Only 1 in 10 Guitar Players Can Do This...

One of the most important things a musician can do is develop their ear. If a musicians ear is excellent they can quickly learn songs, understand phrases on their instrument with little to no effort, and they can even successfully perform live on stage in situations where they don't even know the songs... 

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Some of this might sound pretty unbelievable - but really good musicians are that good because they have a fantastic sense of hearing when it comes to music.

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One of the ways that musicians work at developing their ear is through transcription. Which means learning to play a song without any sheet music, chord notation, or TAB charts. The song is basically listened to and learned by testing different notes and chords though trial and error.

There's nothing wrong with this. In fact this work is very good work. I did this myself when I was a teenager and also through my early career in the 1990's, because at the time, there was no internet, or song TAB's available, aside what was published in the guitar magazines, and the books you could buy at local music stores.

After a musician begins studying music quite seriously, they'll quickly discover a subject known of as, "Ear Training." Once this subject is practiced, musicians begin learning how to hear individual notes through association. And, at that point their musical memory begins to really take hold.

The most popular method of Ear Training is called, "Relative Pitch." And, it involves developing an understanding for hearing the distance between two notes. Most commonly, this training begins out of learning the sounds of two note intervals from the Major Scale.

In this session, I'd like to take a run through several popular intervals that only about 1 in 10 guitarists can actually properly identify.
The first group of intervals I want to take a run through are called "Perfect." They include the "Octave," the "4th and the 5th," as well as, "Unisons." In the video, I've placed a mask over my guitar fingerboard, and you should first listen to my example intervals (you can test yourself on them to find out if you know which ones are which). Afterward, in the video I scan over the answers so you can find out how you did.

Next let's run through the category known of as the "Major Intervals." We'll approach this in exactly the same way, I've placed a mask over my guitar neck in the video, (so you can't see what I'm doing). Then, listen to that segment of the video so you can test yourself to find out if you can figure out these intervals. The answers are given in the video after the quiz section.

Finally, we'll cover the sound of the minor intervals. Again, our approach will be the exact same manner as we'd approached the other intervals. I'll mask over my neck and you can listen to each interval. Work at developing each one by ear and find out if you can discover what interval name it is that I'm performing. The answers are once again given after the quiz.

Now that we've covered the main interval types of; Perfect, Major and Minor you've got a good idea of what the first steps should be in building a practice routine that'll push both your ear skills and guitar playing skills to a whole other level.

Keep in mind that when it comes to ear training one of the most important things that you can do is develop the ability to recognize the distance from one note over to another. This will go a long way to helping you hear musical ideas used in any piece of music.

I hope you've learned some valuable ideas to start practicing in this lesson. I cover all of these ear training ideas (and more - yes there's more intervals like Augmented and Diminished), in my guitar programs and I have many more lessons devoted to building skills around hearing notes and learning melodic phrases by ear.

Thanks for joining me, If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership...

When you're ready for more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website. I hope you enjoyed this lesson, if you did, then please give it a thumbs-up and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll see you next time.



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ACOUSTIC GUITAR 006: Chord Strumming with Grid Systems

Acoustic Guitar 006:
Chord Strumming with Grid Systems...

Strum patterns and rhythmic duration are two of the most important areas for a guitarist to master. The majority of  playing focuses on rhythm guitar. Once our ability to perform concise application of; strum direction, isolated strum attacks, and rhythm feel is under control, our guitar playing will be at a new level of perfection.

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The grid system (described throughout this lesson) will use two grid concepts to help perfect rhythm guitar skill. The first is the rhythm duration grid. Here we learn about each beat and its relationship to the sixteenth-note. This system determines specifically where 90% of our strumming will take place along the rhythm grid and where attacks need to be grouped and understood as rhythm patterns.

The second concept of the grid system includes string set isolation. As an acoustic player, each chord attack we make to the guitar strings will generally need to be highly targeted in order to successfully produce the sound of the harmony we're after. The strum attack associated to our chord voicings will pull out the chord tones related to the piece we're performing. And, when done correctly, the harmonies will come together with the perfect tonal response from the guitar.

In example one, we'll start by getting organized with an introduction to straight-time strumming. This practice will help players focus their attention upon the feel of the beat in time and associate their strum direction to each stress and accent of the beat.

Example 1a, applies an easy to perform mix of the eighth and quarter note pulse. Example 1b, adds sixteenth notes. And, example 1c incorporates more complex use of the sixteenth-note duration.

Example two begins the important technical concept of string set association through isolated strumming. Example 2a, places emphasis upon strumming into specific strings of the string-set grid system. A pattern of mid-range to lower, then higher string sets are applied to help players target their strum hand attacks. Example 2b, continues on with further development, however the rhythm feel becomes more syncopated.

