Beginner Guitar Lesson OnLine
Chord Theory 101
Know How They Are Formed Before You Start Strumming
Ready for a little more theory? This series is based on chord theory and how chords are formed. Make sure you read and understand the Music Theory 101, 102 and 103 before proceeding with this section.
Just as scales are built on certain rules, chords have their own set rules. Once you understand the patterns for construction of chords, you will be able to construct chords yourself.
First we will discuss how to actually read notes on the guitar diagrammatically.
This is a note chart superimposed on top of a graphic of the guitar fingerboard. The guitar nut is at the top of the diagram and the shaded horizontal bars represent each fret. This diagram shows (4) frets.
The strings are represented by the vertical lines, starting with the high "E" string to the far right and ending with the low "E" or 6th string on the far left. The diagram shows all the notes played in the open position.
We will concentrate on this position as it is kind of like a "home" position and the one we use the most. We occasionally will visit other positions on certain songs, but will almost always come back to the "home" position.
This diagram also shows 2-1/3 Chromatic Scales. Starting with the low "E" on the 6th string to the "E" on the 2nd fret of the 4th string, which is one octave. From that "E" to the open "E" on the first string is another octave. Finally from the open "E" on the first string to the G# on the fourth fret is 1/3 of an octave.
The fingering for the notes is illustrated on the right side of the graphic.
When you play notes on every fret, it is called the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale includes all the natural notes plus sharps and flats. A chromatic scale written out would look like this, with Flats:
-or- like this with all sharps..
- Always play the first fret notes with the index finger
- Always play the second fret notes with the middle finger (finger #2)
- Always play the third fret notes with the ring finger (finger #3)
- Always play the fourth fret notes with the pinky finger (finger #4)
Do not stray from this fingering rule. This is extremely important and will govern how well you can play the guitar now and in the future.
Also, just a side note: Use all the above fingering in every position position, like 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. But wait! We run out of fingers don't we? We only have 4 fingers and 5 frets to cover. The answer is to get that last note, slide the pinky finger up an additional fret, so the pinky gets a workout with 2 frets to cover, while the other fingers only get one. There are some variations to this usage of fingers and you will discover those as we progress.