How to Play Acoustic Guitar

5 Easy Acoustic Guitar Chords & 20 Basic Songs for Beginners

How to Play Acoustic Guitar

One of the best things about the guitar is that you only need a handful of chords to unlock an impressive repertoire of songs. Open-string basic chords are where everybody starts when they first pick up the instrument, so whether you’re looking to learn classic songs or write material of your own, knowing these easy acoustic guitar chords is a must.

It takes some practice to be able to memorize chord shapes and switch between them quickly enough to play a song. The good news is that once you have just 5 basic chords down, you can play along with dozens of your favorite tunes.

In this post, you’ll learn how to read guitar chord grids along with the 5 important guitar chord shapes. We’ll take a look at one chord-change exercise that will help you get your chord playing skills up to speed in no time. And we’ll review some of the most popular songs that use these basic chords, so you can strum along!

How to Play 20 Guitar Songs with 5 Basic Chords

Smart Practicing

If you’re just starting out on the guitar, it’s good to be aware of some of the challenges that every new player faces. The fact is that everyone’s fingers feel awkward the first time they try to learn the guitar, but it’s important to stick it out at least until you have the basic chords down. Your fingers need to develop some strength and dexterity in order to switch between chords quickly, and the only way to do this is to keep on playing. Even five minutes a day for a couple of weeks will make a huge difference!

Understanding Chord-Grid Notation

Along with guitar tablature (or “tabs”), chord grids are an important shorthand method of notating guitar music. Although it is important for all guitar students to learn to read music notation eventually, tablature and chord grids are usually a better option for beginners who just want to learn simple rock, pop, or folk songs quickly. Remember, the notation is just a means to an end, and just another way to learn something you’ll play on your guitar.

basic guitar chord gridWith chord-grids, you are looking at a simple diagram, or snapshot, of the guitar neck. The guitar is oriented so that the headstock is pointing upward; horizontal lines represent the fret-wires that separate the frets (spaces), and the vertical lines are strings.

Dots inside the diagram represent left-hand fingers, which are placed over the string inside the indicated fret. For the ‘A’ chord pictured here, all three fingers sit inside the second fret. Set your fourth (pinky) finger on the 2nd string, your third (ring) finger on the 3rd string, and your second (middle) finger on the 4th string.

Often the left-hand thumb will stay anchored on top of the neck to deaden the sixth string. Alternatively, the edge of a fretting finger can be used to mute an adjacent string. This is called a flesh mute and allows the guitarist to strum all six strings so that only five strings are heard.

5 Open-String, Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners

A, C, D, Em, G Guitar Chords for Beginners

Once you understand the notation, the next step is to get the chords down by memory. In some cases, these basic guitar chords can be remembered easily by comparing them to geometric shapes. If you connect the dots inside each grid, you’ll see that the ‘A’ is a straight line, the ‘C’ is a diagonal line, the ‘D’ is an equilateral triangle, and the ‘G’ chord forms an isosceles triangle.

After you have the chords memorized, it’s time to check each chord string-by-string to ensure all the notes are sounding. Pick through each string going downward from the bass strings to the treble strings. Listen closely to verify each note. If a string is muted, try resetting the fingers so they sit higher on the fingertips. Make sure the fingers do not touch against any open strings, thereby dampening them.

Chord Change Drills

guitar chord progressions

Practice changing between any two chords using this simple drill. Play each chord on beats 1 & 3, lift the fingers completely on beats 2 & 4, and repeat. Make sure to set and remove all the fingers together (simultaneously). By doing this for a few minutes each day, you will learn to do fast and clean chord changes in the left hand, which is key to being able to play songs well.

20 Beginner Guitar Songs Using Only A, C, D, Em, and G Chords

Now that you’ve mastered the easy guitar chords for beginners, you can move on to learning dozens of new songs. When taking on a new number, start slowly and work your way up to the tempo of the song. Once you’ve got it down, try playing along with the recording or grab friends and ask them to sing along! Many songs will have small variations in how the chords are played, and you can explore that after you’ve got a grip on the basic chords.

Here’s a list of 20 easy guitar songs that use only these five chords:

1. Bad Moon Rising (Credence Clearwater Revival)

2. Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)

3. Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)

4. Catch the Wind (Donovan)

5. Clementine 

6. Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

7. Lightly Row 

8. Amazing Grace 

9. Time of Your Life (Green Day)

10. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star 

11. Heart of Gold (Neil Young)

12. Old MacDonald 

13. Story of My Life (Social Distortion)

14. Louie, Louie (The Kingsmen)

15. What I Got (Sublime)

16. Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty)

17. Anything, Anything (Dramarama)

18. Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young)

19. Mary Had a Little Lamb 

20. Viva la Vida (Coldplay)

These songs are just the beginning! If you need help mastering these chords or want to add more difficult chords (such as the F Chord) to your repertoire, the best way is to work with a guitar teacher near you. Taking guitar lessons is a great way to ensure that you’re building your skills on a solid foundation. Now go have fun rocking out!

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100+ Online Tools and Resources for Musicians

Are you ready to take the music scene by storm? As a musician, you’re well aware of how difficult it is to make a name for yourself or your band.

Practicing until the wee hours of the night, juggling several odd jobs, and traveling to play multiple gigs are just a few of the sacrifices you make as a musician.

Luckily, there are a ton of online music resources that can help make your life easier, including platforms that help you find gigs and websites that assist in promoting your band.

Since we know you’re busy being a rock star, we’ve rounded up over 100 of the best online music resources that will help take your career to the next level.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the game for some time, these music resources are sure to help you.

Sick of rehearsing in your studio apartment? Or is your current space too expensive? Here’s a list of online resources that you can use to find the perfect rehearsal space that fits within your budget.

  • Fractured Atlas: Through their SpaceFinder program, Fractured Atlas helps artists find the space they need, while helping venues promote and rent their spaces. It’s a win-win.
  • Musicnomad: Musicnomad does all the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is type in your zip code, specify the mile radius, and choose your perfect space.
  • Rehearsal space finder: Rehearsal Space Finder is another easy-to-use service. Just enter your location and what you’re looking for and you will be presented with a list of nearby venues.
  • Craigslist: If you’re looking for a low-cost option, browse Craigslist for a rehearsal space near you. Oftentimes, rates are more negotiable.

Booking gigs on a consistent basis is extremely important for both promotional and monetary reasons. Here’s a list of online tools that will help you book more music gigs.

  • Gigsalad: Gigsalad, a platform in which party planners can find and book talent, is great for local musicians. Signing up is easy; all you have to do is create a profile and wait to get booked.
  • ReverbNation: ReverbNation is dedicated to helping emerging artists build their careers. The platform’s “Gig Finder” tool helps artists connect with different venues, festivals, publishers, and labels.
  • Gigmasters: Similar to Gigsalad, Gigmasters is a platform where people can book various vendors, including DJ’s, singers, and live bands. The website allows you to create a customized profile and choose from a range of memberships.
  • Splitgigs: Splitgigs is a unique social network that allows artists to “split” their gigs with other artists. This website is great for those who are just getting their feet wet. You can also find music gigs uploaded by venues and organizers.

Additional tools:

Need some help promoting your band? Below are some great websites for getting your name out there and generating fans. Don’t forget social media too!

  • CDbaby: CDbaby has a number of different partnerships with brands that can help promote your band. For example, FanBridge, PledgeMusic, and
  • Dizzyjam: Dizzyjam is a free online service in which musicians can create and sell branded merchandise. To get started, create your personalized shop, and then develop products for sale.
  • BandPage: BandPage is another easy-to-use platform. Upload your profile, bio, pictures, videos, tracks, and tour dates and BandPage will update that information across the Web for you.
  • BandApp: Perfect for musicians who have a solid fan base, BandApp allows users to share music, tour dates, and news directly with fans—for free!
  • Music Gorilla: Music Gorilla connects artists with industry professionals. Artists can sign up, upload music, and create a profile page. What’s more, the company does live, label showcases and provides artists with film and television placement opportunities.

Additional tools:

Whether you want to share one song or an entire album, there are a variety of websites in which you can share your music with fans around the world.  Check out the ones below!

  • Radio Airplay: With Radio Airplay, musicians’ music plays on stations featuring the popular artists they choose. What’s more, artists have access to reports and data about their fan base.
  • Stageit: With Stagit, artists perform live online shows via their mobile device. Fans can ask questions or request songs. Fans can also monetarily support their favorite artists.
  • On SoundCloud: On SoundCloud is SoundCloud’s newest partner program for musicians. It allows artists to upload music, build a profile, and manage stats.
  • Melody Fusion: Melody Fusion is a website in which artists can share their music for free. Musicians can also get feedback from their peers, take master classes, and find a mentor.

Additional tools:

Keeping track of your finances, tour dates, and more can be exhausting, especially if you’re doing it all yourself. Here’s a list of online tools that will help you better manage everything.

  • Bandbook: Bandbook makes your life easier. Within the platform, you can manage your schedule, track your expenses, and send private messages to anyone with a Bandbook account.
  • Artist Growth: Great for both managers and musicians, Artist Growth helps individuals schedule events, create reports, track finances, and manage tour merch all from one place.
  • TeamSnap: With TeamSnap, you can manage member’s contact information, coordinate upcoming events, track group fees, and share files within the group.
  • BandHelper: BandHelper takes care of all the annoying logistical details—such as expense reports, set lists, and more—so you can concentrate on making music.

