitting a new string is an easy task, and once you have done it a
couple of times the process will be hard to forget.
The procedure described below is for guitars on which strings are passed through the
body of the guitar from the back into an all-in-one bridge. For most electric guitars
strings are changed in this, or a very similar, manner. However, this guide does not apply
to guitars which have Floyd Rose style tremelos with locking nuts. Changing strings and
tuning up on guitars using these systems (which are designed to increase the stability of
the instrument's tuning under heavy tremelo use) is a more complex operation.

Step-by-Step Guide
Remove what remains of the old string

There may still be a part of a broken string lying in the bridge, and some of the
string will almost certainly remain in the machine head. Unwind the string from
the machine head and then pull it through the hole to remove it. The bridge-end
of the broken string may have fallen out already, but if it hasn't push it out with
your fingers, or failing that use something to help it through (such as a match).

Insert the new string through the bridge block

Now that there is a clear path through one of the holes in the bridge a new string
can be inserted. Take the sharp end of the string, and feed it through this clear
hole in the bridge block from the back of the instrument. The image below
illustrates this - the hole you feed it through may differ depending on the string
you are replacing.

Make sure that the string goes through the saddle that corresponds to the hole,
before pulling the string through until the ball end fits into the tremolo block (i.e.
until you cannot pull it anymore).

Secure the string around the machine head


The string is now in the instrument, but it must be secured to a machine head.

Wind the string around the tuning key 2-3 times, before putting the sharp end of
the string through the hole in the machine head and pulling it taut.

Tune up

Now that the string is on the instrument, tune it up. Then stretch the string - pull
it a few centimetres away from the body and release it - to reduce the likelihood
of the string breaking once it starts being played. If necessary, retune the guitar.
Once the guitar is in tune, the remainder of the string can be cut off with some
wire cutters, leaving about half a centimetre of string outside the machine head.

Tuning Up Your Guitar


If your electric guitar is out of tune, no matter how advanced your
fretboard skills are, the 'music' you produce will not be something that many
people will want to listen to. We show you here how to make sure that when
you play a string it is producing the note that it should.
Alongside changing strings, another unexciting but necessary procedure that you will
quickly get used to performing on your guitar is tuning up. Almost anyone can recognise
when a guitar that is being played is out of tune - it does not sound nice. Therefore it's a
good idea before progressing any further in the course that we tune up your guitar so
that the music which you will soon be playing sounds as it should. Tuning up on the guitar
refers to altering the instrument's strings so that they produce certain notes when they
are played open (i.e. without any notes being fretted).

The Basics
To change the pitch of the strings on your guitar, their taughtness must be altered. In
order to do this, guitars have machine heads which are located on the headstock of the
guitar which physically tighten or loosen the strings. To tighten (and raise the pitch of a
string) turn its machine head anticlockwise. To loosen the string (and therefore
decrease its pitch) turn the machine head clockwise.
So at what pitch should each string be set? The majority of pieces written for the guitar
are in 'standard tuning'. To be in standard tuning the strings on your guitar should
produce the following notes when they are played without the guitarist placing their
fingers on the fretboard (i.e. when they are played 'open'):
6th string (nearest to your head): E
5th string: A
4th string: D
3rd string: G
2nd string: B
1st string (nearest to your feet): E
One popular way to remember the different notes that each string should produce is to
use a line such as:
"Every Alsatian Dog Grows Big Ears"

Tuning the Guitar to Itself


We now know the note that each string on the guitar should produce when it's played but how do we know whether the note it is currently producing is too high or too low?
One method to use is tuning the guitar to itself. This technique requires that you only
take one note from another reference, such as a keyboard, another guitar or tuning fork.
On your chosen reference instrument play an E or listen to this mp3 file of a low E being
played on an in-tune guitar. Now play a note on the string nearest to your head (the 'low
E' string) and turn its machine head in the correct direction until the note produced by
the string is of the same pitch as the note produced by your reference instrument. How
difficult you find this procedure will depend on whether you naturally have a 'musical ear'
- many guitarists do not find this method of tuning easy at first.
Now that we have one string of the guitar that is in tune, we can tune the other strings in
relation to the low E string. There are several methods to do this, the most common
based on the principle that playing the low E string fretted at the 5th fret is the same as
playing an open A string. Therefore you can repeat the procedure described above for
the A string, this time taking your reference as the low E string played at the 5th fret.
Alter the A string's machine head until the two are of the same pitch. This procedure can
then be repeated for all the strings with one exception - the open B string should be of
the same pitch as the G string played at the 4th not 5th fret.
Here is the tablature for tuning your guitar using this method:
--------------0-----------------------------

-----------0--5------------------------------------0--4------------------------------------0--5------------------------------------0--5---------------------------------------5----------------------------------------Another method of tuning the guitar is to use octave intervals. To use this method play
the open low E string and the A string at the 7th fret. Now adjust the A string machine
head until the pitch of the two notes is the same. Repeat this for all the strings apart
from the tuning of the B string to the G string. In the latter case, the open G must be
compared with the note produced from the 8th fret of the B string.
Here is the tablature for tuning your guitar using this method:
--------------7---------------------------------------8--0------------------------------------7--0------------------------------------7--0------------------------------------7--0---------------------------------------0-----------------------------------------

Using Harmonics
Many people find it easier to tune their guitar using harmonics - bell like tones that you
can produce from your guitar by lightly placing your finger on a string over certain frets.
The same principles apply as with the previous two methods in which open strings were
compared to fretted notes. However in this situation harmonics are played instead of
open strings and notes fretted at the 5th or 4th fret. Play a harmonic at the 5th fret of the
low E string by lightly placing your finger directly over the 5th fret but do not press the
string down onto the fretboard. Then play a harmonic at the 7th fret of the A string.
This should sound identical to the harmonic played on the low E string. Adjust the
machine head of the A string until it does. Repeat this procedure according to the
tablature below:
h h h h
h
---------------7--------------------------------------12--5-----------------------------------7---------------------------------------7--5------------------------------------7--5---------------------------------------5--------7--------------------------------

Some Quick Tuning Tips

If you have difficulty recognizing when strings are of the same pitch, listen for a
pulsing sound. The longer the time between the waves the closer you are to
having the correct pitch.
To decrease the pitch of a string you can turn its machine head clockwise, but
this can cause the string to slip and become out of tune once you start playing.
To make sure this doesn't happen tune up to a note rather than down. If you
need to make minor adjustments to decrease the pitch, simply lift the string up
slightly with your fingers until you can feel some tension before letting it go.
In the tablature above the notes are written as if you play them together. To
make it easier for yourself, play them one after the other as well as together.
Make sure you don't pluck the strings too hard - this makes it difficult to
recognize the different notes.
It is always advisable to tune your guitar whenever you start playing, especially
after moving the instrument, exposing it to changes of temperature or after
heavy tremolo usage.
In the examples above low E has been used as a reference, however you can use
any of the open strings as a reference note - just tune the other strings to it
according to the tablature given in this lesson.

Electronic Tuners
If you have difficulty with the methods above it may be a good idea to get an electronic
tuner. Many guitarists use these over the methods given above as they are an accurate
and fast method to tune up. Nevertheless it is still a good idea to try to master tuning the
guitar to itself as it will improve your ability to discern different pitches. It is also a
convenient method if you want to quickly get the guitar roughly in tune without having to
bother with plugging in an electronic tuner.
Different electronic tuners operate in different ways, but the majority use some kind of a
dial to show you how close to the correct pitch your string is and whether you are sharp
or flat. For electric guitars, the most reliable results can be achieved by plugging your
instrument into the tuner itself rather than using the tuner's built in microphone.

Basic Musical Theory


Don't let the word 'theory' in the title of this lesson put you off - this
is one of the most interesting topics in the course. You will learn why the notes
of your favourite songs work together to emote the feelings they do through
the concepts of keys and scales.

Musical Notes
Modern music assigns twelve different pitches of sounds to twelve different musical
'notes' which are represented using the first seven letters of the alphabet from A to G.
Clearly we cannot represent twelve different pitches uniquely using only seven single
letters. Therefore we add accidentals to notes.
There are three accidentals: the sharp, the flat and the natural. The sharp raises the
pitch of a note by a certain amount called a semitone (or half-step) . The flat lowers
the pitch of a note by a semitone. The natural refers to a note which is neither flat nor
sharp i.e. it is equal in pitch to one of the seven notes represented by a letter on its own.
Here is a complete listing of all the musical notes:
A, A# or Bb, B, C, C# or Db, D, D# or Eb, E, F, F# or Gb, G, G# or Ab (# = sharp, b
= flat)
The notes separated by an "or" are enharmonically equivalent i.e. they sound exactly the
same. So A# is identical in pitch to Bb - they are actually the same 'note'.
The gaps in pitch between the musical notes are the same and equal to one semitone
(i.e. an A# is 'one semitone higher than an A natural'). After 12 semitones (or half-steps),
the sequence repeats. For example, after you have played a G# the note a half-step
higher will be an A. This note will sound the same as the A you played 12 half-steps
previously but higher - this is called an octave. The octave of a note is the note twelve
half-steps (twelve notes) above it.
On the guitar, the notes are in the order shown above (repeating the pattern), getting
higher the nearer you get to the body. However each string starts on a different note.
This starting note depends on what tuning you are using. If you are using standard tuning
then the notes will be as follows (string 1 is nearest to your feet):

From this diagram you can see that a gap of one fret on the guitar is equal to one
semitone or half-step. Therefore a gap of two frets is equal to a tone or step. It is on
these gaps or intervals that scales are based. Combining notes which are certain
intervals from each other creates melodies which have particular, recognisable sounds.

What is a Scale?
A scale is a series of related notes that which have a certain pattern of intervals between
them (e.g. a certain pattern of semitones and tones). They are played from a certain note
to the octave of that note. The scales (i.e. sets of notes) used in a song determines why it
sounds as it does. Certain scales have a 'sad' sound; some sound more 'bluesy' whilst
others are typically associated with jazz music, for example.

What is a Key?
The key of a song tells you which notes the piece revolves around. The key provides the
root note for the song which dictates the pitch of the scale to be used, as well as

whether the song is based on a major, minor or other scale. For instance, if the song
were in the key of A major, the song will revolve primarily around the notes from the A
major scale.

The Basic Scales


The two most important scales in modern Western music are the major and minor scales,
along with their derivatives, such as the pentatonics. The major scale has a bright,
positive sound. The intervals that create the major scale are:
TONE, TONE, SEMITONE, TONE, TONE, TONE, SEMITONE
So, if we take C as the starting note, the C major scale is:

The notes of the major scale (as with all other scales) are given numbers in order that
chords and other scales can be related back to that scale. These numbers are called
degrees. For example a chord can be described by saying that it "uses a flattened third
in relation to the major scale" (a typical characteristic of minor chord). Usually everything
is related back to the major scale unless otherwise stated. Further down the page, the
natural minor scale is related back to the major scale. Degrees are also often written in
roman numerals and the collection of these numbers can be referred to as the formula of
the scale. For the major scale (in relation to the major scale), the degrees would be:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or I II III IV V VI VII
Once again, if we use C major as an example:
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
I
II III IV V
VI VII
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
Using this example, we could say that the third (III) in C major is E and the fifth (V) is G.

Playing the Major Scale

The diagram on the left looks like a chord diagram as described in the
lesson on notation. It is read in the same manner, but instead of representing where you
place your fingers to play a chord, the dots represent where you place your fingers to
play the notes of the scale. The notes of the scale are typically played one after the other
rather than simultaneously as with a chord.
This is the most commonly used fingering for the major scale, and can be moved up and
down the neck, depending on what you wish the root note to be.
The grey notes are the root notes of the scale (the note the scale starts on). This note
designates the name of the scale (for instance if the root note was on the 8th fret of the
6th string then the scale would be a C major scale. If it were on the 5th fret the scale
would be A major).
There are more than seven notes in this fingering meaning that the scale is played more
than once. As there are fifteen notes in this pattern if the entire sequence is played the
scale is repeated more than two full times.

