Guitar Theory Revolution. Part 1

This is going to be a lesson about music theory for beginners and those that have always struggled to understand and apply music theory to their playing.

Ultimate Guitar
This is going to be a lesson about music theory for beginners and those that have always struggled to understand and apply music theory to their playing. Let me make one thing clear, this is going to be a controversial lesson because I'm going to approach this topic in a different way than most people are used to. The reason I'm going to take a different approach is because the standard way of teaching plainly isn't helping a lot of people. If you've never really been able to grasp this topic then this lesson is for you. When I first started playing the guitar I was quite intimidated by the number of notes on the guitar fretboard. I never thought I would be able to remember them all because a guitar with 24 frets has 288 different note locations to remember. But thankfully I found out that there are really simple ways to memorize all the notes on a guitar fretboard within a short space of time if you know the right way to do it. So the best and easiest way to start learning and understanding music theory as a guitar player is by learning all the notes on the fretboard in a particular way. I'm going to teach you something called the Universal Note Pattern that will make learning all the notes easy, as well as give you a great foundation for learning the CAGED chord pattern, the Major and minor scale as well as the Pentatonic scales in later lessons. The first thing you can do is cut the number of notes that need to be remembered in half because the guitar fretboard repeats itself after the 12th fret (the first 12 frets are the first octave, the next 12 are the second octave). Because the notes appear in the exact same order from the 12th to the 24th fret as they do from the 1st to the 12th fret. So this means there are only 144 note locations for you to remember. In total there are 12 different notes in western music, these are: C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/, A, A#/Bb and B. As you can see the #'s and b's (sharps and flats) lie between the notes C and D, D and E, F and G, G and A, A and B. So we can now cut the number of notes we need to learn down to just 42 because we will automatically see the sharps and flats appear between the other notes once we've memorized the positions of C, D, E, F, G and A. Now look at the Universal Note Pattern that I present in this video:
YouTube preview picture
Between the 1st and 12th fret each note appears only once on each of the six guitar strings. If you imagine the start of the pattern to be the notes that appear on the low and high E strings then you'll see that the pattern repeats over and over for each of the notes. Learning this note pattern is the quickest way to memorise all the notes on the guitar fretboard, although there are other ways which will be covered in future lessons. As I said earlier, it is best to focus on the notes C, D, E, F, G, A and B first because it will mean that you automatically start to see the sharp and flat notes in between them. By the way, remember to always sing or hum the notes that you are playing so that you improve your ability to recognise notes by ear. Learning this pattern will provide you with a great foundation for learning music theory so I highly recommend you commit it to memory. In the next lesson I'll show you how it can be used to learn the CAGED chord pattern which will allow you to play chords all over the fretboard, not just within the first three frets.

22 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Thought this would be revolutionary. This was the only bit of theory I've already learnt.
    Oh, he counts the strings differently, he must be a visionary!
    I have one small complaint: if a guitar has 6 strings and 24 frets (plus 1 open note for each string, so technically 25 frets), then there are 150 note locations, not 288...
    I appreciated this at least. Especially the video which is very useful. I look forward to seeing the other parts of your lessons!
    i can play ashes of the wake front to back. but i dont know snuff about theory! thanks for this bro. gonna try and start small and see if i can plug this theory stuff in my noggin. You broke it down real small and easy for us noobs out there! people might not appreciate you graft because its obvious and simple. but there are some here who appreciate your work. nice one bro. keep rockin!
    Blurry 505
    Sorry, not much revolutionary about this.. Same regurgitated info, with slightly different wording.
    Hey guys, the new stuff will come in later lessons. Wee need to start with the basics first.
    Everybody is so freaking mad about you taking the time out of your day to try and help. WTF is wrong with people these days? My god. Very good lesson. You even provided a video example. I mean seriously. What a bunch of douches.
    Okay, he barely scratched the surface here, as this was more like an introduction of things to come. I'm not 100% sure about this lesson either, but give the guy a chance. @the author, 'Revolution' seems a bit misleading. You could have named it 'Guitar Theory Simplified' so you don't get the comments that are posted here.
    Hey Shreddymcshred, like I said in the introduction I'm approaching this in a different way than most. Although to be fair numbering the strings is a minor detail.
    Why do you insist on numbering strings the way you do? If you plan to publish this, you better change that pronto.
    Good lesson bro. It explained a lot to somebody that doesnt know anything about notes on the fretboard like myself. All the haters can just shut up and move to a lesson that they prefer if they dont like yours. Dont let their negativity bring you down. The 288 note thing did throw me off a bit tho and im not quite sure how you came up with that. But other than that great job!
    Anty 7
    I am so disappointed... The exercise he discusses at the end sounds pretty useful though.
    if you want a revolutionary way to learn theory, check out the guitar grimoire series
    alright, there's only 12 notes that keep repeating, and you spent 6 minutes explaining how to find octaves but keep it going.
    The notes to learn are les than that.You just have to learn up to 11th fret because 12th is the same with the open string.So adding the open string notes 12x6=72 positions. BUT the 1st with the 6th string are the same exacty (just 2 octaves higher), so 72-12=60 positions "only"!
    Thanks for your time...I do wish you would have counted the strings properly.
    Just learning the guitar, and I understood this better than any others I have read or watched. Reading through some of the comments looks as if some people can't read. Thanks for taking your time out of your day to help out us BEGINNERS!!
    Good to see note learning in such a systematic manner. I'll definitely be struggling to keep pace with you. Thanks very much.