What is a Pentatonic Scale?

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

So what is a Pentatonic Scale?

This article will help you understand more about the Pentatonic Scale including where it comes from and why we use it.

I’ve written a brief summary article and also a full detailed version for you to dig in to later!

Summary

In the full article I’ve covered the following:

  • What are musical scales?
  • What is the Chromatic Scale?
  • The difference between major and minor scales
  • What are musical intervals?
  • Major scale intervals
  • Minor scale intervals
  • What is a Pentatonic Scale and where do they come from?
  • Some commonly used Pentatonic scales

Pentatonic scales are a simplified version, or selection, from the wider full scale, whether it be major or minor.

They tend to be used by beginners as they are easier to make sound good over chord progressions and you don’t need to remember as many notes as the full scale.

The order of notes that are played define the sound that they will make.

The Major Pentatonic Scale is 5 notes from the wider major scale namely notes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale is 5 notes from the wider natural minor scale namely notes 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7.

The most common pentatonic scales are major and minor but they can be related harmonically and even contain the same notes such as C Major Pentatonic and A Minor Pentatonic.

I’ve got more detail about musical scales and guitar chords that you must know in my free Online Guitar Academy.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW!

Please read on to the full article for more detailed information, graphics and some guitar neck diagrams to help you learn about some of the most common pentatonic scales there are.

Main Article

Before we get into what a Pentatonic Scale is, I want to lay down some basics first.

What are Musical Scales?

Musical scales are a grouping of notes that relate to each other and give a distinctive sound when played in sequence or when a certain selection is played together.

In music, you only need to know one scale and then everything else comes from that scale.

So, what scale is this? It’s the Chromatic Scale.

Chromatic Scale

The Chromatic Scale contains all the notes that we can play in music.

There are a finite (limited) number of notes (12 in total) within the Chromatic Scale as shown below.

The ‘#’ symbol indicates a sharp note and the ‘b’ symbol represents a flat note.

It’s not important to know the exact reasons for these, in the initial stages of guitar; which I’m guessing you’re at if you’re wondering what pentatonic scales are.

You just need to know they exist and be aware of them.

Sharps (#) and flats (b)are interchangeable for certain notes i.e. A# is the same as Bb in that is the same note.

However, they have different meanings depending on the scale they are in.

It’s an important concept to grasp that musical notes in the Chromatic Scale are not linear (i.e. in one line) but circular in a continuous pattern; increasing in pitch with no start or end.

But there can’t be just one scale I’ve heard of major and minor scales!

That’s right but all the other scales still use the Chromatic Scale. It’s just a matter of the order you hear the notes and the spacing between them.

For example, the major scale is a selection of notes from the Chromatic Scale with a standardized space between them called intervals.

What are Musical Intervals?

A musical interval is the spacing between notes when played in order or together but what does that mean?

The Chromatic Scale goes up in “semitones” (the smallest interval between notes).

The easiest way to remember this is the change in pitch when you move up or down by one fret on the guitar; this is a semitone.

Try doing this on your guitar, so you get an idea of how this sounds.

The next most common interval is the “tone” (sometimes known as whole note).

This is easy to remember as it is a spacing/interval of two semitones. Just think of it like a circle, i.e. two semi circles make a circle and so two semitones make a tone.

A musical scale is made up of a combination of a mix of tones and semi tones; depending on the type.

Just know that if you remember the Chromatic Scale you won’t go far wrong.

It might seem that there are so many scales that you don’t know where to even start learning and remembering them.

All a musical scale is, is a selection of notes from the Chromatic Scale played either in order (traditional scale/arpeggio) or a chord (notes played at the same time).

Each type of scale has a different interval pattern between each note i.e. for major and minor. It’s easiest to initially think of the major scale pattern when you first start learning this.

Major Scale Intervals

The intervals for a major scale, starting from the root, are: Tone; Tone; Semitone; Tone; Tone; Tone; and Semitone.

Each note in the scale is also given a reference name which are the ‘Scale Degrees’ i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc.

The diagram below shows the different intervals between notes in the major scale and the names of each of the notes i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc.

As an example, the below diagrams show the C Major Scale notes and the intervals between the notes along with them over the chromatic scale wheel.

What is the difference between Major and Minor?

The main difference between major and minor chords and/or scales is the sound they make.

Major scales/chords are very pleasant and happy sounding whereas minor scales/chords have a moody sound.

Even though there’s such a huge difference in emotion and sound between major and minor, there’s a very small technical difference between them.

Let’s go through this.

Why do Major and Minor Sound different?

So why do minor scales sound different to major scales?

It’s because there are different intervals between the notes.

If you remember from above, we covered the Chromatic Scale and that we only have a total of 12 notes to choose from.

There are no more and no less. It’s all we’ve got, sorry.

We take a selection of the notes from the Chromatic Scale to make a major/minor scale. But the intervals (spacing between notes) are different for each.

Let’s look at the Minor Scale now to see how major and minor differ.

Minor Scale Intervals and Pattern

The intervals for this minor scale (known as the Natural Minor Scale), starting from the root, are: Tone; Semitone; Tone; Tone; Semitone; Tone; and Tone.

The diagram below shows the different intervals between notes in the major scale and the names of each of the notes i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc.

As an example, the below diagrams show the A Minor Scale notes and the intervals between the notes along with them over the Chromatic Scale wheel.

You can see that the notes in the C Major and A Minor Scale are the same. This shows that it is just the order that the notes are heard that makes them have a different sound.

What is a Pentatonic Scale?

The Pentantonic Scale is talked about a lot in guitar playing, especially among beginners/intermediate guitarists.

This is because the Pentatonic Scale is a simplified version of other scales.

The most common forms are the Major Pentatonic and Minor Pentatonic scales.

So, what is the Pentatonic Scale?

It’s essentially a selection of 5 notes from each respective scale  within one octave.

Major Pentatonic

The selection of notes with respect to the wider major scale is given below:

Root – Second – Third – Fifth – Sixth

The Major Pentatonic Scale is taken from the Major Scale and the Minor Pentatonic Scale is taken from the Natural Minor Scale.

Minor Pentatonic

The selection of notes with respect to the wider minor scale is given below:

Root – Third – Fourth – Fifth – Seventh

Where do Pentatonic Scales Come From?

Pentatonic Scales are believed to date way back to the ancient Greek period to even predate Pythagoras (500 BC).

Simple musical instruments were made and tuned to the Pentatonic Scale for a few reasons but essentially the number 5 was believed to have cultural significance.

Pentatonic Scales are used commonly as they tend to fit well when played randomly as they lack the more complicated dissonant intervals.

Common Pentatonic Scales

The most commonly used versions of these scales in guitar playing are the C Major and Minor Pentatonic.

These scales are harmonically related, so we’ll go through those now.

C Major Pentatonic Scale Wheel

 

A Minor Pentatonic Scale Wheel

Notice that the notes in both C Major Pentatonic and A Minor Pentatonic are the same, as per the wider full scales.

The different sound comes from the order they are played in and therefore the intervals between each note.

Starting on C and playing through the pentatonic scale sounds different to starting on the A note and playing through.

I’ve also given some example neck diagrams for the C Major and A Minor Pentatonic Scales.

C Major Pentatonic Scale Guitar Neck Diagram

A Minor Pentatonic Scale Guitar Neck Diagram

For further reading and improving your knowledge you can find and explore other Pentatonic Scales such as the Egyptian Suspended Pentatonic, Blues Minor Pentatonic, and Blues Major Pentatonic.

I hope this article helped you to understand more about the elusive question of “What is a Pentatonic Scale?”. I could carry on further and, in more detail, but thought this was a good place to stop for now.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the Fret Success Academy.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW!

Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

What guitar gadgets would you recommend to any guitar player?

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

Summary

Gadgets are wonderful. Most I can’t live without and, sure, some are just nice to have/fun. They all have their place though. It’s hard to pin down a shortlist but I’ve had a go at prioritising my recommendations. Plus it’s that time of year where you probably want to get a gift for the guitarist in your life.

I’ve listed a few gadgets that can help improve your creativity, progression and musical expression whilst also reducing wasted time. Here’s a summary of the gadgets I’ve put on my list:

  • Clip on Tuner
  • Guitar Stands or Wall Hangers
  • Guitar Maintenance Gadgets
  • Plectrum/Pick Holders
  • Capo
  • Time/life Savers
  • Technique Improvement
  • Musical Expression and Songwriting

This list isn’t everything but will likely give you insight into some gadgets that could save you time, patience and help with your musical process.

Have you joined the free Fret Success Academy yet? Just visit here to find out more and join!

Plus there’s a free 7 day email course with my top guitar practice strategies, just wait for the pop up on the site!

Anyway, on to the main article!

Main Article

Let’s answer this question that you either have thought about for improving your playing, that you think you’re missing out or if you’re wanting to get a guitarist a gift.