The Natural Minor Scale


The natural minor scale has a darker sound than the major scale and is often used to
give a piece of music a sad or menacing tone. It differs from the major scale by lowering
the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes by a semitone. This gives the scale the following formula in
relation to the major scale:
1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7

and the intervals of the scale are:


TONE, SEMITONE, TONE, TONE, SEMITONE, TONE, TONE

On the left is shown one common fingering for the natural minor scale.
Unlike the major scale, however, there are two other minor scales: the harmonic minor
and melodic minor. These differ in the manner in which they alter the 6th and 7th
degrees of the scale. The harmonic minor has the same formula as the natural minor with
the exception that the 7th is not flattened in relation to the major scale. The melodic
differs in that both the 6th and 7th are not flattened.
These are not the only scales - there are many different scales that create many different
sounds. However, those covered above are the most commonly used and provide the
best introduction to musical theory.
Now that we have covered some basic musical theory we can start playing some proper
music. Initially we will be playing several notes of a scale at the same time in harmonies.
Move on to Introduction to Chords to put the theory we have covered in this lesson into
practice.

Introduction to Chords
Guitars are often used to provide the harmony in modern music. This
lesson will introduce you to playing chords on the guitar, giving a solid
theoretical background, illustrating some basic chord shapes and some songs
to try them out.
If you have read the lesson on Basic Musical Theory, you should have an understanding
of how modern music is based on the principle of playing related notes from a scale in
sequence to create a melody (often performed by a vocalist). Other instruments (such as
the guitar) usually contribute to the harmony. A harmony has the characteristic that
several notes from a scale are played simultaneously to create a particular sound. When
several notes are played at the same time it is called a chord.
When learning the guitar, most people start with chords, and this is one of the most
important aspects of playing the instrument to learn. Even if you want to be a lead player
hammering out big solos, do not dismiss chords - some of the most infamous guitar riffs
are made up of powerful chordal progressions (think 'Smoke on the Water' or 'Smells Like
Teen Spirit').
It is not strictly necessary to know the theory behind chords in order to play your
favourite song. Simply learn the shape of the chords in the song (i.e. where you should
put your fingers) and then play them at the correct time. However looking through the
theory section is probably a good idea as it will give you an understanding of how a chord
works and should nicely round off the Basic Musical Theory lesson.

The Theory
A chord is made up of several individual notes played together. Because of this, chords
can start on the same note but create entirely different sounds, depending on what the
other notes that make up the chord are. Before we go into what notes make up each type
of chord, you must already know a bit about scales - refer back to the Basic Musical
Theory lesson if you need to.

Major Chords

A major chord is made up of three different notes which combine to give a happy, bright
sound (as do the notes from the major scale). Remember in the Basic Musical Theory
lesson we learned how to show relationships between scales using formulas? We can
apply the same techniques to describe chords. If the notes of a major scale are
numbered as follows:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Then the major chord uses notes:
1, 3, 5
i.e. it is formed by playing the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale at the same time.
The major chord is named according to what is the 1st, or root, note.

An Example: The C Major Chord


To make the C major chord, let's first write down the notes of the C major scale. This is
formed by following the pattern of tones and semitones illustrated in the Basic Musical
Theory lesson and, conveniently, turns out to be all of the musical notes without any
accidentals.
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
Now the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of this scale are:
C, E, G
and these notes, played simultaneously form the C major chord. So how do we play these
notes? Different chords are played in different ways on the guitar. This is where the chord
dictionary becomes useful. Type 'C major' into the electric-guitar.co.uk chord dictionary
and you will find several different ways to play the chord. One way is illustrated on the
chord diagram below.

Here you can see that the chord dictionary has given the name of the chord type: 'major
triad' (a triad means the chord contains three distinct notes), and the notes which make
it up: C E G. You should be familiar with this type of diagram following the lesson on
notation but here's a quick recap. The horizontal lines represent frets and the vertical
lines represent strings. The left-most vertical line represents the string nearest your
shoulders as you play the guitar and the top-most horizontal line the nut of the
instrument (i.e. fret 0). If a string does not have a black dot on it then a circle above the
string indicates that string should be played open and if it has a cross above it then that
string should not be played. If a black dot is present, place a finger on your left hand at
the indicated fret.
In this circumstance:

place the third finger of your left hand just behind the third fret of the 'A' string
place the second finger of your left hand just behind the second fret of the 'D'
string
place the index finger of your left hand just behind the first fret of the 'B' string

and now play all the strings except the low 'E' string by running your plectrum from the
'A' string to the high 'E' string.

Minor Chords

By contrast with the major chord, minor chords sound sad. A minor chord uses notes:
1, b3, 5
from the major scale or equivalently notes 1, 3, 5 from a minor scale. To see this, recall
that a natural minor scale has the formula 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7 in relation to the major
scale. Therefore the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of a minor scale are equivalent to the 1st,
flattened 3rd and 5th notes from the major scale.
The distinguishing characteristic of a minor chord as opposed to a major chord is
therefore that it flattens the third note of the major scale (i.e. lowers it by a semitone).

An Example: The C Minor Chord


Let's start as before by writing out the C major scale:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
Now the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes are C, E and G as we found previously. However we must
lower the 3rd note (E) by a semitone in order to construct the minor chord. E lowered by
a semitone is Eb. Therefore the chords which make up the C minor chord are:
C, Eb, G
The chord diagram below shows one way of playing the C minor chord.

This chord diagram instructs you to not play the low 'E' or 'A' strings and to place the
fingers of your left hand behind the 5th, 5th, 4th and 3rd frets respectively on the
remaining strings. To do this it is probably best to place your fingers as follows:

third finger behind the 5th fret on the 'D' string


fourth finger behind the 5th fret on the 'G' string
second finger behind the 4th fret on the 'B' string
index finger behind the 3rd fret on the high 'E' string

Some Common Chords


There are hundreds of different chords that can be played on the guitar. Shown below are
some popular 'open' chord shapes (as distinct from 'barre' chords). Open chord shapes
cannot be moved up and down the neck unlike barre chords. The notes of a chord when
played on the guitar do not have to be in any order from the lowest to the highest
strings, but it is common to play the root note on the lowest string.
Using the chords below you can play many popular songs. If the chord you require isn't
listed here, look it up in our chord dictionary.

Strumming
You now know some theory behind chords and the most common open patterns, but one
important aspect to playing chords on the guitar is strumming i.e. right hand technique.
There are many different patterns of strumming that are quite easy to pick up and vary
depending on the timing of down-strokes and up-strokes with the plectrum.
The most simple pattern is to continuously play the chord on every down-stroke and upstroke of the right hand. Swing your right hand freely up and down so that every beat of
the music coincides with a down-stroke. Strike the guitar strings on the way down and
again on the way up.
Alternative methods of strumming can involve missing out certain down- and/or upstrokes, but keep the right hand swinging in this continuous up/down rhythm.
For more information on this topic see our strumming lesson.

Where Now?
You should now have an idea of how to play chords on the guitar. By grasping this basic
concept you can play most popular songs - simply find the tablature/chord diagrams and
play the chords where you are told to. One of the most difficult things you will find is
rapidly changing between the different chord shapes. It is therefore a good idea to
practice the nine common shapes listed above. Strum each a certain number of times
before changing to another chord and attempt to make these changes quicker as you
start to develop muscle memory.

Songs to Develop the Basic Chords


Once you have a good grasp of these basic chord shapes, put them to work by looking at
some simple songs. You will find that many of your favourite songs actually consist only
of two or three of the same chords and are very simple to play. For example, you may like
to try the following - listen out for when the chords change on the records.

Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan) - G, D, Am, G, D, C.

Brimful Of Asha (Cornershop) - G, D, C


Breakfast at Tiffany's (Deep Blue Something) - D, G, A (verse), D, A, G
(chorus)

Barre Chords
As you may have noticed, there are literally hundreds of different
open chord shapes as evidenced by this site's extensive chord dictionary. So
what if one shape could somehow be used to play twelve different chords?
That'd be a good idea, wouldn't it...
As explained in the Introduction to Chords Lesson each chord is defined by the intervals
which lie between its notes. The major chord is defined by the fact that it contains the
1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale. The C Major chord comprises C, E and G, for
example. E is two tones (four semitones) above C and G is three semitones above E. Let's
have a quick revision of the standard open chord C shape:

What happens now if each finger is placed one fret higher, but the open strings are still
played open? The root note of the chord is now C# (the C on the fifth string is moved up
one fret to become a C#). Try moving the shape up a fret and see how it sounds. It is
clearly not the bright, harmonious C# major chord. Why is this?

Why Moving the C Major Shape Up the Neck Does


Not Work
Let's take a look at what we are actually playing. The notes of the C Major shape moved
up one fret (with open strings from the original shape still played open) are:
C#, E, F, G
Taking C# as the root note of the chord: E is the flattened 3rd note of the C# major scale
(bad as the major chord contains no b3rd), F is the 3rd note of the C# major scale (good)
and G is the b5th note (bad). We therefore have the formula:
1, b3, 3, b5
Which is clearly not the formula of the major chord. The problem with moving this shape
up the neck is that we are still playing the open strings from the original position of the C
Major shape. Therefore some of the notes in our attempt to play C# Major are actually
from C Major - specifically, the G and E notes produced from playing the third and first
strings open. If these notes had been translated up a semitone to G# and F we would
have a C# Major chord as the b3 and b5 notes would drop out of the formula above and
the 5th (G#) would be added.

The Solution
How can we avoid this problem? Simple - just don't play any open strings. If we can form
chord shapes which include all the characteristic notes of a chord (i.e. for C Major: C E
and G) but no open strings then we can move the chord up and down the neck as we
choose and allow the chord to have any root note.

The Barre

Barre chords are a method we can use to achieve this. The word 'barre' refers to the use
of one (or more) of the fingers of the fretting hand to fret a note on multiple strings.
Guitar chords often include more than four notes of different pitches (although some will
typically be the same note played an octave higher or lower, for example). The C Major
chord played in the open position illustrated earlier contains five different notes (three of
which are fretted by the guitarist). As we only have four fingers available to fret notes
and cannot play open strings if a chord is to be portable up the neck, we must fret more
than one note with one of our fingers.

Playing Barre Chords


Playing barre chords is something which often takes a while to get used to as it is difficult
to get the multiple notes formed from barring with a single finger to ring out clearly. It is
also an easier task if the action (height of the strings from the fretboard) of your guitar is
low. Nevertheless, it is best to start practising this early as the ability to play barre chords
really opens up the possibilities of guitar playing - it becomes much easier to play any
piece of music as you do not have to be concerned about what the open chord fingering
for various chords is. In fact, many chords simply cannot be played without using a barre.
It also becomes far easier to change the key of a piece of music (or negates the need for
using a capo).

The Major Shape Based on E

The most commonly used barre chord is based on the E Major open position chord. Let's
recall what this shape looks like:

As you can see from this chord diagram, this chord contains three strings which are
played open and three fretted notes. To be able to move this shape up and down the
neck, we must make all six notes fretted.
We are going to move this shape up the neck and add a barre with the index finger of
your fretting hand so that the chord is now a G Major. If you look this chord up in the
chord dictionary you will find the chord diagram shown below:

As you can see it is the same as the shape for E Major but moved up three frets and
without any open strings. To play the notes on the sixth, second and first strings we need
to barre the strings. This is represented in the equivalent chord diagram shown below:

Place your index finger facing parallel to and just behind the third fret and press it down
hard onto the fretboard. Your finger should fret notes on every one of the six strings. Now
place the other fingers of your fretting hand such that they represent the chord diagram
above. The photographs below show how a barre and the G Major barre chord should
look:

You can now move this shape up and down the neck and still play major chords. The root
note of the chord (i.e. G in the previous example) is determined by the note on the sixth
string of the guitar which you play.