Additional tools:

Entering music competitions is a great way to get exposure, connect with industry folks, and earn some much-needed cash. Check out the music competitions below.

  • Unsigned Only: Unsigned Only was produced by the same team that created the International Songwriting Competition. Solo artists, bands, and singers can enter a wide range of categories, including rock, pop, country, and vocal performance.
  • OurStage: Artists can enter original music into any of OurStage’s genre-based channels for a chance to win. Winners are featured on Amazing Radio, which boasts an international listening audience of thousands.
  • Hal Leonard Vocal Competition: The Hal Leonard Vocal Competition is a music competition for voice students comprised entirely of YouTube video entries.
  • International Songwriting Competition: The International Songwriting Competition is an annual song contest for amateur and established songwriters. The contest is judged by an impressive panel of judges, offering great exposure for artists.

Additional tools:

Brush up on industry trends and get expert advice from peers by browsing through these awesome online music resources. Don’t forget to bookmark your favorite ones!

  • Making Music Magazine: Making Music Magazine is a lifestyle resource for all types of music makers, featuring professional musician stories, instructional articles, gear guides, and more.
  • Passive Promotion: Created by Brian Hazard, a music veteran with 20 years of experience, Passive Promotion gives artists applicable advice about music promotion. He also regularly features reviews about new platforms.
  • Hypebot: Hypebot features a variety of useful articles for artists. For example, the website features dedicated pages on social media use and music technology.
  • Music Industry Inside Out: Music Industry Inside Out is a music industry knowledge hub filled with expert advice from music industry professionals. The website offers different course topics, such as funding your music, book keeping, and applying for festivals.
  • Make it in Music: Make it in Music is a great website for emerging artists. It has a ton of advice about how to make it big, including how to build your fan base and how to approach a record label.
  • New Artist Model: New Artist Model, an online music business school for artists, has an amazing blog, which regularly features strategies and advice for independent musicians.

Additional tools:

Do you need a branded website or flyers for your next show? Here’s a list of online resources that can help you develop and organize different kinds of marketing materials.

  • BandZoogle: Bandzoogle describes itself as a website builder created by musicians for musicians. The website will help you create a customized website where you can sell merch, tickets, videos, and more.
  • CASH Music: This nonprofit organization helps musicians manage their mailing list, sell music, and organize their digital world—free of charge!
  • Haulix: Haulix is a one-stop-shop for musicians. Using the platform, you can create promos, manage contacts, track progress, and more.
  • Bandcamp: This free service does just about everything. Not only can artists share music with fans, but they can also get stats on who’s linking to them, where their music is embedded, and which tracks are most and least popular.

Additional tools:

Are you looking to join or start a band? Or maybe you just want to network with other musicians? Here are some music resources that can help you do just that.

  • Kompoz: Kompoz is the ultimate collaboration tool for artists. The website allows you to upload your song idea and collaborate with other musicians from around the world.
  • Indaba Music: Indaba is a place where musicians can collaborate with some of the biggest artists and bands in the world to create new music.
  • Bandmix: Bandmix is the largest musicians wanted and musician classifieds website. Users can search through thousands of musicians in their area.
  • AirGigs: With AirGigs, songwriters and producers can connect with top studio musicians, singers, and engineers and virtually collaborate on projects.

Additional tools:

As a musician, you’re always working on your craft. Here’s a list of educational music resources that will help you sharpen your musical skills so you can perform at your best.

  • TakeLessons: With TakeLessons Live you have access to live online classes led by high-quality music teachers who specialize in everything from ukulele to piano. Take music lessons in the comfort of your own home with its free app.
  • is a great online resource if you want to learn more about music theory. It has tons of free exercises and tools.
  • If you’re looking for sheet music, look no further than The website has tons of free sheet music in a wide range of musical styles, such as blues, classic rock, contemporary, and country.
  • Berklee Online: Berklee Online’s video library has a number of educational videos, including in-depth lessons, exclusive clinics, and course overviews that artists are sure to find helpful.

Additional tools:

Looking for some top-notch gear to help sound your best? Here’s a list of online music equipment stores that offer high-quality instruments and gear at great prices.

  • Music Go Round: Music Go Around sells used musical instruments, such as guitars, amps, drums, and violins, at competitive prices. As an added bonus, you can sell or trade-in your old gear.
  • Music123: From lighting and stage effects to orchestra, Music123 offers over 65,000 products. The website boasts in-depth product information and reviews.
  • Musician’s Friend: Musician’s Friend has a great selection of music instruments and equipment. Don’t forget to check out their blog, called The HUB, for artist interviews, product reviews, buying guides, and more.
  • Sweetwater: Sweetwater is dedicated to keeping its customers satisfied, which is why the company offers a wide range of gear at great prices and free shipping to lower 48 states.

Additional tools:

  • Notating: An independent community with forums, downloads, and news, Notating caters to composers, engravers, and anyone interested in music notation.
  • SongTrust: SongTrust ensures that musicians and songwriters are able to confidently manage their music publishing. The website simplifies everything from the administration of music publishing assets to digital licensing.
  • SonicAngel: SonicAngel offers several different options for artists. For example, musicians can crowdfund their campaigns on the platform of its partner,
  • CoPromote: CoPromote is a network of artists dedicated to helping one another grow their fan base by cross-promoting social posts.
  • Radar Music Videos: Need a music video? Through Radar, artists can reach out to up and coming filmmakers to get their music video developed.

Additional tools:

Let’s face it; making it in the music industry is hard–but not impossible. Take advantage of these 100+ online music resources and tools to help manage, promote, and distribute your music. Good luck!

Did we miss your favorite online music tool or resource? Tell us about it in the comments below and we will add it to the list!

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13 Guitar Apps We Can’t Live Without

13 Guitar Apps We Can't Live Without

The secret to improving your guitar skills isn’t much of a secret at all – in fact, it’s right in your pocket! In this article, guitar teacher Zachary W. shows you 13 of his favorite apps for learning guitar and improving every step of the way…

As a guitar player, I find it important to keep my rudimentary skills sharp. That includes practicing with correct technique, as well as being able to improvise, control tempo, and read music. Below, I’ve listed 13 guitar apps that I use regularly and that I know will help you improve each aforementioned skill.

Each app serves a different purpose, but all of them are friendly to users of all skill levels. A fair warning: these are addictive apps for musicians of any kind. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the apps that will undoubtedly improve your guitar playing!

1. TakeLessons Live (Free)

There aren’t any other guitar apps out there quite like this one. TakeLessons Live offers online classes that are led by live guitar teachers. With the free membership option, you can join a variety of classes from anywhere in the world.

Topics covered include guitar exercises, theory, scales, song tutorials, and more. If you’re looking for a fun way to practice your skills while getting feedback from a real instructor, this is the app for you!

2. 7 Minute Guitar ($2.99)


7 Minute Guitar is wonderful for those who have a super busy schedule. This guitar practice app has compiled a series of exercises that each take seven minutes. There’s no longer an excuse to neglect that daily practice session.

After using this app for a while, you’ll begin to develop a good practice routine; you start out practicing for seven minutes a day, then you extend to 30 minutes a day, and eventually, you’ll reach a goal of practicing for more than an hour per day.

2. Time Guru ($1.99)


Time Guru was developed by rhythm guitarist Avi Bortnick for the John Scofield band.

With this app, you get way more than just a simple metronome. This metronome app also mutes the sound at random. This allows you to monitor your own playing by showing whether or not you tend to speed up or drag behind the metronome.

This special feature essentially allows you to take off the training wheels given to you by the metronome, while still reaping the benefits of playing with a time-keeping device.

3. TabToolkit ($3.99)


This app may cost money, but if you tend to rely solely on tablature when you learn or teach a new piece of music, TabToolkit is completely worth the small fee of $3.99.

With this app, you can upload your own sheet music from other programs, such as Guitar Pro, or browse their large library of guitar tabs. In addition to hosting guitar tabs, this app also has a great multi-track playback, which gives you the ability to play along with some of your favorite bands and artists.

This app also works with over 128 instruments – it’s not solely for guitar players. For example, you can take a heavenly Charlie Parker saxophone solo and transpose it to any instrument you please.

4. GarageBand ($4.99)


If you’ve ever wanted to get a group of people together and jam out in your garage till the early hours of the morning, then you’ll be happy to know, there’s really an app for that!

When it comes down to it, GarageBand is the best app for music creation on a touch screen. With real world instruments, true to life sounds, and tons of easy-to-use tools, there isn’t really another app on its level.

5. AmpKit (Free); AmpKit+($19.99)


AmpKit allows you to take your amp with you no matter how far you travel. Just plug in your guitar with a digital interface and you’ll immediately have access to all the amp channels and sound effects of your wildest dreams.

AmpKit+ may cost $19.99, but with this upgrade, you gain access to many more sound effects, amp channels, and pedal options. It’s a must-have guitar app if you plan on playing professionally.

6. Anytune (FREE); Anytune Pro + ($14.99)


If you have a relative that plays the guitar, I’m sure you’ve heard the famous phrase, “You youngsters have it so much easier than we did back in the day.” Well, in this case, that’s completely true!

With Anytune, you have the ability to slow down songs. Use this app to dissect crazy, lightning fast licks or solos without losing the quality of the music. For example, if you’re having a hard time figuring out what notes Guthrie Govan is playing on the Aristocrats album, this app will help you out by slowing the song down at any section you choose.

The app also has the ability to gradually increase speed as your confidence builds – what plausible excuses to not practice do you have now?