So, “What guitar gadgets would you recommend to any guitar player?”?

Let’s go through some categories and options.

There are so many guitar gadgets out there, especially those that promise to improve your guitar playing or even just the next “must have thing”.

It’s nice to treat ourselves every now and then and I am partial to this, as life is too short right?

It’s easy to keep buying a new guitar gadget or the latest thing but what are the things that are a staple to most guitar players?

You know the things that you’ll use to enhance or improve your playing or musical expression?

Well, there are a few gadgets that I find that I use every day, other gadgets that I’m glad I have in my possession for occasional use, and some that are pretty much just toys.

Each of these has its place and of course depends on the budget you have available.

So what types of gadget are there?

When I think about when I’m asked, “What guitar gadgets you would recommend to any guitar player”, I just think about what I have recommended to my students over the years and through the conversations I have with other fellow experienced guitarists.

I’ve made the following lists based on what I have found to be the most effective gadgets for not just helping not just improving technique and musical expression but to also just make life easier.

The following sections take you through the gadgets for each of the following uses,

  • General day to day gadgets;
  • Make your life easier;
  • Technique improvement; and
  • Musical expression and songwriting.

General Day to Day Gadgets

Clip on Tuner

I must admit that I bought one of these years ago and just never got along with it.

The technology just didn’t work well, especially for the lower strings.

I just found it easier to use the pedal versions, especially with there being no strobe tuning function on it (if you haven’t used a strobe tuner, use one and you’ll never go back).

This opinion changed when I came across the TC electronic PolyTune Clip.

The Polytune Clip is the best clip on tuner I have tried. It has a couple of great features including recognizing what strings are out of tune when all are strummed and strobe tuner functionality.

This is a must have gadget for any guitarist.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/TC-Electronic-966111001-PolyTune-Clip/dp/B00ZU4G0ZK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540512822&sr=8-1&keywords=polytune+clip

Guitar Stand or Wall Hanger

If you’re a gigging person, then having a guitar stand is a must; as just leaving it propped up is asking for trouble.

I’ve seen so many nice guitars slide away from the wall and crash to the ground with an almighty bang and strike of the strings.

So, if you gig then you need to get a stand, no questions asked.

Another way to think about it is considering one of the main things that generally hinders you wanting to practice.

This is where your guitar is stored.

Have you ever thought about practicing your guitar and then you can’t be bothered because it’s locked up in a case in the wardrobe?

Well, one of the best things to do here is just make it more accessible using a guitar stand.

There are so many options out there for guitar stands, some good and some bad; with varying functionality.

If you have more than one guitar you might find it beneficial to have either a dual or multi guitar stand. I’ve found that having them hung on the wall is best, if you have space and permission.

This is because they are out of the way, not getting tripped over and you can easily just grab it off the wall and get playing.

So here are some guitar stand options with varying styles, so it really depends on what works for you.

Acoustic Floor Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hercules-GS301B-Travlite-Acoustic-Guitar/dp/B000P5RVRU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542310267&sr=8-1&keywords=hercules+acoustic+guitar+stand

Electric Floor Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hercules-GS302B-Travlite-Compact-Electric/dp/B000P5WTQS/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310284&sr=1-1&keywords=hercules+electric+guitar+stand

Dual Guitar Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/AXL-SG-302-Multiple-Guitar-Guitars/dp/B004WDZJFW/ref=sr_1_8?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310305&sr=1-8&keywords=dual+guitar+stand

Multi Guitar Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/PGST43-Guitar-Stand-Multi-Instrument-Holder/dp/B01HTG4WG0/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310328&sr=1-2&keywords=multi+guitar+stand

Single Point Wall Hanging Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hercules-GSP38WB-Locking-Mounting-Guitar/dp/B0009K9MUA/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310358&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=hercules+wall+hanger&psc=1

Multi Point Wall Hanging Stand:

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JDP3J10/ref=sspa_dk_detail_3?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B00JDP3J10&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=f0dedbe2-13c8-4136-a746-4398ed93cf0f&pd_rd_wg=1JUC1&pf_rd_r=QMJM07B6DH7EDNDC3AA5&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&pd_rd_w=qhrEm&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pd_rd_r=5a80b089-e90d-11e8-b8bf-2d5ac68107a8

Maintaining your Guitar

These are the cheapest gadgets you can get but easily the most overlooked, especially for beginner guitar players.

The guitar strings pickup all sorts of scum and dirt from your fingers when you’re playing, the natural oils are corrosive to strings and the tone is affected quicker than you might think.

There are a few ways of increasing the longevity of strings, and the following gadgets can help with this.

Don’t forget to wash and dry your hands well before using the guitar too.

Clean Rag:

Wiping down your guitar after you play is a sure-fire way to increase the life of your strings.

Any microfiber cloth will do but here are some small ones you could use!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Auntwhale-15x17cm-Polishing-Cleaning-Instrument/dp/B07CGNNJKZ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1542310516&sr=8-2&keywords=guitar+wipe+cloth

Guitar Case Dehumidifier:

Regulating the amount of moisture content in your guitar is crucial for keeping it in good conditioner.

There are some pretty weird and wonderful devices that can give you amazing control but why not start with something small, cheap and manageable.

These little packs work a treat.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Ever-Bamboo-Dehumidifier-Natural-Charcoal/dp/B01D9P1KNI/ref=sr_1_1?s=sports&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310550&sr=8-1&keywords=guitar+case+dehumidifier

String Preserver and Lubricant:

You know that sound that your guitar strings make when you slide your hands on them, it can be a bit bearing on the listener.

Also, you may find that sliding up and down the neck isn’t as easy as you would like.

Well the FretFast is perfect for these symptoms/woes. They also make it harder for the sweat and corrosive materials to degrade the string over time.

I highly recommend this product and it lasts ages!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/GHS-Strings-A87-FAST-FRET/dp/B0002D0CQC/ref=sr_1_2?s=sports&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310572&sr=8-2&keywords=fast+fret

Lemon Oil by Jim Dunlop:

Caring for your guitar is essential and one way of maintaining the moisture content in the neck and provide some lubrication is through applying lemon oil.

You don’t need to use it regularly, but I give my unstrung neck a good clean with a strong rag/cloth and then apply lemon oil to protect it!

It’s a great product to have around.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Dunlop-6554-Ultimate-Lemon-Oil/dp/B0002OOMW6/ref=sr_1_1?s=sports&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310611&sr=8-1&keywords=lemon+oil+jim

Pick/Plectrum Holders

One of the biggest pet hates for guitarists is losing picks/plectrums!

Who know where they go sometimes?

I’ve moved to a new house and never been able to find a plectrum that went missing.

I’ve heard rumours that they travel to another dimension to live out the rest of their lives.

Another issue is the long search to find a pick/plectrum to use.

Also, you could be playing a live show and lose a plectrum then be searching for it mid song!!

So many plectrum/pick related woes!

So, one of the best things to do to solve this issue is get a device to hold them in place or at least store them somewhere. Here are a few devices to help you with this trying time.

Convenient Pick Store:

Store them in a fixed location on the back of your guitar headstock, desk etc. using a pick store

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Dunlop-5005-Pickholder-1-Pack/dp/B0002OOMU8/ref=sr_1_cc_5?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310644&sr=1-5-catcorr&keywords=guitar+pick+holder

Microphone Mount Pick/Plectrum Store:

Slide this on your microphone stand at a gig, load it up and stop looking for plectrums/picks mid song.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Dunlop-5010-Stand-Pkhldr-7-Inch/dp/B0002D0CNA/ref=sr_1_cc_6?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310733&sr=1-6-catcorr&keywords=guitar+pick+holder

String winder:

It can take an age to change strings and sometimes you haven’t got the time, say mid performance.

This neat little device speeds things up and keeps everything you need to change strings handy including a string winder, peg remover and trimmer.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Guitar-Bass-Maintenance-Strings-Extractor/dp/B0716F22K8/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310746&sr=1-3-spons&keywords=string+winder&psc=1

Capo:

A capo is a must have device for any guitarist. They are so useful! Everyone should have one and that’s it really.

If you’re not sure what a capo is for, Click here for my article on the very topic!

I’ve given a link to a cool looking and functional capo.

There are a massive range out there though and lots of different concepts.

It’s personal preference but I’ve always preferred the quick clamp on/release ones just for convenience and consistency, especially for playing live.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Guitar-Acoustic-Electric-Feeling-Durable/dp/B071JFRL3C/ref=sr_1_10?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310783&sr=1-10&keywords=guitar+capo

Power conditioner and surge protector:

Protecting your electronic equipment and yourself is very important. Poor electrical connections can damage equipment.

They can fluctuate quite a bit and you’re at the mercy of it in most scenarios where you use your gear.

You should at least have a surge protector but think about going to the next level by conditioning your power supply with an all in one unit!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B003BQ91Y6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Make my life easier

It’s one thing having your lesson content easily accessible on your portable device but trying to prop it up somewhere and be able to see it from your guitar is another matter.

