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BLACKFORREST

The Blackforrest

L E A RN I N G
Guitar Companion

SE RI ES
A boiled-down player’s guide
1

Eric Branner
BLACKFORREST
L E ARN I N G
SE R I ES
1
Index
Part I Intro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
How to use this book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
The Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Part II Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Tuning the Guitar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Learning the Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Fretboard Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Whole Steps & Half Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
BC/EF Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Intervals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Circle of 5ths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Part III Chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21


Open chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Open 7ths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Power chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Barre chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Triads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Suspended chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Moveable 7th & 9th Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Diminished Chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Augmented Chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Inversions & Slash Chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Arpeggio shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Part IV Scales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Chromatic Scales & Patterns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Major Scale Shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Three notes per string Major shapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
The CAGED System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Major & Minor Pentatonics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Major & Minor Blues Scales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Minor Scales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Harmonic Minor Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Melodic Minor Scales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Diminished & Whole Tone Scales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65

Part V Parting Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68


Intro
The Blackforrest Guitar Companion is a reference book
for all students of the guitar. In my experience teaching,
I’ve noticed that the majority of aspiring musicians
detest method books and the vigorous study of arbitrary
melodies in the public domain. However, learning
the necessary chords, scales, intervals, theory, and
techniques to play favorite tunes are embraced whole-
heartedly. Music is music regardless of genre. The same
notes, chords, and rhythms are found in rock, folk, jazz,
classical, metal, bluegrass, and of course polka. The
information included in this book should eventually be
mastered by any student of the guitar. This is a great
tool to keep in your case or on your music stand. If you’re
looking for the right scale to rip a blues solo, or if you’re
looking for that perfect chord to complete your first
song, it’s all right here. I’ve purposely left out teaching
rhythm, note reading, and technique. Those will be
addressed in later volumes. I hope this book supports
the guitar nerd that rests in all of us. What an amazing
instrument we play.

Happy shredding.

1
Photo: Deborah Semer

Bio
Eric Branner has been teaching and performing music for over fifteen years. He has
taught at the American Music School, Holy Names Academy, and is the owner/
operator of Blackforrest Music Studios. His enthusiasm for guitar and studying
music has versed him classical, blues, rock, metal, shred, bluegrass, and fingerstyle
guitar idioms. His teaching philosophy is meeting each student where they presently
are on their musical journey, and inspiring them to love the instrument enough to
pursue it further. He lives in Seattle with his wife Alyson, his daughter Edith, son
Huck and an old black lab named Forrest.
How to use this book…
(you should probably read this)

This is a functional reference book for guitar. There are sections


on Theory, Chords, Scales, and Arpeggios. This book does not
address rhythm, note reading, or technique…we will get to that in
later volumes! You don’t need to read music to get the concepts.
You do need to understand the basics architecture of the guitar as
well as tablature, chord charts, and scale charts. Everyone’s mind
learns in a different manner, some people think in geometries on
the fretboard, others see numbers represented frets. I’ve tried to
present the information in a way that will leave an impression.

Let’s get to it…

Watch for this symbol


throughout the book where
we’ll discuss ideas of how to
help your playing, or explain
a concept in more detail.

4
The Basics
The guitar is a fretted instrument with six strings. Steel string, nylon
string, and electric all share the same fundamental construction.
However, each has it’s own strengths and stylistic adornments.

5
Nylon String (fig 1.1) — often called the classical or spanish guitar, these
instruments usually have wider necks to facilitate finger picking in the right hand.
The nylon strings also create a more pianistic tone that is the standard for classical
guitar. Also used in folk, flamenco, jazz, and Latin music.

Steel String Acoustic (fig 1.2) — steel strings have a brighter tone, and are played
with a picks or with fingers. They are used for folk, rock, blues, jazz…and are most
often the songwriter’s main accompaniment.

Electric (fig 1.3) — electric guitars come in two basic styles, solid body and semi-
hollow body. The electric guitar that most people imagine is the solid body, such as
a strat or a Les Paul style. Electrics rely on pickups to amplify sound, so they don’t
need the resonant body that an acoustic has. Electrics are the mainstay of most
amplified music such as rock, metal, blues, jazz, etc.

Electric or Acoustic…which should I start with? The age old question.


Most parents assume that their children should start on acoustic to build strong
fingers, and not blow the roof off of the house with an electric guitar. Although
that’s a fine approach to learning, I encourage students of all ages to start on either
acoustic or electric, depending on musical interests and goals. The electric has
some serious benefits…for one, the lighter gauge strings are easier to push down
than an acoustic, making it easier to rock those chords in your first year of playing.
Also, from a sound perspective, parents should consider that an electric can actually
be quieter than an acoustic! It all depends how loud you crank your amp.

Get a Set Up!


Find a good guitar tech and let them work their magic
on your guitar. A set up consists of adjusting the action,
(the height of the strings from the fretboard), setting
the neck truss rod if necessary, and any other adjust-
ments a guitar needs to play well. A well adjusted guitar
makes a huge difference in ease of playing.

6
The Guitar Roadmap
Notice in fig 1.4 the guitar has 6 strings and a bunch
of frets. For now, we’ll call the fattest string 6 and the
skinniest string 1. You play fretted notes by depressing
the string against a fret wire, just behind the fret wire.
This makes a fretted note. The fret closest to the tuning
knobs is fret one. If you know what string and fret to
push down, you can play any note on the fretboard.
fig 1.4

Your Fretting Hand


2 3
1 You will notice circles with numbers on the charts in
4 this book. These are recommendations for fretting
fingers (fig 1.5).

T
Chord Charts
A chord chart is a grid diagram where the vertical lines
represent the strings of the guitar, and the horizontal
lines represent frets (fig 1.6). The dots tell you where to
fig 1.5 place your fingers on those frets. If there are numbers
on the grid, that indicates which fingers to use for left
C hand placement. (1-4, one is the index finger) Also…an
X “O” at the top of the grid means to play the string open,
1 an “X” tells you to not play that string.
2
3
Roots
The root is the note which a certain scale, chord, or

fig 1.6
arpeggio is centered upon. Root notes for scales,
This example of a C chords, and arpeggios in this book will be identified
chord shows the chord’s with an orange dot or triangle depending on the type of
root on the 5th string as
noted with the orange “3”.
chart it is being used in.
The fingering for ”1” also
happens to be a C note.

7
Tablature
Tablature (fig 1.7) is the working folks music notation. It has actually existed
since the renaissance days of the lute/vihuela. You’ll notice the only downside of
tablature is that it does not give rhythm, just the notes to play. Each line represents
a string, and the numbers on the lines represent a fret. A “0” on the line states
to play that string open. Remember this…the heaviest string would sink to the
bottom. So the 6th string is the bottom line. One more thing: If notes are stacked
on top of each other, that represents a chord.

fig 1.7 Two Octave G Major Scale


Two Octave G Major Scale
5 7 8
5 7 8
4 5 7
4 5 7
3 5 7
3 5 7

Why aren’t we learning standard notation?


