Hey guys!

On my quest of learning music theory i'm just kinda stuck on the part about key signatures.
I've bought a book that explains a lot very very well but still this confuses me..
Cane someone please clarify some things for me?

so i read that the most common key for gitarists is the G key, also when i open tabs in guitar pro i can see that they're all in the Violin G key.
but when people start giving examples or start explaining stuff about it they're almost always talking about the c key:

like this

Interval | Name | Note.(In C)
1 | Unison (root note) | C
b2 | Minor Second | Db
2 | Major Second | D
#2 | Augmented Second | D#
b3 | Minor Third | Eb
3 | Major Third | E
4 | Perfect Fourth | F
#4 | Augmented Fourth | F#
b5 | Diminished Fifth | Gb
5 | Perfect Fifth | G
#5 | Augmented Fifth | G#
b6 | Minor Sixth | Ab
6 | Major Sixth | A
#6 | Augmented Sixth | A#
bb7 | Diminished Seventh | Bbb
b7 | Minor Seventh | Bb
7 | Major Seventh | B
8 | Unison (Octave higher) | C
b9 | Minor Ninth | Db
9 | Major Ninth | D
#9 | Augmented Ninth | D#

So how would this look for the G key? Do i just start at the perfect fifth (which is a g in this chart) and just count from there? or do i need to make the unison root a G and go from that?
And why are people using the C as an example while that is not the most common one? especially for guitar.

all of this got me thinking i maybe doing something wrong, like; is this chart which starts in C the violin G key?
i dunno...

Help please?
The reason people use the key of C (= C major) as an example is because it's the 'simplest' key in terms of having no flats or sharps.
Note if you just write "the key of C" then that will be taken to be understood as C major, if you want to talk about C minor then you have to specify the minor.

Is the most common guitar key really G major? I'm not sure, maybe it depends what type of music you play. I would have said E minor, then again E minor is the relative minor of G major ...

But if you want the same thing for G then, yes, you start from the root = G and go as follows :
1 | Unison (root note) | G
b2 | Minor Second | Ab
2 | Major Second | A
#2 | Augmented Second | A#
b3 | Minor Third | Bb
3 | Major Third | B
This is not the key of G, but all the possible notes and intervals you can have starting from G as the root note.

P.S. You may find that a lot of tabs you open in Guitar Pro are in C major or A minor because that is the default and a lot of people don't bother putting key signatures in Guitar Pro files.


Start with the letters ALWAYS.


G to any G right next to itself is always a unison
G to A of any sort is always a second
G to B of any sort is always a third
G to C of any sort, a fourth


If you want more specific intervals, look at the number of notes between:

G and A are separated by two notes (G# A, count the ending note), and the notes make a generic second; such an interval is called a major second.

G and C are separated by 5 notes (G# A A# B C), and the notes make a generic fourth; such an interval is called a perfect fourth.

There are 4 intervals that are considered perfect: the first/unison, fourth, fifth, and octave. If you make the interval bigger than perfect, it's called augmented. If you make the interval smaller than perfect, it's called diminished.

Keys are related to harmony; notes by themselves (no context) have no key, just pitch names. Don't worry about key until you have the context of a song or a flow of notes.
C major is the key with no sharps or flats in the key signature. The notes in the C major scale are C D E F G A B. This is why C major is usually what people start with - western music is pretty much based on the major scale, and C major is a good starting point because you don't need to worry about sharps or flats. C major is not necessarily the most common key for all instruments, because that depends on how easy the instrument is to play in certain keys. G major may be the most common guitar key (not sure if that's true, though, but it sounds plausible) because the G major scale contains all of the open string notes (E A D G B), and the I, IV and V chords (G, C and D in the key of G major) can all be played in open position. The key signature of G major has one sharp in it, and this is why people don't usually start with G major when they start learning music theory.