PART TWOThe second part of the lesson plan moves on to more complex application of both the string-grid strumming technique as well as, the mix of varied rhythm duration. The ideas applied in example 3 combine several elements to create more challenging exercises.

Example 3a, explores the use of low to high string set register with an example that divides the strum attacks between the two string grid registers. A Country-Rock groove is used to demonstrate this idea across two progressions that apply different string-set registers. All of the chord qualities used are the same within each study. However, example 3b reverses the string set grid voicings by flipping the voices to a group of chords that move from higher to lower.

In example four, a comprehensive blend of several techniques are mixed together to create strum patterns that use a combination of both strumming and finger-picking. The riff takes a key of "C Minor" rhythm and mixes both upper and mid-register strumming with arpeggio plucking to achieve a fantastic sound. Isolated strumming parts are combined with both licks and arpeggio plucking to form an acoustic part similar to the styles heard by guitarists like, "Tommy Emmanuel," or "Lindsey Buckingham.

Related Videos:

Chord Strumming with Grid Systems... 

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 005: Rhythm Comping Technique

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 004: Travis Picking Accompaniment Style

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 003: Using Chords as Templates



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Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes

Want Smooth Chord Progressions?

Most guitar players hardly give any thought at all to the chord shapes that they use in progressions. But, think of a song like, "Stairway to Heaven," the chords in the intro to Stairway are so well planned and the voice leading is so spot on, that there's no doubt chord voices make a big difference... 

So, on this weeks "Guitar Blog Insider" we're going to make a study of how mapping the upper voices of chord shapes used in a progression can make a big difference. So, if you want smooth chord progressions, lets learn to track upper tones!

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Before we get started, you need to understand chord voicings and how notes of a chord are organized differently if you perform the chord in different fret-board locations. Let's try this with some 4-note, "E Minor" chords, starting in the 7th position off of 5th string.

The voicing above spells out chord tones from the 5th - 2nd string going; "E, B, E, G."

But, if we move that chord over to the 9th position, from 6th string root, we get "E, B, G, B."

Take notice that the upper tone on that 2nd string has changed to "B" from "G." We could also move the "E Minor" voicing again, lower down the neck into 4th position for a chord voicing of "E, G, B, E."

Now the "E" is on the 2nd top string. So, there ya go, 3 voicings for an "Em" chord - with 3 different upper chord tones. 

Alright, so now you understand the idea of paying attention to the chord tones and how chords are voiced along the strings. Next, I want to bring your attention to those upper most chord tones of a progression, because those are the notes that jump out at your listener the most. Those upper notes of a chord are where your listeners ear immediately gravitates over to.

The better you get at mapping out your progressions with smooth and connected upper chord tone voices, the better your progressions will resonate with your audience. Now, let's create a chord progression that tracks upper chord tones so that you can really start noticing exactly what I'm talking about here.


Notice how the upper 2nd string tones of these chord changes are traveling along that second string and pulling the listeners ear along with them. It's an interesting connection that we get, (when we pay more attention to how our upper chord tones connect with the overall sound of our progressions).

When we do this, it of course helps, to know as many chord voicings as possible. Because the more chords we know, the more options we'll have in setting out to build these smooth and connected (melodic) progressions.

Now that we've studied a collection of chords and focused in on how the chord voicings can be used to map upper chord tones differently - I hope that you'll start paying more attention to what the upper most tones are in the chords that you play. And, if you want to, test different chord voicings, then try using chords in your progressions that will nicely blend and connect across those upper guitar strings.

Every time you create a progression, you'll get used to mapping chords so that the voicings you select offer your listener the most connected sounds across those upper chord tones.

As always, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section, thanks for your time, and we'll catch up again next week on my other channel, for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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Instant Guitar Solos [with Chord Sandwiches]

Playing a guitar solo, even the most simple of guitar solo, can kind of be an issue for a lot of guitarists. Maybe it's a lack of scale knowledge, maybe they think that the learning curve of soloing is extremely complex taking years to master...

The reality is that becoming a great soloist will take awhile and there will be a lot to learn along the way. But, if you want to be able to play a simple solo, in a relatively short period of time, and learn a collection of notes that will work all the time - every time... There is a fun and easy playing approach that will help to quickly build solos, and for fun we'll call it, "chord sandwiches."

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The idea of the "Chord Sandwich" involves taking the tonic (also called the "ONE Chord") of the key that you're in, and you just use it as a 7th quality chord shape to base your simple guitar solo around.

For example, if I was in the key of "E major" and I wanted to play a solo in that key, all I'd have to do is simply learn the shape of an "E maj7" chord and base my solo around those notes. That chord shape becomes my "Chord Sandwich" and it automatically gives me all of the perfect tones required for performing my guitar solo. 

My guitar solo will be in the key of "E major." And, that means I need to know the shape of an "E Maj7" chord pattern. Now, luckily this is a super easy to learn shape, here's how the shape looks on the fingerboard...