There are a few items that can help you position that device in a better location for access whilst playing your guitar for either live or rehearsal.

Phone & iPad holders for mic stand and guitar

Phone:

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Holder-Guitar-Singing-Suction-Musicians/dp/B079WHWQWF/ref=sr_1_11?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310890&sr=1-11&keywords=phone+holder+for+musician

iPad/tablet:

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/CTA-PAD-MTG-Microphone-Gooseneck-Performance/dp/B06X9S2VWQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310925&sr=1-1&keywords=ipad+holder+for+musician

Technique Improvement

Grip trainer:

Now let’s look at a standard technique improvement product that I even use now.

It’s not just for improving technique but also for maintaining strength in your fingers as an experienced player.

You just need to squeeze this device when you’re relaxing, like watching TV/browsing internet etc.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Strengthener-Adjustable-Exerciser-Dexterity-Instruction/dp/B07GPB8CQB/ref=sr_1_5?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310992&sr=8-5&keywords=guitar+grip+master

Musical Expression and Songwriting

If you have some/all of the above items and you’re confident with your playing, it’s probably time to work on getting gadgets to help with your musical expression and songwriting.

The following gadgets are perfect for this.

Mobile Phone Voice Recorder App:

Getting a voice recorder app on your phone is a complete must.

You never know when the next idea will come to you, a riff, a lyric etc.

The one thing you do know is that you need to be ready for it.

Remembering ideas is tough, especially if you’re not ready to progress that idea there and then.

Android: http://andauth.co/QSZKLW

Iphone: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/voice-recorder-audio-editor/id685310398?mt=8

Zoom H1 Portable Digital Recorder:

This device is great if you want to improve your audio recording quality or even want to record audio for YouTube covers etc.

Phones are great and convenient but if you want more then this is the next step up.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Zoom-Handy-Portable-Digital-Recorder/dp/B003QKBVYK/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542311094&sr=1-2&keywords=Zoom+H1+Portable

Guitar Slide:

This next one is a stylistic gadget.

It’s simple but not the easiest thing to use and make sound good.

It’s a must for blues and rock players but it’s also worth getting if you just want to spice up your playing. Use it to add a cool fretless slide effect to your playing.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Jim-Dunlop-222-Guitar-Slide-Medium/dp/B0002D0ELU/ref=sr_1_4?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542311063&sr=1-4&keywords=guitar+slide

Sound Card and DAW:

So, you’re ready to record an album and hit the big time?

You used to have to wait for a record deal but now you can do it all from the luxurious and inexpensive environment of your home.

The next gadget to consider in this realm is a dedicated external sound card and Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

There are lots of options out there but the new Focusrite Scarlett series is a great value for money product. It only has two inputs but if you get yourself a drum sampler plugin and amp simulator then there’s nothing stopping you for electric.

If you’re acoustic, just get a microphone and stand and you’re off!!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Focusrite-Scarlett-2i2-Audio-Interface-Tools/dp/B01E6T56EA/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542311143&sr=1-2&keywords=focusrite

PRS Supermodels:

For the electric guitarists amongst you, I have come across one of the best amp simulators there is.

Sure, there are much more sophisticated and flexible options out there but for this price, it’s unbeatable!

Get this series and do away with all the frustration with getting a good guitar sound and hit the ground running with your ideas and focus on the songwriting instead.

Link: https://www.waves.com/plugins/prs-supermodels

Hammer Jammer

This is the only novelty type gadget that I’ve mentioned in this post.

If you have the budget and the sound fits your style, then this little product could be the thing you’re looking for.

Google it and check out the videos, it’s quite a cool little device and unique.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Hammer-Jammer/dp/B00Z7Y9XU2

Ditto Looper

Looping is very fashionable now, but it also serves another purpose.

When you’re practicing it can get a bit tedious just playing solos or parts on your own.

With the help of a looper you can record a chord sequence into the looper, loop it and play back with it and then you’re not so lonely anymore.

I believe the ditto looper can also store your recorded loop and have song ideas put onto it. Pretty damn cool!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Electronic-Guitar-Ditto-Looper-Effects/dp/B00AZUAORE

Final Thoughts

I hope this list of my recommended gadgets has helped you either find a new toy, get a crucial new tool or give you some gift inspiration for a guitarist in your life.

There are so many guitar gadgets out there and more released every year. Check out videos from NAMM to get ideas of the latest releases and gear that’s out.

Have you joined the Free Guitar Academy yet? Why not? Click here to Sign Up!!

Dan

(Fret Success Founder)

https://www.fretsuccess.com

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

How do Guitar Strings Produce Their Sound?

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

Summary

Here are a few summarizing points to help if you haven’t got time to read the whole article on "How do Guitar Strings Produce Their Sound?" now:

  • The sound is produced in the string through a series of energy conversions from energy in your arms to air fluctuations caused by the string moving in the air and then the behavior of the string under clamped conditions;
  • As the string movement is restricted at both ends, this causes a standing wave pattern at the fundamental frequency and harmonics of that fundamental;
  • The fundamental frequency of a vibrating string clamped at both ends is the fundamental tone of the guitar string, i.e. what it is tuned to. The harmonics add the richer, more complex sound to the fundamental string to create the sound you hear when you play a guitar string;
  • Damping in the guitar from the bridge, nut and other connected elements reduce the amplitude of a guitar string vibrating over time; length a string vibrates is commonly known as sustain; and
  • Electric guitar pickups do not act like a microphone, they produce sound through the strings vibrating in the pickup’s magnetic field.

I hope you find this content interesting and useful and that you find time to read the full article. You can also find lots more guitar tips in the free online FRET SUCCESS ACADEMY!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW!

Main Article

This is an easy one, vibrations and acoustics cause a guitar string to produce their sound.

If you’re sensible, you’ll take this sentence and call this topic of “How do guitar strings produce their sound?” understood. However, if you want to know more on this interesting topic, then read on for more juicy content.

This information isn’t just applicable to guitars, it applies to all stringed instruments. Note that I’m not going to go into all the little details about this topic, as it’s too much for this article but I’ll give you enough information to give you a better understanding and whet your appetite to read more into how guitar strings produce their sound.

The Basics

When a guitar is not being played, it obviously doesn’t make any sound; well most of the time…

Let’s think about how you make a guitar create sound in the first place? Well you either pluck or strum the strings, right? But first, let’s talk about this in terms of energy transfer to help understand how do guitar strings produce their sound?

When a guitar is played, there is an energy transfer from you to the instrument, starting with the kinetic energy from your arm/fingers. This kinetic energy is transferred to the string when it is plucked or struck. The kinetic energy is produced due to the action of striking/plucking the string displacing the string from its rest position and releasing it.

As the string is under tension and secured at both ends, an oscillation occurs with the string moving back and forth past the rest position. The string then vibrates, and now we have the first building block for the string to produce sound.

How do guitar strings produce their sound

The motion of this string then interacts with the air around the string and turns the kinetic vibrational energy into acoustic energy or “sound”. Let’s go into that a little deeper.

String Vibration to Sound

You’ve probably heard that there isn’t any sound in space and this is true (well not sound that humans can hear), this is because there isn’t much “stuff” for it to transfer the energy through; an air vacuum. The fact is that for the vibrational energy in a moving string (or any vibrating source) to be heard, or considered as sound, there needs to be a medium for it to transfer to and propagate through.

When we play the guitar (assuming you’re not in space here), this medium is the particles in the air! We also get an energy transfer through the vibration of the guitar but I’m not going into this now, it’s less relevant to the topic of how do guitar strings produce their sound.

The vibrational movement of the string causes local air pressure changes to occur, which is more commonly known as sound intensity/pressure. This sound intensity/pressure then propagates and changes through the air, as what we know as sound, and eventually reaching our ears. However, this level of sound from the strings alone is very small, just think about an unplugged electric guitar. It’s the rest of the instrument that helps amplify this signal either electrically or acoustically through body/sound hole.

If you found this article useful then please give an UPVOTE to let me know!!

Pitch

The pitch of a vibrating string is essentially determined by the tension/stiffness, mass, and length of the string and is related to something called the natural frequency (often referred to as the fundamental frequency or just the fundamental). The physical relationship is based on a mass-spring system for a resonant oscillation.

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

The vibration of a guitar string involves a standing wave concept (as both ends of the string are clamped by the nut and bridge, changing the way it behaves). The phenomenon of standing waves also causes other frequencies to be produced, called harmonics/harmonic series, which relate to the fundamental resonant frequency.

What is a standing wave?

The first possible instance of a standing wave is called the fundamental/first harmonic. The fundamental standing wave is apparent when there are two ends of a string clamped down and unable to oscillate. Though, the center region is free to move.