Learning to read notes is a great idea, however, the unfortunate
truth is most guitarists do not learn to read standard notation.
For jazzers, classical players, and serious students of music,
reading is a must. We'll address that another time.

Scale Charts
Scales will be written in tablature (fig 1.8) and in a chart form (fig 1.9) similar to
the chords. The idea is to understand the geometries created by the various scale
patterns.

fig 1.8 Two Octave A Major Scale fig 1.9


True Chromatic scale
4 5
5 6
4 6 7 5
4
3 6 7
4 5 6
5 7

8
Theory
What is Music Theory?
In my mind, music theory is the understanding of what makes the magic in music.
Music is the combination of melody, harmony (chords), and rhythm. The following
sections will cover melody and harmony. Rhythm will be covered in depth in the
next book. Understanding the basic layout of the fretboard, and what makes certain
notes and chords go together is essential in developing a strong musical toolkit.

Let’s start by tuning up…

Tuning the Guitar


Tune your guitar before every practice. I recommend all
new students to begin with using a chromatic, electronic
tuner (fig 2.1). Learning to tune by ear is fantastic, and
takes years to master. I feel it’s most important to
have a well-tuned guitar. This way aspiring players are
constantly reinforcing their musical ear.

A few things about tuning...

fig 2.1

1 Your tuning keys (fig 2.2) will tighten or loosen the


strings. The tighter the string, the higher the pitch.
If a string is too tight, it is sharp (G), if a string is too
loose, or low in pitch...it is flat (H).

2 You will learn that slight changes in your tuning keys


make big changes in pitch. Turn slowly and in small
increments. Practice tightening and loosening the
strings.

3 I recommend having someone help get your guitar


in tune to start. This will save you many broken
fig 2.2
strings. If the guitar is nearly tuned, it’s much easier
to tune up.

10
How to Tune

1 Turn on your tuner. Most tuners have built in


microphones for acoustic guitars or a ¼ inch input
for electrics (fig 2.3). If you have an electric, make
sure it’s plugged in and the volume pot is turned up!

2 Pluck the 6th string of the guitar… the thickest


one. Pluck clearly, and let the note ring.
The tuner will register a letter note, and if it is sharp
or flat. You want your 6th string to be E. If it says
C or D or EH your string is too flat and you need to
fig 2.3 tighten it. If it says F or G, it’s too sharp and needs
to be loosened.

3 The arrow will usually point straight up, or have a


green led when the note is in tune (fig 2.4). If the
arrow or led is to the left of center, the note is flat
(H). If the arrow is to the right of center, it would be
sharp (G).

The open strings of the guitar are EADGBE, and


discussed in further detail in the next section.

fig 2.4

11
Relational Tuning: The 5th Fret Rule

Another way to tune your guitar by ear is the 5th Fret Rule. Look at the fretboard
diagram below (fig 2.5). Notice that the 5th fret of the 6th string is A. The 5th string
open (unfretted) is A. If you play the A on the 5th fret/6th string, it should sound
exactly like the 5th string open. This is called relational tuning, as you are tuning
each string in relation to another. In order for this to work, the string you’re starting
with needs to be in tune. Again, an electronic tuner is a big help! Also note that this
rule does not work for the 3rd to 2nd string. To play the same notes, the 4th fret of
the 3rd string is the same as the 2nd string open.

5th Fret Rule of Tuning: If you play the 5th fret of a string, it will sound the same
as the next string towards the floor unfretted, or open. This works on every string
except the 3rd and 2nd strings. The 4th fret of the 3rd string is equal to the 2nd
string open.

E A D G B E Open

1
2
3
B 4
A D G E A 5

fig 2.5
The exception to the 5th Fret Rule is
the relation between the 3rd and 2nd
string. You will need to move down
to the 4th fret of the 3rd string to
relationally tune to the 2nd string.

12
Learning the Notes on the Instrument
It is critical to learn the notes on the guitar in order to find roots and chord tones of
scales and chords. Many players avoid this step of learning. It’s really not that bad if
you understand a few basic rules and terms. Let’s start with the open strings.

Every Athlete Does Good By Exercising

E A D G B E Open

1
2
3
4
12 frets up (usually a double dot on the
5
Octave

neck) is the octave of the open string.


Meaning the 12th fret notes are the
6 same notes as the open string.

7
8
9
10
fig 2.5 The six notes played on
the open strings repeat again
11 at the 12th fret. EADGBE in
standard tuning.
12
fig 2.5

13
Fretboard Map

E A D G B E Open

F C F 1
B E A 2
G C F D G 3
B 4
A D G C E A 5
Octave

F 6
B E A D B 7
C F G C 8
B E 9
D G C F A D 10
11
E A D G B E 12
fig 2.6

14
Whole Steps & Half Steps C D F G A
D E G A B
The musical alphabet is made up of notes A-G,
then it starts over. However, there are 12 frets
between the octave. Some notes have sharps/flats
C D E F G A B C
Think of black keys on the piano (fig 2.7).

fig 2.7 This diagram shows


one octave of notes from C
Half Step = distance of one fret to C on the piano keyboard
Whole Step = distance of two frets

So…if you play any note, and then a note one fret
higher, you’ve moved up one-half step (fig2.8).

E A D G B E Open
A D G
F B E A C F 1
F C F
G B E A D G 2
A
G C F B D G 3
G C F
Afig 2.8 B DE G
D TheGrelation 4
of theA
notes A
and B on the fifth string is two frets
Aor one
Dwhole
G step,
C whereas
E A moving
5
one more fret from B to C would be
Aa halfDstep.G C A
B E A D F B 6
F
B E A D G B 7
A D
C F B E G C 8
C F G C
D G B E A D 9
D G C F A D 10
D G C F A D
E A D G B E 11

15 E A D G B E 12
BC/EF Rule
This is the last piece of the puzzle. All notes are 2 frets (one whole step) apart except
B and C, and E and F. There are no black keys between any of these notes on the
piano. This is the BC/EF Rule

So, if you know the open string names…you should be able to find the notes through
the next octave, and would then be able to find any note on the fretboard.

E A D G B E Open
A D G
F B E A C F 1
F C F
G B E A D G 2
A
G C F B D G 3
G C F D G
A D G B E A 4
A D G C E A 5
A D G C A
B E A D F B 6
F
B E A D G B 7
A D
C F B E G C 8
C F G C
D G B E A D 9
D G C F A D 10
D G C F A D
E A D G B E 11
E A D G B E 12 fig 2.9 B/C and E/F are
the only non-sharp/flat
A D G notes on the fretboard
F B E A C F 13 that are one fret apart

16
Intervals
An interval is the distance between two notes. First you must understand the idea
that there are twelve steps (frets) in the octave. This is why many guitars have
double dots at the 12th fret. The most basic intervals are a half step (1 fret) and a
whole step (2 frets).