With our "Chord Sandwich" shape, we've got a nice juicy group of notes to chew on that'll sound fantastic no matter where we play them and no matter when we play them. Here's an example of the chord sandwich idea in action over a basic, "E Major," chord progression...

Next, we'll do something really simple. We'll add the Octave of the root, into the chord sandwich. Think of it like adding a piece of lettuce or a slice of tomato... and that extra topping is going to give the sandwich a little more juice. It's an easy tone to add in and it's going to allow us one more note to play against those other chord tones when we make up our solos. So, let's jam a solo again, with that additional note of the octave as a new topping.

Next let's add in some more toppings to our sandwich. How about adding in some pickles or some roasted peppers? How about some cucumbers, shredded carrots or some mushrooms? Well, maybe not, but we can start with a great extra musical topping, the chord extension of a 9th.

The 9th extension is a great chord extension that'll really jazz up the tasty licks we'll create with our chord sandwich, it's basically going to give our sandwich a little more zing. The 9th is located one whole step above the root of the chord. And, you'll for sure want to remember to include the 9th's upper register octave as well. Okay, so let's jam another solo now, with this new 9th topping added to our chord sandwich...

Okay, we're really making progress with this sandwich idea now... But, let's take things a little further yet... Think of how good a sandwich is when you really go all out and add some extra mayo, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese and mustard, maybe some black peppers...

Well, I've got the extra musical topping for you and it's the 13th extension. And, here's where you can add it in. It's located a whole-step back from the 7th chord tone...

Now, we've really got a killer sandwich going here. We've got the 7th chord, that additional octave... we've got that 9th added and we've got the 13th as well. This is fantastic. So, jam-out one last time using everything. All the sandwich toppings...

I hope you had fun with this lesson - I also hope you learned a few fun ideas (and sorry if I made you a bit hungry from all that sandwich talk).

This method is a great way to hit excellent notes when you're playing any simple solo. All it takes is the 7th chord quality of the progression. And, keep in mind that all of this works exactly the same when you're in minor keys as well.

Thanks for joining me, If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership...

And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website. I hope you enjoyed this video, if you did, then please like this video and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll see you next time.



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2 Easy Arpeggios to Learn Right Now

Arpeggios can be a weak area for a lot of guitar students, and this is lousy because the application of an arpeggio within a solo sounds very cool and that means if you're not using them, you're missing out... 

On this weeks "Guitar Blog Insider" we're going to make a study of two easy to play arpeggios that you can learn right now. Once you learn these, you'll find that they will most certainly change your guitar playing for the better.

If you're like a lot of guitar players, you probably haven't actually spent very much study time learning arpeggios. Even worse, many of you may not even know what an arpeggio is! That's okay, because we're going to help you fix that.

In this lesson, we're going to learn two very common arpeggio shapes that you'll be able to put into use right away. So, if there's an absence of arpeggios in your playing, I'm going to help you out with two shapes that'll put an end to that forever. Let's get started...

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Arpeggios are essentially the notes of a chord, so if you take any chord pattern and organize the notes from the region of the neck that's associated to a chord pattern, then you'll have access to an arpeggio pattern that fits around that chord shape. Another way of looking at it is that an arpeggio is every second note of a scale.

If you take a scale like "A Minor," the notes of "A, C, E," would be your basic triad arpeggio, and then if you added on the note of "G" you'd have (what's called) a 7th-chord arpeggio.

Let's get started with our first pattern, "The 5th string Major Triad" Here's how it looks on the neck...


Alright, now that you have your major arpeggio pattern organized on the neck, let's check out the equivalent Minor pattern based upon the same region of notes...

If you're familiar with basic chord quality theory, you'll already know that major chords convert to minor chords by way of lowering the third chord tone. In the case of a "C Arpeggio," the third is an "E" note, (when the chord is major), so if we wanted, "C Minor" arpeggio, all we have to do is lower the "E" down to an "Eb."

Based on this lowered third idea, let's take our pattern from the major quality, (we'll lower the 3rd), and run through the new shape for the "Minor" arpeggio...


So, there ya go, now you have two arpeggio patterns that are not only incredibly popular (and easy to play), but they're also easy to memorize and that means you'll be able to get them into your guitar playing as quickly as possible to be able to start making music with them.

As always, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section, thanks for your time, and we'll catch up again next week on my other channel, for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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Lesson 006 - Melodic Contrast Through Dissonance

August 18, 2017:
Lesson 006 - Melodic Contrast Through Dissonance

Normally we strive to hit the correct notes found in the established key center. However, performing scale tones that exist outside of the key (outside notes), can also work in certain styles of music... 

How outside notes are applied will depend primarily upon the way they are phrased. This lesson explains how to start including the interesting sound of outside scale tones in both major and minor keys...

