The guitar

The name, guitar, is a combination of two words. "Guit" comes from the Sanskrit word "Sangeet" meaning "music." The second half of the word "tar" is purely Persian and means "chord" or "string."

[ Chords | Lessons | Tablature | Links ]

Some of my guitars

Picture of my Yamaha AES 620

Picture of my Hanika classical guitar

Picture of my 12 string guitar

Recorded guitar lessons

Since I am a very audio oriented type of person I am trying to cultivate the habit of recording the guitar lessons I take so that I can listen to them again in case I forget something important. This way I don't have to ask the same thing again. Additionally, I am growing an archive of real-life guitar instructions. These lessons are in german, since that is my first language. Feel free to use them, I hope they are useful to you. I'd like to explicitly thank my guitar teacher Nicolai Blaskovic for granting permission to publicize these recordings. I am aware that my different way of working with things forced him to change his usual method. Thanks for everything you showed me so far Nico!

A side note, I unfortunately did not manage to record EVERY lesson I had so far, we encountered technical problems in the past and so many of the lessons I already had are not available.

Chords

Chords on a guitar are really simple, if you look at them from an abstracted standpoint. There are thousands of possible chords, and learning them each separately without trying to find an underlying system seems a pointless exercise, which is also very hard to do. It is much simpler to analyse what we are actually trying to do and approach it with a system.

Most chords in western music consist of notes spaced with an interval of a (major or minor) third stacked on top of each other. If you consider the basic C Major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B) the most simple chord is a CMaj using the first, third and fifth degree of the scale (C-E-G), yielding a chord with a minor third on top of a major third. If you want to build a 7th chord, simply use one note more, so you get C-E-G-B. If we were to do the same starting at the second step of the scale (D-F-A-C) we'd get a D minor chord. Why? If you look at the intervals between the notes in the chords, you'll notice That it is not the same as the C Major 7th chord. To proove this, lets transpose the D minor 7th down two half steps so that it starts at C: C-Eb-G-Bb. See? The intervals are not the same, the third step of the original C major scale has to be flattened (Eb) and the same goes for the 7th step (Bb) actually yielding a minor scale! So that is why the chord sounds minor (different from the major chord).

Now, on a guitar, it is most of the time not possible to lay out a chord such that the individual notes occur in ascending order. That is really not a problem, dont worry about it. Harmony works in such a way that the intervals between the notes is important, the actual octave the various notes are found in are largely irrelevant.

With all that in mind, what is the simplest way to describe a certain chord on a guitar? I suggest you try the following approach: Each string is going to be assigned one scale degree step to form the chord we actually want to hear. So the most simple 6-string chords of the guitar each beginner learns could be described as 1-5-1-3-5-1. Let look at this in detail: If we look at a simple EMaj 6-string chord, the open E represents the first step of the scale (E major in this case), the B fretted at the second fret of the 5th string represents the 5th step of the scale, the E fretted at the second fret of the 4th (D) string is the 1st step of the scale again, the G# fretted at the first fret of the 3rd (G) string represents the 3rd step of the (E Major, E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#) scale, the open B string represents the 5th step of the scale again and finally, the open high E string is the first step of the scale again. Therefore, yielding 1-5-1-3-5-1. Now, if you want a Fmaj chord, you can use the same formulas to get it! Or a F# minor, simply move up one scale degree step for every string.

Since in essence, every guitar chord is movable, this method works very nice. It is also basically just harmonisation of a scale, but put to real life (IMO).

The following is an attempt to provide a sort of a chord dictionary. This is work in progress, it is not completed yet, and probably never will be, but it should be a useful reference for learning new chords you probably did not know of yet. Some of these chords do not contain a 5th or in rare cases, a 3rd. Strictly speaking, these aren't really the chords their names imply, but at least the 5th can be dropped without loosing too much of the chordal sound, and in some cases, another instrument might play the note missing from the guitar chord. These ommitions are there to make chord shapes emerge that are not impossible to grab. At times, you have to make tradeoffs.

The order of chords is deliberately such that you can easily select one based on the melody note you need.

Index (incomplete)

Amin7
1-5-7-3-5-1, x-1-3-7-1-x
Bmin7b5
x-1-3-7-1-x
CMaj7
1-5-7-3-5-1, x-1-3-7-1-x
CMaj9
x-1-3-7-9-x

Root note is melody

The formula for these chords is 1-5-7-3-5-1.

NutEmin7FMaj7G7Amin7CMaj7Dmin7
E0(E)1(F)3(G)5(A)x8(C)10(D)
A2(B)3(C)5(D)7(E)x10(G)12(A)
D0(D)2(E)3(F)5(G)x9(B)10(C)
g0(G)2(A)4(B)5(C)x9(E)10(F)
b0(B)1(C)3(D)5(E)x8(G)10(A)
e0(E)1(F)3(G)5(A)x8(C)10(D)

The formula for these chords is x-1-3-7-1-x.

NutCMaj7Dmin7Emin7FMaj7G7Amin7Bmin7b5
Exxxxxxx
A3C (1)5D (1)7E (1)8F (1)10G (1)12A (1)14B (1)
D2E (3)3F (3)5G (3)7A (3)9B (3)10C (3)12D (3)
g4B (7)5C (7)7D (7)9E (7)10F (7)12G (7)14A (7)
b1C (8)3D (8)5E (8)6F (8)8G (8)10A (8)12B (8)
exxxxxxx

9th is melody

The formula for these chords is x-1-3-7-9-x.

