ok so I have heard major chords are 1 - 3 - 5. I know E Major is made with E - G# - B. I'm confused on how it is made of that though.. do you count whole steps?

from what I see i don't know how that would be the case...

E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E
1 3 5

Can someone explain why I am getting this?
You also need to understand that 1 3 and 5 can be a minor chord in a different context, Em for example. E F# G A B C D. 1, 3, 5 is E G B or Em.

It's better to learn how to actually stack the chords in thirds. E G# B for example. Major third from E to G# which determines the quality of the chord (major or minor) and minor third from G# to B, the opposite of whatever the bottom was. A minor chord would then be a Minor third, E to G and a major third G to B.

I'm spitting a lot of stuff at you when you obviously are just starting to learn but it's essential that you build your foundations correctly.
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I have actually been playing for quite some time now. Just never really went into the fundamentals but really want to. Do you guys recommend any good books?
^There's many good books. If you want solid foundations I would recommend the Modern Method Guitar from Berklee Press. I stand by it anyway. Many people will recommend more things.

One thing I would recommend more than a book is just experimenting. Learn to build the chords as stated above (many websites provide excellent music theory skills as well). Stare at your fretboard, and make these chords from what you know. It's tedious, but you will learn so many things at once doing it this way than a book.

^PURELY my OPINION. I teach like this, and have had great results to someone who wants a solid foundation. To be honest, if you want to learn quickly and just be able to play songs you like, learning shapes is a great way to expedite the process. But if you want to learn thoroughly I would not recommend sticking to shapes.

Sorry, lots of babbling.. Hope it helps.
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First learn the notes in all the major scales.

Then write the notes of any major scale down in a 2 octave sequence.

Then extract the chords from those scales.

Always remember, the note you start to form a chord on, is the "1". The all you have to do is skip a note, and you're at 3, skip a note, and you're at 5.

Remember, the note, (scale degree), you start on, will determine if the chord is major or minor. This happens because, sometimes the jump to the "3" note is a major 3rd, (4 semitones, or frets), and sometimes the "3" note is a minor 3rd, (3 semitones, or 3 frets).

The C Major scale, (with semitone note spacing).

C, (2) D, (2) E, (1) F, (2) G, (2) A, (2) B (1) C...

OK a C chord will be C, (skip D) E, (skip F), G. So, C major equals C, E, G. Since C to E is 4 semitones, this is a major chord.

Let's try it on the 2nd degree, (D), of the C major scale: D, (skip E) F, (skip G), A.

So we now have a d chord. It's a MINOR chord, because D to F is only 3 semitones, which is a minor third. D, A, F equals D minor.

This is the pattern for a major scale in semitones, (or frets), and since the guitar is almost 2 octaves, you can almost form all major scales on each individual string.

The pattern: 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1 When you go past a note when forming a scale, the note is called a sharp. If you stop before a note the note is called a flat.

This takes care of all the basic "triads" contained in a major scale. Obviously there are a great many more complex chords in music. But the triad is always the starting point for forming a modified or extended chord.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 2, 2012,