Guitar Music Theory
Reading Music

Before we begin our study of guitar music theory, let me say this: Many of my guitar students have said that they don't need to learn music theory or note reading. To me this is like a would-be author saying "I don't need to learn grammar and punctuation, just give me a pen". Sounds pretty silly, right?

If you are to be a musician then you must learn the "tools of the trade". Unless, of course, you are content to remain "Power Chord God" for the rest of your (probably) short musical life!

Enough said? GREAT, now let's get started with guitar music theory.


Learn To Read Music!

Here is some basic information about how guitar music is written:

Music notes are written on a STAFF. A staff consists of 5 lines and 4 spaces.

Music notes are identified by their placement on these lines and spaces. Guitar music is written on a staff called the Treble Clef.

ere are the first eight notes that you will learn to play on your guitar. The name of the note is written above each note. Since we are playing these notes in "first position", use the same fingers as the fret numbers on the tab.

How To Read Guitar Music

The tablature is written as if you were looking at your guitar while holding it flat on your lap. The bottom line is string number 6 (the fat one). The numbers tell you which string and which fret to put your fingers on. For example, the first note s on the 3rd fret of the 5th string and you play it with your third (ring) finger.

Click on the right arrow of the player to hear it.


As you practice these notes, say the name of the note OUT LOUD so that you get not only the location but the name of the note firmly in your memory.

When you are ready, here is an exercise for you. I put a "speed training loop" in this one. It starts slowly and gets a little faster each time. Try to play along.



Before we go to the next exercise, we need to talk about note values and counting. You may have learned some of this in grade school music classes.

See the 2 numbers at the beginning? That is called the time signature The top number tells you how many counts in each measure. (measures are the little box-like divisions of the staff. So the top number 4 says that all of the notes in each measure have to add up to 4 counts. Here is a table of notes and their values:


This will become clearer as you hear the next exercise. This one is also a speed training loop. Practice in this manner: 1) Play and say the note names 2) Play and count out loud.






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