Practising Barring

To practise barring it is a good idea to place just your index finger across the six strings
at different positions on the neck and play each string individually. Ideally you should be
able to hear each note ringing out clearly - if you barre the fifth fret, for example, then
the notes produced by each string should sound as if the string were being fretted in that
position without a barre.

Barring With a Root Note on the Fifth String

If you were playing the G Major barre chord above and wanted to change to playing a C
Major barre chord you could move the shape five frets up the neck so that its root note
lay on the eigth fret of the sixth string. However this requires you to move your hand a
long way. A quicker way (at least, once it is mastered) to perform this chord change is to
use a different barre chord shape which has its root note on the fifth string. As C is
located on the third fret of the fifth string, changing to this barre chord shape involves far
less movement.
The major shape with its root note on the fifth string is based on the open position A
Major chord:

If we are to play C Major using this shape we must get rid of the open strings. Lookup C
Major in the chord dictionary and you will find:

This chord contains two barres, made with the index and ring fingers of your fretting
hand. This can be illustrated as below:

This barre chord shape is much more difficult than the one described earlier in the
lesson. Form the barre with your index finger as you did for the previous shape, this time
covering only the highest five strings. Now barre the fourth to second strings two frets
higher using your ring finger. The hardest part of playing this chord is not barring the top
string with your ring finger. As all the characteristic notes of the chord are contained in
the lowest four notes it is not catastrophic if you fail to play the top string correctly, but it
does create a fuller sound if you can pull it off. Getting the top string to ring out correctly
should be the focus of your practise with respect to this shape.

As with the previous barre chord shape you can move this shape up and down the neck
and play every major chord. The root note of the chord (in this example C) is determined
by which note on the fifth string you play.

Minor Shapes
The most common barre chord shapes for minor chords are based on the E Minor and A
Minor open position chords. These are, if anything, easier to play than the major shapes
described earlier.
The barre chords for G Minor and C Minor are shown below with root notes played on the
third fret:

Here are some photos to help you get the hang of these chords, starting with Gm:

And now C Minor:

Getting Used to Barring


Playing barre chords is something which many guitarists find difficult initially. Not only is
it difficult to get the notes ringing out clearly from a barre chord, but changing positions
quickly can also be challenging. To develop the latter skill it is a good idea to get playing
some simple songs using barre chords - give some of the songs in the Introduction to
Chords lesson a go using barre chords. Lots of these barre chords have been shown
explicitly in chord diagrams and photographs above; some have not. However they can
all be formed from the barre chord shapes shown in this lesson because, as we have
already established, the beauty of barre chord shapes lies in their ability to each play
twelve different chords simply through moving the root note up and down the neck.

Strumming
So you know where you've got to put the fingers of your fretting hand
thanks to our great chord lessons and dictionary. But what about your other
hand? To improve the rhythm of your playing we need to introduce the
techniques of strumming and string muting.
Your strumming hand has the crucial role of providing the rhythm to your playing and
setting the pace and feel of your chord progression. Contrast, for example the fast punk
style rhythm guitar on Greenday's 'Basketcase' with Dylan's relaxed strumming on
'Blowing in the Wind'. Imagine if the same chord were played in both styles. It would
sound so different that the vast majority of listeners would not even realise that the two
different noises they were hearing were related.
The actual technique of strumming the strings on your guitar is quite easy. First of all
make sure your strumming arm and wrist are relaxed and that you are holding the
plectrum and guitar correctly. Now run the plectrum over all the strings in one
continuous motion, pivoting your arm from the elbow. You do not need to hold the
plectrum very firmly or press down hard on the strings: just let it run easily over them.

The Crucial Tip


Before we get into some strumming patterns I just want to start off by highlighting the
one tip which will probably improve your rhythm playing the most: always try to keep
your strumming hand swinging over the strings in time with the beat of the
song, whether you strike the strings or not.
Remembering this simple tip will help you considerably in playing a good strumming
pattern, especially if you are not yet at the stage where quick chord changes come easily.
If it sometimes takes you a while to find the next chord, it is great if your strumming
hand can maintain the rhythm of the music so that you can pick up the beat of the song
again easily once you have got the chord fretted.

Practising Keeping Rhythm


The most basic way to practise keeping rhythm is to strum a chord in time to a
metronome (a device which emits a sound at certain intervals so that music can be kept
in time). Music is divided up into bars (or measures): sections of time which consist of a
certain number of beats. Most popular music has four beats in a bar. So count out loud
"one and two and three and four and" with the numbers falling on the clicks of the
metronome, repeating the counting once you have said "four and" (note: it is obviously
not a requirement to have a metronome - as an alternative you can just tap your foot at a
consistent tempo).
Now, strum down the strings on the number and upwards, again striking all the strings,
on the 'and' as illustrated in the figure below (the metronome picture indicates the time
at which the metronome clicks).

To make this exercise more interesting let's introduce a new technique which you can
practise alongside keeping your right hand moving.

Muting with Your Fretting Hand


Many strumming patterns require you to mute the strings of the guitar using your left
hand. You've probably been unintentially doing this when you have been learning to play
chords on the guitar. Muting a string simply involves laying your fingers across the string
without pressing it down onto the fretboard. This prevents the string from vibrating and
ringing out. Muting all the strings is illustrated in the photograph below. Notice how the
strings are not being pressed down onto the fretboard.

Now, to kill two birds with one stone, practise muting the strings whilst playing the
rhythm illustrated above - i.e. keep your strumming hand swinging freely over the
strings, striking them on the way down and the way up in time with the metronome
whilst lightly holding the fingers of your fretting hand on the strings.

A Typical Eighth Note Pattern


As long as you remember to swing your right hand freely over the strings it is simple to
move from the exercise illustrated above to strumming some of the most common
rhythms, by simply not playing the strings on certain up or down-strokes. Take a look at
the example below.

To play this pattern, treat it exactly as you would the exercise to keep rhythm shown
previously. However this time when you swing your hand back upwards after first and
second times the metronome sounds, do not strike the strings, just allow them to ring out
from the previous down-stroke.

Speeding Things Up
Now that you can play a basic rhythm which involves one down-stroke per metronome
click, let's try doubling the speed of your strumming. Go back to the keeping rhythm
exercise where you strike the strings on every down and up-stroke. Now try playing the
strings four times following every click rather than only twice. Assuming four beats in a
bar you are now playing sixteenth notes as opposed to the eigth notes we have been
playing to this point. A large amount of guitar strumming takes this form - this speed
generally allows your arm to swing at a more natural pace. Sixteenth notes are illustrated
in the diagram below.

A Typical Sixteenth Note Pattern


Let's try a pattern which involves playing two up and two down-strokes for every click of
the metronome.

This rhythm is more complicated than those illustrated earlier so it is best to start out
with the metronome at a very slow tempo and to count out loud. Make sure that you are
playing a down stroke on every click of the metronome and then carefully look at where
else you need to play using the diagram.

Integrating Muting into a Strumming Pattern


Now let's try playing a pattern which incorporates some muting and sixteenth notes. This
will be easiest for you to try with a barre chord as to mute the strings after playing a
barre chord you simply have to lift your fingers slightly off the fretboard - your barring
finger acts to mute all the strings which it covers (usually 6 or 5).
So get your fretting hand in position for a barre chord and give the following standard
funk rhythm a shot.

Arrows with a cross through them indicate that the strings should be muted. As described
above, this should be done by lightly releasing the pressure you are applying to the
fretboard with your fretting hand so that the strings do not ring out. This example can
help greatly with the accuracy of your muting - for the second half of this pattern you are
striking the strings on every up and down stroke, with your fretting hand determining
whether each strike will cause the chord to ring out.

Where to Go from Here

There are, of course, literally thousands of different strumming patterns. What is


important to remember is that just about any pattern you play or create will be valid
provided you keep your strumming arm swinging in time to the music, whether this be in
eigth notes, sixteenth notes or whatever speed. By all means look around for more
examples of strumming patterns, but in the long run this one tip will prove more valuable
than any single example you find.
It is a good idea to experiment with creating your own rhythms. When a good guitarist is
playing rhythm guitar it is very rare for them to stick to a rigidly prescribed strumming
pattern - they will tend to improvise, throwing in a muted strum here and there and
missing out strokes in various places. Often totally different patterns will be used for
different parts of the song. This variety generally makes a piece more interesting to listen
to.
Just remember the crucial tip.

Three Part Major Key Harmony


By now you should be able to play any major and minor chord. But
which chords fit with which key? This lesson uses harmonisation of the major
scale to discover which chords work with each major key and, as an added
bonus, introduces you to the diminished chord.
To start off with, let's assume that we want to find which chords work for the scale of C
Major. To construct the major and minor chords which we have examined in previous
lessons we require three distinct notes. The major chord uses the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes
of the major scale whilst the minor chord needs a flattened 3rd instead of the natural
third. Let's therefore see how we could combine the notes of C Major (our key) to
construct chords which consist of three notes.

The Three Part Harmony


One method of combining the notes of the scale gives us the 'three part harmony' - a
certain sequence of chords related to a particular scale that work well together.
Fortunately, this method is nice and simple. To construct each chord in the three part
harmony of a particular scale start on each note of the scale. Now, moving up the scale,
miss out one note. The note subseqent to this excluded note is in the chord. Then moving
up the scale, miss out the following note. The note after this in the scale is the final note
in the chord. As the major scale contains seven notes, the three part harmony yields
seven independent chords for each scale.
Let's do this for the C Major scale. The notes of this scale are:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
To form the first chord, we start on C, then miss out one note so we get E and then miss
out one note again so we get G. The notes of the first chord are therefore C, E and G:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
To form the next chord we start on the next note in the scale - D. Using the same method
of skipping a note until we have three notes we get D, F and A:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
Continuing up the scale to start on E we get E, G and B:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
If we apply this method to every note in the scale we get the results summarised below.
Root
C
D
E
F
G
A
B

Notes
CEG
DFA
EGB
FAC
GBD
ACE
BDF

Chord
C Major
D Minor
E Minor
F Major
G Major
A Minor
B Diminished

As you can see, the notes C, E and G are the notes which form the C Major chord - clearly
these are the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the C Major scale because of the 'skipping a note'
method we have used starting on the 1st note of the scale. The D Major scale is formed
by the notes:
D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#
The second chord which our harmonising of the C Major scale gave consisted of the notes
D, F and A. D is the 1st note of the D Major scale, F is the flattened 3rd note and A is the
5th note. This is the formula for a minor chord - so the second chord is a D minor.

The Diminished Chord

One of the chords given by harmonising the major scale above may be unfamiliar - we
have not yet covered diminished chords in our course. Let's take a look at the notes of
the B Diminished chord as shown above in relation to the B Major scale to discover its
formula.
The B Major scale is as follows:
B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#
The notes of the B Diminished chord are B, D and F. B is obviously the 1st note of the B
Major scale. D is the flattened 3rd and F is the flattened 5th. The formula for a diminished
chord is therefore:
1, b3, b5
Search our chord dictionary for B Diminished and you should find the following chord
diagram showing a common way to play this chord:

The Three Part Harmony for Other Major Scales


The pattern (though not the root notes) of the chords we discovered above generalise for
every major scale - we thankfully do not have to go through the time consuming manner
of deriving each chord as we did above.
We found that harmonising the C Major scale into chords consisting of three notes gave
seven chords, each with its root on a different note of the scale. These chords were of the
following type in ascending order of pitch: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor,
diminished.
To find the chords which comprise the three part harmony for any major scale we can
simply apply this pattern of chords in order to the notes of the relevant major scale.
For example, applying this pattern of chords to the notes of the D Major scale gives
D Major, E Minor, F# Minor, G Major, A Major, B Minor, C# Diminished
You can verify that these results are correct by working out the three part harmony of the
scale using the method introduced earlier.

