circle of 5ths, --- cycle of 4ths moral to the story...

now as far this all this pertains to guitar, your top priority is to know the key signatures quickly, so that you have the appropriate context [scale pattern] for reading the piece of music in front of you. when you determine the key, you can then pick a scale pattern that is a good tone for your ensemble and play in that register, you don't need to think about the names of notes as long as you use your ear and know your patterns. and that will come in time. but 1st things first...here's the order of sharps and flats;

KEYS least to most accidentals... w/ sharps... #'s C 0 G 1 D 2 A 3 E 4 B 5 F# 6 C# 7 w/flats... b's C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb

the main point of this lesson is for you to be able to look at a Key Signature and instantly determine the key of the song.
so you know what scale pattern to play in to read the melody.

so i'll show you the quick and dirty way to do that first!!! if you are a music READER, here's how to determine the key very quickly... if you look at a 'key Signature', you'll notice that there are a certain number of sharps or flats,

(unless you're in the key of C cuz then there would be no sharps or flats- super EZ!) the number of sharps or flats tells you what key you are in...
there are many ways to determine the key based on the key signatures, but here is the easiest!

for sharps,

look at the last sharp [#] note on the key signature, (the one furthest to the right), then go up on note on the musical staff that's the key that the song is in!!!
for instance, if A# is the last sharp on the key signature, then you are in the key of B

for flats,

look at the next to the last flat, (the one furthest to the right), and that's the key of the song!!!!
for instance, if Db is the last flat on the key signature, the flat directly to it's left, you'll see is Ab, so you'll be in the key of Ab note: if there is only 1 flat (which would be Bb, you are in the key of F)

-----------------------------------------------------------------so, if you are a music READER, now you know how to determine the key very quickly -----------------------------------------------------------------but, now let's say, you are the one WRITING the music and you don't have some fancy piece of computer software with you, to create a key signature

never fear, oh music WRITER, memorize the following two phrases to remember the orders of sharps and flats the orders ---> for FLATS - remember BEADed Goats Can Fly -andfor SHARPS - remember Frank Can Go.."Do it Again Except Backwards" so that's the order that you write the flats and sharps in, from left to right
the only semi-tricky thing is that there are a couple of places you could find each note, but if you create a shape for each one, you'll use the write ones, your best bet is to look at pictures of 2 key signatures: C# (the key with all of the sharps) ...and notice that the C# key signature has a 2 down, 3 down, 2 down pattern

Cb (the key signature with all of the flats)

...and notice that the Cb key signature has an up-down alternating pattern --------------------------------------here's a little more detailed explanation, if that doesn't make complete sense yet,

for FLATS it's alternating up-down-up-down, the 1st flat is Bb, you'll find that in the middle of the musical staff, from there you go to Eb on the top space of the musical staff, and then down to the Ab on the 2nd to bottom space, then back UP for the Db, etc... [up down up down up] and for SHARPS it's that 1st F# at the highest musical line,

then down to the 2nd space down for C#, then back up to the top space above the musical staff for G#. then back down to the D# on the 2nd line down, and then down again for the A# (on the 2nd space from the bottom) then back up, for E#, then down for B# (the 7th sharp).... so for sharps you've got a 2 down, 3 down, 2 down pattern [alternating the whole time] Look at the picture again and hopefully you will see these 2 patterns: alternating for Sharps 2,3,2 for Flats -----------------------------Now, for an extensive review,
not necessary to read this, if you think you've got it down, couldn't hurt though -----------------------------------------------------------------------

which accidentals happen in what order: we've got the "bead-gcf" pattern w/flats and then that same pattern backwards for sharps. frank-can-go -do it-again-except-backwards and look again at the pattern of most sharps and flats, for the least sharps to most sharps we have...c,g,d,a,e,b,f#,c# and going from most flats to least flats, it's......c,g,d,a,e,b, f, c of course, with the flat ones you just add a flat sign after all those letters, and so, with the ones that were sharp in the least-->most sharps, they just become natural (not sharp or flat) notes. so, okay, flats....C, has no flats, then F has 1 flat (Bb), then Bb has 2 (Bb, Eb), then Eb has 3 (Bb, Eb, Ab), then Ab has 4 (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db), then Db has 5 (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb), then Gb has 6 (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb) and Cb has 7 (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb) and then Fb has 8 (Bbb[double], Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb), but the

key of Fb would just be written as E, so this is just to remember the pattern by. and now, sharps.... C, has no sharps, then G has 1 sharp (F#), then D has 2 (F#, C#), then A has 3 (F#, C#, G#), then E has 4 (F#, C#, G#, D#), then B has 5 (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#), then F# has 6 (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#), and C# has 7 (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#), saying all this, i would think that you should just review looking at key signatures and knowing intuitively what each looks like; and what the last accidental is in each chain... C has no markings, then G has 1 sharp (last one is F#), then D has 2 (last one is C#), then A has 3 (last one is G#), then E has 4 (last one is D#), then B has 5 (last one is A#), then F# has 6 (last one is E#), and C# has 7 (last one is B#), C, has no flats, then F has 1 flat (last one is Bb), then Bb has 2 (last one is Eb), then Eb has 3 (last one is Ab), then Ab has 4 (last one is Db), then Db has 5 (last one is Gb), then Gb has 6 (last one is Cb) and Cb has 7 (last one is Fb) and then Fb has 8 (Bbb[double]), but the key of Fb would just be written as E [4 sharps] (D#) now as far this all this pertains to guitar, your top priority is to know the key signatures quickly, so that you can play in the appropriate key. but beyond that, the most important thing, is just to know the key, then pick a pattern that is a good tone for your ensemble and play in that register,

you don't need to think about notes as long as you use your ear and know your patterns.