Your chart shows different notes and their relation to C that is the root note in this case. The problem with that chart is that there are some enharmonic equivalents (notes that have different names but basically the same sound - they can be found on the same fret). To really understand the chart, you need to have some kind of an understanding of intervals and their qualities.

The chromatic scale starting from C is C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B in sharps and C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B in flats. When C is our key, C = root, D = 2nd, E = 3rd, F = 4th, G = 5th, A = 6th, B = 7th. You can sharpen or flatten those notes, but for example Eb is still a 3rd and F# is still a 4th when compared to C. Learn about interval qualities and you will understand what a minor 3rd or an augmented 4th means.

Let's do the same thing in G. So let's start the chromatic scale from G. In sharps, G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F#, in flats, G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb. Now G = root, A = 2nd, B = 3rd, C = 4th, D = 5th, E = 6th, F = 7th.

But the key of G major will make more sense if you just look at the G major scale. The chromatic scale always has the same 12 notes in every key. Those are all of the notes that we have in western music.

I don't know what you mean by the "violin G key". The keys are the same for all instruments.

The advantage of guitar is that the same shapes apply to all keys, and it's also logical because one fret = one half step. I think on guitar it makes sense to learn how to build the major scale first. Learn the major scale on one string first. The pattern is whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. So, there is a half step between the 3rd and 4th notes and the 7th and 8th (= 1st) notes of the scale, and a whole step between all of the other notes in the scale.

This is what the major scale looks like played on one string:

| R |   | 2 |   | 3 | 4 |   | 5 |   | 6 |   | 7 | R |

For example starting from an open string:

R    2    3  4    5    6    7  R


As you can see, there is a half step between the 3rd and 4th notes and the 7th and 8th notes of the scale. You can play this starting on any string (or any fret).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 20, 2016,
Thanks, pretty helpfull!
What i mean with violin G key is this:

According to my book it is called the violin key becouse thats the instrument the key was first used but it can also be called the G key.
But i'm still wondering... are we talking about the same thing here? after seeing my picture, maybe i've got a wrong idea of what a key signature is.
And also, how to can i find out in what key a song is? any formula to follow. The reason why i'm still confused is becouse i've heard people say a song is in the A key but when i check the guitar pro tab for it the key signature on that bar where the notes are its still that G key (violin), and when i double click it it says G2.

So either they are wrong about the key or i'm missing something here...
Their terminology is bad. It's the treble CLEF, not key, also known as the G clef. Violin use is a coincidence; its origins date back further.

If you look at the sign, it looks like a stylized G.

Finding the key: if not the most common note in melody, the harmony will tell you more. One step at a time!

(Tbf, clef is "key" in French. However, they are different concepts, albeit related)
I think i may have found the problem, My native language and english combined....
The CLEF as you say, is litteraly in my language "key", and i think the other "key" as it is in english may also be reffered to as root note or something alike, for my understanding.
I think that for now, i can put aside the idea that i very much need the clef right now.

if i got this diffrence correct now it would be a burden off my shoulders
Yeah, it's just the treble clef, you don't need to worry about that! Pretty much all guitar tracks in Guitar Pro are going to use the treble clef, unless you have like an 8 string guitar which is tuned so low you need a bass clef.

The key signature is quite different, it's denoted by the number of sharps or flats which appear next to the clef. There may be none in which case the key signature is C major or A minor (or the person didn't put one into the tab!)
e.g. 3 sharps = A major / F# minor as seen here
The clef just shows where a certain note is on the staff. There are three different clefs (G clef, C clef and F clef) and they are used for different instruments. Some instruments may have to read all three of them. But yeah, if you are not going to read notation, the clef doesn't really matter. You can use any of the clefs and play in any key you like. G clef doesn't mean you need to play in the key of G. It just shows you where the G note is on the staff. (BTW, I have never heard of anyone referring to the treble clef as "the G violin clef".)

If you are interested, read the Wikipedia article:


Yeah, clef is called "key" in Finnish too so I understand the confusion.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115