Half Step = distance of one fret


Whole Step = distance of two frets

You need to know all of the other intervallic


relationships, and how they sound. The basic relation
between notes is critical in building a strong ear.
Here they are…

Interval (distance in frets):

Unison (0 fret distance)


Minor 2nd (1 fret, or a half step)
Major 2nd (2 frets, or a whole step)
Minor 3rd (3 frets)
Major 3rd (4 frets)
Perfect 4th (5 frets)
Augmented 4th/Diminished 5th (6 frets)
Perfect 5th (7 frets)
Augmented 5th/Minor 6th (8 frets)
Major 6th (9 frets)
Minor 7th (10 frets)
Major 7th (11 frets)
Octave (12 frets)

Note: aug 4th and dim 5th are enharmonic equivalents.


Meaning that they are two names for the same note!
Same applies for aug 5th/m6th

17
p
hi
ns
tio
ts
fre

la
re
in

lic
ce
s

al
te

an

rv
No

st

te
Di

In
E 0 Unison

F 1 Minor 2nd

F
2 Major 2nd
G

G 3 Minor 3rd

G
4 Major 3rd
A

A 5 Perfect 4th

A
6 Augmented 4th/Diminished 5th
B

B 7 Perfect 5th

C 8 Augmented 5th/Minor 6th

C
9 Major 6th
D

D 10 Minor 7th

D
11 Major 7th
E fig 2.10 This example shows
the 12 different intervals with
E 12 Octave the octave of E to E

Practice Tip
Play the open first string to hear the E in your mind.
Then practice hearing the unique sounds of each
interval. What do you hear when you play E-A
(the perfect fourth)? Can you hear the wedding march?
How about the perfect 5th? A certain sci-fi movie come
to mind? The minor 2nd (E-F) may bring the image of
a certain great white shark. Intervals are powerful!
Circle of 5ths
The Circle of 5ths (fig 2.11) tells you what sharps or flats make up each key.
You need to know this…Thinks of Do a Deer from Sound of Music. That is the major
octatonic scale, the scale that western music (not country, the civilization) is built
upon. If you play any note on the guitar, you can build a major scale from it if you
know what sharps or flats are in the key. It’s confusing for sure…much easier to use
it in application!

Key >
Sharps (G) & Flats (H)

C
F G
C: No sharps or flats

a G: FG
d e
B g 1
0
1
D D: FG, CG
A: FG, CG, GG
b
2 2 E: FG, CG, GG, DG
B: FG, CG, GG, DG, AG
E c 3 3 f A
FG: FG, CG, GG, DG, AG, EG
4 4
f 5 6 5 c GH: BH, EH, AH, DH, GH, CH

A b g E DH: BH, EH, AH, DH, GH


d /e AH: BH, EH, AH, DH
D B
F /G
EH: BH, EH, AH
BH: BH, EH
fig 2.11
F: BH

What Does it All Mean?


In the chart above, the outer ring represents the key, the
middle ring represents the associated minor, and the inner
ring represents the number of flats and sharps in the given
key. See the list above for the sharps and flats in each key.

19
Examples:

C Major has no sharps or flats.


The notes in the key of C are C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. You can see that clearly by playing
all the white keys through an octave starting on middle C on the piano.
C D F G A
D E G A B

E 
 A
C
C D E F G A B C C
 F a
fig 2.12 B
 0
D G C

fig 2.12-2.14 Piano keyboard,
fig 2.14
guitar fretboard and Circle fig 2.13
of 5ths representation of
the C Major scale.

E major has 4 sharps.


If you start on E you’d have to play E-FG-GG-A-B-CG-DG-E to build the major
octatonic. Amazing, You’ll come back to this chart again and again…someday
you’ll have it memorized.

F G C D E A


F B E


D
E
E F G A B C D E c
fig 2.15 
G 
C
4
fig 2.15-2.17 Piano keyboard, fig 2.16
guitar fretboard and Circle fig 2.17
of 5ths representation of
the E Major scale.

20
Chords
Part One…Cowboy Killer Chords
My first guitar teacher ever, Mike Rhoads, called all the open chords cowboy killer
chords. Meaning you can play a million cowboy songs around the campfire with
them. You can actually play a million songs of every variety once these chords are
mastered. They are called open chords as they are played in the open position (near
the nut on the neck) of the guitar. These geometries will occur again and again as
we move up the neck. They must be mastered.

Major Chords are build from a root, 3rd, and a 5th. They sound happy.

C A G E D
X X X X

1 1
2 123 1 23 1 2
3 2 3 3

Minor Chords are built from a root, H3rd, and a 5th.

Em Am Dm
X X X

1 1
23 23 2
3

Potato, Potahto…
We’re using the convention of Em to indicate an E minor
chord above. Other ways to indicate the same minor chord
would be to simply use a lowercase “e”, “E-” or “E min”.
All are just different ways of saying the same thing.

22
Part Two…The Plot Thickens
Once you get the basic open chords down. We build off of the basic chords we’ve
learned. Adding extensions such as 7ths. These chords add color to the chords
you already know. We have three types of 7th chords: Major 7th, Minor 7th, and
Dominant 7th.

Major 7th Chords are built from a root, 3rd, 5th, 7th.

AM7 CM7 DM7


X X X X

1
2 3 2
A Major 7th =
3
AM7, A maj 7, A 7

Minor 7th Chords are built from a root, H3rd, 5th, H7th.

Am7 Dm7 Em7


X X X

1
2 2 23
A Minor 7 th =
3 4
Am7, A min 7, a 7, A-7

Dominant 7th chord are built from a root, 3rd, 5th, H7th.

A7 B7 C7 D7 E7
X X X X X

1 1 1 1
2 3 2 3 4 2 2 3 2
3 4 3

Can you create an open position


G7 chord by adding an F (H7) on
the first string of a G chord?
23
Power Chords, The Root of All Evil
Power chords, technically called 5 chords, provide the rhythmic background of
almost every hard rock and metal song. They are really integral to punk, blues, and
just about everything else. A power chord consists of two notes, a root and 5th.
There is no third, therefore the chord is neither major or minor. It can imply either.
That’s why you can string random power chords together to create really excellent
progressions. Think Black Sabbath or Nirvana.

Place your first finger on any note of the 6th, 5th, or 4th string. They all work.
Add your third or fourth finger two frets higher on the next string up in pitch
(or down towards the floor). You can double the root an octave higher by adding
one more note.

Power Chord Shapes


These chords can be moved anywhere on the neck. Go learn Iron Man!

