Warning: May contain large traces of a theory n00b.

Okay, so I've been trying to learn theory and stuff. But I can't for the life of me figure out what keys are/ how they work. could anyone give me a clear definition on keys+how they work?

ps: this is the right forum, right?
a key is either major or minor, and tells you the "focus note" plus how many sharps or flats there are in a song. Eg, C major has no sharps, no flats, and has C as its root note. G major has 1 sharp, F has 1 flat, etc
you know, ive owned 8 different guitars over my lifetime, and right now i have 3. i wanna know what the hell happened...i mean the picks and cables are understandable, they disappear into thin air all the time, but guitars?

Every piece of music has a certain number of notes that it is centered around/uses. These notes determine what key the song is in. For example, if a song uses C D E F G A and B, the song would be in C (or Am, if it resolves to A). If a song uses E F# G# A B C# and D#, it's in the key of E (or C#m, if it resolves to C#).

And yes, this is the right forum.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
a key is either major or minor, and tells you the "focus note" plus how many sharps or flats there are in a song. Eg, C major has no sharps, no flats, and has C as its root note. G major has 1 sharp, F has 1 flat, etc

K, I know this, but what I mean is, what does it mean on the guitar?
Quote by SlayingDragons
K, I know this, but what I mean is, what does it mean on the guitar?
I don't really understand what you are asking.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
on a guitar, it comes down to what scale you play. the scale you are using is the key. is that the answer you were looking for? if not, i don't understand your question either.
you know, ive owned 8 different guitars over my lifetime, and right now i have 3. i wanna know what the hell happened...i mean the picks and cables are understandable, they disappear into thin air all the time, but guitars?

Quote by food1010
I don't really understand what you are asking.

Like, musically... I don't exactly get what that means.

on a guitar, it comes down to what scale you play. the scale you are using is the key. is that the answer you were looking for? if not, i don't understand your question either.

Oh... that's it?

I think I'm starting to get it...

So in the key of C, the first position would be a C, the second would be a D, third position an E and so forth, or am I missing something?
Last edited by SlayingDragons at Oct 2, 2009,
Do you know the notes on your guitar neck?

The key basically tells you which major or minor scale you are using. If a song is in the key of C Major, it is based on the C Major scale. C Major is made up of the notes C D E F G A B, so the song in the key of C Major will (mainly) use the notes C D E F G A B. It can use any instance of those notes on the fretboard.

If you want to understand it, I'd suggest you learn the Major scale so you understand how its constructed in terms of steps (WWHWWWH), notes (eg C Maj = CDEFGAB) and intervals, then learn how other scales, such as the natural minor and the pentatonic, are related to the major scale. Stuff should start fitting together easier then.
Get a keyboard and learn scales. A cheap one will do. It's easier when you can see it.