Using the Three Part Harmony


The three part harmony is particularly useful for song writing and transcribing songs
which you hear. Many songs (particularly in popular music) are strongly based around a
particular major key and use the chords of the three part harmony for that key. Because
of the way these chords have been constructed using all the notes of a single major
scale, they sound harmonious and seem to work well together. Try playing the chords of
the C Major three part harmony in ascending sequence to illustrate this point. You can
use barre chords or the open chord shapes introduced in the Introduction to Chords
lesson in addition to the B Diminished chord illustrated above.
If a harmonious feel is what you want from your own compositon then you can't go far
wrong with using the three part harmony of a particular major scale - if you have
composed a major scale melody then you should find that the chords suggested in this
lesson work well with it.

Why Not Four Part Harmony?


Four part harmony describes the process of harmonising a scale into chords consisting of
four notes. These chords are obviously a little more complex than the major, minor and

diminished chords which we have looked at so far, but can make your music sound much
more interesting.
Click here to take a look at the sequel to this lesson which introduces the four part
harmony.

Seventh Chords
So far in the course we have covered the most common three note
chords, but many pieces use chords made up of four different notes. Through
the process of harmonising the major scale, this lesson derives the major 7,
minor 7, dominant 7 and m7b5 chords.
In the Three Part Harmony lesson we derived from the major scale a sequence of chords
consisting of three notes. We are now going to apply the methodology we used in that
lesson to derive some new chords, but this time we are not going to stop once we have
assigned three notes to a chord. The purpose of this lesson is to derive the four part
harmony so we are, surprisingly enough, constructing chords consisting of four notes.
Although more complex than the basic major and minor chords, these are some of the
most common and important chords in guitar music.

Deriving the Four Part Harmony


Let's start, as we did in the Three Part Harmony lesson by looking at the scale of C Major:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
To derive our four note chords we will cycle through the scale starting on the root note as
we did in the previous lesson, skipping a note every time. Rather than stopping once we
have selected three notes we are now going to continue until we have four. To form the
first chord of the harmony, we start on the root note, C. We skip D but include E in the
chord, skip F but include G in the chord and finally skip A but include B in the chord.

The Major 7th


The notes C, E, G and B are the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the C Major scale.
Chords which follow this formula are called major 7th chords (recall that chords with the
1st, 3rd and 5th notes of a major scale are referred to as major chords).
Listen to an MP3 of a major 7th
Popular chord shapes to play the major 7 are illustrated below - the diagram on the left
has the root note of C on the low E string and the diagram on the right has its root note
on the A string.

This chord maintains the bright sound of the major chord but the addition of the 7th note
(B) creates within the chord a dissonant interval with the root. Try playing the individual
notes C and B and hear that when the two notes are played together they do not sound
very harmonius.

The Minor 7th


Let's continue our methodology of constructing chords by examining the four notes we
get using the skipping-a-note method starting on D: we skip E but include F, skip G but
include A and skip B but include C.

The notes D, F, A, C correspond to the 1st, flattened 3rd, 5th and flattened 7th
notes of the D Major scale (which consists of the notes D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#). Chords with
this formula are referred to as minor 7th chords (recall that the formula 1, b3, 5 applied
to a major scale gives a minor chord).
Listen to an MP3 of a minor 7th
Popular barre chord shapes to play minor 7th chords with root notes on the 6th and 5th
strings respectively are illustrated below:

Four Part Harmony Results


If we continue to apply the methodology of constructing chords as we have above the
following results are obtained:
Root
C
D
E
F
G
A
B

Notes
CEGB
DFAC
EGBD
FACE
GBDF
ACEG
BDFA

Chord
C Major 7
D Minor 7
E Minor7
F Major 7
G7
A Minor 7
B Minor 7 Flat 5

We have already covered the major and minor 7th chords illustrated in the above table
which form the majority of the chords of the four part major key harmony. Just as with the
three part harmony, however, not all the chords in the sequence are major or minor. It is
to these two exceptions that we now turn.

Dominant Seventh Chords


In the above table the chord with a G root note is a G7 or G Dominant Seventh. This
chord consists of the notes G, B, D, F - the 1st, 3rd, 5th and flattened 7th notes of the
G Major scale (giving a chord formula of 1, 3, 5, b7).
Listen to an MP3 of a dominant 7th
Popular barre chord shapes to play this chord are illustrated below:

Try playing this chord and notice how it has a strong bright sound in contrast with the
minor 7th we constructed above. The sole difference between these chords is that the
minor 7th uses a flattened third whilst the dominant 7th uses a natural third. This means
that the former is based on a minor triad whilst the latter is based on a major triad and
hence creates a brighter sound associated with major chords.

Minor Seven Flat Five Chords (the 'Half Diminished


Seventh')
The final chord in the above table is the m7b5. Unsurprisingly given its name, this chord
has a formula of 1, b3, b5, b7. The m7b5, or half diminished seventh, is commonly
associated with jazz music.
Listen to an MP3 of a m7b5
Popular shapes to play this chord are illustrated below:

Conclusion
In this lesson we have constructed four new chords by harmonising a major scale: the
major 7, minor 7, dominant 7 and minor 7 flat 5. The first three of these chords are
widely used for guitar rhythm parts, particularly in the blues and jazz styles, and allow
you to express a greater variety of sounds in your rhythm playing.
The methodologies used in the Three Part Harmony lesson and above can be applied to a
variety of different scales to create lots of interesting chords (many of which can be
found in our Chord Dictionary). If you are composing a rhythm part in which you would
like lots of exotic chords it may be worth harmonising some more unusual scales than the
major. For most purposes, however, the chords we have derived are a great place to
start.

Lead Effects
Spice up your soloing by adding in some hammer ons, pull offs, string bends
and slides.
This lesson takes a look at some physical techniques that can be used to make your
guitar playing sound more interesting. Hammering on, pulling off, sliding and bending are
mostly used when playing a solo or lead, but can also be adapted for use when playing
chords.

Hammering On
To play a hammer on, pick a fretted note like you normally would, before placing another
left hand finger on the same string behind the next fret (or whichever fret you want)
while the original note is still ringing. On tablature a hammer on is often represented by
H or HO, but you will have to check the key to the tablature to see what symbol the
writer uses. An example of hammering on is shown below:
E |-5h--8--5h--8--|-7h--8--7h--8--|
B |---------------|---------------|
G |---------------|---------------|
D |---------------|---------------|
A |---------------|---------------|
E |---------------|---------------|

Pulling Off
Pulling off is the reverse of hammering on. Place two fingers of your fretting hand on the
two notes (on the same string) which you want to pull off from and to. Typically these
notes will be no more than three frets apart because it obviously gets a bit uncomfortable
otherwise. Play the higher note and then remove your finger from this note, whilst
keeping the other lower note fretted. Don't be afraid to slightly pluck the string with the
finger you are removing. Pulling off is written (usually) with a P or a PO over the top, but
again, check the tablature key. Here is an example of pulling off:
E |-8p--7--8p--7--|-8p--5--8p--5--|
B |---------------|---------------|
G |---------------|---------------|
D |---------------|---------------|
A |---------------|---------------|
E |---------------|---------------|

Sliding
To slide a note, play a note on the fretboard and (while the note is still ringing) move the
fretting finger up or down the string to the target note whilst still pressing down on the
fretboard. Here is an example of how a slide is notated:
E |-8s--7--8s--10-|-8s--7--8s--10-|
B |---------------|---------------|
G |---------------|---------------|
D |---------------|---------------|
A |---------------|---------------|
E |---------------|---------------|

Bending
Bending strings is a very important part of playing lead guitar. Playing a "bend" involves
picking a note and then increasing the pitch of a note to create a similar effect to a slide
up the neck. However a bend is performed by increasing the tension of the string rather
than by ultimately fretting a note on a different part (fret) of the neck.
To play a bend, fret a note and then with your fretting finger push the string upwards
towards the top of the neck whilst still pushing the string down onto the fretboard as if
you were fretting a note normally. Use as many fingers as possible to strengthen the
bend, and try to avoid prematurely letting the bend go. At first bending may well be quite
painful but stick at it and the ends of your fingers will get stronger.

In printed tab, a bend will often be given a target note - the pitch the note should reach
when the bend is complete. It will probably take a while before you can consistently
reach a target note. Practice and get to know how much you must bend each note to
reach different pitches it. Online tablature often does not give a target note. In this case
it is usually a safe bet that you are meant to bend the note up a tone. If this does not
sound right then experiment to find out what does. You may want to refer to our basic
theory lesson for some guidance as to which notes would fit with the key. Here is an
example of bending (in web tablature):
E |---------------|---------------|
B |-13b-13b-------|-11b-14b-------|
G |---------------|---------------|
D |---------------|---------------|
A |---------------|---------------|
E |---------------|---------------|

Pentatonics
The pentatonic scales are among the most important scales in modern guitar
music. They fit over a wide variety of chords, and are popular for soloing in
many styles of music.
You should already know the major and minor scales from the Basic Theory lesson, and
the pentatonics are a derivative. Pentatonic scales are among the most important scales
in modern guitar music. They fit over a wider variety of chords than other scales because
they contain only five notes, as opposed to the seven of the normal minor scale. As a
result there is less chance of choosing a note which clashes with a chord and so these
scales are often used in soloing.
The major and minor pentatonic scales can be played all over the neck by using shapes
which fit together by the second note of one shape equaling the first note of the next
shape. Both the major and minor pentatonic scales share the same shapes, but start in
different places.
THE MAJOR PENTATONIC POSITIONS (FORMULA: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)
Position 1

Position 2

Position 4

Position 5

Position 3

THE MINOR PENTATONIC POSITIONS (FORMULA: 1, b3, 4, 5, b7)


Position 1

Position 2

Position 4

Position 5

Position 3

Basic Arpeggios
This introduction to arpeggios explains their construction as well as a diagram
for the popular major shape.
Arpeggios are simply a series of notes from a chord played separately (often in order). All
the theory behind this has therefore been covered already, in the Basic Theory lesson.
Arpeggios can be used in many situations - from playing the entire rhythm part of a song
using them, to providing a break from the rest of a strummed piece.
For instance a C Major chord follows this formula:
1, 3, 5
These notes are taken from the C major scale, which consists of the notes:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
Therefore the notes that make up the chord of C major are:
1 3 5
C, E, G
So, in the C major arpeggio the notes will be played (when ascending the arpeggio) in
this order (although they are repeated).
Arpeggios are often used as a replacement for chords. If you see a chord, you can replace
it with the equivalent arpeggio. For instance the C major arpeggio can be played over the
C major chord. They both follow the same formula.
Arpeggios can be played both ascending and descending.
Here is one of the major arpeggio shapes (there are many different shapes to play the
major arpeggio, these are covered in the arpeggio shapes lesson). Make sure you pick
each note individually (this is not a chord):

As ever, the red circle represents the root. To prove the point above, lets look at the
notes contained in this shape. When played ascending from the root, with the root on the
15th:
C, E, G, C, E, G
Please note that the notes don't have to be repeated exactly 2 or exactly 3 times (C, E,
G, | C, E, G, | C, E, G). For instance one shape may go C, E, G, C, E, leaving off the last G.
As long as the notes are played in correct order at least 1 full time, it is still an arpeggio.
The above shape can be moved all over the neck in the same manner as barre chords.