7. Drumgenius (FREE)


The name of this app pretty much sums up all that you need to know about it. Drumgenius has over 300 different drum beats in a various time signatures, from boogaloo jazz in 21/8, to your typical big jazz band in 4/4. It’s fun to pick a beat and play along with it on guitar!

8. MuseScore (FREE)


Along with ear training, another key skill that every musician should master is the ability to read sheet music. This skill opens up many more doors as a musician than you thought possible.

Musescore lets you listen to scores of music with the ability to adjust the tempo as you please. If you have the urge to hear the classic T-bone Walker song “Stormy Monday” played at 200 bpm, or perhaps that lightning fast Steve Vai solo on “Zombie Wolf” at half speed, this app is for you.

9. Shazam (Free – upgrade cost $6.99)


Just hold your phone up to the speaker and let Shazam detect what song is playing. This app is extremely helpful for me. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on the road listening to the radio and hear a rhythm I like or a solo that blows me away; instead of forgetting the lyrics or having no clue how the song goes, this app collects the song data for me.

10. Soundcloud (Free)


Soundcloud allows you to post original audio recordings on the web where they can be accessed by anyone. This gateway opens up so many doors that you would’ve never known existed. In addition, this app gives you the perfect place to get constructive criticism from other musicians.

11. J4T Multitrack Recorder ($3.99)


The J4T Multitrack Recorder helps with those spontaneous moments when a melody strikes me and I’m miles away from my equipment – this app acts as a sketch pad for my musical ideas.

With the ability to record 4 tracks simultaneously, this app gives you the basics that are needed for the foundation of any great musical idea or thought. Sadly, this app is only for Android. To those who have an Android phone – go out and download it for the rest of us who have iPhones!

12. Evernote (FREE)


Evernote may seem very basic on paper, but in reality, the capabilities of this app are limitless. This app is perfect for both those who receive and those who teach lessons.

This app has saved my hide on more than one occasion. I use this app to write down a summary of my lessons; this helps me keep track of a multitude of students. I keep constant track of my students’ progress because I like to max out the full potential of what we can accomplish in our hour or half-hour lessons.

For all those out there who are teaching themselves, this app is perfect for logging your progress.

If you include some of these guitar apps in your practice routine, I guarantee you’ll make progress faster than you will without them. Be sure to check out the detailed descriptions of the apps on the store page to see which features work for your reaching goals. As always, be sure to practice every day and don’t be discouraged by new concepts!

Post Author: Zachary W.
Zachary A. is a guitar instructor in Katy, TX specializing in beginning and intermediate students. He is currently earning a degree in music theory. Learn more about Zachary here!

Photo by Dino Latoga

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How to Play Guitar like David Gilmour | Tabs and Audio “Time” Guitar Solo

How to Play Guitar like David Gilmour

When it comes to incredible guitar players, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd takes the cake. In this article, teacher Bernard M. shows you how to play the guitar just like the legend himself…


Many musicians strive to sound like their heroes. They want to get that special something that makes those legends stand out from the crowd.

One of the best ways you can do this is to learn their parts — beat for beat, note for note. While this can be difficult and time consuming, it’s one of the most rewarding learning strategies for musicians of all levels.

One of my favorite guitar players is David Gilmour from the band Pink Floyd. He brings a certain sense of taste and melody to everything he plays.

In order to unlock the secrets of Gilmour’s playing style, we’ll be looking at the guitar solo from the song “Time.” This famous solo is a great example of how Gilmour tells a story with his guitar.

Before we dive in….

This Pink Floyd guitar lesson contains a detailed breakdown of the solo, four bars at a time, with tabs for each section and an analysis of what Gilmour is doing and why it’s so effective. Below is a recording of the song so you can follow along.



Above each line of tabs is a time marker, telling when in the song each section occurs. I also included the chords behind the solo above each bar. This will become important in our analysis when looking at Gilmour’s note choice.

The minor pentatonic scales find heavy use in this solo, especially in the first and second positions (shown below).


Pentatonic Scale Charts


As the song is in the key of F#m, the first position will begin on the 2nd fret and the second position on the 5th fret, each repeating an octave above at the 14th and 17th frets respectively.

At the end, I’ll give you my five tips on how to play a guitar solo like David Gilmour, highlighting the key points talked about in our analysis of the solo.

Ok, ready? Let’s do this!

Let’s play…


Section 1 Tabs


The iconic sustained notes and bends in the first three bars show off Gilmour’s melodic sensibilities. Clearly, he’s in no rush and is leaving himself room to stretch out his chops later in the solo. This slow introduction uses the first position minor pentatonic scale, just tracing the chords at the low end of the fret board. In the fourth bar, Gilmour slides into the second position of the scale for a more aggressive Albert King style blues lick, hinting at what is to come later. For some extra kick, try giving the 5th fret e-string note a quarter-step bend!


Section 2 Tabs


On his second go around the chord progression, Gilmour uses repetition and variation, echoing the beginning of his solo before moving into new territory. This creates a call and response effect between the repeated melody and the varying blues licks.

In the second bar, he responds with the bluesy major sixth interval (9th fret G-string to 9th fret e-string) to emphasize the notes that make up the A chord.

You may have noticed that Gilmour frets or bends to some notes outside of our pentatonic scale. These notes from the minor scale are peppered in to add a sweeter flavor to the melodies.

Notice how half-step bends are used to move lyrically between these minor scale notes. Gilmour ends this section with a long sustained bend to an F#, creating a sense resolution, for now…


Section 3 Tabs


If the first two sections acted as an introduction, these next two are most certainly the climax. Gilmour slides into an F#m arpeggio in the first position pentatonic scale an octave above where the solo began.

To effectively execute this lick, use your second finger on the 16th fret, your first finger on 14th (fretting the G-string with the fingertip then pivoting to the B-string just above your knuckle) and your third finger to bend the B-string at the 17th fret, leaving your pinky free to hit the e-string.

The second bar features a step-and-a-half bend between two full-step bends. This classic blues technique requires strong fingers and good pitch recognition, but is well worth the practice it takes to master.

Finally, Gilmour carries us over the bar into the next section with a powerful lick descending towards the root note, hitting on beats three, four, and the one of the next bar. This is a very powerful phrasing move, using the melody to weave different bars together.


Section 4 Tabs


We land on an F#, once again emphasizing the root of our first chord. This is followed by a pre-bend release, adding some character before descending into a pull-off run. As the A chord comes around, we bend up on the 16th fret to hit a familiar C#.

Notice a pattern? Gilmour’s careful note choice and use of repetition and variation keeps things familiar but fresh.

The next lick carries us over the bar with the solo’s highest note, an exciting bend on the e-string at 19th fret. This phrase is reminiscent of the bend at the 17th fret at the end of the last section (again, repetition and variation at work).

To create a sense of closure as the solo nears a change in the chord progression and overall tone, Gilmour runs down an E major arpeggio, resolving over the bar to, you guessed it, an F# root.

The final slide down the neck signals the drastic change that is about to occur…


Section 5 Tabs


This section marks a dramatic shift from a minor to major mood, bringing the solo to its conclusion. Gilmour begins with a dreamy triplet run over a Dmaj7 arpeggio, using slides to create a floating, liquid feel that perfectly suits the new mood.

Notice the half-step interval from the 9th to 10th fret, marking the brief return of the sweet lyrical tone found in the second section.

Gilmour leaves a lot of space between his flowing slides, giving each carefully-chosen note time to express its particular character over its chordal backdrop.

My personal favorite is the G# note on the 9th fret of the B-string at the beginning of the third bar. Over the Dmaj7 chord, it expresses the heavenly lydian mode sound of the #4 chord tone. (Music theory aside, the take away is this: choose your notes based on what sounds best over the passing chords!)


Section 6 Tabs


In the final four bars, Gilmour brings the solo to a close with two distinct phrases. The first, which begins with the unison bend in the previous bar, calls back to the 4th fret bends at the very beginning of the solo (and the 16th fret bends an octave above during the climax) for some final repetition and variation.

Here, he uses a step-and-a-half bend between full-step bends, a pre-bend release, and a long sustained bend to get the most out of this expressive phrase.

Gilmour ends by playing around an E major arpeggio, bringing a final sense of closure and resolution with the sustained E note on the 2nd fret and the open low E-string an octave below.

What did we learn? My five tips for playing like David Gilmour! Ok, so we just covered A LOT of ground. Let’s take what we learned from analyzing the solo and summarize it into some key points.


1. Tell a story:
Your solo should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. In your introduction, make an opening statement that sets the tone, but still leaves you with somewhere to go. When you reach the climax, pull out all the stops and let loose those licks you were saving. Whether it’s one note or eight bars, make sure your conclusion leaves your listener with a feeling of closure.

2. Bend like a master:
Remember, your good ol’ fashioned full step bend isn’t the only way to go. Try your hand at half-step bends, pre-bend releases, and even step-and-a-half bends. These are great ways of getting the more expression out of your playing (just make sure the notes you’re bending to are in your scale).

3. Repetition is your friend:
Soloing is not just playing a string of notes from a scale (trust me; I’ve made that mistake plenty of times). Repetition and variation allows you to set up familiar themes, transform these themes, play into or defy the listener’s expectations, and make patterns such as call and response.

4. Choose notes wisely:
Use the chords! They’re your guidelines, telling you what notes you should play. While this can be daunting at times, take your time and trust your ears, as they’ll often lead you to the right notes. If you can find the root notes to chords, or better yet, the full arpeggios, you are on the right track to playing with the chord changes. (Want more on this? Look up chord scales!)