The fundamental standing wave is apparent when the system is excited at its natural frequency. The natural frequency, Hz is the frequency that the string wants to vibrate at. You can easily see this happening with your guitar when there is an external sound that excites the guitar string, such as a bass guitar. If a bass guitar note of A is struck near a guitar, you will find that an unattended guitar’s A string will start to ring/vibrate. This is because an external acoustic force is exciting the string at its resonant frequency. It loves it!!

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

The above diagram shows the string vibrating at its natural standing wave frequency at a snapshot in time. The string will go up and down/back and forth, but the center point will always be where the maximum movement/displacement occurs. This is called the Antinode. The points where the strings are clamped are called Nodes. This state of the string shows the half wavelength.

So how does this relate to pitch?

The length of the guitar string determines the fundamental standing wave and relates to the natural frequency of the string. This is easy to understand if you consider the instance of a sine wave (remember back to school?). If we take one full cycle of a sine wave, we can then compare this to the standing wave pattern. You can see that the standing wave pattern is half a full wavelength (path zero (node) to max (antinode) to zero (node) to min (antinode) to zero (node).

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

We can then determine the natural frequency of the string vibration using the following equation, which describes the relationship between mass, tension and string length for a standing wave:

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

Pitch is directly related to the frequency of sound, being the descriptor for the way that humans determine and hear the different frequencies of sound.

There are other higher frequency resonances that occur in the guitar string, which relate to the fundamental; typically, by a whole number. These are weaker in amplitude compared to the fundamental but help add the richer/more complex sonic properties to a resonating guitar string. These are called harmonic frequencies. The harmonic frequency number relates to the number of half wavelengths in the string’s vibration. The diagram below shows the third harmonic, as there are three half wavelengths in the string vibration.

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

You can see this easily if you have a recording setup at home. Just record a guitar string being played and then listen back with a frequency analyser on the channel and you will see the fundamental note (f1) and harmonics (f2, f3 etc).  The diagram below shows this for the A note with the fundamental at 110 Hz, 1st harmonic at 220 Hz, 3rd Harmonic at 330Hz.

Fret Success - Frequency Analyzer

Damping

Have you noticed that when you strike a chord on a guitar it doesn’t ring out forever? Some guitars have pretty good sustain but eventually, the sound from the guitar strings will stop. It’s also obviously due to the vibrational energy lost as sound but that’s a given.

It’s also because there is an element of damping applied to the guitar strings through the various restrictive parts of the instrument including bridge connection, nut, guitar neck, guitar body and basically anything coupled to the string in some way, including the air around it. You just need to think of damping in terms of something that converts the kinetic energy in the active string to another form of energy, mainly vibration and acoustic energy but also an element of heat too.

Acoustic to electric?

We’ve been through the physical elements that cause a guitar string to make acoustic energy or sound. However, let’s just briefly go through how an electric guitar generates sound from the vibrating strings.

The way an electric guitar produces sound is completely different from the way an acoustic one (forget about electro-acoustic for now). You’ve probably guessed that the pickups have something to do with this and you’d be right; it’s obvious from the name if you think about it (pickup = pick up the sound). These wonderful things called pickups are basically metal poles placed in a magnet with a wire coil wrapped around them. Why do you think that is? Do you have an idea, is the pickup just like a microphone that picks up the sound from the guitar strings? First, let’s look at what a microphone is.

You may be familiar with a condenser or dynamic microphone in that that it directly picks up the fluctuations in the air by moving the diaphragm in the microphone capsule, I’m not going into these differences now; maybe another topic. This being the nearest tool we have for picking up changes in acoustic energy directly. The acoustic energy from the moving of the diaphragm is converted into a voltage detected by your mixing desk or pre-amplifier and then transferred back to acoustic energy by a loudspeaker. A microphone is a transducer, which converts energy from one form to another i.e. electrical potential to acoustic energy.

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

A microphone can be used to pick up sound from many sources of different amplitude, but an electric guitar is a very quiet instrument, quieter than a voice. If you’re a performer, you’ll know that using a microphone to amplify a quiet instrument is a nightmare in a live performance environment and can produce feedback issues very easily. If guitar pickups were microphones then we would have so many issues with them and would likely pick up other sound sources with higher levels over the guitar, which wouldn’t make sense in a live band scenario.

Guitar pickups generate “sound” in a completely different way to microphone. The strings sit in a magnetic field produced by the pickup and it is the movement of the strings within that field that cause fluctuations in voltage. These voltage fluctuations are then sent to the amplifier via your guitar lead. The voltage is then converted by the amplifier and loudspeaker into acoustic energy, which you then hear. This is a far more efficient way of getting a better signal to noise ratio from the guitar string movement.

So, what about an electroacoustic guitar well these can use up to three mechanisms to generate the sound from the guitar strings. These are a magnetic pickup, piezoelectric pickup or a microphone. The microphone is mainly used to get the sound generated from within the sound hole, to give that extra realism that is expected from a natural acoustic guitar sound. The under saddle piezoelectric pickups are very common but typically give a very unnatural guitar sound.

I hope this article helped you to understand more about the elusive topic of "How do Guitar Strings Produce Their Sound?". I could carry on further and, in more detail, but thought this was a good place to stop for now.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the Fret Success Academy.

Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

What is the use of a guitar capo?

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

Summary

So, what is the use of a guitar capo?

Here’s the summary of the topics covered in the article below, just in case you’re too busy right now! When you get time just pop back and take a look in more detail!

The use of a guitar capo is to change the pitch of open strings but shortening the open length of the guitar strings in relation to the open chord shapes. This can be useful in all sorts of instances including:

  • changing the voicing or sound of chords;
  • shifting the key of a song or arrangement to work with a vocalist; and
  • to make a barre chord easier to play.

Main Article

Let’s start with the basics of what a guitar capo is.

History and Concept

If we head back a few centuries, the term capo, like lots of music terms, comes from the Italian language. In Italian, the word capo translates as the “head of the fingerboard”. This may give you a clue as to what it’s function is, don’t worry I’ll now explain the significance of this translation.

What is the fingerboard?

Let’s start an easy one, what is the fingerboard? Plain and simple, this is the part of the guitar where your fingers sit on/push the strings against; the piece where the strings hover over and the frets are located (sometimes referred to as the “fretboard”).

So, from this, the term “head of the fingerboard” can be visualised as the top of the fingerboard i.e. the nut of the guitar. The nut is the part of the guitar that the strings pass over on the headstock, near the tuning pegs. The nut is basically the top of the fingerboard where the active region of the strings starts.

Struggling to keep up?

If you want more general guidance and explanation on some of these basic guitar elements, go visit a page from the Fret Success Academy – Introduction to the Guitar Course I’ve devoted this course to cover the basic topics you need to learn at the start of your playing. Visit here to get learning: https://fretsuccess.com/what-are-the-parts-of-a-guitar/. All you need to do is sign up to the Free Fret Success Academy and you can get lifetime access today!

How is it used?

That’s all well and good Dan but how does that help me use a guitar capo? Well, imagine that you want an easy way to shift this nut location/start point/head of the fingerboard of the active string region to a higher pitch. If so, then you need a guitar capo!

The image below helps you visualise how the capo changes the active string region.

A capo is used to easily change the pitch of the open strings at the nut in relation to open chords, basically getting around the issue I mentioned earlier. If you just moved up your chord shape without changing the open strings, then you will lose the relative pitch of the open strings, and this won’t sound as you intended, typically terrible. Try playing these chords shapes below to see what I mean.

For example, if we want to move our chords up by 3 semitones then we would place the capo on the 3rd fret of the guitar to correctly shift the open strings to the desired relative tuning. If we form an E Major Open Chord shape in this position (after the capo) it will now sound like a G Major Barre Chord on the 3rd Fret.

If you think of a barre chord and notice that they can all be placed on any location on the fingerboard (moving up or down the neck) to get a different pitch of chord. Just incase you don’t, let’s recap that now…You can visualise this effect using barre chords, as a different way to get your head around this concept.

How does this relate to chords that I know?

So, if you move the A Major Barre chord (5th fret version) up the neck (towards the pickups) one fret then you get A# Major or Bb Major; depending on your outlook on life. If you notice your barre finger (the one spanning all strings) is acting like a false nut location and the rest of your fingers are forming an E Major Open chord shape.

This should remind you of how a capo works. Have a play around with these and see if you can grasp the nice relationship between the capo and the barre chord method.

Why use a capo?

Well a capo can be used for a couple of different reasons including:

  • To quickly change the key of a chord progression, to align with a vocalist’s preferred range: All vocalists have a range of notes/key where they sing most naturally. In the world of covering other songs/arrangements written by someone else, there is a huge variation between vocalists. Therefore, the capo is a great tool for easily changing the key of a chord progression to one that matches that of the new vocalist. This will alter the sound of the guitar from standard tuning; when playing open chords, as you’ve essentially changed the reference pitch of the open strings. However, this is just a consequence of the convenience; and
  • To change the timbre/sound of a chord progression: Singer-songwriters may also use the capo as a tool to change the voicing of a chord progression in the lower open string region. You can essentially play the same chord but in a different finger arrangement, to get a different sound. So, an open D Major Chord with open strings will be the same chord as the A Major Open Chord but with a Capo on the 5th fret (think D major barre chord on the 5th fret, to help you get your head around this). Play them both and see if you can see the similarities and differences between the chords.

