Guitar Theory Revolution. Part 2 - The Five Fret Pattern

This article ditches complicated terms such as Major 3rd and Perfect 4th and gets to the root of the inner working of music theory on the guitar by looking at the distance between notes and the Five Fret Pattern.

Ultimate Guitar
Some readers of my last article left comments to say that they did not think what I was teaching was anything out of the ordinary. So in stead of writing about the Caged chord pattern, as I said last time, I'm going to dive right in and get on with some more interesting ideas. I'll come back to the Caged pattern in a future article. First of all watch this short video about the Five Fret Pattern:
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A lot guitar players struggle with learning music theory because of the confusing way in which numbers are used to describe the different musical concepts. For example you may have seen how music intervals (the distance between two notes) are described using terms like Major 3rd or Perfect 4th. As a guitar player it can be confusing to relate these numbers to the fretboard since they don't describe the real distance between the notes, something which you can easily count even if you know nothing about music theory. So to make things as easy to as possible I tell people to forget about all the crazy names and just focus on counting the distances between the notes, starting from 0 (just like you would measure the distance on a ruler from a 0 point). So on your guitar the distance between the A and B note on the low E (thickest) string is simply '2 frets'. A is the 0 point, A# is 1 fret away and B is 2 frets away. The point of doing this is that you can then easily see the relative distances between notes on the fretboard. And because the guitar is tuned in a particular way (in standard tuning) you get this incredibly easy to remember pattern on the fretboard which I've called the Five Fret Pattern as demonstrated in the video. This pattern is a guide line which allows you to easily see the distances between different notes on the fretboard. So how is this useful for guitar playing? Well for example, if you know that the formula for a Major chord is 0, 4, 7 (0 is the root note plus a note 4 frets along and a note 7 frets along) then you can easily play Major chords all over the neck, simply by placing your fingers on a 0, 4 and 7. (Or equivalents an octave higher. 0+12 = 12, 4+12 = 16 and 7+12 = 19). So place one of your fingers on a random place on the fretboard and see if you can now visualise the Five Fret Pattern. Next see if you can find a note that is the equivalent of 4 frets away and one that is 7 frets away (or 12, 16 and 19 for an octave higher). Strum these notes and you will have played a Major chord. This is a great way to find voicing of the Major chord all over the neck. You can also use this method to play scales all over the fretboard For example the formula for the Major Scale is: 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12. So choose a starting point and count the frets along the string (or on other strings using the Five Fret Pattern) to find the notes in the scale. 0 is the root note, the next note is 2 frets along, the next one is 4 frets along etc. This is the easiest way to understand how to form chords and scales all over the fretboard. Once you've mastered this concept you can go on to learning the standard names for the intervals (for example a fret distance of 0 7 is a Perfect 5th). But understand that this underlying numbers will never change and will always be there for you to count on the fretboard.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I honestly think this sounds far more confusing than standard intervals. Once you know your intervals it comes down to memorizing shapes, which I think is much simpler than counting. I'm not going to give a lesson in the comments of your lesson, I just feel like you play a power chord (a perfect 5th) that shape is the same.
    ~5:30 was kind of "aha" moment for me as i didn't realize this earlier otherwise it's a regular stuff, but as i've said - keep it going
    If I want to learn math i'll learn math. I don't understand this lesson, 0, 5, 0, 5, 10, 20, 25, 0, 5, 4
    The perfect fourth is important in western music because it sets up the resolve in the song. Dat cadence.
    The "confusing numbers" themselves kinda indicate the distance on the fretboard. Honestly, I never found note naming that complicated, but as long as you're helping people strugling with that, then... Well, good job.
    this is interesting...nothign revolutionary but continue at least youre attempting to teach people theory but am i weird because...the usually way of learnign theory worked for me i just read books and stuff and listened...not confusion there just holes in my knowledge ahah
    a prefect forth is the most important distance in western music because virtually all western music was written for the guitar. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I think it was the guitar.
    This is definitely not beginner stuff. I am two weeks into teaching myself guitar and I don't understand any of this number stuff. Way too much math lol
    Found this extremely useful for figuring out intervals (especially when spanning more than one string). Thanks.