#1
Hey there.

I've been working on learning theory lately as I've only ever played tabs, but now I'm finally recognizing things by ear and am trying to take my playing to the next level.

I know the major scale pattern and obviously all the individual notes on the fretboard, but I'm stuck as to where to go from here. Should I learn ALL positions of the major, then move onto another ? Or move on ? I have no clue about modes and intervals either. I'm more overwhelmed with order of operations as opposed to actually learning the stuff !

Any and all advice is appreciated !
#2
Id say the CAGED system is probably a decent place to start.

Modes are easy to get started on; just play the major scale from each degree (1 to 1, 2 to 2, 3 to 3 etc.) each one of those is a mode. Those are the most common ones.

C D E F G A B C is a mode

so is D E F G A B C D

etc.

Look into Chord tensions/colour tones. Also learn to write out all the different keys/major/minor scales on music paper and understand how key signatures are built and why they exist/work. Make sure you can read standard notation.

Learn how to write down all your major scales with and without key signatures as well.

Learn how to identify and spell intervals and find them on your guitar. Start ear training. Good-ear.com for now.

Learn how to spell major, minor, augmented and diminished triads in all keys and inversions in standard notation. Then figure out the inversions for each type on the guitar for each string set (set of 3 strings) and over 2 strings.

Learn how to play a blues properly (with voice leading and guide tones)
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Last edited by British_Steal at Jan 31, 2014,
#3
Now that you learn everything. You must take it apart.haha

Learn the pentatonic scales. Major and Minor.

Then the triads. They're basically arpeggios. It'll help train your ears
and help you navigate the neck. Learn to recognize the tone changes in ascending
and descending pitch.

Im currently working on these (1,3 5,7) (1.-3 5,-7).
They're just maj7 or min7 arpeggios.

The reason Im doing this is because the 1 to 3 have the same intervals as the 5 to 7.
The same concept with the minor. I just have to remember the dominant is 1,3 5,-7.
It helps me to navigate the fretboard better. It also helps me to identify the rest of the
notes within a couple of octive better. It's easier for me choose and see other notes
easier when I improvise. Trying to play like Eric Johnson or navigate the fretboard.
He uses open voice arpeggios. He solos off of them.

Also work on your right hand. Strumming patterns, picking patterns..ect
#4
I would move on to learning basic harmony, such as knowing that in a major key the general set up is I ii iii IV V vi viiº I ...so in the key of C you would have the chords C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, and Bdim....start working on your minor scales and learn how to harmonize them. After learning this, you can start working with the secondary functions of chords/borrowed chords, and start to become musical ...I'd work on this before moving on to modes, because you will use tonal harmony much more than you will use modality.
#5
Quote by British_Steal
Id say the CAGED system is probably a decent place to start.

Modes are easy to get started on; just play the major scale from each degree (1 to 1, 2 to 2, 3 to 3 etc.) each one of those is a mode. Those are the most common ones.

C D E F G A B C is a mode

so is D E F G A B C D

As per this sticky, there's a lot of other things people should learn before modes. (Note that those recommendations weren't just chosen for no reason. Those concepts are key things every musician should know, anyway.)

I would learn about intervals. (Also, while doing that, apply interval concepts to the minor scale.) So...you know the major scale by ear. The intervals of that are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7. The intervals of the natural minor scale are 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, & b7. For more detail, use the below lessons:

http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/30
http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/31
http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/32
http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/33

One thing I'll point out (especially since you can recognize the major scale by ear) is that all musictheory.net lessons have that piano icon in the upper right corner. Click on that, and it pops up a piano interface. Use that to play along with the lesson. When it says, for instance, what a major 2nd interval is, play a major 2nd interval. Very helpful.

From there, I would move onto harmony and chord construction.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jan 31, 2014,
#7
I'd suggest learn to sell out and write all your major scales, and then learn the Harmonized Major scale, so you can learn the basics of what chords go together well with other chords, and the idea of "keys" in music, so you can learn what scale might be good in a given key.

Best,

Sean
#8
^
Why should he bother to learn them in all 12 keys, when he can just memorize the interval formula? I know you're a guitar teacher and all, Sean, but that method doesn't seem very efficient...
#9
^ thats when you really know it, thats why.

Memorizing the interval formula is a good step in getting to that point but really doesn't compare to just knowing the scales by heart and knowing exactly where they are past the point of thinking of them like a pattern.

More like thinking 'Bb' and no matter where you are on the neck you are comfortable without any real thought.

Thats the end goal, at least in my opinion anyway. Takes a long time to get there. For a beginner learning the 'shapes' is a must and is the first step.
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Unless you're sure she likes you, telling her you like her has a 110% chance of failing.

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Last edited by British_Steal at Feb 7, 2014,
#10
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
^
Why should he bother to learn them in all 12 keys, when he can just memorize the interval formula? I know you're a guitar teacher and all, Sean, but that method doesn't seem very efficient...


because if you don't know that, you really can't do ****all outside of using a guitar. what happens when you compose music and you need to write something out for a violin or a trumpet or a piano? if you only know guitar patterns you can only really arrange for guitar and bass.