As always just fire any questions to learn@fretsuccess.com.I hope that this helps you understand more about what the guitar capo is used for.

Thanks

Dan

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

What is the Order of Guitar Strings?

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

What is the order of guitar strings?





Summary

Here’s the summary of the topics covered in the article below to help you get more insight to know the answer to "What is the order of guitar strings?"; just in case you’re too busy right now! When you get time just pop back and take a look in more detail!

I always refer to the order of guitar strings from the thickest to thinnest. Some people opt for the other way around but I always found it easier to go from the lowest pitch to the highest in pitch, it just made more sense to me.

Standard Tuning: E, A, D, G, B, E

For the following tunings, I’ve made the strings that deviate from standard tuning in bold and italic.

Drop D Tuning: D, A, D, G, B, E

DADGAD Tuning: D, A, D, G, A, D

E Major Open Chord Tuning: E, B, E, G#, B, E

Half Step Drop Tuning: Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb

Full Step Drop Tuning: D, G, C, F, A, D

Main Article

This is a curious thing to discuss and all guitarists ponder this question, especially when they first start learning to play. I thought I would go through a few different angles on this topic by explaining some of the most common guitar string configurations and preferences.

Firstly, let’s go through the basic concepts before I dive into the specifics. If you’re asking which order the guitar strings go then we need to identify the start and end point first. If I think about the question of "What is the order of guitar strings?", then it is really important to define a few concepts here.

Throughout my years of playing, the majority of guitarists list the name of the guitar strings in order from thick to thin (from top to bottom when playing the guitar). I guess this is most likely due to the strings going up in pitch from the thickest to thinnest. Some instructors list the strings from thinnest to thickest but this is just counter-intuitive to me, for the reasons above. It’s personal preference when it comes down to it, so you choose which you prefer.

Guitar strings are assigned a letter, corresponding to a certain musical note. That’s because they are tuned to that musical note, get it? So, when you think about the notes/order of the guitar strings then all this means is the musical notes that they are tuned to. Which notes? It's up to you really.

I’m now going to go through a few of the different tunings and the string order of these, always going from thick to thin 😊.

Make sure you sign up to the Free Fret Success Academy www.FretSucccess.com if you haven’t already.

Standard Tuning

This method of tuning the strings is the generally accepted standard way that most guitarists go for. It’s also the most likely tuning that the songs you’ll be learning to play will use; at the start of your journey. From thick to thin (top to bottom) the string order and names are E, A, D, G, B, and E; see the diagram below and also the little funky rhyme to help you remember the order.

Standard Tuning Diagram

Drop D Tuning

The next tuning is normally the next one that you learn/become aware of, especially if you’re into rock/metal music. It’s a very simple concept to grasp, once you’ve understood and know the standard tuning when you think about the question, "What is the order of guitar strings?".

. All you have to do is drop (tune down) the top E string (top, very thickest string) by a tone/two semitones to make it a D note. This is where the Drop D comes from (dropping the E note to a D note). All of the other strings stay the same to standard tuning, so it makes it super easy to remember.

From thick to thin (top to bottom) the string order and names are D, A, D, G, B, and E; see the diagram below.

Drop D Tuning Diagram

A very easy way to get there, even without a tuner is to play the top thick E string and the D string together then tune the top thick E string down until it sounds the same as the open D string. Have a go at this. If you get stuck in drop D and want to get back to standard, there are two methods to get back; without using a tuner. These make use of the other standard tuned strings:

  • Play the thin E string at the same time as the tuned down top thick D string (E string in standard tuning). Then tune the top thick E string (tuned down to D at the moment) back up so it sounds the same as the thin E string; or
  • Fret the D string on the 2nd fret (an E note) and play this note at the same time as the top thick E string. Then tune up the top thick string (currently D string) to the same pitch as the string you’ve fretted to make it return to E.

Have you subscribed to the Fret Success Guitar Lessons YouTube Channel?

Click here to visit the YouTube channel and subscribe

DADGAD Tuning

This is a wonderful tuning!! It’s pretty much my favourite tuning, especially for acoustic playing; in particular percussive styles. It’s also a really easy one to grasp, especially if you’re in drop D already or understand the drop D tuning concept well; you may have already guessed how to get there. You normally describe it by the tuning of the notes, DADGAD (“DAD”, “GAD”). The string order goes from thickest to thinnest again D, A, D, G, A, and D.

It’s really easy to get there. All you have to do is tune the two E strings down by a tone/two semitones to get to DADGBD. So, from Drop D tuning all you need to do is drop the thinnest E string and you’re there! Then the final step is playing the Open A and B strings together and detune the Open B string until it sounds the same as the Open A. You just detune it by a tone (two semitones). Check out the rhyme for this one below!

DADGAD Tuning Diagram

Open Chord tuning

There’s no standard way to tune using this concept but don’t worry, it’s a really easy one to understand. It’s quite obvious really, all you do is tune all the open strings to the notes of a chord. The basic form of a guitar chord uses 3 notes, i.e. notes 1, 3 and 5 of the E major scale for the E major chord. As the guitar has six strings, we need to double up some of those notes to get a full open tuning of a chord. Let’s stick with the E Major open chord and tune to those notes.

So, the E Major Open Chord notes are E, B, E, G#, B, E; and ordered from thickest to thinnest. If we consider the standard tuning for a second, the A string, D string, and G string need to be retuned from that to form E Major Open Chord tuning.

Open E Major Tuning Diagram

The beauty of this method is that you can tune to any open chord you want, the most common ones being G Major Open Chord, D Major Open Chord and A Major Open Chord. Go give them a try and see which you prefer.

Half/full step drop tuning

The final string tuning I’ll take you through is one that guitarists use for multiple reasons including:

  • Giving a lower end to the guitar sound i.e. changing the tone with a lower tension; and
  • Making it easier to sing along with when playing songs in E scales.

It’s common to find this tuning used in rock and metal music, especially male singers; requiring a lower musical pitch to make vocal performance easier. However, it can also be used just to fit with any singer’s preferred vocal key.

If you’re struggling to play along with a track and you’re sure you have the transcription correct, then it is likely that the guitar was recorded with a drop tuning, such as half/full step.

There’s no quick and easy way to tune to half/full step drop tuning, so the easiest way is to use a tuner.

 

The following notes are used for half and full step drop tuning:

  • Half Step: Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb (your tuner might struggle with these so you can also tune to D#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D#, which are the same notes); and
  • Full Step: D, G, C, F, A, D.

Half Step Drop Tuning Diagram

Full Step Drop Tuning Diagram

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

Founder

Fret Success

https://www.fretsuccess.com

 

 

 

 

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

B Chord Guitar Diagrams – All the variations – Let’s Learn Together (Fret Success)

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

B chord guitar diagrams and some other useful stuff

So let’s look at B chord guitar diagrams and some general pointers around this commonly used chord category.

There are many ways of playing the B Chord on guitar. I’ve covered a few of the most common versions of the B Chord to get you started.

Don’t forget to join the Fret Success Academy to get free lessons and tips, you can also buy the very cheap ebooks for sale in the Fret Success Online Store.

Most Common B Chord Guitar Variations

The most common forms of the B Chord on guitar are:

  • B Major Chord;
  • B Minor Chord;
  • B7 Chord (Dominant 7);
  • B Major 7 Chord;
  • B5 Chord (Power Chord);
  • B Sus4 Chord;
  • B Sus2 Chord;
  • B Minor 7 Chord;
  • B Major Sixth (B6) Chord;
  • B Diminished Chord; and
  • B Diminished Seventh Chord.

There are many chord variations beyond the list above. These are a good starting point on your journey to learn the many ways to play the B Chord on guitar.

Let’s get started

In this lesson I’ve put together a huge list of B Chord Guitar Diagrams for you to get learning.

Here’s a little guide on getting the best from the guitar chords below, if you haven’t seen the Fret Success guitar chord diagrams before.
Chord diagrams are the easiest way to display how to arrange fretted notes to form guitar chords. They don’t normally indicate which fingers to use but the Fret Success chord diagrams make things simple.
There’s a quick guide on how to read our chord diagrams shown below, X major isn’t a chord; don’t worry, you’ve not gone mad!

Fret Success Chord Diagram Guide

B chord Guitar - Fret Success Chord Box Guide

Guitar Finger Numbering Guide

Image 2 - Guitar Finger Numbering Guide - B Chord Guitar

Learn the notes as you go

The notes that make-up each chord will be given at the top of the guitar diagram, to help you learn these as you go along rather than just knowing the shapes. The notation and TAB are also given on the bottom right of the box.

