Guitar All-in-One For Dummies book cover

Guitar All-in-One For Dummies

Published: November 3, 2020

Overview

A one-stop resource to the essentials of owning and playing the guitar 

If you’ve just bought a guitar, or you’ve had one for a while, you probably know it takes some time and effort to learn how to play the popular instrument. There’s so much to know about owning, maintaining, and playing a guitar. Where do you even begin? 

In Guitar All-in-One For Dummies, a team of expert guitarists and music teachers shows you the essentials you need to know about owning and playing a guitar. From picking your first notes to exploring music theory and composition, maintaining your gear, and diving into the specifics of genres like blues and rock, this book is a comprehensive and practical goldmine of indispensable info. 

Created for the budding guitarist who wants all their lessons and advice in one place, the book will show you how to: 

  • Maintain, tune, and string your guitar, as well as decipher music notation and guitar tablature  
  • Understand guitar theory, sounds and techniques to help you learn new songs and add your style to classic tunes 
  • Practice several popular genres of guitar music, including blues, rock, and classical 
  • Access accompanying online video and audio instructional resources that demonstrate the lessons you find in the book 

Perfect for guitar players at any skill level, Guitar All-in-One For Dummies is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to get the most out of their own guitar and make great music. 

A one-stop resource to the essentials of owning and playing the guitar 

If you’ve just bought a guitar, or you’ve had one for a while, you probably know it takes some time and effort to learn how to play the popular instrument. There’s so much to know about owning, maintaining, and playing a guitar. Where do you even begin? 

In Guitar All-in-One For Dummies, a team of expert guitarists and music teachers shows you the essentials you need to know about owning and playing a guitar. From picking your first notes to exploring music theory and composition, maintaining your gear, and diving into the specifics of genres like blues and rock, this book is a comprehensive and practical goldmine of indispensable info. 

Created for the

budding guitarist who wants all their lessons and advice in one place, the book will show you how to: 

  • Maintain, tune, and string your guitar, as well as decipher music notation and guitar tablature  
  • Understand guitar theory, sounds and techniques to help you learn new songs and add your style to classic tunes 
  • Practice several popular genres of guitar music, including blues, rock, and classical 
  • Access accompanying online video and audio instructional resources that demonstrate the lessons you find in the book 

Perfect for guitar players at any skill level, Guitar All-in-One For Dummies is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to get the most out of their own guitar and make great music. 

Guitar All-In-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Learning to play the guitar is a lot fun. Use this cheat sheet to help you get started with your guitar finger placement and guitar chords. If you need help with finger placement on your guitar, use tablature (tab) and fingerboard diagrams. Practice playing the most common open-position chords on your guitar to get that “jangly” sound, and make sure you know the notes on the neck of your guitar to change starting notes in scales, chords, and arpeggios.

Articles From The Book

59 results

Guitar Articles

Playing Chord Progressions with Open Chords on the Guitar

You can use chord patterns to track chord progressions in the open position on the guitar, although doing so takes some extra work and requires that you identify the actual note name of each chord. To play in the key of G using common open chords, visualize the 6th string chord pattern starting on G at the 3rd fret and replace each barre chord with an open chord. Here’s how:

  1. Visualize the 1st barre chord, the I chord (G), but play an open G chord instead.

  2. Visualize the 2nd chord, the ii chord (Am), but play an open Am instead.

  3. Because there’s no open chord iii (Bm), play Bm at the 2nd fret of the 5th string close to the open position instead.

  4. Use common open chords to play chords IV, V, and vi (C, D, and Em).

  5. Play through all the chords forward and backward, calling out the numbers as you go.

    Follow along with your eye using the 6th string chord pattern even though you’re not using its barre chords.

After you get the hang of playing like this in G, you can move the chord pattern and use open chords in other keys like F and A. When you do this, play open chords when you can and use the barre chords to fill in the rest, staying as close to the open position as possible.

For example, in the key of F, you can play the Am, C, and Dm as open chords, but you have to use the barre chords to play the rest. In the key of A, you can play A, D, and E as open chords, Bm and C♯m at the 2nd and 4th frets of the 5th string, and F♯m at the 2nd fret of the 6th string. Do the same thing with the 5th string chord pattern starting in the key of C. In C, you can play all the chords as open chords except for F, which guitarists usually play as a partial barre chord when it’s paired with open chords. Move the chord pattern and use open chords in other keys; just remember to stay as close to the open position as possible when you need to fill in with barre chords.

