I always teach every student that starts with me the 12 intervals: minor 2nd, Major 2nd, minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th, Tritone, Perfect 5th, Minor 6th, Major 6th, Minor 7th, Major 7th, and Perfect 8th.

Ultimate Guitar
I always teach every student that starts with me the 12 intervals: minor 2nd, Major 2nd, minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th, Tritone, Perfect 5th, Minor 6th, Major 6th, Minor 7th, Major 7th, and Perfect 8th. I first draw 6 lines of tab then draw out all the intervals on one string. 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4, 0-5, 0-6, 0-7, 0-8, 0-9, 0-10, 0-11, 0-12. I teach people to focus on learning the names of the interval then identify some common examples of each interval. After I teach this, it always stimulates my creativity and helps me write songs and even learn them faster. When Pink Floyd sings "Tired oy lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain" they are singing a minor 2nd which is only 1 fret apart. If you It's C# to D on the 2nd string. You look at "Sunshine Of Your Love" and when you play 12 12 10 12 on the 4th string, you are playing a major 2nd which is 2 frets apart. When you play 12 11 10 on the 5th string, you are playing minor 2nds. I have students play 10 13 10 on the 6th string, which is a minor 3rd. For Minor 3rd which is 3 frets apart, I tell people to learn the riff for "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. You can play 7 10 7 10 to the main riff. Also look at the opening riff to "Layla" by Eric Clapton. For a Major 3rd which is 4 frets apart, play "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison. 0 0 4 is the beginning. Just use this website to locate the song and riff. Also "Crossfire" by Stevie Ray Vaughn. For a Perfect 4th which is 5 frets, people always recognize here comes the bride. 0 5 5 5. I like Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". The verse riff uses tons of perfect 4ths. Instead of playing it on the same string, it moves from 6th string to 5th string. It's super helpful. For a tritone I always highlight the melody for "Wizard Of Oz". Metallica does it on the "Oh We oh" part on "Frayed Ends Of Sanity". Listening to the end of "Heart-Shaped Box" by Nirvana will show the Tritone as well. Perfect 5th which is 7 frets apart is used in the theme song for "Top Gun". The Power Chord that most rock songs use is a Perfect 5th. "Iron Man" uses it. I really like to have people look at "Message In a Bottle" by the Police because he stacks Perfect 5ths on them from string to string. Or "Satellite" by Dave Matthews Band. A minor 6th is 8 frets apart. People say to learn the "Entertainer" riff. When someone strums E minor to C on the 6th string, they are playing a Minor 6th. When REM sings, "Now Andy did you hear about this one". He's does a Minor 6th in the song "Man On The Moon". It's a vocal part but sing along with it and you'll get that minor 6th ingrained in your mind. A Major 6th is 9 frets apart. Foo Fighters do that on the opening bassline to "My Hero". Growing up, NBC would always be 0 9 5 on any string. A Minor 7th is 10 frets apart. Soundgarden uses it in "Outshined". Look at "Cult Of Personality" by Living Color. Although he's playing G to F from the 6th string/3rd fret to the 4th string /3rd fret. It's still a minor 7th. A Major 7th is 11 frets apart. If you play E to D# from 6th string open to 5ths 6th fret, you are playing a major 7th. I tell people to look at "1979" by Smashing Pumpkins and "One" by Metallica. They have obvious examples of the Major 7th. Finally the Perfect 8th which is 12 frets apart. I always use "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as a Universal example. Find that on this website and learn it. I felt like putting this on the internet because no one showed me this stuff for years. I wish someone taught it to me when I first started playing guitar. It's helped me writing songs for my band Stereo Pirates. I also was in Guitarmaggedon a few years ago and you can see a clip of it on or listen to my band at I used to teach 60-80 students per week for 7 years. Then I became a Business Banker for 6 years. I decided to get back into teaching and performing because life is too short, so you may as well do something you love. I am only charging $15 per half hour and am at Klash Drums in NE Mpls.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It would be awesome if you made a video and uploaded it to youtube, and provided a link in the article. not to overshadow the article for those TLR people, but to add a visual aid for those struggling.
    a better example of the tritone would be black sabbath by black sabbath right?
    This is the kind of thing my music teachers from school would go through when it comes to learning our intervals. They'd play the interval, and we'd suggest what it sounds like. Best thing someone learning intervals their selves is use this as an example, but work out your own examples based on your knowledge. Just make sure to check it was correct.
    definitely a useful area of study as anything we play can be broken down into a series of intervals.perhaps you could do a follow up article on harmonic intervals (intervals that occur at the same time) as well (?)
    I was JUST thinking of this sort of stuff last night and wishing I had figured that all out years ago! Also, on the subject of tritones. "Metallica does it on the "Oh We oh" part on "Frayed Ends Of Sanity" Metallica use the tritone to death, hahaha.
    I am going to have to get some videos up on this. I still teach this method to every student when they first come in. I wrote this on my Iphone so please excuse the typos! I caught a bunch! Oops! I am glad I am getting a lot of positive feedback. I have some really cool stuff that I want to organize into a book. I have Guitar Highway LLC set up to do it, I just need someone to help me publish it. I contacted Hal Leonard but they said they don't do anything like that. I learned tons of albums and records by artists. Anyways, I'll try to get a video of this up sometime soon. Peace! Jon
    Hearing intervals is just as important as playing them. Besides playing songs you know with those intervals in them, singing them is the best way to get used to hearing them