PART ONE:  In example one, a key of "A Major" melody (ex. 1a), is used to demonstrate how a basic diatonic, (in key), melody can be transformed into a melody line that includes non-diatonic phrasing, (ex. 2b). By using a simple technique called, "Approach Tones," an 'approach from below' method shows how non-diatonic tones can be included as embellishments upon the original line from example (1a).

Example two introduces chromatic principles as another non-diatonic technique. Chromatic phrasing includes runs that are generally made up of a linear row of non-selective tones traveling in half-steps. The example (2a) melody starts with a diatonic melody line in the key of "G Minor." Then, in example (2b), the melody is re-worked to include a series of chromatic tones. The new phrase takes on another dimension of sound, yet maintains the same rhythmic duration as the original example.

PART TWO: The example three melody line is based around the sound of an "A Dominant 7th" chord. This offers us the primary scale type of "Mixolydian." However, when altered scale is brought into the mix the unique blend of Altered scales dissonance brings in a lot of sour colors that create an interesting dissonant effect.

Example four includes two final strategies for melodic contrast through dissonance. The first of these are the application of "digital" (sometimes called modular) scale patterns. And, the other is a similar principle that is known as "symmetrical scales."

The use of digital /modular scale patterns is achieved through first creating a pattern of notes and then transferring that pattern across other string sets, (see example 4a). Guitarist "Dimebag Darrell" used these patterns in many of his solos. And, guitarists Paul Gilbert, along with Scott Henderson also apply these shapes.

The last example (ex. 4b), contains a short melodic line using what is probably the most popular symmetrical scale used by jazz guitar players, the "Diminished Scale." The notes of the Diminished scale include both #5 and b5 altered tones surrounded by a minor 3rd and major 7th. It also contains a major 2nd and major 6th with a perfect 4th. The color is very unique and its symmetrical shape and altered character can provide an excellent opportunity for melodic contrast through dissonance.

Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at:



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Are You Smart Enough to Ace this Guitar Test?

When I meet new players, one of the things that I always like to do is become familiar with where they're at as guitar players. So, over the years I've organized an "11 Question" guitar test that not only helps me but it also helps the student better understand where they are as guitar players... 

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So, let's run through those 11 Q. now, and I think this will be helpful for you too.

Question 1). How long do you practice guitar each week? How many days? And, in that period what are you studying?

Good Answer: 5 days per week, between 1.5 to 2.0 hrs., Scales, Intervals, Chords, Arpeggios, Reading, Improvisation, Transcription, (learning songs)

Question 2). How well do you know the notes on the neck? Can you play a single tone across the entire fret-board, (for example "G")?

Good Answer: Can play groups of the "G" tone across several strings between open and the 7th fret.

Question 3). Can you perform at least three different shapes of the Major or Natural Minor scale (not pentatonic) across the fingerboard in different keys? For example; play a "G Major" scale in 2 places, then an "A Minor."

Good Answer: The student can perform them smoothly in time.

Question 4). How well can you perform Major and Minor chords both at the open position, (chords that include open strings), as well as, playing chords along the fingerboard? For example; play "G Minor," "C Minor," "Eb Major," and "Bb Major," in four different fret-board positions across the neck.

Good Answer: The student can perform them (some hesitation is fine).

Question 5). Can you perform three different chord voicing patterns of any in position, (no open chord versions), for chord types of, "Major 7," "Minor 7," and the "Dominant 7."

Good Answer: The player has at least one chord type of each chord quality that they know on the fingerboard.

Question 6). Play this progression with me... |G / / / | C / / / | D / / / | G / / / |

Now make up your own rhythm and then, replace the "G and C" chords Minor.

Finally, change keys so that the progression is in the key of "D."

Good Answer: The player can play the progression and replace the minor chord types. If transposing is difficult to do, that's alright.

Question 7). Perform three different arpeggio patterns of any type anywhere on the fingerboard, (do not use open strings).

Good Answer: The player knows at least one arpeggio pattern.

Questions 8). Build at least three different Major Scales along one string using the major scale formula.

Good Answer: They can build at least one and they know the formula.

Question 9). Can you name 4 different "Major" key signatures and state the sharps or flats found in each key.

Good Answer: They can name at least two keys.

Question 10). Can you name three different time signatures and explain how to count the beat in each of them?

Good Answer: They can name one or two and explain the basics of how to count in the time signature.

Question 11). Can you explain the number of beats and demonstrate note durations of; Whole, Half, Quarter, Eighth and Sixteenth.

Good Answer: They can understand these durations, know the beats and demonstrate what each value is in time.

I hope that you found this brief guitar skills test interesting and I hope that it perhaps gave you some insight as to how I conduct an intake of a new student here at Creative Guitar Studio.

Thanks for joining me, If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership...

And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

I hope you enjoyed this video, if you did, then please like this video and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll see you on the next video.



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