6th string root 5th string root 4th string root


X X X X X X X X X

1 1 1

34 34 3
4

Important note. Your first finger will be the root of this chord, or the name of the
chord. This is a main reason why you want to learn the notes on the 6th, 5th, and
4th strings. You should be able to name these chords by their appropriate names.

Such as… A few open power chords…

F5 A5 D5 A5 D5
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

1 1 1
11 1
34 34 3 2
4

Now you can play any AC/DC tune!

24
Barre Chords
Barring is the use of the first finger to depress three or more strings.

Using a barre, we can move open position chords further up the neck of the guitar.
Essentially turning each of the open chords into twelve separate chords (one for
each tone of the octave).

In learning the basic patterns, look for the geometries of the open chords. Most
commonly, barres are built around the E, Em, A, and Am open chord shapes, though
it is possible to barre any of the open shapes.

Example of a barre
on the 2nd fret

Barre chord examples:

F FGm BH
X
Bm
X

2 2 2
34 234 4
34 23

E shape Em shape A shape Am shape

25
Now that you understand
intervals and barre chords.
Master the moveable shapes
all the way up the neck
of the guitar.

Moving on Up
You will notice small numbers next to some of the chord and scale
charts used throughout the book. These numbers let you know that
the finger positions being shown are not in the open position, but
rather in a higher position on the neck. The chord examples at left
are all barred at specific frets on the neck.

If you slide the F chord up to the 7th fret, it becomes a B. If you slide it
to the 6th fret it becomes BH. You can play any major or minor chord
now! Make sure to learn the 6th and 5th string roots!
Triads
A triad refers to a chord made up of three notes. The open position chords such
as G are triads, with notes doubled across the 6 strings. The triads I’m referring to
here are moveable, three string chords that work all over the neck. These shapes
all come from the open position shapes. Look for the geometries from the open
position chords. If we break down an E major barre chord shape, we get these triad
combinations…

Strings 1-2-3 Strings 2-3-4 Strings 3-4-5 Strings 4-5-6


Strings 1-2-3 Strings 2-3-4 Strings 3-4-5 Strings 4-5-6
X X X X X X X X X X X X
1
1 1
2 2 23 23
3

The triads on the higher (thinner) strings are used in rhythm guitar parts for rock,
jazz, blues, and R&B. Notice how the lowest triad shape on strings 4-5-6 is actually
a power chord. Keep in mind that triads will often be in inversion, or will not contain
a root note in the bass.

Triad shapes

E shape triads:
X X X X X X X X X X X X
1
1 1
2 2 23 23
3

A shape triads:
X X X X X X X X X
1 1

23 34

27
D shape triads:
X X X X X X X X X
1
1 2
3 3
4 3

C shape triads:
X X X X X X X X X
1 1
2 1
3 2 23
3

G shape triads:
X X X X X X X X X
1

2
3 3 3

em shape triads:
X X X X X X X X X X X X
1
1
23
3 23

am shape triads:
X X X X X X X X X

1 1 1
2 23
3 23 Notice that the starred
chords are neither major
dm shape triads: or minor, they do not have
X X X a 3rd. They have been
included to show forms.
1
2
3

28
Suspended chords
Suspended chords have no third, which gives the chord it’s major or minor tonality.
Instead, the chord adds a 2 (sus 2) or a 4 (sus 4). Sus chords are beautiful and open
sounding, and are great for building interesting progressions and improvisations as
they can imply a major or minor sound.

Open Sus Chords:

Csus2 Csus4 Dsus2 Dsus4


X X X X X X X

1 1
1 1
3 34 3 34

Asus2 Asus4 Gsus2 Gsus4


X X

23 23
4 2 34 21 34

Esus4

234

29
Music is made up of Rhythm,
Melody, and Harmony

Ebony & Ivory


Harmony is another way of describing more than
one note together, or chords.

Songs are usually made up of chord progressions.


A chord progression is a group of chords played
in order, and usually repeated to create a song or
a musical idea.
Moveable 7th & 9th Shapes
These chords are great for adding color to chord progressions. They further extend
the tonal qualities of the basic major and minor triads. Memorize the root, and you
can play them anywhere. I’ve included the full barre version of the chords, as well
as a few pared down voicings for a thinner texture. Also included are add 9 chords,
triads that add the 9th, and omit the 7th.

There are endless options for voicing chords. These are some that I like, and use.
If you’re really wanting to delve deep into jazz chords, check out Ted Green’s Chord
Chemistry.

6th string root, 7th chords: 6th string root, 9th & add9 chords:

A7 A7 A9 Aadd9
X X X X X X
1 5
5 5 1 2 5 2 3 2
2 3 3
3
4 4

AmM7 AM7 AM9


X X X X
1
5 5 1 2 5 2 3
23 34 4
4

Am7 Am7 Am9 Amadd9


X X X
5 5
5 5 2
2 3 3
3
4 4

31
5th string root, 7th chords:

D7 D7 DM7 Dm7
X X X X

5 1 5 5
2 2 2
3 4 5 3 4 3 4 3

5th string root, 9th & add9 chords:

D9 Dadd9 DM9 Dm9


X X X X X X X X
5 1 1 1
1 5 2 3
5 2 34 2 3 4 5 2 34

Tip of the Iceberg! Chords are built by


stacking 3rds. The Root, 3rd,
5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th of
a scale. After 13th, we’d have
4th string root, 7th chords: the 15th…and that would be
the same as the root again!

G7 GM7 Gm7
X X X X X X

5 1 5 1 5 1
2 23
3 4 3 4

32
X X
The Jimi Hendrix Chord 7G9
1
This 7G9 chord is sometimes called the Hendrix chord, since it’s 2 3
the chord found in Purple Haze, among other Hendrix classics. 4
This is a dominant chord with a sharp 9th (1-3-5-H7-G9).

13th chords
13th’s add in even more color. A 13th chord has a root, 3rd, 5th, H7th, 9th, 11th and
13th. That’s 7 tones. Obviously, we can’t play a complete 13th chord on the guitar.
We voice these chords the best we can with the strings we have. Here’s a few
moveable shapes to memorize…

A13 D13
X X X X

5 1 2 5 1 2
3 4
4

33
You’ve learned so much about notes
on the fretboard, intervals, and harmony.
Can you find the different chord tones
for each chord you’ve learned?

Start with the open cowboy killer chords.


Find the root, 3rd and 5th for each chord.

Can you find the three E’s


in an E major chord?
Diminished Chords ˚
Diminished chords are made from a root, a minor third, and a flat 5th (1-H3-H5).
Another way to think of a diminished chord is a minor chord with a flat 5th. These
chords sound creepy by themselves, but serve as wonderful connective harmonies
when used correctly.