5. Be clever with rhythm:
Again, soloing is not just playing a string of notes. Choosing how you use rhythm can make or break a solo. Leave yourself plenty of space with long sustained notes and bends. This will provide contrast for fast and busy licks, making them more effective. For even greater effect, try playing over the bar, or using triplets. For more, check out my article on using space and phrasing during solos.


I hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the style of David Gilmour and his solo from “Time.” I hope you use these ideas to help spice up your playing, and this strategy of analysis to help you unlock the secrets of your favorite players.


Are there any great guitar solos you’d like to learn? Share your requests in the comments below!


Bernard M Teacher Post Author: Bernard M.
Bernard M. is a guitar and songwriting instructor in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from The College of New Jersey with a bachelors degree in English. He teaches lessons online and will travel to his students. Learn more about Bernard here!


Photo by Jose Bogado

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Why is My Guitar Feeding Back? A Guitar Feedback Guide

Why is My Guitar Feeding Back

Does your guitar make a shrieking noise when you sing and play? Do you want to harness its power for good? Here, guitar instructor Zachary A. explains the phenomena of guitar feedback and how it can be manipulated to enhance your music…

An Example of Feedback

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of guitar feedback is Jerry Garcia, the guitarist for the Grateful Dead. Creating a paralyzing shriek, he manipulates guitar feedback in a wizardly fashion, pushing the boundaries of the electric guitar and his amps.

Below is an example of Garcia playing around with feedback.

When you think of feedback, you’ll likely remember sitting in a class assembly – as the person at the podium conducts their speech, a loud shriek comes over the auditorium.

This screech, which is referred to as feedback, happens mainly due to a sound loop that occurs between an audio input device (a guitar or microphone, for example) and an audio output device (an amp or speaker).

What Causes Feedback?

All that’s needed for feedback to occur is the components of a basic public address system; a public address system consists of a microphone, amp, and speaker.

Feedback happens when sound is amplified out of the speakers, then travels back through the microphone, and is amplified again, and then sent back through the speakers for a second time. This loop happens so fast that it creates its own frequency, which results in the infamous shrieking noise. It’s one of the many guitar tones that you can produce.

When musicians talk on the subject of feedback, the comments are mostly negative due to this howling sound that’s produced in the middle of the song they’re trying to play. In addition to the dreaded sound loop, feedback occurs when the gain is too high in the output of an amplified instrument.

As well as ways to minimize and control feedback, there are many ways to increase the chances that feedback occurs. One main point that needs to be reiterated is that feedback occurs in a system that’s at a point of high gain and resonance. This can make it particularly challenging to control, but it can be accomplished.

How to Prevent Guitar Feedback

First, we’ll discuss ways that you can reduce the chances of feedback happening. Then, we’ll dive deeper into the ways of working magic with feedback.

One major change you can make to keep feedback down is by monitoring the amplified volume of your instrument in relation to the space that you’re playing in.

Another quick and painless way to reduce feedback is to change the position of your microphone and or speaker so that the speaker output isn’t feeding directly into the microphone. Keep the speakers further forward, closer to the audience, then the microphones further back.

Other ways to avoid the dreadful shriek are to use a directional microphone. Also, speak or sing close to the microphone; practically kissing the microphone. Also, turn off the microphone when it’s not in use, thus equalizing the signal and lowering the frequency.

Another way is to lower the speaker output. There are devices you can purchase that can be connected in between the monitor and the amp in order to reduce the amount of audio frequency that occurs.

How to Manipulate Guitar Feedback

Feedback can be used as a very interesting tool for a musician, as we heard in the Jerry Garcia video. There are a few ways to increase your chances of feedback happening so that you may utilize this technique.

For example, use a higher gauge string – they vibrate for a longer period of time and require less feedback from the output to hold a note. It’s just another way to transform your guitar sound.

Another simple cosmetic change you can make to increase the amount of sustain and feedback your instrument produces is by making the guitar as rigid as possible. If you have a bolt-on neck, make sure the screws are tight or this will reduce the sustain of the strings.

The old method to increase feedback was to connect a treble boost before the amplifier to overdrive it. Another cosmetic feedback enhancer that can be done is lowering the pickups to increase the distance between the pole pieces in the pickups and the strings.

Although some people choose to raise the pickups to produce maximum drive to the amplifier, this will decrease the amount of feedback that may occur. Unfortunately, pole pieces are magnetic and close proximity to strings will dampen the vibrations.


Now go out and create some scary horror movie sounds using feedback and get creative with it. You can use feedback to convey a vast range of sounds and emotions! Happy playing!

Zachary A

Post Author: Zachary A.
Zachary A. is a guitar instructor in Katy, TX specializing in beginning and intermediate students. Zachary has been playing for more than four years. He is currently earning a bachelor’s degree in music theory. Learn more about Zachary here!


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One Simple Thing That Will Make Your Guitar Solos Amazing

How to Use Phrasing to Make Your Guitar Solos Amazing

It takes a lot of skill to stand out as a guitarist. Here, guitar teacher Bernard M. shows you exactly what it takes to pull off an amazing solo and how you should approach phrasing…

You may or may not be ready to play a guitar solo, but it’s good to know what elements go into one. What is it that makes a great guitar solo? While there are many ways to answer this question, there is one crucial element that often goes overlooked by even the most experienced players: phrasing.

Phrasing is the way in which a musician or composer combines notes to create a musical sentence, or phrase. Although it can be very subtle, it often makes the difference between a memorable solo and “note soup.” What does this mean for you guitarists? Play less, leave space.

Want to Impress? Play Less! How to Use Phrasing to Make Your Guitar Solos Amazing

Let your ears lead the way, not your fingers.

Many musicians suffer from the misconception that faster, more technical playing is somehow better and more “musical.” This can be very discouraging to new players, who have trouble competing with their more experienced peers. Never fear! Creativity and imagination are what make great music, and this is what phrasing is all about.

Check out these two samples to hear the difference between a busy solo and one that uses creative phrasing.

The Problem: A Run-On

Example B Full

Not bad at all, but can you hum a bar or two of that solo? Does any part of it stick in your memory? The problem with this solo is that it’s practically one long phrase. Like a run-on sentence, it’s difficult to follow and needs to be broken up!

In this next sample, I add space and punctuation to the previous solo, creating different musical phrases.

The Solution: Adding Space

Example A Full

By simply adding space to create distinct phrases, I have made the solo much more memorable and effective. Each phrase has room to breathe before moving on to the next. By playing less, the notes that are played gain much more power, adding strength to the solo as a whole.

Hopefully, by now I’ve convinced you to focus on your phrasing the next time you go to take a solo. This, however, is easier said than done. Phrasing is very elusive and intangible.

It has a closer link to creativity than technique, and therefore, is difficult to learn or teach methodically. Instead, it’s something that constantly develops as you grow more experienced and more tasteful. Here are few suggestions to help you develop your phrasing and taste.

Want to Impress? Play Less! How to Use Phrasing to Make Your Guitar Solos Amazing

Take your time.

This is perhaps one of simplest yet most profound suggestions on how to improve your soloing. Being comfortable and confident while playing allows you to sound your best. If you try to fill your solo with every last lick you can conjure up, you will very likely end up feeling rushed, nervous, and stumbling through the solo.

Slow down! Savor the solo and don’t overthink it. When you relax and give yourself plenty of time, it allows your creative instincts to take the wheel. Some great ways to leave yourself this room to breathe include long, expressive bends, sustained notes with some tasty vibrato, and even simple rests.

Want to Impress? Play Less! How to Use Phrasing to Make Your Guitar Solos Amazing

Break it up.

Even the most creative players can fall into the trap of putting their fingers on auto-pilot, aimlessly playing up and down familiar scales in monotonous eight notes or triplet lines. One of the best ways to combat this common ailment is to break up the patterns.

Playing a long descending eighth note line? Throw a rest or two in there to punctuate your phrase. This can be a very powerful move and make an otherwise boring lick fresh and interesting.

Want to Impress? Play Less! How to Use Phrasing to Make Your Guitar Solos Amazing

Think like a drummer.

We guitar players spend a lot of time thinking about chords, scales, arpeggios, and intervals. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, we sometimes forget about something just as, if not more, important; rhythm.

Thinking about what you are playing rhythmically is at the core of phrasing. What are you doing on the third beat of the measure, or the “& of 2?” What beats do you want to highlight or downplay? Do you want to play along with the beat, or use syncopation to emphasize unexpected accents?

This might seem overwhelming to players who are not used to thinking this way, so I will refer to my advice above; take your time, play what you are comfortable playing and above all, follow your creative instincts.

Want to Impress? Play Less! How to Use Phrasing to Make Your Guitar Solos Amazing

Emulate the experts.

My final piece of advice is to study the players that inspire you the most. How do they use phrasing in their solos?

Learn your favorite guitar solos, note for note, and study them closely. This is a great way to pick up the playing habits of your heroes and start developing your own individual sound.

Studying the solos of players like David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, or Derek Trucks, who have a keen sense of phrasing, will help you make even the simplest licks powerful, expressive and inspiring. Some of my favorite songs to play are classic rock guitar solos. They feel good and they sound incredible.

As always, make sure you set aside time for plenty of practice. Try to not go a day without playing for 15 minutes. You will start to see significant progress in just a couple of weeks!


Bernard M Teacher Post Author: Bernard M.
Bernard M. is a guitar and songwriting instructor in Philadelphia, PA. He teaches lessons online and will travel to his students. Learn more about Bernard here!