Which finger goes where?

The number inside each blue circle indicates the finger that is used to fret each note in the chord. Open strings are indicated by a ‘0’, muted/un-played strings are indicated by an ‘X’ and ‘T’ indicates where the thumb comes over the back of the neck to play a note.

Which B Chord on Guitar?

So, what makes a B Major Chord on guitar? It’s not crucial to understand exactly why but I found it interesting to understand the wider picture when I learnt chords. Essentially, all chords on guitar come from a selection of notes in a scale. The first chords you will look to learn are major chords and this comes from the major scale.

That sounds complicated!!!

Don’t worry it’s not hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with technical words and musical terms but it’s quite easy once you grasp the basics. Here’s a little guide to help you along the way.

What is a scale?

A scale is a group of musical notes that relate to each other when heard in sequence or in order. They a separated by something called an “Interval”, which is the musical space between two notes.

Major? Minor? Diminished?

It’s easy to get confused between different chord type and scales but it’s easier than you think. Each chord has a description to let you know how it sounds, so you can find the same mood of chord in a different scale. For example, a B major chord and F major chord will sound very similar in terms of the emotion they give off (although a different pitch, the intervals between notes are similar). A major chord is a pleasant and positive sound. Whereas minor chords are more sad sounding and diminished chords are very dark and edgy sounding, used more commonly in metal and heavy rock music. Once you’ve learned the different chord qualities and how they sound you’ll be able to easily use them to figure out how to play songs or write your own. The following chord qualities are most common:

  • Major and minor
  • Major and minor seventh
  • Dominant seventh
  • Major and minor sixth
  • Suspended fourth
  • Ninth
  • Diminished
  • Augmented

You don’t need to learn all these now, just bare them in mind. You can get away with knowing the difference between major (happy) and minor (sad) to start with and then progress from there.

Chromatic Scale

There are a finite number of notes (12 in total) we can use in music known as the Chromatic Scale:

Image 3 - Chromatic Scale - B Chord Guitar

The ‘#’ symbol indicates a sharp note and the ‘b’ symbol represents a flat note. It’s not important to know the exact reasons for these, in the early stages of guitar. You just know they exist and be aware of them. Sharps and flats are interchangeable for certain notes i.e. A# is the same as Bb in that is the same note. However, they have different meanings depending on the scale they are in.

It’s an important concept to grasp that musical notes in the chromatic scale are not linear (i.e. in one line) but circular in a continuous pattern; increasing in pitch with no start or end.

Image 4 - Chromatic Scale Wheel - B Guitar Chord

What are musical intervals?

We already know this is the musical spacing between notes but what does that mean? The chromatic scale goes up in “semitones (the smallest interval between notes). The easiest way to remember this is the change in pitch when you move up or down by one fret on the guitar; this is a semitone. Try doing this on your guitar, so you get an idea of how this sounds.

The next most common interval is the “tone” (sometimes known as whole note). This is easy to remember as it is a spacing/interval of two semitones. This is easy to get your head around if you think of it like a circle, i.e. two semi circles make a circle and so two semitones make a tone.

A musical scale is made up of a combination of a mix of tones and semi tones; depending on the type. Just know that if you remember the chromatic scale you won’t go far wrong. It might seem that there are so many scales that you don’t know where to even start learning and remembering them. All a musical scale is, is a selection of notes from the chromatic scale played either in order (traditional scale/arpeggio) or a chord (notes played at the same time).

Each type of scale has a different interval pattern between each note i.e. for major and minor. It’s easiest to initially think of the major scale pattern when you first start learning this.

Major Scale Intervals and Pattern

The intervals for a major scale, starting from the root, are: Tone; Tone; Semitone; Tone; Tone; Tone; and Semitone. Each note in the scale is also given a reference name which are the ‘Scale Degrees’ i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc.

image 5 - major scale pattern - B Chord Guitar

For example, B Major guitar scale contains the following notes:

Image 6 - B Major Scale - B Chord Guitar

image 7 - Chromatic Scale showing B Major Scale - B chord Guitar

So how does this help me when learning the B Chord on Guitar?

It’s easy to just learn a chord on the guitar and then carry on using it in the song your learning. But at some point, you’ll wish you’d learned a bit more about where these chords come from and how they relate to each other.

Whichever B chord on guitar you’re learning to play, it’s important and beneficial to understand that all chords come from the same origin. The fundamental chord of any form is the first, third and fifth notes of that scale. So, for example the B Major chord on guitar, the notes used are the first, third and fifth of the major scale. Using the diagram above, these are B, D# and F#. If we play just these three notes together, this is called a “triad” (dictionary definition: three similar things i.e. 3 notes from a scale).

We have up to six strings to use on the guitar. So, we try and make the most of these strings by doubling up on certain notes to make the chord (or triad) sound richer. The combination is dependent on the chord we’re playing and where we’re playing it. Now to those chords…

What is the difference between a barre chord and an open chord?

Before we start let’s establish the different between barre chords and open chords. A barre chord uses your first finger to fret across all or most of the strings on a single fret then build on this with additional fingers higher up the guitar neck.

An open chord is one that uses open strings or doesn’t use the barre technique.

Are you struggling to tune your guitar and taking ages to do it?

Before we get into the B Chord Guitar diagrams just take a minute to take a look at this guitar tuner. I use it everyday just to check if my guitar is in tune. The beauty of it is, that you can strum all your strings and it tells you which ones are out of tune. I can’t recommend it enough.

B Major Chord

The first chord you should look to learn is the B Major. This section gives you some B Chord guitar diagrams for some of the most common B Major guitar chord shapes.

There are several ways to play the B Major Chord on guitar. I’m going to go through the most commonly used ones below. Normally, when someone refers to the B Chord on Guitar, it’s the B Major guitar chord being referred to. As discussed above, the B Major Guitar Chord contains notes B, D# and F# at a minimum but the most common variations include many more notes, to make the most use of the available guitar strings.

B Major Open Chord

B Major Chord Open - B Guitar Chord

B Major Barre Chord V1

B Major Chord 2 - Barre Chord

B Major Barre Chord V2

B Major Chord 3 - Barre Chord

B Major Barre Chord V3

B Major Guitar Chord 4 - Barre Chord

B Minor Chord

The next chord you should look to learn is the B Minor. This section gives you some B Chord guitar diagrams for some of the most common B Minor guitar chord shapes. The B Minor Guitar Chord contains notes B, D and F# at a minimum but the most common variations include many more notes, to make the most use of the available guitar strings. The easiest way to remember the difference between major and minor is that the major 3rd note (D# in B Major) is flattened by 1 semitone.

There are several ways to play the B Minor Chord on guitar. The diagrams below will help you get started.

 

B Minor Open Chord

B Minor Chord Open - B Chord Guitar

B Minor Barre Chord V1

B Minor Chord Barre 1 - B chord Guitar

B Minor Barre Chord V2

B Minor Chord

Have you subscribed to the Fret Success Guitar Lessons YouTube Channel?

Click here to visit the YouTube channel and subscribe

B7 Chord (Dominant 7)

Now you’ve mastered the first few B Chord guitar diagrams, the next is the B7 Dominant Chord. This section gives you some B Chord guitar diagrams for some of the most common B7 Dominant guitar chord shapes. The B7 Dominant Chord contains notes B, D#, F# and A at a minimum but the most common variations include more notes, to make the most use of the available guitar strings.

B7 Chord (Dominant 7) Open

B7 Dominant Open - B Chord on Guitar

B7 Chord (Dominant 7) Barre V1

B7 Dominant barre v1 - B Chord on Guitar

B7 Chord (Dominant 7) Barre V2

B7 Dominant barre v2 - B chord on Guitar

B Major 7 Chord

Let’s get a bit more involved, the next is the B Major 7 Chord. This section gives you some B Chord guitar diagrams for some of the most common B Major 7 guitar chord shapes. The B Major 7 Chord contains notes B, D#, F# and A# at a minimum.