Diminished triads:

B˚ E˚ A˚ D˚
X X X X X X X X X X X X
1 1
1 1
2 2 2
3
7 4 7 4 7 4 7 4

Diminished 7th Chords


There are two kinds of diminished 7th chords, the minor 7H5 or half diminished ~
(1-H3-H5-H7), and the fully diminished chord (1-H3-H5-HH7). That’s right, a fully
diminished chord has a double flatted 7th, or down a whole step.

Am7H5 (~) A˚ Dm7H5 (~) D˚


X X X X X X X X

1 1 1
5 2 34 5 2 3 5 1 5 2
2 3 3 4

Note on the fully diminished chord. The diminished chord is made up of all minor
third intervals (each note is three frets apart). This means that any note of the chord
could be considered a root note, and that each diminished chord could have four
names. For instance, an E diminished chord is made of E, G, BH, and DH. The chord
could also be called G dim, BH dim, or DH dim. Therefore, there are really only three
different fully diminished chords in music.

35
There are really only three
fully diminished chords.
Augmented Chords +
Augmented chords are the fourth and final type of triads. They are made of a root,
third, and an augmented (sharped) 5th. Or you can think of them as a major chord
with a sharp 5th.

B+ E+ A+ D+
X X X X X X X X X X X X
1 1
2 2 22 1
7 3 7 3 7 3 7 23

Inversions
Chords will not always have their root note in the bass. For instance, a G chord is
made from the tones G-B-D. However, you could play a G chord with the D in the
bass as shown in the diagram below. This is an inversion. Inversions can throw off
your ear training, as students often listen to the bass note to determine a chord.
Listen to The Wind Cries Mary. If you put the 3rd of the triad in the bass it would be
a 1st inversion. If you put the 5th of the triad in the bass it would be a 2nd inversion.

G in 2nd inversion D in 2nd inversion


X X X

3 5 11

Slash Chords
Slash chords such as D/FG represent a chord with a note other than the root in the
bass. In the D/FG example, this is a D major chord with and FG in the bass.

D/F G/B
X X
Inversions & Slash Chords
1 2 1 Inversions of triads
Note: stringcan alsotriad
1-2-3 be written as
is theBsame
slash chords. as D tone
is a chord shapof G major.
3 3
G/B would be a G major in 2nd inversion.

37
See, Theory isn’t so bad.
Arpeggio Shapes
An arpeggio is a chord played one note at time. Arpeggio is also my second favorite
word in the entire world. You could play any chord one string at a time and make an
arpeggio. These are examples of frequently used arpeggio shapes. I use them every
day in teaching, practicing, and performing. Feel free to experiment with your own
patterns and shapes.

5th String Root Major


Chromatic shape (4 notes per string)
4 7 4
5 5
4 4
6 6
7 7

5th String Root Minor


Chromatic shape (4 notes per string)
3 7 3
5 5
4 4
5 5
7 7

6th String Root Major


Chromatic shape (4 notes per string)
5 9 5
5 5
6 6
7 7
7 7
5 9 9 5

6th String Root Minor


Chromatic shape (4 notes per string)
5 8 5
5 5
5 5
7 7
7 7
5 8 8 5

39
Scales
“Practice your scales!”
— Ancient music teacher wisdom

Scales
Scales are an inevitable part of learning any musical instrument. Practicing scales
helps to develop a solid technique, as well as a strong ear for the tones used in
common musical examples.

A scale is an ordered group of notes, played ascending or descending (up or down),


in systematic intervals. Scales are often the basis for melodies and harmonies as a
composer is writing music.

The following shapes are closed patterns, meaning they use no open strings. Closed
position scales can be moved into any position or key by sliding up and down the
fretboard. Therefore, if you learn one pattern, you can move it into all twelve keys
by moving the pattern to a different fret. Every shape given is extremely functional,
and will vastly improve your understanding of the instrument.

42
Chromatic Scales & Patterns
The chromatic scale is composed of all twelve tones in the octave. If you were to
imagine a piano keyboard, a chromatic scale would be built from all the white and
black keys played in succession. The chromatic scale is a perfect scale for warming
up, as it utilizes each one of your fingers when played.

A true chromatic scale would look like this…


True Chromatic scale
1 2 3 4
2 3 4 5
2 3 4 5
3 4 5 6
4 5 6 7
5 6 7 8

C D F G A
fig 4.1 This illustration of a piano
keyboard shows all twelve tones in the
chromatic scale before getting back to
C D E F G A B C another C note, one octave higher.

“The Chicken”
These variations of the chromatic scale are commonly used as practice shapes.
I call these the Chicken. I think of them as a chicken racing across the road trying
not to get smooshed…i.e. a buzzed note.

Chromatic shape (4 notes per string)


Chromatic shape (4 notes per string)
5 6 7 8
5 6 7 8 5
5 6 7 8
5 6 7 8
5 6 7 8
5 6 7 8

Chromatic shape (3 notes per string)


Chromatic shape (3 notes per string)
5 6 7
5 6 7 5
5 6 7
5 6 7
5 6 7
5 6 7

43
Practice scales slowly and with the
cleanest tone you can. Practice them
super fast and aggressively! Practice
them legato (smoothly), and staccato
(short, quick notes). Play with a metro-
nome or tap your foot. Sing each note
you play. Make up melodies with each
scale you learn.

Creativity, repetition,
and discipline are keys
to getting the most out
of your scale practice.
Major Scale Shapes
Major Scales, or Major Octatonic Scales, are the backbone of western harmony and
melody. I’m not referring to cowboy songs, but to the vast majority of music created
in western cultures. The scale is built from the intervals of a root, a major 2nd, major
3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, a major 7th, and an octave. Mastering all of
these shapes will allow you to play all over the fretboard in any key. These sample
shapes are built around the 5th position (5th fret) for example only. You can move
them anywhere on the neck.

You will notice that the root note for the scale is not always the lowest note in the
shape. For instance, you’ll notice that shape #1 has a root played with the 4th finger
on the 5th string. The notes that are lower than the root are just a continuation of
the notes descending down the scale.

Shape 1, A Major
Shape 1, A Major
4 5 7
5 7
4 6 7 5
4 6 7
4 5 7
5 7

Shape 2, C Major
Shape 2, C Major
5 7 8
5 6 8
4 5 7
5 7
5 7 8
(5) (7) 8

For practice, start on the root to


hear the tonality of the major scale.

Open circles are the scale tones


leading up to the root.

45
Can you find the chord
shapes within these scales?

Shape 3, D Major
Shape 3, D Major
5 7
5 7 8
4 6 7 5
4 5 7
(4) 5 7
(5) (7)

Shape 4, F Major
Shape 4, F Major
5 6 8
5 6 8 5
5 7
5 7 8
(5) (7) 8
(5) (6) (8)

Shape 5, G Major
Shape 5, G Major
5 7 8
5 7 8 3
4 5 7
4 5 7
5 7
3 5 7 8

46
Three notes per string Major shapes
These are really wonderful major scales. Same notes, just in a really functional
arrangement. The 6th string root is a combination of scale shapes 1 and 5. The 5th
string root combines scale shapes 2 and 3.