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Wanna Be a Music Major- 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Majoring in Music- 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Is a music major in your academic future? Guitar teacher Brett M. shares 10 things you need to know to have a great guitar audition at the music college of your choice…

If you’re a guitarist who’s planning to continue your music education at the college level, then this may be one of the most important articles you could ever read.

In fact, it’s something that I wish I could have read, before auditioning and (luckily) getting accepted into Berklee College of Music over a dozen years ago.

Let’s meet someone…

His name is Dwayne, and like you (and me, back in the day) he is interested in majoring in music. Dwayne loves to play guitar, and he’s passionate about learning more.

He’s a sophomore in high school, and has played in a couple of bands off and on. Dwayne’s not a huge jazz guy, but he’s thinking about trying out for the school jazz band, just to get the playing experience — but he’s not too sure he’d know what to play.

Dwayne’s got above-average technique on the guitar and he knows he wants to get faster, but that’s about as specific as he could say.

He’s also got a feeling that there’s a lot more to learn about scales, chords, etc. In fact, his overall knowledge of how everything fits together is a bit sketchy. But he’s hungry to learn all there is to know, and is planning on attending music college for guitar after graduation.

Problem is, he’s not too sure what he’ll need to know to get in, and he’s a little worried about it. Actually, he’s a lot worried.

Sound familiar? If so, then read on – you’re about to find out the 10 Guitar Strategies For a Successful College Audition!

1. Have The Right Reasons

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

If you’re really serious about wanting to attend college for guitar (and then making a go at a career in music) you’d better be doing it for the right reasons. Here are two of the wrong reasons:

  • I want to be famous.
  • I want to make a lot of money.

Those two things may in fact happen to you, and if they do, GREAT! But to have a sustainable, lifelong relationship with music — one that continues even when the going gets tough — there’d better be more behind your desire.

For me, I simply couldn’t (and still can’t) not do music. The desire to create, to challenge yourself, to deepen your character, and to share music with others is what will fuel a successful and sustainable music career in college and after.

Do it for the right reasons for long enough, and getting rich and famous (while more importantly, being fulfilled) could actually happen.

Here’s a wakeup call for you: Even if you go to music college and decide to major in performance (in other words, in playing guitar) the majority of work that you do, especially for the first two years, will not be on playing guitar. You must be willing and excited to spend a lot of time away from the guitar, learning about all aspects of music. If you don’t enjoy this part, you won’t last.

Examples of all the fun stuff that comes with learning about music include: ear training, text book music theory, music analysis, conducting, music history, arranging, and solfeggio (sight singing).

You need to crave knowledge about all of these things, or don’t even bother. Sound harsh? Not if you’ve got what it takes! If hearing this actually gets you excited to be in an environment like that, then music college is probably a good fit for you. It definitely was for me.

2. Know Your Audience

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

For a contemporary music college, the application process usually involves sending an audition tape of music “from the standard repertoire”.

In my case, not really knowing what this meant at the time (and being a metal guy!) I chose to play an intro to a Testament song by Alex Skolnick, who’s a pretty rippin’ player. I figured that if a song was from a CD I had, then it must be “from the standard repertoire”. I pulled it off alright, but in hindsight it was kind of a dumb idea to choose a song like that.

You see, while Berklee and many other music schools certainly embrace many kinds of music, they are historically jazz institutions. So, what they’re often really looking for are pieces that demonstrate your ability to improvise a bit, play chord solos, interpret melodies, etc. In other words, start learning to play jazz music from “the standard repertoire” (out of a big book of songs called “The Real Book”). 

Even though my audition turned out okay, if I had to do it again, I would have been smarter to choose some performance pieces designed to achieve a specific goal — in this case, impressing the instructors at a “jazz school” — and not just choosing music that I thought was impressive.

3. Listen

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Start to immerse yourself in music daily, and not just the styles that are your current favorites (I’m still a metal guy!).

Listen especially to classical music from all time periods, as well as jazz. You will absolutely pick up and absorb some important musical concepts simply through osmosis.

Check out Jamey Aebersold’s extensive library of CDs for jazz students, great learning tools even if you don’t understand what he’s talking about yet. They’re mostly for putting on and listening to while you’re doing other stuff, and getting used to the sounds of jazz harmony and soloing.

And, if you listen to Bach or Beethoven every day, you will reap rewards a’plenty!

4. Watch

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

I don’t just mean to watch random videos on YouTube! I’m talking about getting your hands on some good guitar instructional videos, preferably some no-nonsense ones from the late 80s or early 90s, put out by the companies REH or Alfred.

Be sure to check some out some killer guitarists who are way over your head, like Scott Henderson, Al DiMeola, Allan HoldsworthGreg Howe, and Frank Gambale. Don’t fret if you can’t understand anything they’re talking about (a lot of these guys play great, but couldn’t teach their way out of a paper bag)!

What’s important is to start getting an idea about what skills are out there that you don’t know about yet. These types of videos will help you figure out where your weak points are and the areas of knowledge or technical ability that you need the most work on. They can be equally inspirational and frustrating!

5. Know Your Notes

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Knowing notes is more than simply reading them on the page. It’s about actually finding and understanding them with the guitar. One of the biggest problems that plagues most guitar players is not having all of the notes on the neck memorized.

Everything that you do, especially at the college level, has to do with notes. So does it make sense to not know where they are on the guitar? Of course not. It’s absolutely essential knowledge for a serious player.

6. Scale Knowledge

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Memorizing scales on the guitar is of immense importance. There are six “families” of scales (including all of their modes) that you must know to play contemporary music:

  • Major
  • Melodic Minor
  • Harmonic Minor
  • Diminished
  • Whole Tone
  • Pentatonic

Knowing the fingerings and shapes on the neck is an important first step. But the actual ability to build them in your head in any key, to know the sound, and to start them from anywhere on the neck is vital for reading, improvisation, and writing.

It’s a big task, but one that every aspiring college guitar student needs to tackle.

7. Chord Knowledge

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Understanding how to build chords, from triads to extended harmony chords like E7susb9 and other weird ones, is an absolutely essential skill to master before attending college for guitar.

Analysis of chord progressions is a necessary skill for really understanding how songs work and how they’re structured.

Chord and scale relationships also help you understand how to play or improvise over daunting chord progressions (like Dm7b5 –G7alt –CmMaj7) and actually sound like you know what you’re doing!

This will give you an edge over your competition when applying or auditioning for music school — not to mention an increase in confidence.

8. Arpeggios

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Arpeggios are the same as chords, but played one note at a time. They help you unlock the potential of chords as a resource for soloing, and it’s important to be able to build and play them all over the neck, including everything from the standard major and minors, to the 7th arpeggios and all of the extended harmony arpeggios (9ths, 11ths, etc.).

9. Sight Reading and Rhythm Reading

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

What’s the best way to get a guitar player to turn down? Put sheet music in front of him! It’s a joke, but completely true.

Reading music (and especially rhythm) is one of the biggest blind spots for most guitar players, and it will be a major handicap for you if you’re thinking about continuing your education at the college level.

So why hide from your fear? Tackle it head on! I find that rhythm really intimidates many of my guitar students. It can look like a foreign language with all those beams and squiggles and dots.

But it’s really not that bad when you have the proper guidance. After that, reading the pitches on the music staff isn’t that hard at all, it just takes some practice.

Being a strong reader is very impressive to the people you’ll be auditioning for, so it pays to spend the time getting good at it.

10. Technical Ability and Speed

Wanna Be a Music Major? 10 Guitar Strategies for a Successful College Audition

Believe it or not, when it comes to getting into a music college for guitar, your raw technical ability and speed aren’t as important as some of the other areas that we’ve mentioned.

You don’t have to be a shred master — but why not go for it anyway! It can’t hurt. Playing fast is a goal for many guitarists, and increasing your technical skill will add to your confidence and ability to impress at the college level.

So, is your guitar teacher preparing you for all this stuff? If not, show them the door! For many students, finding a top-quality guitar teacher is one of the first steps on the road to majoring in music.

Remember, there’s a lot of competition to fill those limited spaces in the school that you want to get into.

Here’s the good news though: If you’ve got a good work ethic, a passion for learning about all aspects of music and the guitar, and a great teacher with experience in all of this, then getting into the music college of your dreams is a thoroughly achievable goal.

Good luck – and keep practicing!


Brett M teacherPost Author: Brett M.
Brett is a guitar book author, metal recording artist, and video game composer. He has over a dozen years of private instruction experience, and is the creator of the popular free audio course “Unleash Your Speed: How to Shred on Guitar”. Learn more about Brett here!


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3 Simple Guitar Warm Ups You’ll Never Outgrow

3 Simple Guitar Exercises that You'll Never Outgrow

Do you play guitar warm ups before you practice guitar? Here, teacher Kirk R. shares three guitar exercises that are perfect for players of all levels.

There are literally thousands of exercises and warm ups for the guitar. There are some that are great for beginners who are just getting used to having their fingers on the guitar, and some that are designed to challenge and grow the technique of seasoned players.

But who has time to learn thousands of guitar exercises? Wouldn’t you rather learn a few simple routines that will continue to push your technique as long as you play the guitar?

Here are the only three guitar warm ups you’ll ever need! Each of these guitar exercises will benefit players of any level.

Top 3 Guitar Warm Ups

Guitar Warm Up 1: Left Hand String Skipping

This is one of the simplest guitar warm ups that I use every day. It begins with your first, or index, finger on the first fret of the lowest string.