Guitar Articles

How to Harmonize the Major Scale to Build Triads and Chords on the Guitar

A triad is a set of three notes stacked in 3rds. Playing in 3rds on the guitar means that you start on a scale degree, count it as “1,” and then move to the scale degree that is three away, “3.” For example, the G major scale is G-A-B-C-D-E-F♯. If you start counting from G, then the 3rd is B (G-A-B, 1-2-3). If you start counting from A, then the 3rd is C (A-B-C, 1-2-3). A triad is three notes that are all a 3rd apart. For example, in the G major scale, G and B are a 3rd apart and B and D are a 3rd apart. Together all three of these notes are a 3rd apart, called two consecutive 3rds. G-B-D make a G triad. You also call the members of the triad root, 3rd, and 5th because counting from the starting point, G, B is the 3rd degree and D is the 5th. G A B C D E F♯ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 G B D 1 3 5 Harmonizing a root, 3rd, and 5th together (in other words, playing them simultaneously) produces a chord. Basically, the difference between any old chord and a triad is that a chord is a group of three or more notes, and a triad is specifically a root, 3rd, and 5th. You build triads on all scale degrees by following a formula of 3rds. Not all triads are the same. Because of the half step and whole step formula of the major scale, some 3rds are closer or farther apart than others. As a result, there are major triads and minor triads. One triad is diminished.

Major triad: Building from the 1st scale degree of the major scale

Building a triad starting from the 1st degree of the major scale produces a major triad. Sounding the triad’s notes produces a major chord. In the first diagram, you see all 7 degrees of the G major scale in one sample position. In the second diagram, you see just the root, 3rd, and 5th triad. When you strum all three of these triad notes simultaneously, you play a chord. Specifically, this chord is G major G because the root is G and major because the distance between the root and 3rd is two whole steps, which make up a major 3rd. The third diagram shows you that the actual note names of the G triad are G, B, and D.
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna
A G major chord is always made from the notes G-B-D; however, you can have more than one occurrence of each note. For example, you can play a G major chord as G-B-D-G or G-B-D-G-B. You can even stack the notes out of order like this: G-D-G-B. Whatever order you play the notes in and however many occurrences of each note you play, all combinations of G-B-D produce harmony that’s recognized as a G major chord. Notice that these common G major chord shapes all use the same notes, although not necessarily in the same number or order. Chords like the ones shown here are considered triads because, technically, they’re still based on three pitches even though they vary in the exact number and order of their notes.
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

Minor triad: Building from the 2nd scale degree of the major scale

Using the G major scale, count one-two-three-four-five from the 2nd degree, A (A-B-C-D-E), and take every other note, 1-3-5 or A-C-E. This is an A minor triad A because the root is A and minor because the distance from 1 to 3 is a step and a half, which makes up a minor 3rd or flat 3rd (♭ó3) interval. Check out how to build a triad from the 2nd major scale degree, A. The major scale used here is exactly the same as the one used for the previous triad, G major. The only difference is that you’re now counting from the 2nd scale degree, A, to determine its 3rd and 5th. The G note was left at the 3rd fret of the 6th string blank so that you know not to start on it. You can play the note A either on the open 5th string or at the 5fth fret of the 6th string. You need to do the latter to play the triad as a chord. You can see that the notes of this A minor triad are A-C-E.
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna
Notice that these common A minor chord shapes all use the same notes, although not necessarily in the same number or order. (In case you don’t know, an “X” at the top of a string indicates that you don’t play that string.)
Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

Guitar Articles

Using the C Form as a Moveable Barre Chord on the Guitar

To use the C form as a moveable barre chord, your 1st finger acts like a capo and lays across (barres) the guitar neck while your remaining fingers form the rest of the chord shape.

One way to arrive at this fingering is to play an ordinary open C chord, replace fingers 1-2-3 with 2-3-4 (this puts your 4th finger on C at the 3rd fret of the 5th string), slide your fingers up two frets, and then barre across the 2nd fret with your 1st finger. The numbers indicate the fingering.

Credit: Illustration courtesy of Desi Serna

When everything is in place, this shape actually becomes a D chord. Your 4th finger ends up on the new root D at the 5th fret of the 5th string.

Don’t fret (no pun intended) if this barre chord is hard to play. This shape is rarely, if ever, used in its entirety. Instead, it’s usually broken apart into smaller, more easily fingered pieces. However, to understand where these fragments come from, you need to know the full form. So just focus on visualizing the shape of the C form barre chord.

If you’re having trouble, don’t barre completely across the fingerboard with your 1st finger. The only open strings in a C chord are the 1st and 3rd, so you need to barre only enough to cover those strings when you move the shape up.

Slide this barre chord shape around and play a chord for notes along the 5th string. Note the root is always under your 4th finger.