Major shape 1, (3 notes per string) 6th string root


3 notes per string, Major shape 1 3
5 7 8
5 7 8
4 5 7
4 5 7
3 5 7
3 5 7

Major shape 2, (3 notes per string) 5th string root


3 notes per string, Major shape 2 5
7 9 10
7 8 10
6 7 9
5 7 9
5 7 9

47
Once you know your scales
in each key, and what key
your song is played in, you’re
ready to improvise soloing.
The CAGED System
Here’s another way to visualize the shapes on the guitar neck. The chart below shows
all the notes in C major, along the neck of the guitar. Each of the 5 shapes are used:
C, A, G, E, and D. Notice how shape #4 is in the open position as well as the
12th position. Each of these shapes fit together to give you the notes in C major.
Do you see chord shapes in these geometries as well? Notice the overlapping notes
between adjoining shapes as highlighted by the orange boxes in figure 4.3.

C Major notes

E A D G B E Shape 4 = root notes

1 Shape 3
Shape 4
2
3 Shape 2

4 Shape 3

5
6 Shape 1
Shape 2
7
8 Shape 5

9 Shape 1
10
11 Shape 4
Shape 5
12
13
Shape 4
14 (repeated)

15

E A D G B E

fig 4.2 fig 4.3

Let’s learn this concept by seeing CAGED in action on the guitar neck…

49
C
X
CAGED study in C major 1
Let’s begin with an open C major chord… 2 C shape
3
The next letter in CAGED is A, and the next A shape
X
shape that will fit into C moving up the neck is
3
the A shape. You are playing a C major chord, A shape
but using the barred A shape to do so. 234
G shape
Confusing? I thought so. Try to visualize the
5
shared notes between each adjoining shape.
The arrows show these connections. G shape
2
3 4
Next comes the G shape. Notice how strings
2, 3, and 4 of the A shape connect to the
G shape. Starting to make sense? 8
2 E shape
Here is the E shape…remember that you’re 34
playing a C major chord. Where is the root? D shape
10
We can then move up into the D shape which
shares the 10th fret C note with the E shape. D shape
2 3
4
And finally, we’re back into the C shape at
D shape
the 12 fret. Now we’ve played C major in 5 X
12 1
positions (6 if you include the octave).
2
C shape
3
4

The CAGED Challenge…


Now that you are beginning to see the overlapping geometries on
the neck, try finding the CAGED chord progressions for all the open
chords and move up the neck to the next octave. Start with an open G.
The letter after G in CAGED is E. The order will always be C-A-G-E-D!
Remember that after D, you will go back to the C shape.
Modes
The Major Scale is a systematic series of whole and half steps (W-W-H-W-W-W-H)
that gives us that characteristic sound all music students grow up practicing.

Modes are wonderful tools for improvising and writing melodies. Modes represent
permutations of the twelve-tone octave in seven note scales using different
combinations of whole and half steps. The result are the seven modes of the
western musical system…Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and
Locrian. Sounds cool huh?

To begin, we’ll listen to the modes and learn how they relate to a major scale.
The Ionian mode, or the first mode is actually a major scale. Therefore, there are no
sharped or flatted notes. The Dorian mode, or the second mode can be thought of
as a major scale with a flatted 3rd and 6th.

Notice the different characteristics of each mode.


The first note of each shape is the root.

Ionian mode (1-2-3-4-5-6-7)


Ionian is another name for Major Scale
Ionian Mode
4 5
7 7
5 7
4 6 7 5
4 6 7
4 5 7
5 7

Dorian mode (1-2-H3-4-5-6-H7)


Dorian Mode
3 5 7
5 7
4 5 7
4 5 7
3 5 7 5
5 7

51
Phrygian mode (1-H2-H3-4-5-H6-H7)
Phrygian Mode
3 5 6
5 6
3 5 7
3 5 7
3 5 7 5
5 6

Lydian mode (1-2-3-G4-5-6-7)


Lydian Mode
4 5 7
4 5 7
4 6 5
4 6 7
4 6 7
5 7

Mixolydian mode (1-2-3-4-5-6-H7)


Mixolydian Mode
3 5 7
5 7
4 6 7
4 5 7
4 5 7 5
5 7

Aeolian mode (1-2-H3-4-5-H6-H7)


Aeolian is another name for natural minor
Aeolian Mode
3 5 7
5 6
4 5 7
3 5 7
3 5 7 5
5 7

Locrian mode (1-H2-H3-4-H5-H6-H7)


Locrian Mode
3 5 6
4 6
3 5 7
3 5 7
3 5 6 5
5 6

52
Modes continued…
Every major scale shape that you learned earlier contains all of the modes. A mode
can be thought of as a major scale using a different scale degree as a tonic. You
only need to know the closed position major scale shapes to play all of the modes.

So…you can go to any of your major scale shape patterns and build your modes.
For example, to play C Lydian, play a C Major scale, and sharp the 4th scale degree.

The notes in C Major are: C D E F G A B (this is also called C Ionian)


The notes in C Lydian are: C D E FG G A B

It is important to remember which notes are altered for each mode.

C Major scale or C Ionian mode (1-2-3-4-5-6-7)


Shape 2, C Major
5 7
5 6 8
4 5 7
5 7
5 7 8
8

C Lydian mode (1-2-3-G4-5-6-7)


Shape 2, C Major
5 7
5 7 8
4 5 7
5 7
5 7 9
8

53
Major Pentatonic Scales (1-2-3-5-6) = major root notes

Major Pentatonic Scales are comprised of a root, a major 2nd, a major 3rd, a perfect
5th, and a major 6th. These are used very frequently in traditional Chinese music,
African music, and American folk music. You could also think of these as major
scales without a perfect 4th and a major 7th.
Open circles are the scale
tones leading up to the root.
Shape
A Major1,Pentatonic
A Major Pentatonic
4
5 7
5 7
4 6 5
4 4
7
4 7
5 7

Shape
C Major2,Pentatonic
C Major Pentatonic
5 8
5 8
5 7
5 7
5 7
(5) 8
8

Shape 3,Pentatonic
D Major D Major Pentatonic
5 7
5 7
4 7
5
4 7
5 7
(5) (7)

Shape
F Major4,Pentatonic
F Major Pentatonic
5 8
6 8 5
5 7
5 7
5 8
(5) (8)

Shape 5,Pentatonic
G Major G Major Pentatonic
5 7
5 8 3
4 7
5 7
5 7
4
3 5 7

55
Minor Pentatonic Scales (1-H3-4-5-H7) = minor root notes

Minor pentatonic scales are made up of a root, a minor third, a perfect 4th, a perfect
5th, and a minor 7th. The H3 and H7 give the characteristic bluesy tones you hear so
much in the rock solos and riffs. Notice that the shapes of the minor pentatonics are
the same as the major pentatonic scales…with a different root.