B Major 7 Chord Barre V1

B Major 7 Barre v1 - B chord guitar

B Major 7 Chord Barre V2

B Major 7 Barre v2 - B chord guitar

B5 Chord (Power Chord)

B5 Chord (Power Chord) V1B5 Power Chord V1 - B Chord Guitar

B5 Chord (Power Chord) V2

B5 Power Chord barre v2 - B Chord Guitar

B Sus4 Chord

Bsus4 Chord Open

B sus 4 open - B Chord Guitar

Bsus4 Chord Barre V1

B sus 4 barre v1 - B chord guitar

Bsus4 Chord Barre V2

B sus 4 barre v2 - B Chord Guitar

Bsus4 Chord Barre V3

B sus 4 barre v3 - B chord guitar

B Sus2 Chord

B Sus2 Chord Barre

B sus2 Barre - B Chord Guitar

B Minor 7 Chord (Bm7)

B Minor 7 Chord Open

B minor 7 open - B chord guitar

B Minor 7 Chord Barre V1

B Minor 7 Barre V1 - B Chord Guitar

B Minor 7 Chord Barre V2

B Minor 7 Barre V2 - B Chord Guitar

B Major Sixth Chord (B6)

B Major sixth open V1

B Major 6 Open - B Chord Guitar

B Major Sixth Barre

B Major 6 Barre v1 - B Chord Guitar

B Diminished Chord

B Diminished Chord open V1

B Diminished open V1 - B Chord Guitar

B Diminished Chord open V2

B Diminished open V2 - B Chord Guitar

B Diminished Chord Barre

B Diminished barre - B chord Guitar

B Diminished Seventh Chord

B Diminished Seventh Chord Open V1

B Diminished seventh open - B Chord Guitar

B Diminished Seventh Chord Open V2

B Diminished open V2 - B chord guitar

Hope this has been useful and it helps you with learning to play guitar lessons.

Want to join the Fret Success Academy?

It’s free to join and you get instant access to all sorts of information, just like this. Head to https://fretsuccess.com/fret-success-academy/ to sign up!

Thanks for stopping by and see you soon.

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

Founder

Fret Success

https://www.fretsuccess.com

 

 

 

 

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:
Guitar Riffs Lesson - Fret Success

Guitar Riffs Lesson – Using the E Major Scale to Add Creativity to Riffs (Fret Success)

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

Hi there guys it’s Dan here from Fret Success with a brand new Guitar Riffs Lesson.  I just wanted to take you through a little technique that I’ve been working on which is based on progressing on the basic scales that you would normally use and use them to develop you’re riff writing.

This Guitar Riffs Lesson takes you away from playing just the standard scales and gets you thinking about how you can open up your riff writing and playing using them to your advantage.

Subscribe to the Fret Success YouTube Channel

This lesson uses the Emajor scale to push you out of the normal scale playing that you might typically go to when writing riffs or solos. I really want to help you get this mindset in your head to stop thinking within the notation boxes from scale drills and start being more musical with you play riffs. Once you master this lesson you’ll think about your writing and playing in a hugely different way making you think more about your guitar riffs and how to make them more exciting.

Watch the full Guitar Riffs Lesson video below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Fret Success YouTube Channel to get notifications for new video uploads.

I hope you enjoy this lesson and you can download the supporting notation and guide from the Fret Success store – Click here to get the guide

Guitar Riffs Lesson

Don’t forget to download the supporting notation and guide from the Fret Success store – Click here to get the guide.

This lesson should help you progress much further with your writing. When you’re confident try it with a different scale such as the E minor scale or even the D major scale; have fun with it. Drop me your comments and let me know what you think and also if you have any ideas for future lesson topics.

Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

Guitar Riffs Lesson

 

 

 

 

 

Get Lessons now. Email: learn@fretsuccess.com

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:
How to become a better guitarist

How to Become a Better Guitarist – What I’ve Learned Along the Way (Fret Success)

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below:

So you want to know how to become a better guitarist?

I didn’t want to write a top 5 or 10 list but instead, I’ve written down everything that I have thought about when planning my playing and some detailed tips to help you on your quest on how to become a better guitarist. I hope you find these tips and tricks useful and feel free to share this post; I’d really appreciate if you could. Make sure you sign up to receive the www.FretSucccess.com newsletter if you haven’t already.

So here we go…

So what do you want from this?

Well first you need to ask yourself “what do I want to get from playing guitar”? This is a difficult question to answer, especially if you’re just starting. So let’s break it down into a few small questions:

  • Do you want to be a famous player and household name?
  • Do you want to be in a popular band?
  • Are you leaning towards being a successful session player?
  • Do you want to be a guitar teacher?
  • Are you looking to make it in your local scene and be content with making a comfortable living from playing guitar?
  • Do you want to write music for yourself or others and be renowned for doing so; or
  • Do you just want to play as a hobby and nothing more?

It’s hard to decide where you will take your playing. But, it’s very important to pick a general route you want to go down, so you can figure out how to become a better guitarist. You don’t have to go down just one route; you can keep your options open.

A great advantage of the guitar is that if you progress down one path you can use this knowledge in many other areas if you choose to change what your goals are. You won’t be wasting your time, in fact, I’ve found that the least likely of avenues helped me progress both technically as a player and as an artist. Don’t be scared of the unknown.

What are the best things to consider doing to develop yourself?

There are some simple and general tips that can help you progress down your chosen path and on your quest on how to become a better guitarist, no matter what route you want to go down. These are:

  • So you want to be famous? Becoming a household name such as Slash or Brian May doesn’t happen to too many of us guitarists. It’s very difficult to do but it’s not impossible. It sometimes takes a lucky break and most of the time it’s down to a great deal of hard work and actually more often, a bit of both. Here are a few things that can help:
    • Play with as many other musicians as you can. You should make it a target to play with as many different musicians as you can. You never know who may prove to be a useful contact in the near or distant future. Aiming to get paid for all your work, as a performing musician, is what you want in the long run but there can be a huge benefit in working with other musician and even doing gigs for free. You just need to determine if it looks like it’s going to be worthwhile; although you will never truly know until you dive in. I embraced this mentality for a while and developed a good sense of what opportunities are worth your time and which aren’t;

how to become a better guitarist

  • Regularly write your own music. If you haven’t started writing your own music then you really should. It’s an important way to progress you playing and your career and it will help you with your quest with how to become a better guitarist. If you’ve tried song writing but you haven’t written anything you like yet then you should keep going and write as much as you can. It’s so crucial to have an easy way to record ideas on the fly, you can use a smart phone or buy a purpose built recorder you can have handy to hit record, such as the Tascam DR-05; this is such a great tool that you need on your quest for how to become a better guitarist;
  • Regularly go through your musical ideas and be critical. It’s one thing to record your ideas but it’s another to organise these, listen back to and do something with them. I’ve lost count of the ideas that I had in the early stages in my guitar playing. Whether, it was during down time at a rehearsal or just when you pick up your guitar with a burst of inspiration, it’s so easy to record them and just forget they ever existed. This is why it’s important to take time to listen back to your ideas and be critical. Being critical of your playing is one of the best ways I found on how to become a better guitarist. When you review your recordings, it’s best to work up a schedule so you might take a couple of hours every month to listen to all your ideas from that month. Once you get a few you should then start to collate similar ideas into folders on your computer such as blues, acoustic or even similar ideas that could become a single song. Just remember to be ruthless. Get rid of rubbish and only keep the really good stuff;
  • Develop and finish your musical ideas. Once you’ve been through and picked your best ideas you then need to do something with them. I’ve tried many methods to try and force myself to develop ideas but the most effective way is to start making recording sessions in your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as Pro Tools or Reaper with each idea. Once you reach a level of say 10 sessions, you should then focus on developing those ideas until they’re finished. You may come up with new ideas but you should really focus on completing compositions first. If you focus on completing your ideas into full arrangements and are strict with yourself then you’ll start to come up with ideas to complete your arrangements and there won’t be any stopping you. I’ve actually found it most effective when I’ve given myself deadlines to work to give a sense of urgency. I’ve also starting submitting my music for use on music catalogue sites such as Songtradr once they’re finished; which is a great way to make some money and get your music to end users;
  • Know your style. It’s important to find your artistic style. It’s easy to copy other successful artists but this really won’t help you progress and become the elite guitar player and artist you want to be. It’s completely different to take inspiration from someone and you definitely should do this but you need to find your own sound and style. Finding a unique artistic style is becoming harder and harder as time goes by but as long as you stay true to what you want to do and write music you love to play and hear, then you won’t go far wrong. The internet is making music much more widely available and so you can always find other likeminded people who are into you’re style of music. This is where you also need to make a decision, which leads me onto my next point;
  • You don’t have to write music for the masses to make a living as an artist. You may want to be a household name, which is something we’ve all dreamed about at some point. But, you don’t need to do this to make a living from being an independent artist. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy to do either but it can actually be more rewarding to have relatively small fan base that wait to hear and buy your every song. It’s much easier to start off small and simple and then progress this once you’ve become established, so consider this when wanting to progress your career as an artist and when thinking about how to become a better guitarist;

