Guitar - Music Theory

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How to Start Numbers on the 5th String on the Guitar

It’s easy to build a new chord pattern that starts on the 5th string of the guitar. The chords and scale degrees are still drawn from the major scale. The numbers stay the same, too. But the pattern looks [more…]

Basics of the Relationship between Major and Minor Scales on the Guitar

Every piece of music on the guitar has a tonal center called a tonic. The tonic is the primary pitch or chord that everything else revolves around. It’s where a piece of music sounds resolved or complete [more…]

Basics of Chord Tones and Extensions on the Guitar

Before you get started playing new types of chords on the guitar, some preliminary information about chord tones and extensions is necessary. You go beyond playing triad-based chords by adding in the degrees [more…]

How to Combine Harmonic Minor and Pentatonic on the Guitar

Raising the 7th in the minor scale creates whole new scale patterns for lead guitarists to learn on the guitar. Understanding this scale can help you better understand both melody and harmony. Knowing [more…]

How to Add Raised 7th to the Pentatonic on the Guitar

The best way to start using the harmonic minor scale in a pentatonic pattern on the guitar is to play over a simple minor chord progression, using a minor pentatonic pattern and adding a raised 7th over [more…]

How to Complete the Harmonic Minor Scale on the Guitar

After you add the notes of the V7 chord into the pentatonic pattern on the guitar, you’re just one note away from having complete natural and harmonic minor scales. In A minor, you only need to add in [more…]

How to Play in Harmonic Minor Mode on the Guitar

Generally speaking, you use only one mode of the harmonic minor scale. In this mode, the 5th degree of the harmonic minor scale functions as the tonic. That’s means that the V chord is the tonic chord. [more…]

Basics of the Melodic Minor Scale on the Guitar

The melodic minor scale is a variation of the harmonic minor scale with a raised 6th in addition to the raised 7th. It’s used more often in jazz and classical music than in rock, and its formula looks [more…]

How to Use Harmonic Minor in Dorian Mode on the Guitar

On the guitar, the Dorian mode is like a natural minor scale with a raised 6th. So if you raise the 7th as well, you end up with a melodic minor scale. [more…]

How to Play Over a Blues V7 Chord on the Guitar

The key to playing blues music on the guitar is remembering that all the chords used are some type of dominant 7th chord. In other words, blues chords are any type of chord with a major 3rd and f7th, such [more…]

How to Learn and Analyze Songs on the Guitar

Learning songs on the guitar is the absolute best way to develop as a musician. Every song you learn teaches you something new about using chords, playing progressions, and applying scales [more…]

How to Play “Stairway to Heaven” on the Guitar

“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin is one of the most popular songs of all time on the guitar and for good reasons. Not only is it a great piece of music to listen to, but it’s also a goldmine of guitar [more…]

How to Play “With or Without You” on the Guitar

“With or Without You” by U2 has a few features that make it one of the most important examples of contemporary music on the guitar. These features include implied chords, ambient guitar playing, sustained [more…]

How to Play “Wish You Were Here” on the Guitar

“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd is a great example of using the pentatonic scale pattern on the guitar with added chord tones as a result of pedal tones. It’s also a good introduction to lead guitar [more…]

How to Play “La Bamba” on the Guitar

“La Bamba” is a Mexican folk song made famous by Los Lobos. It’s a great example of the I-IV-V chord progression on the guitar, the use of major scale patterns, and the technique of playing in 3rds. [more…]

How to Practice the Major Scale on the Guitar

Playing up and down scale patterns on the guitar isn’t exactly the most enjoyable way to spend your time. Frankly, it can be tedious, and it may even feel pointless to you. Sure, eventually, you’ll be [more…]

How to Identify the Modes of the Major Scale on the Guitar

Relative major and relative minor aren’t the only types of keys you can have when playing the guitar. In fact, any degree in the major scale can function as the tonic [more…]

Basics of Phrygian (iii) mode on the Guitar

Phrygian is the third mode of the major scale on the guitar — when the 3rd scale degree functions as the tonic. It’s considered a minor key because it centers on a minor chord. [more…]

Basics of Lydian (IV) mode on the Guitar

Lydian is the fourth mode of the major scale on the guitar — when the 4th scale degree functions as the tonic. Because it centers on a major chord, it’s considered a major key. Rarely do you hear a song [more…]

Basics of Mixolydian (V) mode on the Guitar

Mixolydian is the fifth mode of the major scale on the guitar — when the 5th scale degree functions as the tonic. It centers on a major chord, so it’s considered a major key. It’s also called the [more…]

Basics of Key Signatures on the Guitar

Generally, major keyed songs on the guitar center on the 1st degree of the major scale, while minor keyed songs center on the 6th degree. However, you can also center music on one of the other major scale [more…]

How to Compare Scale Formulas and Structures on the Guitar

On the guitar a scale or chordformula is its pattern of steps and intervals. For example, a major triad is 1-3-5. A major scale is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. The following charts compare the different scale formulas [more…]

How to Change Keys by Switching Tonics on the Guitar

You may think of music on the guitar as having a main chord called the tonic, as well as a parent scale that the tonic and the rest of the chord progression are drawn from. However in many songs the tonic [more…]

How to Change Key and Progression on the Guitar

Sometimes when a song moves to a new key on the guitar, that change introduces a completely different chord progression. Here, you start with a chord progression in A, followed by a new chord progression [more…]

How to Play Circle Progressions on the Guitar

So far, you’ve covered various chord progressions built out of root movements of 5ths and 4ths, but how is a lead guitarist supposed to play over these types of progressions? Secondary dominants borrow [more…]


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