You’ll then ‘hop’ the same finger to the fifth string, also on the first fret.

Continue moving up one string at a time until you reach the first, or highest string and then return, one string at a time, to the lowest. Repeat this on the first four frets each time with a different finger.


This is a great technical guitar exercise that may seem too simple for more experienced guitarists at first. If you think it’s too easy, make sure to pay attention to the articulation and connection of each note.

Play it slowly and try to make one note fully connect to the next, with no gap in the sound caused by lifting the finger too early.

Guitar Warm Up 2: Chromatic Scales

This is another one of my favorite guitar warm ups that I still practice every day. Not only do I currently use it, but I’ve been playing chromatic scales since my first guitar lesson when I was a kid. It can be played in a variety of ways, but let’s start with the simplest.


It can be played on any string, but here I’ll use the second string as an example. We begin on the open note followed by the notes of frets 1, 2, 3, and 4 played with the index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers, respectively. After reaching the highest note, follow the same pattern back down.

It’s simple, uses all the left hand fingers, and it’s easy to memorize: sounds like a useful warm up to me!

Once you’re comfortable playing this on every string, you can combine the patterns and move from the low E all the way to the G# on the fourth fret of the first string. One hiccup in the pattern happens between the third and second strings.

If you play both the fourth fret, third string, and the open second string (marked with parentheses below), you’ll have two B naturals. The solution is simply to play one or the other. I like to change it up to keep on my toes.


You haven’t had enough chromatic scales, you say? There are plenty more permutations of this same basic pattern.

The next step is to continue beyond the high G# all the way to the 12th fret E on the first string. You can do this in a couple of ways, but my recommendation is to shift up a single string from the first to the 12th fret (three groupings of finger 1, 2, 3 and 4). I like to do six complete scales (low open E to high 12th fret E) each time shifting on a different string.

As with all shifts, pay close attention to your left forearm.

Once you’ve mastered all of these guitar exercises, try playing them in parallel octaves.

Guitar Warm Up 3: Accent Patterns

If you’ve been trying out the guitar exercises thus far, your left hand could probably use a rest. This warm up is designed to give you better control of the accenting of notes regardless of how they’re struck and what the notes before and after them are doing.

The concept is quite simple. You’re going to play a group of 2 to 10 notes with certain ones accented, or played more loudly, and the rest more quietly.

Let’s begin with an easy one. Play a group of two notes, accenting the first and playing the second more softy. Continue repeating this pattern until it is comfortable and can be done without focusing on it.


Next let’s reverse our pattern, accenting the second note of the pair. This may seem like a small change, but remember you’ll be using different muscles to accent this second note.

For players using a pick, this will change the accent from happening on a down stroke (the natural accent), to happening on the up stroke.

If playing without a pick, keep your pattern of right hand fingers the same (imim or mimi) so that a different finger is accented.


Additionally, use unusual right hand patterns, such as all the same finger, or all down strokes.

These simple ideas can produce a variety of helpful patterns that, if practiced regularly, will give you the flexibility to accent the notes you want regardless of the finger or direction of the stroke forced by the context.

Here are a few more suggested patterns to get you started.


Remember to always make sure that your notes are an even length and that playing the patterns comfortably and accurately is more important than playing them fast and impressively.

What guitar exercises do you play every day? Share the guitar warm ups you use in your practice routine with us below!

Kirk RPost Author: Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He has a Bachelors in Guitar Performance and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!

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50 Little Things You Can Do To Get More From Your Guitar Practice Time

50 Little Things You Can Do To Get More From Your Guitar Practice Time

50 Little Things You Can Do To Get More From Your Guitar Practice Time

Does guitar practice ever feel overwhelming, too hard, or like a chore? Take a tip or 50 from guitar teacher Jerry W. and you’ll have enough material to work with to keep practice fun for the rest of your life. As an added bonus, we’ve peppered in extra resources for you so you can learn even more about each guitar practice tip. Ready Freddie? Let’s get started!

1. Use a metronome.

1: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Practicing guitar with a metronome trains you to play in time, which is useful whether you want to play in an ensemble, with a drummer, or as a soloist.

2. Learn the music slow and then gradually speed up.

2: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Go slow and you’ll make fewer mistakes. Slowing down also helps you develop your muscle memory, so you’ll be able to learn new pieces of music on a deeper level.

3. Practice the music faster than the necessary tempo. When you slow down it will feel easier to play.

3: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

When you’re ready to challenge yourself, kick up the tempo on a piece of music that you already know well. You might even enjoy playing your piece along to a guitar jam track at a fast tempo, or one with a different groove than you’re used to. Have fun experimenting with different tempos and you might be surprised at what you’re able to play.

4. Schedule a specific time to practice.

4: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Setting aside time each day to play is the best way to make sure you never forget to practice, but it’s just the first step to developing an efficient practice schedule.

5. Practice regularly – aim for at least 5 days per week.

5: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

If you still need a little nudge to jump-start your guitar practice, you can try one of these 10 ways to trick yourself into practicing.

6. Select a practice location with few distractions.

6: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

If you can, set aside space in your home that’s just for guitar practice. Make your own guitar practice sanctuary and you’ll find your practice time much more relaxing and enjoyable.

7. Use a music stand.  It will help your posture and focus.

7: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Using a music stand makes a huge difference in your ability to maintain proper posture while you play, which will make you more comfortable and relaxed. In fact, having all the essential guitar accessories handy when you’re practicing is a great idea. Take a look at this list and make sure you have all the items readily accessible in your practice space.

8. Listen to your body – Can you see the music well? Use proper posture. Get enough rest.

8: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

If you’re physically uncomfortable while you’re practicing, you won’t enjoy yourself and you probably won’t see a lot of results either. Not sure about your posture or feeling awkward with your guitar? You can always check your posture with this handy guide.

9. Find a private teacher.  A teacher will help you know what to practice and guide your practice time.

9: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Taking lessons with a private guitar teacher is the best way to see huge improvements in your playing. Your guitar teacher can help you pinpoint areas you need to improve and give you the tools to actually get better.

10. Have clear goals.

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It’s important to have both big and small goals when you’re learning to play the guitar. Your big goals are the reasons you started to play in the first place, and mastering small goals along the way will keep you motivated. Not sure what your goals should be? Try asking yourself these questions.

11. Be critical.  Aim for perfection. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

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Remember: the way you practice is the way you will perform. Be mindful during your practice time, and don’t practice with sloppy technique or repeated mistakes. Take the time to get it right.

12. Don’t be too critical.  No one’s perfect!

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Don’t get frustrated or beat yourself up when you make mistakes. Remember, all musicians at every level make mistakes in practice; it’s just part of the learning process. Keep a good attitude and don’t lose your motivation.

13. Practice what you cannot do.  Don’t just play what you already can do.

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Many experts recommend playing your most challenging material at the beginning of your practice, right after you play your warm up. At this point in your practice, you should be feeling warmed up and ready to tackle the hard stuff.

See Also: 5  Tips for a Productive Guitar Practice 

14. Keep practicing favorite pieces that are easy for you. Have some fun, don’t just work on hard music.

14: 50 Ways to Get More of Guitar Practice

Practice the pieces you love to play and keep them fresh. This is how you develop your repertoire, or your set of songs that you’re able to easily perform and share.

15. Select music to practice that you enjoy.

15: 50 Ways to Get More of Guitar Practice

If you love what you’re playing, you’ll want to keep coming back to your guitar every day. Having fun and playing music that you like will ensure that you never get bored with your guitar practice.

16. Select music or exercises to practice that will challenge you (even if you don’t enjoy it.)

16: 50 Ways to Get More of Guitar Practice

Challenges help us grow, so if you want to get better at guitar it’s important to keep challenging yourself with technical exercises on a regular basis. Ask your guitar teacher for some drills or find some online at Guitar Cardio.

17. Visualize yourself playing a passage of music.  Notice where you cannot visualize yourself playing the music.  That’s where you need to work.

17: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice


Visualization can be a powerful tool in your guitar practice arsenal. Learn more about visualization and start your practice sessions by visualizing the pieces you want to work on.

18. Practice only using visualization. Can you correct the mistakes in your mind?

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When your visualization skills are a bit more refined, you can even practice without your guitar. This is a great practice method you can use anywhere, from sitting on a train to standing in line at the grocery store.

19. Play duets. You can even play a duet with yourself by recording one part and then playing along with the recording.

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There are many, many benefits to playing duets! If you have the chance, you should absolutely work on a duet with a friend, your guitar teacher, or even with a recording of yourself. You’re sure to learn a lot.

20. Transpose the music up or down.

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Transposing music from one key to another helps you learn intervals and trains your ear to recognize the relationships between notes. If you’ve never transposed music before, start by transposing a guitar chord progression into a new key, and work your way up from there.

21. Practice playing without looking at your hands.  Train your hands to go to the right place without looking.

21: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Do you tend to stare at your left hand while you play guitar? Try these tips to play guitar without looking at your hands.

22. Just memorized a new piece of music? Shift your gaze to your hands so you can look at your technique as you play through it again.

22: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Guitar technique is about more than just playing the notes. You’ve got to play them well and with your hands in the correct positions. Watch your hands sometimes when you practice to make sure you’re playing with great guitar technique.

23. Focus on dynamics – don’t just play one volume.

23: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

Dynamics add a dimension of life, power, and meaning to your guitar playing that gets lost if you play only at one volume. Learn how to use dynamics in your guitar playing and make it a regular part of your guitar practice.