how to become a better guitarist

  • So you want to be in a popular band. Bands eh? Breakups, Disputes, Artistic Differences, Tours, Recording, Albums; it’s all part of the package deal. It’s not for everyone but being in a band can be a great way to become a better guitarist and artist. Trying to be in a popular band is hard work and there’s no blueprint to follow to bring you success. The old fashioned model of having a life-long goal to get that record deal just isn’t as relevant as it used to be. Recording, managing and releasing your own material is now much easier and more affordable than ever. Even if you can’t record yourself it’s still very affordable to go to a recording studio and then do all the other leg work as a band such a promotion, writing marketing etc. Being in a band can be good and bad. The pros are that you can share the cost burden and also bounce musical ideas off each other and bring a combined musical personality to your sound. However, sometimes bands stop because of musical difficulties that never go away and/or members just change their perspective and move on. So it really depends on what will work best for you;
  • What does it take to be a successful session player? If you can’t read music then you will find it much harder to be hired as a session player. Don’t get me wrong there are exceptions to this but for many gigs, you’ll need to read. Session playing can be very hard work to make a living from, as you will need to get regular gigs or have a good agent to keep you in work. It’s not impossible but it’s not for everyone. It takes a lot of dedication to both developing your playing and reading skills but also marketing yourself. It’s definitely a lifestyle industry as you’ll likely be moving around a lot and might not get work for a few weeks, so balancing with a family would be difficult. If you can’t read music then get yourself a tutor who can help you with this, you’ll progress much faster with a tutor;
  • Is teaching your bag? So you’ve mastered everything technical you want to accomplish and a performing career isn’t for you? Well how about becoming a teacher? Teaching can be very rewarding, especially once you’re students start to succeed with their own goals. It can be hard to know where to start with teaching but you can start getting 1 or 2 students to start with and see if you like it. Teaching can be hard work and you often need to work evenings unless you can get placed at a school to teach during the daytime. More and more people are learning the guitar every day and so you should really consider this as the next step in your career. Fret Success are always looking for new teachers to be associated with us so feel free to drop your resume to us via email (learn@fretsuccess.com);
  • Are you looking to make it in your local scene and making a living from playing covers? This builds on joining a band to make music but there are two main types of band, Cover/Function and Originals. As I said above, it’s can be hard to make a living from just playing original music but far easier to make a living from being a cover/function band. Being in a cover band might not push your creative side too hard but it can be lucrative, especially if you get to play weddings and corporate events. I tried to mix my original band and function bands, in my early years, in terms of playing our own songs with covers in the same performance. The thing is that these crowds are very different so I’ve found it best to keep them separate. Plus with this way you can design the marketing campaigns in the different ways they need to be, without compromising on each; and

how to become a better guitarist

  • Do you just want to play as a hobby and nothing more? There’s one final point to make and that’s success comes in many forms. So you don’t necessarily have to be famous or making loads of money to be successful. It’s perfectly fine to keep guitar as your hobby. If you try and turn something you love into a career then this can be great. But you may end up in a position where you don’t enjoy it as much and see it as a job. So make sure you’re confident that you want to make playing guitar your career as you might find it difficult to go back.

What are the other things you need to develop to get ahead?

So you’ve set out your playing goals and plans, now I’ll give some tips on how to become a better guitarist? Here are a few pointers based on my experience of learning guitar throughout the years.

  • Play and practice regularly with a clear progression in mind. Have either a tutor or a mentor, depending on your ability. You’re never too advanced to have someone who guides you on how to progress and helps you know how to become a better guitarist. I cover this in detail in my book “The Secret to Success – Guitar Practice Routine”, which is full of tips and tricks on how to practice effectively and how to become a better guitarist. If you’re comfortable with your ability then it might be that you want to work on your song writing skills and develop your artistic side of music and identity. It’s so important to get help with any aspect of your progression and ability, so don’t neglect it and the quest for how to become a better guitarist will be much easier. If you’d like to get a tutor or your tutor isn’t getting you to where you thought you’d be then check out FretSuccess correspondence lessons or apply for private lessons;
  • Master your timing and rhythm. Everyone can learn scales and chords but if you really want to know how to become a better guitarist then you need to master your guitar rhythm. Rhythm is the core foundation of music (along with melody and harmony) but poor rhythm is really noticeable. There are many ways to improve your rhythm including:
    • Practice with a metronome. It’s tempting to just pick up and play freestyle guitar all the time but you will develop your rhythm skills much faster if you use a metronome. You can mix it up by going freestyle occasionally but using a metronome is crucial to your development and will help with your quest on how to become a better guitarist. I initially used a metronome to find out what speed I could play certain scales. I found one of the best ways to develop rhythm was to play along with the metronome not with just scales but also songs which helped me learn when to hit notes. Using a metronome also meant I could switch up the tempo to test myself and build speed. Keeping a track of what speed you can play helps you know at what level you’re playing and so you can work on weaker elements of your playing. Here’s a good value metronome from amazon that I use: Korg MA-1BKRD Multi-Function Digital Metronome;

how to become a better guitarist

  • Use backing tracks. Using the metronome is one thing and a great way to develop your rhythm but they aren’t the most musical inspiring devices. You can help develop your rhythm even further by using real band backing tracks so that you get more used to developing your rhythm as part of a performance. This will help to develop your knowledge of how to play to compliment rhythms and progress your improvisation. I’ve used the Big Book of Backing Tracks from Amazon a lot, you’ll not regret buying it; and

how to become a better guitarist

  • Play with a band. It’s one thing to practice at home with a metronome and backing tracks but there’s something else that you should try and do, find a band. There are loads of bands out there and musicians, who want to start them, so put yourself out there and have a go. You shouldn’t only just play in a band but rather get this to compliment using a metronome and backing tracks. Actually one of the most effective ways I’ve found to develop my live performance is to get the whole band to play to a metronome. This has helped every band I’ve ever played in. It’s a bit strange and first and your drummer will hate you but it’ll be worth the pain;
  • Learn how to setup your guitar. It still surprises me how few guitarists actually know how to change a string properly. I went all the way and built my own guitar, which taught me so much about how to setup a guitar; which comes in handy all the time. I don’t advise you take a guitar build unless you have lots of patience and a partner that does too. But you should take the time to learn how to set up your guitar, whether it’s electric, acoustic or bass; they all have similar setups but some differences. Being able to setup your guitar will help it play and sound better and so make you a better player when you use it. You should also learn about how different customisations affect your guitar’s playability and tone. If you change strings, the sound and playability changes, if you change your pickups then it changes again, if you change your guitar nut for something more solid then this will give you a better sound and less tuning issues. You’ll not regret spending the time learning how to setup your guitar and you may even get asked by people to set there’s up if not then offer and you’ll learn even more!;
  • Change where you practice. It’s very easy at home to play just sitting down as it’s more comfortable. I hit a point where I was playing fine at home and then when I performed I noticed that my performance wasn’t as good as what I could play at home. I became very frustrated and couldn’t figure why I struggled to play live. Then I realised that it was because I sat down to practice at home but stood up to play live, which meant that my hands and wrists were in completely different locations between home and gigs. So rather than sit down for live performance, I started to practice standing up at home. I found that I quickly started to resolve the differences between home and live playing, make the switch now and see the difference it will have to your playing;
  • Learn something alien to you every week. It’s easy to become complacent with your playing. In that, you just keep playing the same material that you already know. If you want one of the biggest tips on how to become a better guitarist, then don’t stay in the safe zone. You need to push yourself on a regular basis and try as many new things as you can. It may not be every week you do a new thing but it should be an aim and a mind-set you adopt. Research and plan a list of 20 new things you would like to learn and master then set a timeline to master these. You might not master them straight away but you’ll improve significantly. Think small steps and you won’t go far wrong;

how to become a better guitarist

  • Watch your picking hand. This is something that I didn’t even consider when I wanted to know how to become a better guitarist. A simple move to watch your picking hand rather than your fretting hand will really help your playing. Just have a go and don’t look at your fretting hand, you’ll find that you play much better than you think and your fretting hand will do pretty well on its own. Be more aware of how your picking hand is working and how it interacts with the fretting hand. I found a huge increase in speed and rhythm when I started to watch my picking hand more closely, give it a try;
  • Learn your scales. If you don’t know your scales then you really ought to. You will definitely hit a ceiling with your playing if you don’t know your scales. There are no shortcuts with this, you just need to take the time to learn them and test yourself. Don’t forget to use a metronome; and
  • Practice your improvisation. Improvising is something that a lot of guitarists struggle with. There’s a difference between improvising and reciting licks and riffs that you’ve learnt or have played time and time again. A great way to boost your improvising is by playing with someone else and soloing over what they play, take turns and make sure you record it. Set up a Tascam DR-05 set it recording and forget about it. You don’t have to play solos you can also improvise new riffs or chord progressions. The main point is that you play with other and critique each other. If you can’t find anyone else to play with or would like to develop this more then you should get a looper pedal. The TC Electronic Ditto Looper pedal is great for this, If you haven’t got a looper pedal then you need to get one now (Go to Amazon here). Lay down a basic chord progression on your looper pedal then play around with ideas on top of it, be adventurous. Try and play something you’ve never played before, push yourself to be creative. A good way I found to help was to play arrangements that were completely different to the styles I normally play. For example, if you’re a rock player then improvise over a funk or jazz progression, have fun with it.

I’d really appreciate it if you can find time to leave a comment below and share this on your social media.

I hope you found this article useful.

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

(Founder)

www.FretSuccess.com

Please share this on Social Media using the Buttons Below: