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bonK's Guitar Theory for Assholes and Pederasts

KnobKnob TURN THE BEAT BACKInternetModerator mod
edited June 2008 in Social Entropy++
Alright, everytime I read something about guitars on the internet I get mad, because it is overcomplicated as hell. It is like the people who write this shit actually don't want anyone else to know how to play guitars. So we're gonna try and fix that. I'll start simply and build on that okay

The Basics

a note on notes

A B C D E F G are your basic notes

you also got sharps and flats

altogether, there are only a total of 12 notes total

A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab

and it starts over. flats and sharps are kind of stupid since an A# (A sharp) is the same note as a Bb (B flat)

Now each step between those notes represents the distance of one fret on your guitar. So first fret on 6 string would be F. 2nd fret would be an F# (or a Gb). 3rd is G. and so on. easy stuff.

One step on the chart is called a half step. Two is called a whole step. From A to B is a whole step, from G to Ab is a half step, etc. On your guitar, going from one fret to the next is a half step. The distance of two is a whole step. 2nd to 3rd fret? Half step. 2nd to 4th? Whole.

Okay now that that's out of the way, let's do the good stuff


Scales and modes for total dipshits


a scale is simply seven steps

all you need to know is this


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
W W H W W W H


That's a major scale

W is a whole step
H is a half step

I bet you already figured that out

We can use it to figure out any scale and key we like. What notes are in a D Major scale? Starting at D, and counting along the whole and half steps, we get D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, and the last half step brings up back to D

What chords are in the key of D Major? D, E, F#, G, A, B, and C#

Fuckin' eaaaaasy


Modes and shit

Okay check this out

1 Ionian (Major)
2 Dorian
3 Phrygian
4 Lydian
5 Mixolydian
6 Aeolian (Minor)
7 Locrian

These are your modes

Remember this?


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
W W H W W W H


We use that same fuckin chart for our modes and such! Just pick the number of the mode you want, and count from that number on the chart!

Say we want the notes in an E Dorian scale. we just count the chart like this

2 3 4 5 6 7 1
W H W W W H W

starting at 2

What if we want G minor? We count like this, starting at 6!

6 7 1 2 3 4 5
W H W W H W W

And now that we got the notes in a G minor scale, we also got the chords in the key of G Minor!


Using modes


alright we know some modes now, how do we use them

Let's say we're playing some 12 bar blues in the key of C Major and want to improv some hott lixx and such over it

We can play some C Major scales over C Major, but that gets fuckin' boring.

A C Major scale goes C, D, E, F, G, A, B

We can label those seven notes 1 through 7, like we have been, and compare them to the list of modes.

So 1 is C (Ionian or Major) - We can take notes from the C Major scale to improv over C Major. Fuckin' duh.

2 is D (Dorian) - Oh shit, we can play a Dorian scale with D as the root over C Major? Holy shit

3 is E (Phrygian) - An E Phrygian scale will also sound good! HOT PISS!

and so on and so forth



i think i explained this as easily as I could

I'll be back along in a little bit with the only scale chart you'll ever need, and also i'll teach you to make any chord you want

go ahead and ask queations is i wasn't particularly clear on something, sometimes i'm bad at explaining stuff

Knob on
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    Mister LongbaughMister Longbaugh Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    This is a fantastic idea

    Mister Longbaugh on
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    World as MythWorld as Myth a breezy way to annoy serious people Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I wish I had a guitar so I could test this out and see whether I am an asshole or a pederast

    World as Myth on
    kQwcZLJ.png
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    ButlerButler 89 episodes or bust Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    FREEBIRD

    Butler on
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    tuggatugga Makin' movies Makin' songsRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    i am definitely an asshole.

    i need to know where to start to learn basic music theory ie 4/4 time and how to go along with it etc..

    ive been playing for a year and im afraid ill be impatient and give up so i need something thatll hold my interest

    tugga on
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    QuadropheniaQuadrophenia Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    i am definitely an asshole.

    i need to know where to start to learn basic music theory ie 4/4 time and how to go along with it etc..

    ive been playing for a year and im afraid ill be impatient and give up so i need something thatll hold my interest

    Dudes, listen. You don't need music theory. Just a bunch of acid.

    Quadrophenia on
    I'm so tired of partying.
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    StratoStrato Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Knob <3
    That was great. I learned shit that I never picked up in years of hearing people talk about guitars (I play drums..)

    What annoyed me about guitars is that my fingers would always be touching against other strings and fucking them up

    Strato on
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    beefbeef Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    This thread is already perfect. Break the god damn mold.

    beef on
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    TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited March 2007
    Um, I'm going to politely disagree.

    If you play E phrygian over a C major chord, you're not playing E phrygian. You're playing the third shape of C major. It's still going to sound like C Major. Modes are all about context.

    If you played E Phrygian over an E-b9 chord, you'd be playing E phrygian, because the context would be phrygian. It's important to seperate the scale shapes from the modes.

    Tube on
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    candanaviancandanavian Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    my fingers are just too soft and tender and lovely to play guitar

    candanavian on
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    tuggatugga Makin' movies Makin' songsRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    i am definitely an asshole.

    i need to know where to start to learn basic music theory ie 4/4 time and how to go along with it etc..

    ive been playing for a year and im afraid ill be impatient and give up so i need something thatll hold my interest

    Dudes, listen. You don't need music theory. Just a bunch of acid.

    you see i thought that was the solution and all i did was learn songs note for note from tool pink floyd and led zeppelin

    then i started learning blues guitar

    and i found out i cant really tell the difference between quater/half/whole etc notes

    and thats bad in my mind

    tugga on
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    The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Thanks that's pretty helpful -- do you know any basic web resources? I mean, in the name of sharing and all.

    The Green Eyed Monster on
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    TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    and i found out i cant really tell the difference between quater/half/whole etc notes

    A whole note lasts a whole bar, half note half a bar, etc.

    Tube on
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    tuggatugga Makin' movies Makin' songsRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    and i found out i cant really tell the difference between quater/half/whole etc notes

    A whole note lasts a whole bar, half note half a bar, etc.

    i know that lol

    i just cant listen to songs and tell when one measure starts and the next begins

    or why they are even necessary

    tugga on
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    candanaviancandanavian Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    yeah I was "taught" violin for four years

    except, WHOOPS, they forgot to teach me how to read music

    oh well, I guess

    candanavian on
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    TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    tugga06 wrote: »
    and i found out i cant really tell the difference between quater/half/whole etc notes

    A whole note lasts a whole bar, half note half a bar, etc.

    i know that lol

    i just cant listen to songs and tell when one measure starts and the next begins

    or why they are even necessary

    I can't answer that question because I can't fathom how you could possibly not find it necessary to know how long to play a note for.

    Tube on
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    LarlarLarlar consecutive normal brunches Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2007
    Butler wrote: »
    FREEBIRD

    That made me laugh way too much.

    Larlar on
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    tuggatugga Makin' movies Makin' songsRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    tugga06 wrote: »
    and i found out i cant really tell the difference between quater/half/whole etc notes

    A whole note lasts a whole bar, half note half a bar, etc.

    i know that lol

    i just cant listen to songs and tell when one measure starts and the next begins

    or why they are even necessary

    I can't answer that question because I can't fathom how you could possibly not find it necessary to know how long to play a note for.

    i know that lol

    i just have a hard time understanding how people can listen to a song and say 'hmm thats in 7/8 time'

    i know it has something to do with breaking the measures up, but i cant listen to something and know when separate measures start/stop

    tugga on
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    Munkus BeaverMunkus Beaver You don't have to attend every argument you are invited to. Philosophy: Stoicism. Politics: Democratic SocialistRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    Butler wrote: »
    FREEBIRD

    WOO FREEBIRD

    Munkus Beaver on
    Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but dies in the process.
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    TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    i know that lol

    i just have a hard time understanding how people can listen to a song and say 'hmm thats in 7/8 time'

    Just count along with it. How many counts until it repeats?

    If it's 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 it's in 4/4
    if it's 1 2 3 1 2 3 it's in 3/4

    That's all you really need to know to be honest.

    Tube on
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    The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    tugga06 wrote: »
    i know that lol

    i just have a hard time understanding how people can listen to a song and say 'hmm thats in 7/8 time'

    Just count along with it. How many counts until it repeats?

    If it's 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 it's in 4/4
    if it's 1 2 3 1 2 3 it's in 3/4

    That's all you really need to know to be honest.
    Yeah, it's just like the 7/4s that throw amateurs for the loop, with like the drums and bass in a time of their own? Oh man.

    Here's the thing -- if you're an amateur, don't worry about it too much. I'm an amateur. I can't count off a good number of Stereolab songs without an inordinate amount of study and concentration. I'm over it. Let the pros handle that shit, that's why they get paid.

    The Green Eyed Monster on
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    LarlarLarlar consecutive normal brunches Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2007
    I hate playing in 5/4. Fuck you, Mission Impossible theme song.

    Larlar on
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    KnobKnob TURN THE BEAT BACK InternetModerator mod
    edited March 2007
    Um, I'm going to politely disagree.

    If you play E phrygian over a C major chord, you're not playing E phrygian. You're playing the third shape of C major. It's still going to sound like C Major. Modes are all about context.

    If you played E Phrygian over an E-b9 chord, you'd be playing E phrygian, because the context would be phrygian. It's important to seperate the scale shapes from the modes.

    Okay, maybe i am not so good with the contexts, I am basically just trying to demonstrate how very simple it is to derive modes from a basic major scale

    Knob on
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    KnobKnob TURN THE BEAT BACK InternetModerator mod
    edited March 2007
    Here is an insanely useful chart i just made

    cchart.png

    would you like to play a major scale? Start at a 1, and follow the numbers until you reach another 1.

    would you like to play a minor scale? Start at a 6, play to another 6.

    This chart repeats in either direction and can be applied anywhere on the fretboard. If you place the chart so the 1 is on a D, that'll give you all your D Major scales. All of the 1s on the chart will be Ds.

    Knob on
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    tuggatugga Makin' movies Makin' songsRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    what i do know is

    I. . . . I . . . . I . . . . I
    IV . . .IV . . . I . . . . I
    V . . . IV . . . I . . . . V

    tugga on
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    DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    yeah I was "taught" violin for four years

    except, WHOOPS, they forgot to teach me how to read music

    oh well, I guess

    I can no longer hear a song in my head when I look at the sheet music. Guess I'm out of practice.

    I ought to get the ol' violin out and warm up with some easier songs, then try playing my favorite, more complicated pieces.

    DarkPrimus on
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    HomelessHomeless Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I should brush up on my sheet music. I learned to read it when i played violin but i have no idea how to relate it to a guitar fretboard. I can read the rhythms well enough but I have to stare at it for a while to get the pitch. And then i have to figure out where to play it.

    Homeless on
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    KnobKnob TURN THE BEAT BACK InternetModerator mod
    edited March 2007
    Chords and Keys in More detail

    Okay let's take a look at this

    1 Root Major chord
    2 2nd minor chord
    3 3rd minor chord
    4 4th Major chord
    5 5th Major chord
    6 6th minor chord
    7 7th diminished chord

    Before, I said that in the key of C Major, the chords are C, D, E, F, G, A, and B

    But that isn't exactly right. There's a little more to it. Run them across the chart above, and the actual chords in C Major are C, D minor, E minor, F, G, A minor, and B diminished

    As before, we can start at different parts of the chart to get different keys. We know that 6 is Minor from before, right. So if we start at 6 and rearrange the chart like this

    6 Root minor chord
    7 2nd diminished chord
    1 3rd Major chord
    2 4th minor chord
    3 5th minor chord
    4 6th Major chord
    5 7th Major chord

    Then we can get ourselves the all the chords in a minor key

    Knob on
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    KnobKnob TURN THE BEAT BACK InternetModerator mod
    edited March 2007
    Chord construction

    most of the time, chords are constructed of three notes, and so they are called triads

    A Major chord is built from a major scale, specifically the first (root), third, and fifth scale degrees

    So, since C major is C, D, E, F, G, A, B, taking the root, 3rd, and 5th gives us C E G.

    Play a C chord. Look at what notes each string is playing. You're only playing C E and G.

    a minor triad is the same as a major triad, only the 3rd is flat. So a C minor would be C, Eb, and G

    a diminished triad is a minor triad with a flat 5th along with the flat 3rd

    an augmented triad is a major triad with a sharp 5th. C, E, G#

    using the chart i showed you before, you should now be able to construct lots of chords and lots of crazy voicings for your chords

    Knob on
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    KnobKnob TURN THE BEAT BACK InternetModerator mod
    edited March 2007
    Also if Tube says I am wrong about something, then listen to him because he has had lots of training and schooling and books and stuff, and I haven't

    Knob on
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    PhonehandPhonehand Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    This is a terrible idea

    Phonehand on
    pmdunk.jpg
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    Forever ZefiroForever Zefiro cloaked in the midnight glory of an event horizonRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    God I suck at guitar

    None of this makes sense to me

    Forever Zefiro on
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    XBL - Foreverender | 3DS FC - 1418 6696 1012 | Steam ID | LoL
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    Forever ZefiroForever Zefiro cloaked in the midnight glory of an event horizonRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Why does Guitar Hero use a 5 star system when you can never get lower than 3 stars

    Forever Zefiro on
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    XBL - Foreverender | 3DS FC - 1418 6696 1012 | Steam ID | LoL
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    FalloutFallout GIRL'S DAY WAS PRETTY GOOD WHILE THEY LASTEDRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    this is awesome because i just picked up my guitar and played the like two or three fucking things that I know (not songs just little opening song notes and a three-chord thing that begins a song that a classical guitarist friend of mine wrote)

    so a key is basically the note that a section of music is based around? i've never understood the what is this/why does this exist/what purpose does it serve behind keys and scales

    Fallout on
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    ShortyShorty touching the meat Intergalactic Cool CourtRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    In one key, a note may be played sharp whereas in another you would not do so. When I was playing the violin, I would always fuck up in this one key where F was played natural instead of sharp.

    The key essentially tells you what notes are going to be sharp/flat.

    Shorty on
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    FalloutFallout GIRL'S DAY WAS PRETTY GOOD WHILE THEY LASTEDRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    uhh how so?

    i am going to take music classes next semester hopefully

    Fallout on
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    KnobKnob TURN THE BEAT BACK InternetModerator mod
    edited March 2007
    Phonehand wrote: »
    This is a terrible idea

    it is?

    oh goodness

    here i thought people might be interested


    silly me

    Knob on
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    FalloutFallout GIRL'S DAY WAS PRETTY GOOD WHILE THEY LASTEDRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    phonehand is just bitter because he can never play the guitar

    because his hands are communications devices

    Fallout on
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    Bob The MonkeyBob The Monkey Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    knob this is silly

    why are you trying to teach people things when I can teach them more, faster

    LESSON 1) NO MATTER WHAT YOU'RE PLAYING OVER, BENDING UP TO AN E FROM THE FIFTEENTH FRET OF THE B-STRING WILL ALWAYS SOUND GOOD

    Bob The Monkey on
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    HomelessHomeless Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    what if it is an Eb?

    Homeless on
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    Bob The MonkeyBob The Monkey Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Homeless wrote: »
    what if it is an Eb?

    WILL ALWAYS SOUND GOOD

    Bob The Monkey on
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