24. Focus on articulation – accents, staccato, legato.

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Articulation is all about how you play the notes — fast, clear, slurred, or flowing. Hone in on your articulation with these guitar exercises next time you practice.

25. Focus on rhythm.

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If you like to play pop, rock, or country music, good rhythm guitar technique is absolutely crucial. For extra focus on rhythm, use your left hand to mute the strings while you practice playing rhythm patterns, so you can really focus in on your right hand.

26. Focus on learning new strumming patterns.

26: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

The more rhythm guitar patterns you know, the more options you have to draw from when you’re learning a new song or writing music of your own.

27. Learn to play a new style of music.

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Try a new style of music to spice up your guitar practice. Even if you’re a beginner, you can find plenty of easy country, metal, pop, bluegrass, or any other style of songs to try out on the guitar.

28. Practice playing a musical line or “lick” using a pick and then using fingers.

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Depending on the style of music you play and your own personal preferences, you might find you prefer flatpicking over fingerpicking (or vice versa). However, it’s always a good idea to practice both techniques to keep your playing versatile. You might even change your mind or discover a new sound.

29. Learn scales.

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Scales are the building blocks of chords, riffs, solos, and every piece of music you play. They’re also a wonderful way to practice your technique. If you don’t have any scales to practice, try the moveable pentatonic to get started.

30. Learn arpeggios.

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Arpeggios are another basic building block of music. If you don’t know any, get started with these.

31. Always start with a warm up routine – This might include scales, arpeggios and techniques you are working on.

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Warming up when you practice helps prevent injury to your hands and, over time, your warm up will help you get focused and ready to play. If you don’t have a guitar warm up routine yet, try this one or this one.

32. Learn a new guitar technique. If you haven’t already, try muting, harmonics, left hand dampening, hammer-ons, or pull-offs to get started.

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When you hear a guitarist do something that makes you think, “wow, how’d they do that?”, ask your guitar teacher, and take some time in your next practice session to work on learning their technique. If none of the techniques listed above are familiar to you, start with hammer ons and pull offs.

33. Practice chords in multiple positions on the fretboard.

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If you’re already familiar with your basic open guitar chords, try learning barre chords, or even start learning new shapes for chords up and down the neck. Test yourself to see how many different ways you can play the same chord.

34. Record yourself and critique the recording.

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If you’re not in the habit of listening back to yourself, you’ll get a lot of insight into how you play by recording yourself. There are at least eight good reasons you should record yourself playing guitar, and you’ll probably think of a couple more in the process. You don’t need fancy recording equipment. The voice recorder on your cell phone or computer should be good enough to get the job done.

35. Play along with a recording.

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Playing to a recording is a great way to get the feel for playing with another musician, but without the pressure of having to play in front of anyone. You can play along to a song that you’ve been studying or see if you can learn something new by ear.

36. Practice the left and right hand movements separately before combining them.

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Practicing your left and right hand parts separately is actually a great way to build coordination. Each part becomes easier for you when you play it separately, so when you put them together, playing guitar will be a piece of cake.

37. Sing the rhythm before you try to play it.

37: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

If a tricky rhythm is throwing you off, try singing it before you play it. Then, try these guitar exercises to improve your groove.

38. Sing the melodic line or lick before you try to play it.

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Singing can help you learn to play melodies too, or even help you write your own.

39. Take breaks – don’t practice so long that it makes you hate practicing.

39: 50 Ways to Get More Out of Guitar Practice

The last thing you want to do is get burned out on playing guitar. Keep your practice sessions short and sweet. This will encourage you to play more.

40. Practice more than one time a day – two or three shorter practice times will accomplish more than one long one.

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Several short focused practice sessions are better than one, drawn-out, boring session. Work with your natural ability to focus and don’t push yourself to the point that you’re no longer being productive.

41. Practice for musicality – don’t just practice the notes – work to express the music.

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Beyond great technique, perfect pitch, and solid timing, musicality is the way your playing emotionally moves your audience. To improve your musicality, think beyond just what you are playing to focus on why you are playing it. What is this piece of music expressing? Keep fine-tuning your musicality with these 99 tips.

42. Listen to good guitarists.

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You know those lists of the greatest guitarists of all time that are all over the Internet? Start taking names you’re not familiar with and listen closely. Listen to great guitarists you love, hate, or don’t quite understand. The more you listen, the more you will learn about what you want to be able to do and what is possible.

43. Learn to read music.

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Learning to read music will open lots of doors for you as a musician, especially if you want to play with an ensemble or do studio work.

44. Learn to read tabs.

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Guitar tabs are quick and dirty form of musical notation. If you don’t already know how to read tabs, they will make it easy to learn new pieces of music or jot down ideas of your own.

45. Ask for help or tips from another guitarist.

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Get help when you’re stuck, whether it’s from a friend, your guitar teacher, or a video online. It’s better to ask a question than to struggle with needless frustration.

46. Teach someone something you have learned.

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Research has shown that if you’re learning new information or skills, you’re much more likely to remember them if you teach them to someone else. Pay your guitar knowledge forward and it will pay off for you too!

47. Hammer your fingers down on the fretboard as you play to lock in the feel of a new pattern.

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Many people struggle with memorizing new music. Getting a good kinetic feel for the music can be a big help. Try these extra tips to learn new music faster.

48. Don’t rush over the rests in music – silence is an important part of playing too.

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Rests may not be the first thing you notice when you listen to music, but you would certainly notice if they were gone! Rests play an important role in the pacing, rhythm, and musicality of every piece of music you hear.

49. Always tune before you practice.

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Nobody wants to play an out-of-tune guitar! To make sure you sound your best, always tune your guitar before you practice.

50. Reward yourself when you accomplish something that was a challenge.

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Nobody ever said playing guitar would be easy, so be sure to notice when things that were once challenging become easy. If all of a sudden you can play that hard chord, riff, or whole song in your sleep, that’s cause for a celebration. Give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. You’re doing a great job, now keep going!

Get even more guidance, tips, and tricks by taking lessons from a private guitar teacher. Find your guitar teacher now!

JerryJerry W. teaches classical guitar, composition, trombone and trumpet in Grosse Pointe, MI.  He received his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from Cornerstone University and went on to receive both his Masters and PhD in Music Composition from Michigan State University.  Jerry has been making music and teaching students for over thirty years.  Learn more about Jerry W. here!



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10 Inspiring Quotes from Famous Guitarists

They are great and successful. They have been called geniuses, and their music still inspires hundreds of young musicians today. They prove that becoming a legendary musician takes determination, passion, and drive, along with sheer talent.

Their contribution to music can’t be counted, and today we share their words with musicians who dream of greatness, and try to reveal the secrets of these wonderful people’s success and charisma.

So, catch your muse, play a guitar – and may inspiration be with you!

1. Jimi Hendrix

“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”

The point is, that Hendrix was not the best guitar player among his contemporaries. The fact is, he played more naturally. He was a creative person, and he personified the music he played: he was this music himself.

2. Keith Richards

“Music is a necessity. After food, air, water and warmth, music is the next necessity of life.”

There is a reason why people are ready to pay a lot to see Richards’ playing. He created many amazing and diverse songs and melodies. His guitar playing has always been innovative, and his use of constantly changing approaches has always been in at the heart of The Rolling Stones’ sound.

3. Eddie Van Halen

Famous Guitarists Quotes Van Halen

“If you want to be a rock star or just be famous, then run down the street naked, you’ll make the news or something. But if you want music to be your livelihood, then play, play, play and play! And eventually you’ll get to where you want to be.”

Van Halen’s skills come from the way he plays his guitar. He mastered the technique of tapping to perfection, and he even improved it. He is 60 now, and he continues to tour.

4. Robert Leroy Johnson

“When the train, it left the station, there was two lights on behind,
Well, the blue light was my baby, and the red light was my mind.”

There is a good reason why almost all articles about Robert Johnson have one and the same featured image of him: only two portraits of this blues musician are available today. Most of Johnson’s life was spent out of commercial success. Though he played in the streets, he is probably one of the key blues musicians in history.

5. Ry Cooder

Famous Guitarists Quotes - Ry Cooder

“No second chances in the land of a thousand dances, the valley of ten million insanities.”

Ryland Peter Cooder is a charismatic, multifaceted and extraordinary musician best known for his starring role in Buena Vista Social Club. Ry started as a teenager and a promising blues musician, and he became famous for his slide guitar work.

6. Carlos Santana

“Most people are prisoners, thinking only about the future or living in the past. They are not in the present, and the present is where everything begins.”

The “glass” tone of Santana’s guitar playing is easy to recognize once it appears in a song. His characteristic fusion of Latin rhythms, blues and jazz has become almost a cult, and his 65-year-old career deservedly led him to ten Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammies.

7. Jimmy Page

“I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.”

This Led Zeppelin guitarist has become one of the greatest players of all time. However, he is also one of the greatest composers and producers in the world of rock. Having such an extensive set of songs, solos and rhythms, Jimmy Page has easily become one of the titans in music industry.

8. Eric Clapton

Famous Guitarists Quotes Eric Clapton

“When all the original blues guys are gone, you start to realize that someone has to tend to the tradition. I recognize that I have some responsibility to keep the music alive, and it’s a pretty honorable position to be in.”

The only three-time winner of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award, Clapton has revolutionized a guitar playing and become one of the most respected and influential musical figures in the era of rock. His style has changed over time, but he always held on to his blues roots.