Shape
A Major1,Pentatonic
A Minor Pentatonic
8
5 8
5 8 5
5 7
5 8
7
5 7
8
5 8

Shape
C Major2,Pentatonic
C Minor Pentatonic
6 8
6 8
5 8 6
5 8
6 8
(6) 8

Shape
D Major3,Pentatonic
D Minor Pentatonic
5 8
6 8 5
5 7
5 7
5 8
(5) (8)

Shape
F Major4,Pentatonic
F Minor Pentatonic
6 8
6 9
5 8 6
6 8
6 8
(6) (8)

Shape 5,Pentatonic
G Major G Minor Pentatonic
6 8
6 8 3
5 7
5 8
5 8
3 6 8

56
Major Blues Scales (1-2-H3-3-5-6)
The major blues scale is just like the major pentatonic, adding a minor third to the
mix. This gives you root, a major 2nd, a minor third, a major 3rd, a perfect 5th, and
a major 6th.

Shape
A Major1,Pentatonic
A Major Blues Scale
4
5 7 8
5 7
4 5 6 5
4 4
7
4 7
5 7 8

Shape
C Major2,Pentatonic
C Major Blues Scale
5 8
5 8
5 7 8
5 7
5 6 7
(5) 8
8

Shape 3,Pentatonic
D Major D Major Blues Scale
5 7
5 6 7
4 7
3 4 7
5 7 5
(5) (7)

Shape
F Major4,Pentatonic
F Major Blues Scale
5 8
6 8 9 5
5 7
5 6 7
5 8
(5) (8)

Shape 5,Pentatonic
G Major G Major Blues Scale
5 6 7
5 8 3
3 4 7
5 7
5 7
4
3 5 6 7

57
Minor Blues Scales (1-H3-4-H5-5-H7)
The minor blues scale is the minor pentatonic adding a diminished 5th (H5). Minor
blues scales are made up of a root, a minor third, a perfect 4th, a diminished 5th, a
perfect 5th, and a minor 7th.

Shape
A Major1,Pentatonic
A Minor Blues Scale
8
5 8
5 8 5
5 7 8
5 8
7
5 6 7
8
5 8

Shape
C Major2,Pentatonic
C Minor Blues Scale
6 8
6 7 8
5 8
4 5 8
6 8 6
(6) 8

Shape
D Major3,Pentatonic
D Minor Blues Scale
4 5 8
6 8
5 7 5
5 6 7
5 8
(5) (8)

Shape
F Major4,Pentatonic
F Minor Blues Scale
6 7 8
6 9
5 8 6
6 8 9
6 8
(6) (8)
(7) (8)

Shape 5,Pentatonic
G Major G Minor Blues Scale
6 8 9
6 8 3
5 6 7
5 8
4 5 8
3 6 8

58
Minor Scales
There are three frequently used minor scales…
Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, and Melodic Minor.

Natural Minor (1-2-H3-4-5-H6-H7)


Natural Minor is built from a root, major 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th,
minor 6th, and a minor 7th. Another way to think of a natural minor is a major
scale with a H3, H6, and H7.

Do these 5 shapes at right look familiar to you? They are the exact same shapes
that you learned from the major patterns, with different roots. The natural minor
scale is built from the 6th degree of a major scale. Pretty confused?

Think about this. The C major scale is made of CDEFGABC, correct? If we build
a scale off of the 6th scale degree, which is A, we have built an A natural minor
scale (ABCDEFGA). The tonal center has changed. Instead of basing our melodies
around C, we are using A. Listen to the sound of these scales starting on their roots.

Amazing.

C Major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C)


Shape 2, C Major
5 7
5 6 8
4 5 7
5 7
5 7 8
8

A Natural Minor scale (A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A)


Shape 2, C Major
8
5 7 8
5 6 8
4 5 7 5
5 8
7
5 7 8
8
5 7 8

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Natural Minor, Shape 1
Natural Minor shape 1
3 5 7
5 6
4 5 7
3 5 8
7
3 5 7 5
8
5 7

Natural Minor, Shape 2


Natural Minor shape 2
5
5 7 8
5 6 8
4 5 7 5
5 8
7
5 7 8
8
5 7 8

Natural Minor, Shape 3


Natural Minor shape 3
5 8
7
5 7 8
8
4 6 7 5
4 5 7
4 5 7
(5) 8
7

Natural Minor, Shape 4


Natural Minor shape 4
5 6 8
5 6 8 5
5 8
7
5 7 8
8
5 7 8
(5) (6) (8)

Natural Minor, Shape 5


Natural Minor shape 5
5 7 8
8
5 7 8
4 5 7 5
4 5 7
(5) 8
7
(5) (7) (8)

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Harmonic Minor (1-2-H3-4-5-H6-7)
A harmonic minor scale is a natural minor scale with a raised 7th. Another way of
thinking of it is as a major scale with a flatted 3rd and 6th.
Here are the shapes…

Harmonic Minor, Shape 1


Harmonic Minor 1 3 6
4 5 7
5 6
4 5 7
3 6 7
3 5 7 5
5 7

Harmonic Minor, Shape 2


Harmonic Minor 2
4 8
5 7
5 6
4 5 7 5
6 8
7
5 7 8
8
5 7 8

Harmonic Minor, Shape 3


Harmonic Minor 3
6 8
7
5 7 8
8
4 6 7
4 5 8
4 5 7
(4) (5) 8
7 7

Harmonic Minor, Shape 4


Harmonic Minor 4
5 6 9
0 8
10
5 6
4 8 5
6 8
7
5 7 8
8
5 7 8
(5) (6) (8)
(6)

Harmonic Minor, Shape 5


Harmonic Minor 5
5 7 8
4 8
5 7 8
4 5
4 5 7
(6) 8
7
(5) (7) (8) 7

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Jazz Melodic Minor (1-2-H3-4-5-6-7)
Jazz Melodic Minor is a major scale with a flatted 3rd. Traditionally, a melodic minor
is played differently ascending than descending. An ascending melodic minor scale
is a major scale with a flatted 3rd. Descending, it is played as a natural minor scale
(see True Melodic Minor). These are the ascending shapes for melodic minor…

A Jazz Melodic Minor, Shape 1


A Melodic Minor 3
4 5
5
5 7
4 5 7
4 6 5
7
3 5 7 5
5
5 7

C Jazz Melodic Minor, Shape 2


C Melodic Minor
5 7 8
4 6 8
4 5 7
5 7
5 6 8
(5) (7) 8
8

D Jazz Melodic Minor, Shape 3


D Melodic Minor
5 7 9 8
10
5 6 8
4 6 7
3 5 7
5 7 5
(5) (7)

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F Jazz Melodic Minor, Shape 4
F Melodic Minor
4 6 8
5 6 8
5 7
5 6 8
(5) (7) 8
(5) (6) (8)

G Jazz Melodic Minor, Shape 5


G Melodic Minor
5 6 8
5 7 8 3
3 5 7
4 5 7
3 5 7
3 5 6

True Melodic Minor


A Melodic Minor 3

4 6 5
7 5 3
3 5 7 7 5 3
5
5 7 7 5
5
Ascending H3 Descending H3, H6, H7

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Diminished Scales
A Diminished scale is a series of whole and half steps.