TS, if you know the notes on the fretboard, take sean's advice. go one step further -- learn to construct major scales and then use your knowledge of the fretboard to figure out how to play them. i guarantee you that not only will you have a better command of the guitar itself, but you'll also be able to visualize the fretboard as you need it. if you put in the work and effort to construct it yourself, you'll understand it a lot better and remember it for a lot longer.

it's similar to how people don't remember what they typed as well as they remember what they actually wrote down. typing just involves you clicking keys that all feel identical (just like the frets of a guitar). writing something down actually forces you to be conscious of each letter you write (and therefore each word you write). after 45 minutes, you will remember something you wrote down far more thoroughly than something you typed.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#11
I actually remember what I typed just as easily, as I am a fluent typist and can type as fast as I think of words. But to your point, that's the idea behind practicing every key - to make each movement an expression, not a memorized motion.

Quote by crazysam23_Atax
^
Why should he bother to learn them in all 12 keys, when he can just memorize the interval formula? .


Because playing the guitar isn't the same as memorizing patterns on the guitar. There's plenty of shit I know, but couldn't do on the fly. Anything you want to actually play musically, you have to get under your fingers first. Playing a solo in G#m isn't going to happen just by knowing the formulas.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 7, 2014,
#12
Quote by cdgraves
Because playing the guitar isn't the same as memorizing patterns on the guitar. There's plenty of shit I know, but couldn't do on the fly. Anything you want to actually play musically, you have to get under your fingers first. Playing a solo in G#m isn't going to happen just by knowing the formulas.

Why bother memorizing the patterns, when you can just memorize the notes of the fretboard? Yes, that's a lot of work, but it's worth it. At some point, you need to know the notes of the fretboard anyway.
#13
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Why bother memorizing the patterns, when you can just memorize the notes of the fretboard? Yes, that's a lot of work, but it's worth it. At some point, you need to know the notes of the fretboard anyway.


well it should be all of the above. I'm not sure I understand how learning the scale is different from learning the notes, though. How do you go about learning 12 scales without knowing where the notes are on the fretboard? Working out all the keys up and down the neck was how I came to fluency with note positions all those years ago.

You get to a certain point in using these musical things and you stop thinking in terms of memorization. For advanced musicians, knowing and doing are selfsame. If you can't do it, you don't know it.

Side note: I prefer to think of this as learning Keys, rather than learning scales. That means you're learning a set of notes/intervals, not just a linear pattern. To that end, it's good practice to start the scale at the lowest possible note on the guitar, even when it's not the root of the scale. When I practice the key of C, for example, I start on the open low E string. Go up to the top of 1st position, move up to the next position and descend, and so on up to the highest position, move to the next key, and descend in the same manner.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 7, 2014,
#14
Quote by cdgraves
well it should be all of the above. I'm not sure I understand how learning the scale is different from learning the notes, though.

That's more learning the scale positions, I should say. So, one isn't really learning the notes, just where Aminor pentatonic box is. (I won't go into my thoughts on box shapes.) A lot of early guitar players just learn the scale positions. They don't know the intervals of the scale AND -- more importantly -- they don't don't know the notes of the scale. So, in essence, they have not learned the scale, just where the scale is located on the guitar neck.

How do you go about learning 12 scales without knowing where the notes are on the fretboard? Working out all the keys up and down the neck was how I came to fluency with note positions all those years ago.

You get to a certain point in using these musical things and you stop thinking in terms of memorization. For advanced musicians, knowing and doing are selfsame. If you can't do it, you don't know it.

Agreed.

What I'm trying to get at is, though:
Beyond memorizing the basic shapes in 1 or 2 or 3 positions (which also has the advantage of building up finger strength and coordination and so on), there's no need to endlessly drill all the positions of scales on the guitar neck. Doing so generally is more work than it is worth. By knowing the notes of the fretboard and knowing the intervals of a scale, one can simply play that scale anywhere on the fretboard.
I know some may disagree with me, but I feel like we guitar players often do more work than we need to, especially early on in our guitar careers. Or maybe, I should say, we don't necessarily do the right/correct work, because we get distracted by things that don't develop the musical part of the mind (such as drilling box shapes for months on end).

Edit:
Quote by cdgraves
Side note: I prefer to think of this as learning Keys, rather than learning scales. That means you're learning a set of notes/intervals, not just a linear pattern. To that end, it's good practice to start the scale at the lowest possible note on the guitar, even when it's not the root of the scale. When I practice the key of C, for example, I start on the open low E string. Go up to the top of 1st position, move up to the next position and descend, and so on up to the highest position, move to the next key, and descend in the same manner.

This is a better way to look at it and go about learning it, imho. I guess I'm just REALLY against the idea of learning a linear pattern or a box pattern -- by itself, that is -- because a lot of new players miss out on learning the other parts of learning keys.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Feb 7, 2014,
#15
Ugh, learning all the keys in all the positions without actually knowing the notes is complete nonsense. That is wayyy too much work. It's like when people ask about tabs... if you're going to spend a lot of time reading music, just learn to read music!

Quote by crazysam23_Atax
there's no need to endlessly drill all the positions of scales on the guitar neck.


I agree generally, but I would draw a distinction between learning, drilling, and practicing.

Learning = figuring stuff out and memorizing it

drilling = gaining fluency through repetition in order to turn the knowledge into a skill, useable at will

practicing = maintaining skill

I learned my scales many years ago, got around to drilling them several years ago, and now I only practice them.

I run through all 12 with varying rhythm, both 3 note per string and 4 note per string scales. Takes about 10 minutes.

And even with all that, total fluency only comes when you use them for music. Gotta "use this word in a sentence", so to speak.

For what it's worth, I heard a radio interview on NPR several years ago with the famed organ player Booker T. The last question was if he had any advice for ambitious young players. He said to practice as often as you can, and that he still plays his scales every day. If it's good enough for Booker T, it's good enough for me.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 7, 2014,