Arpeggio Shapes
A guide to popular major and minor arpeggio shapes, both root 5 and root 6.
Now that you know the theory behind arpeggios, this lesson will show you some more
arpeggio shapes.
MAJOR (1, 3, 5)
These arpeggios can be played over major chords. Move the root of the
arpeggio (red) to be the same as the root of the chord.
Root on 6th string Major shapes

Root on 5th string Major shapes

MINOR (1, b3, 5)


These arpeggios can be played over minor chords. Move the root of the
arpeggio (red) to be the same as the root of the chord.
Root on 6th string Minor shapes

Root on 5th string Minor shapes

Playing Fast
Learn how to play fast licks using hammer ons and pull offs.
This lesson concentrates on a simple way to play fast - using hammer ons and pull offs.
Most guitarists want to play fast. Be it jazz, rock, metal, blues - when you have completed
a fast solo, you get a great feeling of satisfaction. This lesson will (hopefully) increase
your speed.
The first thing to remember about playing fast is that it takes practice. The first time you
attempt to play something fast it will not be perfect. The secret is to start slowly and
increase the speed. Try to get yourself a metronome to play along with. Your coordination will improve, and eventually you will be able to play the licks shown in this
lesson blindfolded!
This lick (in E Dorian see lesson on modes) is a simple one, that involves pulling off. All of
the notes are quavers (half a beat), and the timing is standard. Set the bpm on the
metronome to about 80 and play the lick.
E |-15p-14p-12-15p-14p-12--------|
B |-----------------------14p-12-|
G |------------------------------|
D |------------------------------|
A |------------------------------|
E |------------------------------|
E
B
G
D
A
E

|-15p-14p-12-15p-14p-12--------|
|-----------------------14p-12-|
|------------------------------|
|------------------------------|
|------------------------------|
|------------------------------|

At this speed you should be able to play the lick without any trouble. Get used to it, and
play along at the same tempo for about 5-10 mins. When you feel confident with it, and
able to play it without any difficulty, increase the tempo to 100bpm. Again play at this
speed for 5-10 mins, getting used to the increased speed. Continue with this pattern until
at least 180bpm. At this speed it can be considered 'fast'.
Now we will move on to something slightly harder. This lick involves hammering on rather
than pulling off, and involves playing across 4 strings rather than just two. As with the
previous lick gradually increase the tempo. Do not increase the tempo if you are
struggling at all to keep the notes accurate.
E |-------------------------5h-7h-9-|
B |-----------------5h-7h-9---------|
G |---------5h-7h-9-----------------|
D |-5h-7h-8-------------------------|
A |---------------------------------|
E |---------------------------------|
This final lick is the toughest lick in this lesson. This spans all six strings, and requires you
to move back down often. Do not try to do it really fast at first, but start at 80bpm as
with the previous two licks.
E |---------------------------------|
B |---------------------------------|
G |---------------------------------|
D |-----------------4h-5h-7---------|
A |---------3h-5h-7---------3h-5h-7-|
E |-3h-5h-7-------------------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|
|---------4h-5h-7---------4h-5h-7-|
|-4h-5h-7---------4h-5h-7---------|
|---------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|

E |-------------------------5h-7h-8-|
B |-5h-7h-8---------5h-7h-8---------|
G |---------4h-5h-7-----------------|
D |---------------------------------|
A |---------------------------------|
E |---------------------------------|
Another technique often used for playing fast is tapping. Click here to go to a lesson on
tapping.

Harmonic Minor
Mentioned in the Basic Musical Theory lesson, the harmonic minor is one of the
three most common minor scales alongside the natural and melodic minor.
Here we cover the theory behind the scale and illustrate how to play it using a
scale diagram.
There are three minor scales, the natural, the harmonic and the melodic minor, one of
which, the natural minor, you have learnt already. This lesson will concentrate on the
harmonic minor - as you may have guessed from the title. This can be an interesting
scale to use, as it creates a sound that is quite distinct from the other minors.
The harmonic minor is the same as the natural minor scale, apart from that the 7th note
raised half a step. This is illustrated below, where the harmonic minor is shown in relation
to the natural minor. Note this is not in relation to the major scale, but to the natural
minor - therefore rather than the natural minor's formula being 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, it is
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, because it is shown in relation to itself.
Harmonic minor:
Natural minor:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Now these are the formulas the scales give in relation to the major scale (the major scale
being 1 2 3 4 5 6 7):
Harmonic minor:
Natural minor:

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7
1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

Ok, that's the theory finished. All that is left to show is how you play the scale! Below the
fingering for the harmonic minor is illustrated:

Dexterity
Lots of exercises to build up the strength and accuracy of your fingers.
Here are a selection of licks that will:
Build dexterity in your hand

These licks will improve the accuracy of your playing, and strengthen your fingers.
Improve your timing
If you set a tempo with a metronome and try to stick to the beat, your timing will improve.

THE EXERCISES
Start playing these slowly, and gradually increase the tempo. Use alternate picking
(downstroke/upstroke etc) to make these licks easier to play. The exercises increase in
difficulty as you go further down the page.
LICK
|------2345------------------------------------6789-------|
|-----------3456--------------------------6789------------|
|----------------4567----------------6789-----------------|
|---------------------5678------6789----------------------|
|--------------------------6789---------------------------|

|---------------------------------------------------4321--|
|-8765-----------------------------------------4321-------|
|------7654-------------------------------4321------------|
|-----------6543---------------------4321-----------------|
|----------------5432-----------4321----------------------|
|---------------------4321-4321---------------------------|

LICK Continue this lick following the same pattern.


|-----------------------------------------1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-|
|---------------------------------1-2-3-4-----------------|
|-------------------------1-2-3-4-------------------------|
|-----------------1-2-3-4---------------------------------|
|---------1-2-3-4-----------------------------------------|
|-1-2-3-4-------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|-5-4-3-2-------------------------------------------------|
|---------5-4-3-2-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------5-4-3-2---------------------------------|
|-------------------------5-4-3-2-----------------3-4-5-6-|
|---------------------------------5-4-3-2-3-4-5-6---------|

LICK Continue this lick following the same pattern.


|----------------------------------------1-2-3-4----------|
|--------------------------------1-2-3-4------------------|
|------------------------1-2-3-4--------------------------|
|----------------1-2-3-4----------------------------------|
|--------1-2-3-4------------------------------------------|
|1-2-3-4--------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|-2-3-4-5-------------------------------------------------|
|---------2-3-4-5-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------2-3-4-5---------------------------------|
|-------------------------2-3-4-5---------3-4-5-6---------|
|---------------------------------2-3-4-5-----------------|

LICK Same as lick


|-----------------------------------------4-3-2-1---------...-----------------|
|---------------------------------4-3-2-1---------5-4-3-2-...-----------------|
|-------------------------4-3-2-1-------------------------...-----------------|
|-----------------4-3-2-1---------------------------------...-----------------|
|---------4-3-2-1-----------------------------------------...---------6-5-4-3-|
|-4-3-2-1-------------------------------------------------...-5-4-3-2---------|

LICK

|---------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------1-2-3-4---------|
|-------------------------1-2-3-4-----------------1-2-3-4-|
|---------1-2-3-4-----------------1-2-3-4-----------------|
|-----------------1-2-3-4---------------------------------|
|-1-2-3-4-------------------------------------------------|
|-1-2-3-4---------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------2-3-4-5-----------------------------------------|
|---------2-3-4-5-----------------2-3-4-5-------------------------|
|-------------------------2-3-4-5-----------------2-3-4-5---------|
|-----------------------------------------2-3-4-5-----------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------3-4-5-6-|

LICK

|-----------------------------------------1-3-2-4---------|
|---------------------------------1-3-2-4---------2-4-3-5-|
|-------------------------1-3-2-4-------------------------|
|-----------------1-3-2-4---------------------------------|
|---------1-3-2-4-----------------------------------------|
|-1-3-2-4-------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-2-4-3-5---------------------------------|
|---------2-4-3-5-------------------------|
|-----------------2-4-3-5---------3-5-4-6-|
|-------------------------2-4-3-5---------|

LICK
|-----------------------------------2---4-------------------------|
|---------------------------2---4-1---3-----3---5-----------------|
|-------------------2---4-1---3-----------2---4-----3---5---------|
|-----------2---4-1---3---------------------------2---4-----3---5-|
|---2---4-1---3-------------------------------------------2---4---|
|-1---3-----------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|
|-------------------4---6-|
|-----------4---6-3---5---|
|---3---5-3---5-----------|
|-2---4-------------------|

LICK
|-----------------------4-------------------------------6-|
|---------------4---2-----------5---------------6---4-----|
|-------4---2---------3-----3-----------5---4---------5---|
|---2---------3---1-----------4-----3---------5---3-------|
|-----3---1---------------2-----------4---3---------------|
|-1-------------------------------2-----------------------|

LICK

|-----------------------4-------------------------|
|---------------4-----3---------5---------------6-|
|-------4-----3-----2---------4---------5-----5---|
|-----3-----2-----1---------3---------4-----4-----|
|---2-----1---------------2---------3-----3-------|
|-1-------------------------------2---------------|

LICK
|-1-------------------------------2---------------|
|---2-----1---------------2---------3-----3-------|
|-----3-----2-----1---------3---------4-----4-----|
|-------4-----3-----2---------4---------5-----5---|
|---------------4-----3---------5---------------6-|
|-----------------------4-------------------------|

CREDITS: Thanks to snadman for licks 2-10, and dfs for lick 1.

String Skipping
Like the dexterity lesson, these exercises will improve the strength and
accuracy of your fingers. They can also be incorporated into solos.
Here are some licks that involve skipping strings between notes. They will improve your
accuracy, as well as presenting some ideas that you could incorporate into your solos.
Idea 1
D(sus4) E(sus4) A
Fingering:
3 1 3 2 1 3 1 4 3 1 3 2 1 3 1 4
/---------------------------------------------------------/
/7---------8--7--------10---9---------10---9-----------12-/
/----------------9--7--------------------------11--9------/
/-------7--------------------------9----------------------/
/---5--------------------------7--------------------------/
/---------------------------------------------------------/

Strokes:
u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d
2/3
---------------/
10-------------/
---------------/
11-------------/
---------------/
---------------/

u mid fing+pick
Idea 2
Emajor
T 1 4 T 1 4 T 1 4 T 1 4 T
/-------------------------------------------------/--------/
/12---5ho9---12---5ho9----------------------------/--------/
/-------------------------------------------------/--------/
/--------------------------14---6ho9---14---6ho9--/--------/
/-------------------------------------------------/--------/
/-------------------------------------------------/-12(24)-/

Tapped Harmonic
(quickly tap)
Idea 3
Gmajor

---------3--5--7--s10--8--7-----------/
-----------------------------10--8--7-/
4--5--7-------------------------------/
--------------------------------------/
--------------------------------------/
--------------------------------------/

A7
--------5--7--9--s12--10--9-------------/
------------------------------12--10--8-/
6--7--9---------------------------------/
----------------------------------------/

----------------------------------------/
----------------------------------------/
--------------------------------/-------------------/
--------3--5--7--s10--8--7------/-------------------/
---------------------------9-7-6/-7(19)-------------/
4--5--7-------------------------/-------------------/
--------------------------------/-------------------/
--------------------------------/-------------------/

Harmonic

Modes
Find out how the modes are constructed, and how to play them.
There are 7 different modes: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and
Locrian, and they are all derived from the major scale. In fact they all contain the notes of
the major scale, just starting in different places.
C-Ionian is a simple C-major scale beginning with C.
D-Dorian is a simple C-major scale beginning on the 2nd tone (D).
E-Phrygian is a simple C-major scale beginning on the 3. tone (E) etc.
Theory:
Each of the scales have typical tones in them.
Ionian: It's a simple major-scale. Its typical tone is a major 3.
Chords that work: Major7, Major6
C Ionian : C - D - E - F - G - A - B - (C)
Its formula: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - (8)
Dorian: It's a minor scale, the typical tone is a 6.
Chords that work: Minor7, Minor6, minor7/9
C Dorian : C - D - Eb - F - G - A - Bb - C
Its formula: 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7 - 1
Phrygian: It's a minor scale, the typical tone is a b2. Sounds Spain!
Chords that work: Minor7
C Phrygian: C - Db - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C
Its formula: 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7 - 1
Lydian: It's a major scale, the typical tone is a a blue dream!!
Chords that work: Major7, Major7 C Lydian: C - D - E - F Its formula: 1 - 2 - 3 Mixolydian: Major dominant scale with b7. Same as Ionian just with a b7, sounds bluesy.
Chords that work: 7, 7/13, 7/9
C Mixolydian: C - D - E - F - G - A - Bb - C
Its formula: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7 - 1
Aeolian: It's a simple minor scale, the typical tone is a b6
Chords that work: Minor7, Minor7/9
C Aeolian: C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C
Its formula: 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7 - 1
Locrian: Minor Scale. Is not used in Pop and Rock music often. Minor7(b5)
C Locrian : C - Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - C
Its formula: 1 - b2 - b3 - 4 - b5 - b6 - b7 - 1
Okay? Do the next examples on your own:
Build a G-Mixolydian scale. Work out what the notes would be, what the formula would
be, and what key it would be in.
Do the same for:
D-Lydian
E-Dorian
G You can find the solution at the end of this text.
Playing the modes:

Start every scale with the same tone. I think that's the best way to learn them by heart.
A Ionian (Key of A)
-------------------------------7-9-10-9-7---------------------------------------------------------7-9-10------------10-9-7--------------------------------------------6-7-9--------------------------9-7-6--------------------------------6-7-9--------------------------------------9-7-6--------------------5-7-9---------------------------------------------------9-7-5-------5-7-9---------------------------------------------------------------9-7-5--

A Dorian (Key of G)
-------------------------------7-8-10-8-7---------------------------------------------------------7-8-10------------10-8-7--------------------------------------------5-7-9--------------------------9-7-5--------------------------------5-7-9--------------------------------------9-7-5--------------------5-7-9--------------------------------------------------9-7-5--------5-7-8--------------------------------------------------------------8-7-5---

A Phrygian (Key of F)
-------------------------------6-8-10-8-6---------------------------------------------------------6-8-10------------10-8-6--------------------------------------------5-7-9--------------------------9-7-5--------------------------------5-7-8--------------------------------------8-7-5--------------------5-7-8--------------------------------------------------8-7-5--------5-6-8--------------------------------------------------------------8-6-5---

A Lydian (Key of E)
-------------------------------7-9-11-9-7---------------------------------------------------------7-9-10------------10-9-7--------------------------------------------6-8-9--------------------------9-8-6--------------------------------6-7-9--------------------------------------9-7-6--------------------6-7-9---------------------------------------------------9-7-6-------5-7-9---------------------------------------------------------------9-7-5--

A Mixolydian (Key of D)
-------------------------------7-9-10-9-7---------------------------------------------------------7-8-10------------10-8-7--------------------------------------------6-7-9--------------------------9-7-6--------------------------------5-7-9--------------------------------------9-7-5--------------------5-7-9---------------------------------------------------9-7-5-------5-7-9---------------------------------------------------------------9-7-5--

A Aeolian (Key of C)
-------------------------------7-8-10-8-7---------------------------------------------------------6-8-10------------10-8-6--------------------------------------------5-7-9--------------------------9-7-5--------------------------------5-7-9--------------------------------------9-7-5--------------------5-7-8--------------------------------------------------8-7-5--------5-7-8--------------------------------------------------------------8-7-5---

A Locrian (Key of Bb)


-------------------------------6-8-10-8-6---------------------------------------------------------6-8-10------------10-8-6--------------------------------------------5-7-8--------------------------8-7-5--------------------------------5-7-8--------------------------------------8-7-5--------------------5-6-8--------------------------------------------------8-6-5--------5-6-8--------------------------------------------------------------8-6-5---

Practice all of the Patterns:


1) with strict Alternate Picking
2) with legato (hammer ons and pull offs (it's hard!))
So you can make it a real good technical study too!
Solutions:
G-Mixolydian scale: G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G
KEY: C-major

Formula: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - b7- 1
D-Lydian scale: D - E - F KEY: A-major
Formula: 1 - 2 - 3 E-Dorian scale: E - F KEY: D-major
Formula: 1 - 2 - b3- 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 1
G KEY: E-major
Formula: 1 - b2 - b3- 4 - 5 - b6 -b7 - 1

Jazz Comping
Some ideas for making your rhythm playing sound more interesting.
Here are some chordal tricks to make rhythm playing sound more interesting than just
strumming on 1 2 3 4.

Chord Trick 1
D major7 - 3 - - 3 - Emin7(9) Eb7(9)
-------------------------------/-----------------------------/
7---7-^-7------------7------7--/7---7-^-7---6----------------/
6---6-^-6----------7------7----/7---7-^-7---6----------------/
7---7-^-7-------11------9------/5---5-^-5---5----------------/
5---5-^-5----------------------/7---7-^-7---6----------------/
-------------------------------/-----------------------------/

1 u 2 u 3 u 4 u 1 u 2 u 3 u 4 u
Dmajor6/9
------------5-----------/
5-----------5-----------/
4-^--------(4)----------/
4-^--------(4)----------/
5-------5---------------/
------------------------/

1 u 2
Chord Trick 2
Amajor Amajor7/6
------------5-------7--^-9-----/----0------------------------/
5-----------5-------7----------/----0------------------------/
6-----------4-------6----------/6^-(6)-----------------------/
6-----------4-------6----------/6^-(6)-----------------------/
-------------------------------/-----------------------------/
5------------------------------/5^-(5)-----------------------/

1 u 2 u 3 u 4 u 1 u 2 u 3 u 4 u
Chord Trick 3 (IIm7(b5) - V7(b9) - Im)
Dm7(b5) G7(b9)
--------------------4----------/----7-----------4--4---------/
6-------------------6----------/----6-----------3--3---------/
5-------------------5----------/----7-----------4--4---------/
6-------------------6----------/----6-----------3--3---------/
5------------------------------/-----------------------------/
-------------------------------/-----------------------------/

1 u 2 u 3 u 4 u 1 u 2 u 3 u 4 u
Cm
------------------/
4-----------------/
5-----------------/
5-----------------/
3-----------------/
------------------/

1 2 3 4

Tapping
Learn how to tap notes on the fingerboard. With examples from Metallica and
Van Halen.
Tapping is essentially using both hands to incorporate notes into your playing. It also gets
your notes off faster and cleaner than using picking all of the time. Tapping has been
around for a long time, and is even used by some acoustic fingerstylists - in fact this is
where it originated. Let's get down to the lesson.
Take your middle or index finger or even the edge of your pick if you prefer and try
tapping this sequence slowly. Make sure you're playing this exercise (as with all on this
page) with a clean tone at first. That way you can hear what notes you are playing,
before possibly adding distortion.
Example 1: (Repeat each bar four times)
E
B
G
D
A
E

|----7h9t12-----|----7h10t12----|----7h10t14----|----7h10t15----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

It may look difficult if you're new to it. I like to tap with my middle finger if I am doing
single finger right handed taps like the example above. You can then keep your pick in
your index and thumb. Have the first finger of your left hand on the 7th fret (B), then to
start the sequence off, either pick or pluck with your finger the high E string around the
12th fret so that you can easily tap the note when required. Then hammer-on to the
C(9th fret on high E string). Make sure it's clear and crisp. Now tap with either your pick
or finger onto the 12th fret. Then pull your finger away from the 12th fret (having
removed your finger from the Calmost pluck the string in order to sound the B clearly
again. Sound ok yet? Try going a bit faster. Repeat the same process for each bar until
you can play it fairly fast, or at least fast enough where you are comfortable with the
speed.
Let's look at tapping and pulling off now. Sounds more difficult than it is. Let's go through
the same process we did in Example 1, but using pulling off now. Look at this.
Example 2: (Repeat each bar four times)
E
B
G
D
A
E

|----t12p9p7----|----t12p10p7---|----t14p10p7---|----t15p10p7---|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

This looks the same but it's totally different rather than the notes that I've chosen. Have
your fingers ready on the 7th and 9th frets. Tap the 12th fret. Then, pull-off to the 9th
fret. As you're pulling off try and make sure that you almost pluck the note as well so you
can hear the 9th fret B as well as you could hear the tapped note (like you did in the
previous example). Now, do a regular pull-off to the 7th fret. This may take a bit more
time to get good at. Just work slow at first. Once you get the first bar down fairly well,
repeat the process for the rest. Go through the whole pattern a few times at the speed
you learned it. Slowly increase speed each time until you're at the speed you had in
Example 1. Sounds good doesn't it? Again, make sure the taps are clean and audible.
Where is this type of tapping used in music that's popular. My answer...EVH.
Everyone's heard "Eruption" by Van Halen, especially if you're a guitarist. EVH was an
awesome guitarist. Although he was so good, his tapping is easiest to start with since it
only involves tapping and hammering on/pulling off, which in it's own way is a form of
tapping. Here we go with the part towards the end of "Eruption". We are going to use the

same exact concept we used in Example 1. Go through the same process we did already
also, but only if needed.
Example 3: "Eruption" tapping part towards the end (Repeat each bar four
times)
E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|----6h9t13-----|----6h9t14-----|----8h11t14----|----8h11t16----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|----9h13t16----|----9h12t17----|----9h13t19----|---11h14t19----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|
|---11h14t21----|---13h16t21----|
|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|

Now that's just the first part. The rest of that tapping part in "Eruption" can be found at
any tab site, click here to search with electric-guitar.co.uk. I just showed that section
because the rest uses pretty much the same skills, and this is all that we need for our
lesson here.
Is there a song that uses both pulling-off and hammering-on as well as tapping in the
solo? ... Of Course!!
Let's take Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" solo for example. The whole solo doesn't consist
of just tapping, but the beginning part does. If you've ever heard the song you know how
well it sounds. That's with a lot of distortion too! It's clean and crisp though. Also, the
guitarist isn't playing beyond his comfortable speed that we mentioned earlier. As a
guitarist you will learn that speed, although very important, must be within your comfort
zone for it to sound good and not muffled. Here's the solo:
Example 4: "Crazy Train" Tapping part in Solo
E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|
|--t14p10p7h10--|--t15p10p7h10--|
|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|
|-x5------------|-x3------------|

I add this sometimes as an improvisation...sounds good I think.


E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t17p10p7h10--|--t15p10p7h10--|--t14p10p7h10--|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|-x3------------|-x3------------|-x3------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|-------------------|
|--t14p10p7h10--|--t15p10p7h10--|--t17p10p7h10t17v--|
|---------------|---------------|-------------------|
|---------------|---------------|-------------------|
|---------------|---------------|-------------------|
|---------------|---------------|-------------------|

That's not much but it is fairly difficult until you get the hang of it. Now that you have
that down you're asking: "What about solos with alternating pull-offs, hammer-ons, and
taps?". Sure there are some of those too. Let's take Metallica's "One" for example. This is
pretty long but it works for our purposes. This is the solo towards the end. It's kind of
Neo-Classical sounding. It incorporates the same one fingered right handed taps with
alternating pull-offs and hammer-ons. You think it sounds easy? Try it and see for
yourself.
Example 5: "One" Solo bars 1-6 towards the end
E
B
G
D
A
E

|--t19p15p12----|--t19p12h15----|--t19p15p12----|--t19p12h15----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|--t19p15p12----|--t19p15p12----|--t19p12h15----|--t19p12h15----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|--t20p12h15----|--t20p15p12----|--t20p12h15----|--t20p12h15----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|--t20p12h15----|--t20p15p12----|--t20p12h15----|--t20p15p12----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t19p15p12----|--t19p12h15----|--t19p15p12----|--t19p12h15----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t19p15p12----|--t19p12h15----|--t19p15p12----|--t19p15p12----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t20p15p12----|--t20p12h15----|--t20p15p12----|--t20p15p12----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t20p15p12----|--t20p12h15----|--t20p15p12----|--t20p15p12----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E |---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
B |--t17p13p10----|--t17p10h13----|--t17p10h13----|--t17p10h13----|

G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t17p10h13----|--t17p10h13----|--t17p10h13----|--t17p10h13----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t18p13p10----|--t18p10h13----|--t18p13p10----|--t18p10h13----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

E
B
G
D
A
E

|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|--t18p13p10----|--t18p10h13----|--t18p10h13----|--t18p10h13----|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|
|---------------|---------------|---------------|---------------|

That solo is very tricky - it isn't a pattern like most others. The actual solo is played at
216 BPM with all of the notes being 16th notes!
These are just the basics of tapping, and it may take you a few months to get proficient
at it. Work on your dexterity by checking out the dexterity lessons I added too - these will
help out. I will post another lesson on tapping soon, this time using more advanced
techniques such as slides and two finger right handed taps. Then, in a third tapping
lesson, I will talk about using all 8 fingers and using built harmonies and blended scales
to build melodies and patterns for you to tap in. Hope you enjoyed this lesson. Later all.

