The First Step to Guitar Fingerboard Mastery...

There's no Doubt that Learning the Guitar Fingerboard Will Make You a Better Guitar Player. From chord and scale function to comprehending the musical alphabet on the neck, your knowledge of the guitar fingerboard will be your ultimate long term key to success...

It's unfortunate, but most guitar players neglect to learn the fingerboard notes. On some intrinsic level every guitar player knows that the learning of the notes on the neck is an important task, but few take that next crucial step to actually learn it.

In order to fully comprehend scales, arpeggios and to understand chord construction - the ability to relate one note to another through how they sound and how they appear on the fingerboard is the key to unlocking success on the guitar. This is the study of "Basic Intervals."

You need a solid grounding for developing your composing and your improvisation skills. If the neck is a mystery to you, then the ability to jam freely and intuitively cannot exist for you.

That is why learning intervals across the guitar neck is so important. Intervals are the building blocks of music. They are important because they define the distances between two notes. Once you understand intervals, you'll find that all aspects of music theory will become much easier to digest over time.

Starting with the basic fret to fret intervals, you'll know where to move a "half step" or "whole step" up or down from the note you're on. You'll also understand exactly what it means when you see a scale written in the following format: W W H W W W H.

Start by learning to move along each string with natural notes:

The next step is to break down all of these notes into smaller (more manageable) intervals. The way to begin is by learning about the simple whole-step (2 frets) and the half-step (1 fret) distances.

You'll need to be able to learn to both see and hear the intervals referenced within chords and scales. This is the connection that so many overlook. But, it is vital to understanding the neck.

The whole-step (Tone) and half-step (Semi-Tome):

These steps have an interval name. It is "major 2nd" for the whole-step and "minor 2nd" for the half-step.

A major 3rd in a chord connects to a major 3rd in a scale. And, a minor 3rd operates the same way. When soloing over chords and writing songs that flow naturally, (diatonic) you'll benefit from knowing the 3rd intervals.

MAJOR 3rd:
MINOR 3rd:

Once you know what they look like, spend time learning to map the 3rd intervals on the neck so that you can visualize them from any position on the fingerboard.

The perfect intervals exist in both major and minor keys. They include the Unison, 4th's, 5th's and the Octave.

The important fingerboard shapes to learn in the beginning are the; Octave, 4th and 5th. See below for their fingerboard layouts...

PERFECT 4th and 5th:

There are other intervals that affect color, (Major or Minor tonality). These include both the 6th and the 7th degrees. These distances are found to provide our music with various levels of tension.

NOTE: The sixth provides more for tonal color since it is the inversion of the 3rd interval. 

MAJOR 6th:
MINOR 6th:

The 7th degree is another coloring interval. It affects resolution and tonality against the major and minor third. These two intervals will often work together (Major and Minor 3rd and 7th) to create various color changes in both chords and within melody.

MAJOR 7th:
MINOR 7th:

The final area is the area of unstable sound. This category is often referred to in music as "Dissonance." The primary interval for this sound is the "Diminished." It is also a harmonic equivalent of "Augmented." They both create dissonance. The "Diminished 5th" is the most popular for initial study across the neck.

NOTE: These terms (Diminished and Augmented) are also used to describe interval distance within a scale. Therefore, they can be applied in other more advanced ways to describe musical steps and motion.

In order to develop the skill required with intervals a series of fingerboard memorization exercises will be needed to help you internalize this knowledge and prepare you for your journey towards a greater understanding of music on guitar.

Each day you sit down to practice guitar, set aside 3 min. to apply a series of specific intervals along the guitar neck. Choose different intervals each day and move them all over the neck while saying the notes out loud.

You could start on day one with the major and minor 3rd. Then, move onto the perfect 4th and 5th on the next day. On the day after that, switch to the Major and Minor 7th.

Select different note names and different areas of the neck, (low, middle and higher). Over time, (a few months) your neck will become more familiar to you in both note name and fret layout. The sound of each interval will also become more recognizable to your ears. This will help you in all of the most vital playing areas, (especially in your soloing and composing).



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