For example, if the note E (the open sixth string) is played over the A minor chord, then the chord would be [0 0 2 2 1 0]. This has the note E as its lowest tone instead of A. It is often written as Am/E, where the letter following the slash indicates the new bass note. However, in popular music it is usual to play inverted chords on the guitar when they are not part of the harmony, since the bass guitar can play the root pitch.
The three notes of a major triad have been introduced as an ordered triplet, namely (root, third, fifth), where the major third is four semitones above the root and where the perfect fifth is seven semitones above the root. This type of triad is in closed position. Triads are quite commonly played in open position: For example, the C-major triad is often played with the third (E) and fifth (G) an octave higher, respectively sixteen and nineteen semitones above the root. Another variation of the major triad changes the order of the notes: For example, the C-major triad is often played as (C,G,E), where (C,G) is a perfect fifth and E is raised an octave above the perfect third (C,E). Alternative orderings of the notes in a triad are discussed below (in the discussions of chord inversions and drop-2 chords).

Getting to grips with how chords are formed gives you a basic introduction to music theory and helps you understand the ways you can alter them to create more interesting sounds. All chords are built from certain notes in scales. The C major scale is the easiest, because it just runs C, D, E, F, G, A and B. These notes are numbered (usually using Roman numerals) in that order, from one (I) to seven (VII).


Jake Jackson's publications, as writer, editor or contributor, include The Beginner's Guide to Reading Music, How to Play Classic Riffs and Play Flamenco. As guitarist and songwriter he has been in a few bands, including Slice, The Harmonics and Starbank and has studied a form of Flamenco guitar. Although Jake has a range of fine guitars in his house his favourite music software is Sibelius and, having worked with Cubase for many years, is now moving over to Logic Pro.


The next step is to figure out what gauge, or thickness of string is best suited to your playing ability and style. Thinner gauges are easier to fret and bend, and may be better suited for beginners, until callouses build up on the fingertips. Heavier strings tend to produce greater volume and fuller tone. Nylon strings are typically categorized as light, medium or heavy tension. Steel strings for both electric and acoustic guitars are categorized by the gauge, or thickness of the lightest string, the high E string, measured in thousandths of an inch, with .09 being a common size for an electric set. A set of electric strings may be labeled .09-.042 - this is the gauge of the lightest and heaviest string in the set. Acoustic sets are a little thicker, so a typical medium-gauge set might be .012-.054.

With the C major chord, put that shape on the guitar for thirty seconds, take it off, shake it out, and repeat the process a few times. As you’re making the shape, remember to come right behind the frets on the tips of your fingers. When you’re starting out, you may have to place each finger down one at a time, but that’s natural. You’ll get better with time and eventually be able to go right to the chord.


Open tunings improve the intonation of major chords by reducing the error of third intervals in equal temperaments. For example, in the open-G overtones tuning G-G-D-G-B-D, the (G,B) interval is a major third, and of course each successive pair of notes on the G- and B-strings is also a major third; similarly, the open-string minor-third (B,D) induces minor thirds among all the frets of the B-D strings. The thirds of equal temperament have audible deviations from the thirds of just intonation: Equal temperaments is used in modern music because it facilitates music in all keys, while (on a piano and other instruments) just intonation provided better-sounding major-third intervals for only a subset of keys.[65] "Sonny Landreth, Keith Richards and other open-G masters often lower the second string slightly so the major third is in tune with the overtone series. This adjustment dials out the dissonance, and makes those big one-finger major-chords come alive."[66]
Flat-top or steel-string guitars are similar to the classical guitar, however, within the varied sizes of the steel-stringed guitar the body size is usually significantly larger than a classical guitar, and has a narrower, reinforced neck and stronger structural design. The robust X-bracing typical of the steel-string was developed in the 1840s by German-American luthiers, of whom Christian Friedrich "C. F." Martin is the best known. Originally used on gut-strung instruments, the strength of the system allowed the guitar to withstand the additional tension of steel strings when this fortunate combination arose in the early 20th century. The steel strings produce a brighter tone, and according to many players, a louder sound. The acoustic guitar is used in many kinds of music including folk, country, bluegrass, pop, jazz, and blues. Many variations are possible from the roughly classical-sized OO and Parlour to the large Dreadnought (the most commonly available type) and Jumbo. Ovation makes a modern variation, with a rounded back/side assembly molded from artificial materials.
In major-thirds tuning, the interval between open strings is always a major third. Consequently, four frets suffice to play the chromatic scale. Chord inversion is especially simple in major-thirds tuning. Chords are inverted simply by raising one or two notes by three strings. The raised notes are played with the same finger as the original notes.[22][23] In contrast, in standard tuning, the shape of inversions depends on the involvement of the irregular major-third.[24]
The implementation of musical chords on guitars depends on the tuning. Since standard tuning is most commonly used, expositions of guitar chords emphasize the implementation of musical chords on guitars with standard tuning. The implementation of chords using particular tunings is a defining part of the literature on guitar chords, which is omitted in the abstract musical-theory of chords for all instruments.

I have checked out Justin's site and found it to be comprehensive and informative. I have always felt that learning about music and especially music theory applied to the guitar, is helpful in finding your own unique voice on the instrument and expanding your creative horizons. Along with his insight into teaching and his fantastic abilities on the instrument, Justin has created a powerful go-to-place for anyone interested in exploring the instrument to their potential. Just don't hurt yourself.
The electric guitar, developed for popular music in the United States in the 1930s, usually has a solid, nonresonant body. The sound of its strings is both amplified and manipulated electronically by the performer. American musician and inventor Les Paul developed prototypes for the solidbody electric guitar and popularized the instrument beginning in the 1940s.
Lucky you, guitar players from all over the world, to take advantage of the tutorials presented in Justin's comprehensive website! Whatever the style you fancy, Justin is there for you with generous and precise guidance to help you enhance your playing and by doing so, introduce you to so many ways of approaching the guitar and discover new artists along the way. I wish there would have been such a medium and dedicated host around when I started to learn how to play. Bravo Justin, and my gratitude for bringing music to the heart and ears of many!
SFCM produces some of the most successful and influential classical guitarists in the world. Spearheaded by renowned faculty and complemented by visiting artists such as Marcin Dylla, the department honors the tradition of the classical guitar while cultivating innovation. The Harris Guitar Collection, housed at SFCM, gives students a chance to see—and play—some of the most extraordinary guitars of the last two centuries.
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