Sweep Picking
Sweep picking is a technique used in several styles of music in order to play a
sequence of notes extremely fast. This lesson teaches you the basic method as
well as showing more advanced examples for guitarists experienced with
sweeping.
Let's start off with what sweep picking (sweeping) is. I am pretty sure most people have
already practiced the basics without even knowing it.
Sweeping (also known as economy picking) is based on the principle of running your pick
down/up the strings in one stroke (or as little strokes as possible if there are more than
one note on each string), allowing you to play more notes in a shorter time - usually
these notes are based on running up/down arpeggios or scales. On each down run of an
arpeggio or scale, you base your picking on down strokes. On each up run of an arpeggio
or scale, you base your picking on upstrokes. Not only shredders use this technique
though, sweeping is useful in other types of rock and metal, as well as jazz.
If you want to learn to sweep, it is important that you are confident with other common
effects. You should know how to hammer-on/pull-off, slide and so forth before attempting
sweep picking. Take a look at these before attempting this lesson: Lead Effects, Dexterity
Exercises.

Key

1 = index finger
2 = middle finger
3 = ring finger
4 = little finger
d = down stroke
u = up stroke
h = hammer on
p = pull off
/ = slide

Example 1
Let's start with an Em arpeggio. Three strings instead of five to start with, and play with a
clean tone to start off with. Play the notes in a 'raking' motion - which could be described
as a slowed down strum (though make sure you don't actually strum).
d d d u u u
E |---------3----7p3--------------|
B |-----5--------------5----------|
G |-4----------------------4------|
D |-------------------------------|
A |-------------------------------|
E |-------------------------------|
1 2 1 4 1 2 1 <<<---Fingers
Now, turn on some distortion and try. Muffled a bit? You need to mute the notes you
already played so they don't bleed into each other. This is done by lifting your fingers
slightly above the note you hit previously. It almost looks like you are 'rolling' you fingers
along the frets. It sounds difficult but you will get the hang of it. Remember, you aren't
going to learn this in one day. It takes a lot of practice. Don't rush it. If you are still
working on Example 1, that's ok. Come back when you're comfortable playing it at a
reasonable speed. Ready for another example to show you how to roll your fingers a bit
better? Here it is...

Example 2
Another Em arpeggio. This involves a barre to help you learn how to roll your fingers off
of the notes. Remember not to totally lift your fingers off the string you just played, just
lift enough so the note is muted, otherwise it will sound like a pull off when there
shouldn't be one. Start clean again if you feel the need, begin playing slowly and then
increase the speed.

d d d d u u u u
E |------------12-15p12-----------|
B |--------12-----------12--------|
G |----12------------------12-----|
D |-14------------------------14v-|
A |-------------------------------|
E |-------------------------------|
3 1 1 1 4 1 1 1 3
If you are struggling with this exercise, stick to it until you can play it confidently, as this
lesson gets more difficult. The most important thing in guitar playing and sounding good
at it, is being comfortable with your speed and abilities.
Alright, for those of you who are saying: "Wait a second, I know how to do this!" or "This
is too easy!" Please look at Example 3 and tell me you're not scared!

Example 3
E Major arpeggio here. 5 strings. It's really not too difficult. Just take it slow on a clean
tone until you are comfortable.
d d d d u u u u u
E |-------------12h16p12--------------|
B |----------12----------12-----------|
G |-------13----------------13--------|
D |----14----------------------14-----|
A |-14----------------------------14v-|
E |-----------------------------------|
3 3 2 1 1 4 1 1 2 3 3

Example 4
d d d u d d d d u u u u d u u
E |----------------------15-17p15-------------------|
B |-------------------18----------18----------------|
G |----------------17----------------17-------------|
D |-------15-17-19----------------------19-17-15----|
A |----15----------------------------------------15-|
E |-17----------------------------------------------|
2 1 1 2 3 2 3 1 2 1 3 2 3 2 1 1
A more difficult exercise because we're now using all 6 strings. As with the other
examples, play them slowly at first, gradually increasing the tempo.
The rest of this lesson shows some examples of where sweeping is used. Let's look at the
video game "Final Fantasy." Check out the main theme's arpeggios.

Example 5: Final Fantasy Arpeggios


Key = D minor
D D D U D D D D U U U U D U U
E|----------------------15-17p15-------------------|
B|-------------------18----------18----------------|
G|----------------17----------------17-------------|
D|-------15-17-19----------------------19-17-15----|
A|----15----------------------------------------15-|
E|-17----------------------------------------------|
D D D U D D D D U U U U D U U
E|----------------------12-13p12-------------------|
B|-------------------15----------15----------------|
G|----------------14----------------14-------------|
D|-------12-14-15----------------------15-14-12----|
A|----12----------------------------------------12-|
E|-13----------------------------------------------|
Repeat the 2 bars above

D D D U D D D D U U U U D U U
E|--------------------8-10p8-----------------|
B|-----------------11--------11--------------|
G|--------------10--------------10-----------|
D|------8-10-12--------------------12-10-8---|
A|----8------------------------------------8-|
E|-10----------------------------------------|
D D D U D D D D U U U U D U U
E|----------------------10-12p10-------------------|
B|-------------------13----------13----------------|
G|----------------12----------------12-------------|
D|-------10-12-14----------------------14-12-10----|
A|----10----------------------------------------10-|
E|-12----------------------------------------------|
D D U D U D D U D U D U U D U D
E|----------------------9--------------------|
B|-----------------9-13---13-9---------------|
G|--------------10-------------10------------|
D|--------10-11-------------------11-10------|
A|---8-11-------------------------------11-8-|
E|-9-----------------------------------------|
D D U D U D D U D U D U U D U D
E|-------------------------11----------------------|
B|-------------------11-15----15-11----------------|
G|----------------12----------------12-------------|
D|----------12-13----------------------13-12-------|
A|----10-13----------------------------------13-10-|
E|-11----------------------------------------------|
Repeat from beginning and then play last bar
D D D U D D D D U
E|----------------------15-17----------------------|
B|-------------------18----------------------------|
G|----------------17-------------------------------|
D|-------15-17-19----------------------------------|
A|----15-------------------------------------------|
E|-17----------------------------------------------|
I didn't give the fingerings because I actually put the first bar of fingerings in Example 4.
It's pretty much that same pattern, and you rarely use your little finger in this one.
Are you a good sweeper that just needed a refresher and are getting bored with this?
Take Jason Becker's 'Serrana' and tell me if you have mastered this yet...

Example 6
This is a cool little rendition of Jason Becker's 'Serrana'. He was a great guitarist and it's
bad he has to suffer from his illnesses. He says that he comes up with tunes in his head
but can't play because of his restrained mobility. Well we should all give some
acknowledgement to this great guitarist and musician. Play this with either a clean or just
slightly distorted tone. Here we go...
E||------------------------------------------------14-17p14-------------|
B||---15----------15----------------------------15----------15----------|
G||------------14----14----------------------14----------------14-------|
D||---------16----------16----------------16----------------------16----|
A||------17----------------17-12----12-17----------------------------17-|
E||------------------------------14-------------------------------------|

-----------------14-17p14----------14-22p17----------------------------17-|
--------------15----------15----15----------19----------------------19----|
-----------14----------------14----------------19----------------19-------|
--------16----------------------------------------19-16----16-19----------|
--12-17-------------------------------------------------17----------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--19p15----------------------------15-22p19-------------------------19-22-|
--------15----------------------15----------20-------------------20-------|
-----------16----------------16----------------19-------------19----------|
--------------17----------17----------------------21-17-17-21-------------|
-----------------17-14-17-------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--22p19----------19-19p15----------15-15p10----------------------------10-|
--------20----20----------15----15----------12----------------------12----|
-----------19----------------16----------------12----------------12-------|
--------------------------------------------------12----------12----------|
-----------------------------------------------------14-10-14-------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--12p9-----------------------9-12/17p12----------------------------12-|
-------10-----------------10------------14----------------------14----|
----------9-------------9------------------14----------------14-------|
------------11-------11-----------------------14----------14----------|
---------------12-12-----------------------------16-12-16-------------|
----------------------------------------------------------------------|
--17p12----------12-12p9---------9-9p5---------------------|
--------14----14---------10---10-------5-------------------|
-----------14---------------9------------6---------------6-|
-------------------------------------------7-----------7---|
---------------------------------------------7-4---4-7-----|
-------------------------------------------------5---------|
--14p10---------------------------10/17p14----------------------------14-|
--------10---------------------10----------15----------------------15----|
-----------11---------------11----------------14----------------14-------|
--------------12---------12----------------------16----------16----------|
-----------------12-9-12----------------------------17-12-17-------------|
-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--17p14----------14-18p14----------14-16p14----------14-17----|
--------15----15----------15----15----------15----15----------|
-----------14----------------14----------------14-------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------|
|---21p17----------------------------17-21p17----------17-22p17---------17--||
|---------19----------------------19----------19----19----------19---19-----||
|*-----------18----------------18----------------18---------------18-------*||
|*--------------19---------19----------------------------------------------*||
|------------------21-1621--------------------------------------------------||
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------||

---19p14----------------------------14-19p14----------14-21p14---------14--||
---------15----------------------15----------15----15----------15---15-----||
*-----------16----------------16----------------16----------------16------*||
*--------------16----------16---------------------------------------------*||
------------------17-1417--------------------------------------------------||
---------------------------------------------------------------------------||
--24p19-------------------------------20p15-------------------------------|
--------20-------------------------20-------16-------------------------16-|
-----------21-------------------21-------------17-------------------17----|
--------------21-------------21-------------------17-------------17-------|
-----------------22-19----22-------------------------18-15----18----------|
-----------------------19----------------------------------15-------------|
--16p11----------------------------11-16p11----------11-18p11----------11-|
--------12----------------------12----------12----12----------12----12----|
-----------13----------------13----------------13----------------13-------|
--------------13----------13----------------------------------------------|
-----------------14-11-14-------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--15p11----------------------------11-18p15----------------------------15-|
--------11----------------------11----------16----------------------16----|
-----------12----------------12----------------15----------------15-------|
--------------13----------13----------------------17----------17----------|
-----------------13-10-13----------------------------18-13-18-------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--23p18----------------------------18-23p18-------------------|
--------20----------------------20----------20----------------|
-----------20----------------20----------------20-------------|
--------------20-17----17-20----------------------20-17-------|
--------------------18----------------------------------18----|
--------------------------------------------------------------|
-----------------13-16p13----19p16----22p19----------------------17-18-19-|
--15p12----12-15----------15-------18-------21----------------21----------|
--------13-------------------------------------22-19----19-22-------------|
-----------------------------------------------------21-------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|---20p15----------------------------15-20p15----------15-22p15---------15--||
|---------16----------------------16----------16----16----------16---16-----||
|*-----------17----------------17----------------17---------------17-------*||
|*--------------17---------17----------------------------------------------*||
|------------------18-1518--------------------------------------------------||
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------||

--20p17----------------------------17-20p17----------17p14----------14----|
--------19----------------------19----------19-------------16----------16-|
-----------20-17----------17-20----------------20-17----------17-14-------|
-----------------19-16-19-------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--17p14----------------------------14-17p14-------------------------------|
--------16----------------------16----------16-------16p13----------------|
-----------17-14----------14-17----------------17-14-------14-------14-11-|
-----------------16-13-16-------------------------------------16-13-------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------|--------------------||
--------------------------|--------------------||
--12----13----12----11----|--12----------------||
--------------------------|--------------------||
--------------------------|--------------------||
--------------------------|--------------------||
Well that you should keep you busy for a while. Remember these things...
A) You aren't going to master or even learn this in one day or week or maybe even one
month. Go at your own pace and stay comfortable.
B) Don't go too fast! The notes are supposed to be heard not just played. Most shredders
don't understand that they need to play music and not just a bunch
of notes muffled together to make some noise. Music is what you're trying to play, not
noise.
Good luck and have fun!

