I started playing the guitar a year ago, and i felt i was doing great. 3 months ago, i bought an electric guitar as my goal was to play blues and improvise. however when i started i got very confused, lost interest, and became demotivated. so if anyone could help me with my questions, that would be amazing.

-what are minors and majors?
-what are notes?
-what are root notes, 5th notes, octaves?

thank you so much
For starters, a note in general is a pitch played on an instrument. On the guitar, this means any open string that is plucked and any pitch coming from holding down your finger on a fret and plucking a string is a note. A chord would be just a grouping of a few or various notes or pitches.

To understand minor or major, roots, 5ths, and octaves I would recommend you look to learn about intervals as well as the C major scale.

I would recommend looking at https://www.musictheory.net
Under the lessons tab to learn more about the fundamentals of music.

Actually, if you have any more questions regarding the electric guitar or something confuses you, I'd be glad to help you out.
Last edited by SombraDLG at Dec 4, 2016,
Those are basic concepts in western music theory. I suggest you look up some beginner courses on music theory, like musictheory dot net, Ben Levins "music theory from the ground up", or Michael News "music theory fundamental" (this is a pretty new one for me, but I think it looks decent).

What you need to do first of all is to learn the names of the notes and find them on the fretboard. You can't really do anything before that.

I can give you a simplified explanation here though. Notes the different pitches you play. When you pluck the lowest open string, that's an E note. The first fret is a bit higher in pitch - it's an F. The fifth fret is an A, etc. We have 12 different notes in western music theory:

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

This is called the chromatic scale

Some notes have two different names as you can see, but just use either one, they sound identical.

The rest (root, major, minor, 5th, octave) relate to intervals. An interval is the distance between two notes, for example the distance between E and F is called a minor second. The root is an interval (the distance between a note and itself), the 5th (often spelled out as "fifth") is an interval (E-B for example is a fifth, and G-D.), octave is an another interval, and it's a distance between a two same notes that have a different frequency (you know, how your guitar has two E strings but the one is higher? Those strings are two octaves apart, same note, but still different "height"). The full list of intervals look like this:

minor second
major second
minor third
major third
perfect fourth
augmented fourth
perfect fifth
minor sixth
major sixth
minor seventh
major seventh

If you look at the list of notes at the start of this post, you can see a correlation. If we start from C (the root), and go up a minor third, we get Eb. We go up a major seventh, we get B. We go up an octave, we get C again, but higher frequency.

When talking about major and minor in terms of scales and chords, we're talking about what intervals are used to build those scales and chords. A major chord has a major third, and a minor chord has a minor third etc. Generally, major scales & chords are considered "happy", and minor chords & scales are considered "sad". This is not entirely true, but it's a good starting point.

This is a super compressed explanation, but ask away and I'll clarify.
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Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
I know it seems near impossible and overwhelming at the beginning, but you have been only playing a year. You can't expect to become a virtuoso over night; that is something that you'll have to invest time into. It's the same with running a business, McDonald's wasn't a multi-billion dollar company in a year. As for your questions, I'll be glad to help you out.

1) Majors and Minors

Major and Minor describe either a type of chord, scale, or key. A chord is a group of different notes played simultaneously while a scale is a group of different notes played sequentially.

A key, on the other hand, is when you have a collection of chords and individual notes (both are drawn from a scale) all , essentially, sound good when they are played together. Think of any song you enjoy, where it's a 3-chord pop song or a metal song with many different riffs, they all fall into different keys. There are 12 Major keys and 12 Minor keys.

Major tends to be classified as "happy" sounding while Minor tends to be classified as "sad" sounding. The note that determines if a scale or chord is inherently minor is the "third" note, which is a reference to an interval (distance from our starting note). Using the note "A" as an example, the major third would be "C#" while the minor third would be "C." A major third is always four half-steps (2 whole steps, or 4 frets) above the starting note while the minor third will always be 3 half-steps (3 frets) above the starting note.

So you can hear the difference between this, here is an A Minor chord an A Major notated in tab alongside with what the note names are next to them.

   A Minor              A Major
e|--0--E--|          e|--0--E--|
B|--1--C--|          B|--2-C#_-|
G|--2--A--|          G|--2--A--| 
D|--2--E--|          D|--2--E--|
A|--0--A--|          A|--0--A--|
E|--------|          E|--------|

2) Notes

When ever you play an open string on the guitar or you play your finger down on a fret, you are playing a note. There are only 12 notes that exist in music, and they continuously repeat over and over again. Once we get to the same note again in music, it will be called an octave. It will share the same name as those notes, but it'll either be higher or lower (in sound) then the starting point. The notes are, as follows:
A  A#  B  C  C#  D  D#  E  F  F#  G  G#
   Bb        Db     Eb        Gb     Ab

If you notice, we have 7 regular notes (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G) and 5 "irregular" notes called accidentals. These accidentals notes, which fall in between the accidental notes, have two names for them depending on their context in the music. These two names are called enharmonics, and that means that they have the same pitch/sound, but different names.

An example of enharmonics and proper usage would be in spelling out an F Major scale. An F Major scale would be: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, and E. The reason we use Bb instead of A# is so we'd have all 7 notes represented in a key. Another instance would be if you were in the key of F and played an Eb, that would be the appropriate name since we want to be consistent and use flats in one key instead of mixing sharps and flats. A good analogy of enharmonic notes would be my given name: William. Whenever I fill out a job application, medical form, tax information, etc, I will you my official, legal name. But, whenever I am in a social setting and introducing myself to someone, I introduce myself as Billy. It all depends on context for my name and enhramonics.

