I took lessons for a little while but didn't have enough money to continue. I feel that I still am improving playing wise but if I learnt theory and how yo read music, it would help my progress. Most guides about "basic theory" are a bit advanced. I was just wondering where to start with learning basic theory.
Well, as far as the dude above me goes, he isn't helping.

To start you should learn how to build basic scales, major and minor,
and how chords are built off those scales. After that, move from standard keys
to sharp and flat keys and so on.
Well what I would recommend is just keep practicing what your teacher thought you. I have been playing 6 years never took a single lesson. Its a bit harder to teach yourself because its so much harder to know if your playing certain stuff right and learning certain guitar techniques without any help. I found it helpful to watch boat load of guitar videos and see what some of my favorite players are doing. Never loose confidence in yourself. Don't think just because you are teaching yourself you won't become a good guitar player. Just start watching free lesson videos and videos of your guitar players. Good luck! and keep playing!!!
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It also never hurts to learn some diminished scales and chords. They can really add a little flavor to your playing.
Well first off, learn all the notes on your guitar, know exactly where an 'e' lies on every string and so on, it makes life alot easier. Then learn your intervals, then major/minor scales, triads, how to build chords, then go from there. Take your time too, don't rush or get frustrated and quit. And since you can't afford a teacher, if you get stuck maybe you can ask a friend who's well versed in theory for some help, or you could find help on UG.
The best thing you can do to improve yourself as a player is to play with other people. Find some friends who play instruments and just get together to jam. I've never taken formal lessons and have only been playing seriously for about a year and a half, but I've improved incredibly quickly by playing with other people. It forces you to learn your stuff, and you'll find you pick up a lot from the other musicians.
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I know all the notes I figured that would be important. It's not really hampering my progress now but I've heard of a lot of good guitarists who wernt great because they didn't really understand theory. I know like minor chords with minor ect, but I don't understand why some chords go with eachpther. Right now I just play what sounds good but I would like to know more about my instrument
i would play with other people

buy some sort of book but i cant really think of any right now...just go to a music store and ask which is best for beginners

maybe buy a tab book of an album which you really like so you can start learning other guitarists styles

I would recommend starting with understanding intervals, scales and how to harmonize the major scale.

I will try to give a quick explanation but im no expert!

In music we have the notes A B C D E F G. Each one of these notes has a sharp (eg. C, C#, D, D#) all except for B and E. There is no sharp for either of these.

So if we write out every possible note including sharps we have this:

A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#

Now, intervals give us a label for the distance between two notes. The smallest interval is a Half-Step (sometimes called a semi-tone) This would be from A -> A# or say an E -> F and is 1 fret on the guitar.

The next interval would be a Whole-Step (also called a Tone). This is 2 frets on the guitar. This would be an A -> B or an E -> F#. Hopefully you see what I mean here!

Say we take the C Major scale (it has no sharp or flat notes so easier to write out)

C Major -> C D E F G A B

This scale is constructed from this formula of whole and half steps --> W W 1/2 W W W 1/2

C -> D is a whole step
D -> E is a whole step
E -> F is a half-step
F -> G is a whole step
G -> A is a whole step
A -> B is a whole step
B -> C is a half step

Ok, So using this formula, as long as you know your root note, if you count the whole-steps and half-steps you can work out all the other notes within the same scale.

A Major

W W 1/2 W W W 1/2
A B C# D E F# G#

Bb Major

W W 1/2 W W W 1/2
Bb C D Eb F G A

Hopefully you should see how those scales are worked out. Go and try working out a few scales yourself from the root notes.

Wow that ended up being a longer post than first intended! I was going to get into chord construction and harmonizing the scales there but im in work so dont really have the time right now! Ill make another post later when im home

All the best.


Edit: Forgot to say I would recommend checking out JustinGuitar.com (i think thats the right URL, if not just google 'justin guitar'. Free website, loads and loads of usefull info and videos Its been very helpfull for me.
Last edited by Razer86 at Aug 17, 2010,
Pick up the Idiot's Guide to Music Theory. Bloody excellent book, and if you want some more complicated stuff, Mark Levine's Jazz Theory book is great.
I would also have a look at rythm. Note durations and time signatures. Learning how to read a little bit of sheet music is great for learning rythm.
Everyone is self-taught.

Taking lessons is just guided learning, but you still do it yourself.

To start off with, learn some basic chord progressions. I like to take students on a time-warp tour of music...

For a typical lollipop rock 'n roll song (and there's a million of 'em) the chords go:

I - vi - IV - V

One I like in particular is Blue Moon:

D - Bm - G - A

..arpeggiate in 6/8 time (Play the bottom three notes of the chord ascending, then the top three notes descending) and you have old-time rock!

Pick any key, line the notes up and figure out the progression:

B(I) - C#(ii) - D#(iii) - E(IV) - F#(V) - G#(vi) - A#(vii)

That's B - G#min - E - F#

You should recognize that progression from about 5 billion different songs.

Also learn the 12-bar blues. A "bar" is a measure, so four beats of 4/4. Take the Major chords of the key (in D they would be D, G, and A) and strum them. Blues uses the 7 chords, as in D7, G7 and A7.

Find a 4/4 rhytym where the up-strokes are accented. Just play them a bit harder.

The order of the chords goes like this:

D7 | D7 | G7 | G7 |
D7 | D7 | G7 | G7 |
A7 | G7 | D7 | A7 |

A trillion songs are written like that, too.

Once you know those basics, ALL other chord progressions use basically the same concept, only different chords are substituted to creatively hide the fact that it's just the same old thing again.

If you see minor chords or diminished chords that don't seem to fit, they are substitutions, meaning they sound good, but aren't necessarily "in key."

Building a song is like stringing a necklace. You can string a bunch of pearls and have a pearl necklace.

You can alternate pearl-stone-pearl-stone...

As the art form developed, the patterns became more subtle and you would get complex patterns - that is patterns within patterns.

Music making, from a theory standpoint, is all about "stringing pearls," or chords, and then decorating your "necklace" with whatever suits you at the time. Lyrics? A solo? Trumpet? Whatever...

Your basic pearls are going to be the "Big Three" or "Holy Trinity" of chords:

I - IV - V

C, F, G = C Major (key of)
G, C, D = G Major
D, G, A ...and so on
A, D, E ..
E, A, B

Early heavy metal, like AC/DC often uses just the three. It will go: E.... A - B... E - E - A - B - B

People have built careers on three chords. It's when you mess with it that it takes on life and becomes yours.

Why is that song you just looked up "weird"? Someone tweaked the structure a bit.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Last edited by Bubonic Chronic at Aug 17, 2010,
Quote by Fallen_Seeker
Well, as far as the dude above me goes, he isn't helping.

Lol he made me laugh though so it's all good.

Look up the Jazz Chameleon on google. Extremely basic stuff on there. Should help.