Harmonisation Part 1
Learn how to harmonise your lead playing, at the same time developing your
knowledge of the guitar neck and giving you different ideas of where to take
that solo. You are guided through the process of harmonising songs step by
step, with examples included.
Harmonised leads were basically played to death during the 80's, but they are still fun,
and the ability to harmonise is useful.
In fact, it gives you both better knowledge of the neck of the guitar, and if you play a
lead thinking in terms of harmony rather than in that of scales, you will come up with
different lead ideas than you might otherwise. So without further ado, here's a primer in
harmonising single note lines into diads and triads.
First, let's start by harmonising scales into thirds. Play a C major scale on the B string of
your guitar, like this:
C D E F G A B C
|-----------------------------------------------|
|----1----3----5----6----8----10----12----13----|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
Now, what is the major third of C (or, in plain English, in a C major scale, what note is
three pitches above the C)?
E, which is conveniently on the open string directly above the C we just played. So now
play a C major scale from E to E along the top string of your guitar, like this:
E F G A B C D E
|----0----1----3----5----7----8----10----12----|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
Now here's the tricky part. To harmonise the C scale into thirds, all you have to do is play
the scale from C to C and from E to E simultaneously. But wait a second, you ask. There
are four half steps between the C and the E, but there's only three between the D and F:
what's with that? Well, you're harmonising the scale into "diatonic thirds", or thirds in
relation to a given key center. In C major, the third degree (E) of a C chord is a "major
third" interval, or 4 half steps. This is what makes the chord sound major. However, in the
key of C the distance between the root and the third of the D chord (D to F) is only 3 half
steps, or a "minor third". This is what makes the chord minor. Confused? Play them
together, and listen to how they sound. (the letters in parenthesis are the names of the
chords suggested by the harmony)
(C) (Dm) (Em) (F) (G) (Am) (Bm) (C)
|----0----1----3----5----7----8-----10----12----|
|----1----3----5----6----8----10----12----13----|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
Now if you still don't see why you harmonise in relation to a set scale rather than a
constant interval, play the example below, a C scale harmonised with a constant interval
of four half steps between the two pitches.
|----0----2----4----5----7----9-----11----12----|
|----1----3----5----6----8----10----12----13----|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|

|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
Sounds kinda odd, doesn't it? That's because the major third of some of the pitches in
the C major scale don't fall within the C major scale. It is possible to harmonise in
"parallel thirds" like this, however you have to consciously be looking for dissonance to
pull that off.
Of course, there are other positions on the neck you'll want to play harmonies in; take a
look at these "diads" (or "double stops," as they're sometimes called- two notes played
simultaneously). All are in the key of C containing a C note, some with the root above the
third, and some with it below (although placing the root above the third has some
interesting "side effects" that will come up in a later lesson, technically you're playing an
interval of a 6th when you do this. But it is still musically "correct" to view it as an
inversion of a C diad. If this doesn't make any sense to you, ignore it for now).
|--------------------------------8---0-------|
|-------5------------1---5-------------------|
|-------5-------9------------9---9-----------|
|---2-----------10---2-----------------------|
|---3-------7------------3-----------3---3---|
|-----------8----------------8-----------0---|
Some of those later ones get a bit stretchy as you go up the neck, but wide intervals like
that sound really beautiful, so it's worth the effort. (check out Eric Johnson's melodies for
examples of this type of stuff in use).
Now, hopefully you have some idea of the basics of harmonisation - let's apply it to a
melody. This one is slightly complex, but it's memorable, which is helpful when learning
new concepts: I'll use Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," transposed to the key of
C.
"we're not gonna take it... No, We ain't gonna take it,
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|-5---5-------5---7-----------9-----9---7---9---10--------|
|---------5-----------5------------------------------10---|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
We're not gonna take it anymore......"
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|-10---9-9---7---9---10---10---10-9---7---5--------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
Now let's start harmonising! The first two notes are C's - refer back to the harmonised
scale above if you have to (or better yet, play it from memory while doing this to ingrain
it into your subconscious), and note that the third of C in this key is major, giving us an E.
The next note is a G. Once again, major third, giving us a B. Another C, then a D. The
third this time is minor, as is the third of the E that follows shortly after it- this gives us
an F and a G, respectively. continue throughout, and you should come up with something
like this:
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-5--5-----5--6-------8--8--6--8--10-------10--8-8--6--8--10--10--10-8--6-5--|
|-5--5--4--5--7--4----9--9--7--9--10--9----10--9-9--7--9--10--10--10-9--7-5--|
|-------5--------5-------------------10--------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|

|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Some of the fingerings are a bit tricky, so don't try to play it faster than you can. As it
turns out, you really don't have to - most of the fun with harmonised leads comes when
you play them on two separate tracks, or with two guitarists. Try this; First, either grab a
friend and teach him the melody, or record yourself playing it. Now, while either he or
your computer/tape deck plays the melody, play the harmony along with it:
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-5--5-----5--6-------8--8--6--8--10-------10--8-8--6--8--10--10--10-8--6-5--|
|-------4--------4-------------------9---------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Sounds pretty dissonant on it's own, but when you put them together, you get this really
cool almost "chorused" effect from the sound of the two guitars playing together.
Even if the sound of harmonised guitar doesn't appeal to you, being able to harmonise
lines is a great improvising tool. For instance, if you were going to take a solo while your
band was covering "We're Not Gonna Take It" and you wanted to do something a bit more
complex than the version on the CD, you could play a line that starts off like this, based
almost entirely around notes taken from the harmonised melody;
|--------------------------------------------------------------|
|------5--------------6p5----------------8p6\5--/10~-----------|
|--4h5----5--4h5p4--------5--5~----7/9~---------------9/10\9~--|
|------------------5-------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------|
(we're not gonna take it... No, we ain't gonna take it...)
Kinda cool, huh? Could I improvise a line like that off the top of my head? Probably not.
Could Satriani or Vai? Wanna bet? The knowledge you'll gain from learning this technique
will undoubtedly be invaluable, giving you many different ideas for lead playing.
Part 2 of this lesson will be up in the near future, check the front page for updates.
Thanks to Zarathustra, who helped with the creation of this lesson.

Harmonisation Part 2
The second lesson in our harmonisation series takes the idea further,
harmonising into fifths.
In the previous lesson, we looked at harmonising major scales into diatonic thirds. Adding
the 5th degree to the harmonies in that lesson gives you a diatonic triad. A triad is three
pitches played in conjunction and, assuming each pitch is unique, is by definition the
smallest number of notes needed to play a chord. To begin with, take the C major scale
harmonised into thirds from the first lesson on harmonising. Play it up and down the neck
again, to re-familiarize yourself with it.
(C) (Dm) (Em) (F) (G) (Am) (Bm) (C)
|----0----1----3----5----7----8-----10----12----|
|----1----3----5----6----8----10----12----13----|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
Now, let's try harmonising a C major scale into diatonic fifths. You still remember what
your C major scale looks like on the B string from the last lesson:
|-----------------------------------------------|
|----1----3----5----6----8----10----12----13----|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
The 5th degree of C is G, which conveniently happens to be the open string below our
first note. So, this time play a C major scale from G to G on the G string of your guitar.
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----0----2----4----5----7----9----10----12----|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
Now play them together. Once again, since you start with an interval of a 5th and ascend
on each string through the same scale, each interval will be a diatonic 5th in that
particular scale (once again, "diatonic" intervals are intervals in relation to a given scale,
and are not necessarily the same number of pitches apart, as a result of the pattern of
whole and half steps of the scale you're harmonising in.)
C5 D5 E5 F5 G5 A5 B(b5) C5
|-----------------------------------------------|
|----1----3----5----6----8----10----12----13----|
|----0----2----4----5----7----9-----10----12----|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
Note that the interval is a constant "perfect 5th" (7 half steps apart) with the exception of
the B, in which case it's a "flatted 5th" (6 half steps apart). Now, we combine the
harmonised thirds and harmonised 5ths and you get a C major scale harmonised into
triads.
C Dm Em F G Am Bdim C
|----0----1----3----5----7----8-----10----12----|
|----1----3----5----6----8----10----12----13----|
|----0----2----4----5----7----9-----10----12----|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
Some of those shapes should look very familiar to you, most notably the C and the Dm,
which are both parts of their respective open-position chords. Now that we have three

unique pitches, we can name these chords correctly as either major (composed of the
root, perfect 5th, and major 3rd), minor (root, perfect 5th, and minor 3rd), or diminished
(root, flatted 5th, minor third). The diminished chord probably will sound a little weird to
you at first, but play this harmonised scale ascending and descending until it starts to
make sense to your ear. Diminished chords are rarely used in rock, but they're important
in classical harmony, and one listen to almost any shred solo will tell you how relevant
classical music is to shred guitar. Once again, it's a good idea to try to harmonise these in
a few different positions on the neck. Play with these shapes (all are C major triads):
|-------------3------------8--------3-------3--------|
|-----1-------5---5--------8---8----1---5---5--------|
|-0---0-------5---5---9----9---9----------------9----|
|-2---2---0-------5---10-------10---2---5------------|
|-3-------2-----------10----------------3---3---10---|
|---------3-------------------------------------8----|
The ones toward the end sound especially beautiful, especially if you play them as
arpeggios (one note at a time). For example, try playing this line; it's extremely simple,
but it sounds great. I play it as straight 8th notes, with a downbeat falling every other
chord. Sounds cool with tons of gain if you palm-mute the notes on the lower strings:
|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
|-----5-----6-----8------10-------12-------13-------15-------17~--|
|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
|---5-----7-----9-----10-------12-------14-------15-------17------|
|-3-----5-----7-----8-------10-------12-------14-------15---------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
And you can also add surrounding notes from the scale you harmonised from to
arpeggios like the set above with good result; for example, try the passage below. Give
all the notes the same duration, except for the last one - just hold it for a while. It's pretty
simple, but it sounds cool in a very classical etude sort of way:
|-------12h13p12----------10h12p10---------8h10p8--------7h8p7------5h7p5---|
|----13----------13----12----------12---10--------10---8-------8---6------6-|
|-12----------------10----------------9--------------7----------5-----------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-----3h5p3-------1h3p1---0------------|
|---5-------5---3-------3---1----------|
|-4-----------2---------------0--------|
|-------------------------------2------|
|---------------------------------3~---|
|--------------------------------------|
I've been doing this clean and slowly, but if you wanna dial up an overdriven tone and rip
through it for more of a neo-classical vibe, that's pretty cool too. Triad harmonies are a bit
much in most contexts for lead playing, but these make a great compositional tool. For
example, look at the excerpt from the introduction to Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover"
below (tabbed by Frank V. Ricciardi, fvr@bae.bellcore.com). These types of arpeggio
figures are a trademark of his style. This piece is in the key of G major. I've put the
names of the chords above the arpeggios - go through and analyze it, looking at the
different shapes he's using.
Am--| Bm--| Em--------| Am-----| G-------| C------|
---------------------7----8/10~-8---------------------------------------------------5-----7/8-10---10----------12-------12-------13~----------15------17-

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------7-----9----------------------------14-------14-----------17------17-----2/3-----5---------------------------10-------12--------12/14------15----------------------------------------------------------------------------------D------| (I was too lazy to cut this stuff out. besides, it's cool :o)
-----------15~-15----15----15----15----15----15----15----15----15----15---15--------19--------19----------------------------17---19---------------------------------------------19----------------17---------------19--------------------19-----------------------19----17----------------------------19---17----17----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------He's alternating between two shapes, the first with the third underneath, then the 5th on
top, and another with the root underneath, then the 5th, and then the third above. Notice
the changes between the Em and the Am and the G and the C; there is very little
movement on the fretboard creating a powerful harmonic shift. Have fun with these
ideas, and practice them in other keys. Eventually, they will become second nature, and
will give you a different approach to composing melodies and leads (and even to an
extent rhythm guitar parts).