9. Chuck Berry


“You don’t just go to the studio and say, ‘I’m going to write a hit.’ It becomes a hit when people like your compositions.”

Berry is best known for being one of the first rock and roll guitarists. As a result, he served as an inspiration for famous guitarists such as Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Chuck Berry was economical and clean as a guitarist, and he was bright and witty as a showman.

10. Jeff Beck

Famous Guitarists Quotes Jeff Beck

“I don’t understand why some people will only accept a guitar if it has an instantly recognizable guitar sound. Finding ways to use the same guitar people have been using for 50 years to make sounds that no one has heard before is truly what gets me off.”

As well as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, Beck is one of the three famous guitarists who played with The Yardbirds. Thanks to them, he entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and entered it again as a solo guitarist. He produced some of the most exciting and dizzying guitar melodies in modern music history; and although Jeff Beck is not as commercially successful as many his contemporaries, his influence to the world of music can not be underestimated.

About the author:

Lesley J. Vos is a private educator of French language for high school students. Her interests include writing, reading and music, and she is always open to something new and inspiring. Lesley is a blogger who is honored to write for popular educative blogs such as Edudemic, Bid4papers Blog, Student Advisor Blog, Getting Smart, and others. Lesley is writing her first e-book at the moment, and she hopes to publish it this year.

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Mastering Lead Guitar: Guitar Scales 101


There is nothing more important in the lead player’s tool box than guitar scales. Scales are road maps that unlock the secrets of the fret board, telling the player what notes to play and what notes to avoid.

In this article, we’ll start our explanation of scales with the most basic principles, then build toward a more complex understanding of what scales are and how to use them.

Pentatonic Guitar Scales

The first scale most guitar players learn is the minor pentatonic scale. It is one of the most commonly used scales in rock music, with a timeless bluesy sound that is favored in every genre from country to metal.

Below is a chart of the minor pentatonic scale. If you are not familiar with it, take a moment to play up and down the scale and get it under your fingers.

Remember, memorizing scales is all about visualizing and building muscle memory.

Minor Pentatonic Scale Chart

This scale can be played over any minor chord progression, just find out what key the song is in (usually the first chord of a progression, but not always), find that note on the low E string, and use that as the root (or first note) of this scale pattern.

But what do you do if the song you want to play is in a major key? You play the major pentatonic scale shown below.

Major Pentatonic Scale Chart

These two patterns provide a great introduction for guitar players new to the world of scales.

But what if you want to start moving up and down the fret board? There are five different positions of the pentatonic scale that link together and repeat to cover the entire fret board.

5 Position Pentatonic Scale Charts

You should be familiar with the first two positions, as they are the minor and major pentatonic scales.

It is helpful to think of these scales as shapes that lock together like puzzle pieces. Practice moving from one shape to another, sliding up and down to change position.

The fourth and fifth positions should look a little familiar.

They are the little siblings of the first and second positions: minor and major pentatonic scales respectively with their root notes on the A string as opposed to the E string. Knowing where your root notes are will give you greater flexibility when playing leads using these scales.

Here are a few licks that will get you used to moving around using pentatonic scales.

Major and Minor Guitar Scales

Once you have become comfortable using the pentatonic scales, it is time to upgrade to the diatonic, or seven note, scales.

I say upgrade because it’s good to think of these scales as more complex versions of their pentatonic counterparts in which two notes are added to a five note skeleton. Take a look at the major scale and compare it to the major pentatonic scale.

Major vs Pentatonic Scale Chart

Try adding and subtracting the two new notes to get comfortable with the relationship between diatonic and pentatonic. Think of it as building on a scale you already know. This same relation can be found between the minor diatonic and pentatonic scales.

Minor vs Pentatonic Scale Chart

Just like the pentatonic scales, there are different positions of the diatonic scale that can be used to map out the fret board.

5 Position Diatonic Scale Charts

The major and minor scales are just two of the seven different diatonic scales known as the “modes” of the major scale.

If you were to start and end the major scale on the second note of the pattern instead of the first, you would get the second mode of the major scale, known as the Dorian scale. In fact the minor scale is just a major scale that starts and ends on the 6th note.

Since there are seven different notes to start on, there are seven different modes, each with its own distinct sound and proper chordal habitat. But before we can explore them, we need to learn a little bit about music theory and how scales work.


The Science of Scales

When we talk about scales, we use numbers, or scale tones, to identify the different notes they contain. The names of the scale tones are based on the notes of the major scale and are as follows:

1st (Root) 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th

The five additional notes that lie outside the major scale can be identified by adding a flat or sharp to the number name. All twelve notes that can be used to make up a scale are named below:

1st b2nd 2nd b3rd 3rd 4th b5th/#4th 5th b6th 6th b7th 7th

The diatonic scale modes each contain a variation of the 1st – 7th pattern, selecting one version of each number without skipping or repeating. To demonstrate, take a look at the scale degrees that make up a minor scale:

1st 2nd b3rd 4th 5th b6th b7th

Notice how it contains a set of notes to take us from 1st – 7th without repeating or skipping a step. The b3rd is used instead of the 3rd. The b6th is used instead of the 6th. The b7th is used instead of the 7th. These are the differences that give it its distinct sound as a minor scale as opposed to a major scale.

Before moving on, we must discuss a few essential scale tones.

The 1st, which is found in every scale, tells us what the root note is.

The 5th is a counterpart to the root. There is only one mode that does not have a 5th, but contains a b5th instead, giving it the sound of the diminished chord.

The 3rd decides whether the scale is major or minor. Scales with a 3rd (or major 3rd) are major, while scales with a b3rd (or minor 3rd) are minor.

The 7th creates a pull back to the root note and can be used to create tension. For the most part, scales with a major 3rd have a major 7th and scales with a minor 3rd have a minor 7th (b7th).

The one mode that combines a major 3rd and minor 7th creates a great deal of tension that wants to lead back to the major scale.

It is essential to be able to visualize the scale degrees and where they are located in relation to the root note. Check out this video and follow along on your guitar to get a sense of the spatial relationship between the different scale tones.

Modes of the Major Scale

Now that we have an understanding of scale degrees, we can begin exploring the seven modes of the major scale and when to use them. This is dictated by the chord progression.

Just like the use of the major or minor scales are dictated by the key, the nature of the chord progression will dictate which of the modes must be used.

Before we dive in, a quick note on chord progressions so we can properly understand the context in which these modes are used.

Roman numerals are used to identify chords the same way scale degrees are used.

Capital numerals (I, V) represent major chords, while lowercase numerals (i, v) represent minor chords. I is the home chord, IV is a neighboring chord, V creates tension that wants to resolve back to I. vi is the minor home chord, ii is it’s neighbor, and iii provides tension leading back to vi. vii7b5 is a rare diminished chord that also creates tension.

Ionian Mode

The first mode of the major scale is the major scale itself. One of the most common modes, it has a happy sound that is standard in many songs.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th

Ionian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the I chord in progressions like I V IV (C G F).

Dorian Mode

The second mode alters the minor scale by changing the b6th to a 6th, slightly lightening the minor sound of the scale. This is a very common mode in rock, blues and jazz music.

1st 2nd b3rd 4th 5th 6th b7th

Dorian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the ii chord in progressions like ii V (Dm G).

Phrygian Mode

The third mode is also minor in character, adding the iconic sound of a b2nd to the minor scale. It has a haunting feel that is reminiscent of Latin music.

1st b2nd b3rd 4th 5th b6th b7th

Phrygian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the iii chord in progressions like iii IV (Em F).

Lydian Mode

The forth modes is a major mode that, in my opinion, is the most beautiful of all scales.

It raises the 4th of the major scale, bringing a hint of the rare dissonant diminished sound (the #4th and b5th are the same note with a different name) to the familiar consonant major sound.

1st 2nd 3rd #4th 5th 6th 7th

Lydian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the IV chord in progressions like IV I (F C).

Mixolydian Mode

The fifth mode is major mode that lowers the seventh, mixing the minor and major sounds. As mentioned earlier, it combines a major 3rd and minor 7th to create the tension that defines the Dominant 7th sound and leads back to the I chord. Like the Dorian mode, this is another rock staple.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th b7th

Mixolydian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the V chord in progressions like V IV (G F).

Aeolian Mode

The sixth mode is the minor scale. It is another of the most common modes, possessing a dark and somber sound.

1st 2nd b3rd 4th 5th b6th b7th

Aeolian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the vi chord in progressions like vi ii (Am Dm).

Locrian Mode

The seventh and final mode is a very rare mode.

It has a diminished sound caused by the b5th and is very harsh dissonant in nature. While it may not find common use in popular music, it can be found used in jazz music when soloists need to play over a diminished chord.

1st b2nd b3rd 4th b5th b6th b7th

Locrian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the vii7b5 Chord in progressions like vii7b5 III7 vi (Bm7b5 E7 Am).

If some of this is a bit confusing or overwhelming, don’t worry. It takes a long time and a lot of practice and study to fully internalize a working understanding of scales and modes.

However, I hope this has served as a suitable introduction to the wide world of scales that only gets stranger from here with harmonic and melodic minor harmony, and chord-scales that are constantly shifting with each chord in the progression.

All this aside, scales remain one of the most crucial elements of the discipline of lead guitar. So perfect your pentatonics, wield your diatonics, and explore your modes and you’ll be a giant leap closer to mastering lead guitar.

Looking for more on lead guitar? Check out this tutorial on using guitar arpeggios!