3) Root notes, 5th notes, and octaves are all types of intervals.

Root notes would be "home base" and what all of the other notes and intervals are referenced to. Whether it's a chord, scale, or key, the root note is the base and "center" of its (chord, scale, key) attention.
Fifth notes almost always refer to the perfect fifth interval from our root note, and it's always 7 half-steps (7 frets) above the starting note. There is also a diminished fifth, or the tritone, which is one half-step below the perfect fifth, so it would be 6 half-steps (3 whole steps; 6 frets) above the starting note.
Octaves, as I mentioned before, are the same thing as the root note; the only difference is that they're either higher than or lower than the starting root note in pitch.

When it comes to these three types of notes, they form a power chord when they are played together. Unlike other chords, power chords aren't technically chords since they don't have a third interval, so they are neither major nor minor. Power chords, though, are very common in many types of music from Blues (Chuck Berry) to Punk (Green Day, Rise Against), and Metal (Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold). When they are notated, they are written as x5 (x= any note on the guitar).

Power chords come in a few different shapes, but here are them with root notes on the Low E- and A-strings (both are A power chords with the same exact notes or A, E, and A):

    A5               A5
e|-----|          e|-----|
B|-----|          B|-----|
G|-----|          G|--2--|
D|--7--|          D|--2--|
A|--7--|          A|--0--|
E|--5--|          E|-----|

I hope that answered your questions a bit with some more understanding behind why music is the way it is (remember, it's WHY music is good, NOT HOW music is good). If you have any other questions, don't be afraid to ask!

I hope you will continue to enjoy your journey with guitar and music. Is a path that will involve years or involvement with learning and playing the instrument, so become frustrated if you don't understand something right away. Luckily enough, for people like us who are under 30, we have the advantage of having the internet at our disposal for learning guitar and music. Keep up the playing!
Skip the username, call me Billy
I would first suggest learning to play some chords on your guitar. It's easier to understand stuff like chord construction and keys once you have actually learned to play a couple of chords and songs first. But I would assume you have already learned some chords because you have been playing for a year. If you haven't, though, learn the open C, A, G, D and E major chords, and open Am, Dm and Em chords. After that start learning about barre chords. (And play songs that use those chords.)

People have already explained what notes are. Notes are pitches. You play a note on the guitar by plucking a string.

Major and minor will make more sense once you have learned to play some chords. We call a certain sound major and a certain sound minor. Major and minor may refer to chord qualities (play A major and A minor chord to hear the difference in sound). They may also refer to keys. What is a key? A key needs a home note - the tonic. This is the pitch that sounds like home. In the key of A, A will sound like home. If you listen to a melody, the melody has a strong tendency to resolve to this note. (For example if you play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", but don't play the last note, it will sound unfinished. You most likely already hear the last note in your head, and it feels like the music wants to go there. That is the tonic and it is what defines which key you are in.)

A key also has a scale that can be major or minor (you may have heard people say "major sounds happy, minor sounds sad" and in that case people are referring to major and minor keys - this is an oversimplification but it will help you understand the difference between them). So you have a certain home note, let's say A, and then you have a set of pitches that gives you a certain character - it's either the major sound or the minor sound (A major is A B C# D E F# G#, and A minor is A B C D E F G). So a song in A major will have A as the tonic or the home note and it will mostly use the notes in the A major scale. And a song in F minor will have F as the tonic and it will mostly use the notes in the F minor scale. Tonic + scale = key.

An example of a major key sound: "Ode to Joy"

An example of a minor key sound: "Love Story"

What about root notes, fifths and octaves? Root is the note a chord is built on. For example the root of an Am chord is A and the root of an Ebmaj7#11 chord is Eb. (@Kevätuhri. Root is not a name of an interval. The interval between two same notes in the same octave is unison.)

Fifth and octave are intervals. An interval is the distance between two notes.

The note names are A B C D E F G. You can of course sharpen and flatten these notes, but right now that doesn't matter - there are just seven different letters that you can use for note names, and after that they will repeat in another octave. More about octaves a bit later.

Let's say we want to figure out the interval between A and B. You just count the distance from A to B. We start from A. That's the first note. B is the second note. That's why the interval is called a second.

What about the interval between D and F? We start from D, so D is the first note. E is the second note. F is the third note. That's why the interval is called a third. You probably already got the point. So what is a fifth from C. You count five notes up, starting from C. C D E F G. So a fifth from C is G.

Now, what is an octave? As I said, there are just seven different note names (plus sharps and flats, but let's ignore them for now). They repeat over and over again like this: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G, etc. Each repeat is a different octave. So when we start from A and play the scale up and arrive at A the second time, we have come to an A an octave higher. Another name for octave would be 8th (because if we start from A and count an octave up, that's 8 notes - A=1 B=2 C=3 D=4 E=5 F=6 G=7 A=8) but I haven't heard anybody use that term. People usually talk about octaves.

So what does this mean? You can play the same note in different registers. There is a low C and there is a high C. You can hear that they are the same note (they sound basically the same), one is just played lower than the other. Try this by playing the low E string and the high E string. They are the same note, but the high E is two octaves higher than the low E. If we count all the notes (again, let's forget about sharps and flats) between the low E string and the high E string, we get E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E. That's two octaves.

Interval qualities don't matter right now (I mean, whether something is a major third or a minor third). Learn about them only after you have understood what intervals are. If you already understood what intervals are and how to count them, then start looking at the interval qualities that Kevätuhri already talked about.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 5, 2016,