NutCMaj9Dmin9Eminb9FMaj9G9Amin9Bmin9b5
Exxxxxxx
A3C (1)5D (1)7E (1)8F (1)10G (1)12A (1)14B (1)
D2E (3)3F (3)5G (3)7A (3)9B (3)10C (3)12D (3)
g4B (7)5C (7)7D (7)9E (7)10F (7)12G (7)14A (7)
b3D (9)5E (9)6F (9)8G (9)10A (9)12B (9)13C (9)
exxxxxxx

3rd is melody

The formula for these chords is x-1-5-7-3-x.

NutCMaj7Dmin7Emin7FMaj7G7Amin7Bmin7b5
Exxxxxxx
A3C (1)5D (1)7E (1)8F (1)10G (1)12A (1)14B (1)
D5G (5)7A (5)9B (5)10C (5)12D (5)14E (5)15F (5)
g4B (7)5C (7)7D (7)9E (7)10F (7)12G (7)14A (7)
b5E (3)6F (3)8G (3)10A (3)12B (3)13C (3)15D (3)
exxxxxxx

11th is melody

Some of these chords are quite hard, others are impossible. I left those which are really impossible out intentionally.

NutBmin11Dmin11Emin11b9FMaj11Amin11
Exxxxxxx
A2(B)x5(D)7(E)8(F)x12(A)
D0(D)x3(F)5(G)7(A)x10(C)
g2(A)x5(C)7(D)9(E)x12(G)
b1(C)x5(E)6(F)8(G)x12(B)
e0(E)x3(G)5(A)7(B)x10(D)

5th is melody

The formula for these chords is x-1-x-7-3-5.

NutAmin7Bmin7b5CMaj7Dmin7Emin7FMaj7G7
Exxxxxxx
A0(A)2(B)3(C)5(D)7(E)8(F)10(G)
Dxxxxxxx
g0(G)2(A)4(B)5(C)7(D)9(E)10(F)
b1(C)3(D)5(E)6(F)8(G)10(A)12(B)
e0(E)1(F)3(G)5(A)7(B)8(C)10(D)

The formula for these chords is 1-x-7-3-5-x.

NutEmin7FMaj7G7Amin7Bmin7b5CMaj7Dmin7
E0(E)1(F)3(G)5(A)7(B)8(C)10(D)
Axxxxxxx
D0(D)2(E)3(F)5(G)7(A)9(B)10(C)
g0(G)2(A)4(B)5(C)7(D)9(E)10(F)
b0(B)1(C)3(D)5(E)6(F)8(G)10(A)
exxxxxxx

The formula for these chords is x-x-3-7-1-5.

NutBmin7b5CMaj7Dmin7Emin7FMaj7G7Amin7
Exxxxxxx
Axxxxxxx
D0(D)2(E)3(F)5(G)7(A)9(B)10(C)
g2(A)4(B)5(C)7(D)9(E)10(F)12(G)
b0(B)1(C)3(D)5(E)6(F)8(G)10(A)
e1(F)3(G)5(A)7(B)8(C)10(D)12(E)

7th as melody

These chords use the formula x-1-5-1-3-7.

NutAmin7Bmin7b5CMaj7Dmin7Emin7Fmaj7G7
Exxxxxxx
A0(A)2(B)3(C)5(D)7(E)8(F)10(G)
D2(E)3(F)5(G)7(A)9(B)10(C)12(D)
g2(A)4(B)5(C)7(D)9(E)10(F)12(G)
b1(C)3(D)5(E)6(F)8(G)10(A)12(B)
e3(G)5(A)7(B)8(C)10(D)12(E)13(F)

The formula for these chords is x-5-1-3-7-x which is a inversion of the chords with the fomula x-1-5-7-3-x

NutEmin7FMaj7G7Amin7Bmin7b5CMaj7Dmin7
Exxxxxxx
A2(B)3(C)5(D)7(E)8(F)10(G)12(A)
D2(E)3(F)5(G)7(A)9(B)10(C)12(D)
G0(G)2(A)4(B)5(C)7(D)9(E)10(F)
B3(D)5(E)6(F)8(G)10(A)12(B)13(C)
Exxxxxxx

Tablature

Tablature is a very simple way to write down music for stringed instruments like the guitar or the lute. Some advanced players claim that using tablature is hindering your musical development since being able to read staff notation would help you much more to grow overall as a musician. However, tablature notation has its advantages too. The most used format for tablature on the internet is straight plain text (ASCII) which means that it can be read (with a little bit of practice) with a braille display. Staff notation is generally distributed in PostScript or PDF formats and is not readable with assistive technologies.

I do provide tablature files formatted especially for the use with braille displays or braille printers. The basic difference between standard tablature files and the format I prefer is to restrict line length to something around 30 chars. This makes it possible to print a tablature file on a braille printer. It makes them also easier to read for braille display users since the majority of displays around only has 40 cells.

Links

Lacking better structural organisation, this is a collection of guitar related links I have found very interesting and helpful.

Last Modified: 2007-05-17 23:24:27
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