A Diminished
A Diminished Scale
4 5 7 8
4 6 7
4 5 7
4 6 7
5 6 8
5 7 8

Whole Tone Scales


A Whole Tone scale is a series of whole steps.

Whole Tone Scale


Whole Tone Scale
11 13 15
10 12 14
15
8 10 12
7 9 11
6 8 10
5 7 9

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Parting
Thoughts
The last teacher I had was Michael Nicolella. He is a world class
performer and instructor. There were two things he taught me
that I recall on a daily basis. One time I showed up for lessons,
and he was in the process of re-plumbing the pipes in his home.
I was pretty impressed to see such an intellectual heavyweight
remodelling his home by himself. When I commented on his
handiness, he responded something to the effect, “Hey, if I can
play a Bach fugue on the guitar, I can figure out how to plumb
my house.”

I realized a major benefit of learning a musical instrument is


learning how to think. Problem solving, expression, creativity, and
decision making are all skills that you apply to daily life. Music
also teaches us how to deal with success, failure, confidence
and insecurity.

The second bit of wisdom Michael imparted to me that I teach


every day is there are two ways to make a musical problem
simpler: break it into smaller pieces, and/or slow it down.

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This is awesome advice if you’re learning your first Tarrega piece,
writing an essay for school, or plumbing your house. This idea
compelled my writing this series of books. This first book gives
the basic gist of how the guitar is laid out, and what you need to
know to play it. The next book will deal purely with rhythm, the
third technique, and the last will teach sight reading.

For many students, learning all these things at once is


overwhelming and self-defeating. I remember staring at Leo
Brouwer scores in college…odd time signatures, hard fingerings,
septuplets…which positions should I play in? I felt my brain
melting. Having a great instructor was key for my navigating
challenging music. I would recommend private or group lessons
with a good instructor regardless of your interests. Time spent
playing with someone more advanced than you will improve your
playing more effectively than any other practice. Developing
a solid technique early will avoid tough changes later. Also, a
good technique can migrate to new styles of guitar as your
tastes change.

This book was written to be used with an instructor, that doesn’t


mean you can’t tackle it on your own. Music comes in so many
forms and degrees of challenge, I think they are all fantastic.
I hope this book helps you on your path of a lifetime of learning.

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A Note to Instructors…
I love guitar taking guitar lessons. My first instructor taught in
a corner of a car battery warehouse. Forklifts and foul language
accompanied my learning Ode to Joy, Stairway, and Sweet Home
Alabama. Since then, I’ve had nearly forty music instructors, and
I’m always scouting for another one. I appreciate online lessons,
but nothing is like one on one private guitar lessons.

A good instructor can gauge a student’s current motivation,


mood, interests, capabilities, and creativity. Carefully planned
lessons can be tossed aside in a pinch to create a dynamic
learning environment (I usually have a primary lesson plan,
and a back up). Some days, it’s important for a lesson to be a
good therapeutic jam session! These are keys to keeping most
students playing.

By most students, I mean the eighty percent of students


that would normally begin lessons, take for a year and quit.
How many times have you heard from the parents of your
students…they started piano, hated it, quit, and now wish
they’d stuck with it. I’ve found that if I can keep students
interested through the first year, they rarely quit. Performance
opportunities, community involvement, and self confidence
keep them engaged. Most of my students start in early middle
school, and stay with lessons until they leave for college.

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My students and their families at the 2010 Guitarbeque Jam Photo: Grant Chyz

One very important thing to remember is that not every


student wants to be Van Halen or Juilian Bream! There
are many ways to appreciate and study music. If you’re
a music teacher, music was probably your life growing
up. Most people don’t have that level of passion or
commitment. You cannot expect an athlete who wants
to round out his bag of tricks by playing guitar to practice
two hours a day. You can have a great student-teacher
relationship with him/her by teaching a solid technical
and musical foundation using current repertoire of
interest. As time passes, students will often open their
minds to great works of more in depth styles such as jazz
or classical.

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I thought up this series of books as a creative tool for music
instructors and their students. I’ve never had the patience to
make it through a method book. I always turned to the last pages
to find the cool pieces. I recommend using this book the same
way. It’s meant to be on the music stand. Open to the circle of
5ths to help analyze a harmonic structure. Perhaps to the blues
scales to help a student get out of the pentatonic box with
improvising. Maybe to the barre chords to create ii-V-I’s in all
keys.. You get the idea.

Lastly, I want to reiterate this book is part of a series. Rhythm,


sight reading, and technique will be covered in other books.
However, you can use this book along with whatever method
you may be using with your students. As I write this, I begin my
fifteenth year as a guitar instructor. It’s an awesome gig, and I
enjoy it more every year. I hope this series with your students
and practice.
2007 & 2010 Guitarbeque perfomances Photos: Grant Chyz & Erik Bell

74
Thanks!
To all the people who made this book happen…

Me and my daughter Edie performing at Guitarbeque Photo: Grant Chyz

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First to my core guitar teachers, (in chronological order) Mike
Rhoads, Erik Hedrick, Keith Stevens, Steven Novacek, and
Michael Nicolella. Collectively, I’ve spent over six hundred hours
in their studios. I’ve taken another three hundred or so lessons
from thirty other instructors. Thanks to all of you.

Thanks to Pop for being a musician and instructor. To Mom,


Dad, and Dawnsi for being so supportive all through the years.
Thanks to my spectacular wife Alyson for being my muse, Edie
and Huck for being my kids.

Thanks to my community of friends, colleagues, and mentors.


Pete, for showing me how to jam. Bartholemew/Mack/
Watsons/Shultz…for feeding my mind and body. Jaeger, my
flamenco guitar buddy…for the inspiration. To my best friend
Jeremy Berman for the phone calls, coaching, and tennis stories.

I’d like to thank Erik Bell for the killer design work, photography,
and art direction. Regardless of how this book performs, it looks
better than anything out there…and ultimately, isn’t that what
really matters?

Lastly to my students and their parents. You’ve taught me how


to teach, to listen, to and to be patient. Thanks for letting me
teach you music. It’s been my pleasure.

Again, thanks to Alyson. For those who know us, you all realize
that I’d never make it through a single day without her.
Notes

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