Theory and Technique

The Relation of the Musical Scale and it’s Relation to the Fret Board

The music scale is:     A   B C   D   E F   G   A

The big spaces represent whole steps and the short spaces represent 1/2 steps.

Between the whole step notes is a sharp or flat. An A sharp is the same as a B flat. Sharp means the tone goes up from the note and flat that it goes down.

For this discussion, we will only talk about whole notes or chords.

On the fingerboard of the guitar 2 frets = 1 step and 1 fret= 1/2 step.

So for example,if you take any string and we will go with the low E or 6th string when played open it is an E.  As you put your finger on the 1st fret you go up 1/2 step to an F. The 2 frets or a whole step to a G and up the neck to the 12th fret where you have an octave and return to E. That is why there are 2 dots on the 12th fret, indicating an octave.

The relation of guitar chords and how it relates to the fret board

Key of E

The same process can be done with a chord. I’ll use the E chord to explain. An E chord is made by putting the index finger on the 3rd string /1st fret,2nd finger on the 5th sting /2nd fret, and ring finger on the 4th string/2nd fret.

If you take the E chord and go up the finger board using whole steps and 1/2 steps, according to the scale, the chords change as the scale progresses. You have to add a barre or a capo to move the pitch of the open strings up.

This is what the capo is used for: example. If the capo is put on the 3rd fret it moves the E fingering up 1 1/2 steps and the E chord becomes a G chord.

This can be done in any key and enables the player to use a certain type of fingering to a piece or change pitch for voice range.

Barre chords are also used in a similar way, also to find chords that are difficult to make.

Please check glossary of terms if you don’t know what something is. I will add diagrams and pictures to make it easier to understand.

Please leave comments and questions so that I know what you would like to learn. This will help me know what direction to go. If I don’t know I will try to direct you to where you can find out.

Keep strumming and picking,
You are a guitar player.



One of my originals. This is all electric guitar. Note that it is 9 min.12 sec. long but is one of my most listened to songs.

2 thoughts on “Theory and Technique

  • September 18, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for taking a look Richard, It’s never too late to enjoy playing music.
    I just recently started playing sax ,although I’ve been so busy lately its been a while since I played.I’m happy to answer any questions that you might have.


  • September 18, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Hey love the teaching – very helpful.

    I am a clarinet player by history but always wanted to learn the piano or guitar.  The explanations on this page made me understand the frets and positioning well.  I almost feel I could pick up my daughters guitar and give it a go, certainly with some of the other pages – I think I could. 




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