How to Learn Guitar Properly (FRETBOARD FREEDOM)

Learning how to study guitar properly is one of the most fundamental places to start if you're shooting for higher-level progress with your guitar playing. Proper guitar study involves; analyzing what you're playing, taking into account all of the notes being played, learning how to judge interval distance and learning how to confirm the scale type. Are you working on this?

Even with all of these tips and cues on how to study guitar properly, some guitarists could still end up skipping these steps. Make sure that isn't you! This lesson will offer an easy path to understanding these ideas so that you can start experiencing true, "Fretboard Freedom."


Obviously, learning the guitar neck with an understanding of how each idea that you play relates to Music Theory is important. Knowing this stuff will make you a much better musician.

Music operates in such a way that, when you play one musical idea it always affects what happens into the next musical idea. 

In this lesson I’m going to introduce you to a couple of really great interactive music training web-sites and we’re going to get you learning your fret-board in a whole new way.

After we do this, you’ll not only better comprehend every idea that you play from now on – but you’ll also discover how easy it can be to learn the theory behind the music!

Let’s start off by checking out a short melody line on the neck…

Melodic Idea:

Something really important that every guitar player needs to understand, is that a melody, (or a chord progression), is a connected idea.

It has a starting point and it has an ending point. Those two points anchor the sound, and over 90% of the time, those points are the “root notes of the scale” within how the idea functions musically.

Melody Layout on the Neck:

The best way to tie everything together can be done by first checking the notes off of the root, and then using them to find out what scale we’re playing.

For most people, this stuff is a total mystery, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Let’s check into how this would work with our melody.

The notes of our melody pattern sits on the neck like this. 

What's most important here is analyzing the specific notes that get played within our melody. They are “F#, G, B, C, and D.”

Now, to pull everything together, we need to focus on the note that starts the melody, as well as the note that ends the melody. The starting note is “G.” And, the ending note is also “G.”

So, we have “some type” of “G” scale here. But, we don’t know what kind of “G” scale? Is it Major, or Minor, or some type of mode?

So, this brings us to the best part of the lesson. We’re going to figure out the theory behind our idea, and it’s going to be really easy, because we’ll use a couple of great online interactive music training websites.

The first thing we’re going to do is use the Interval Checker (over at “”) and check the intervals of our melody.

Interval Analysis: Watch the Video

We already know the starting and ending point notes are “G.” But, we just need to figure out what’s going on with the other notes.

Once we've figured out the interval distances between the notes of our melody, we need to make sense out of the scale tones that are missing. Remember to construct a full-scale, we need seven notes.

In our example, we only have five. So, we’re missing two. They are an “E” and the note of, “A.” If we were to add those notes in, we’d establish the full span of scale tones from off of our root of “G,” and we’d end up with a completed scale that has the notes of: “G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#.”

The Complete Scale:

Once we have the general note layout of the scale, all we need to do next is use a helpful interactive scale look-up tool that’s located over at, “”

With that, we’ll be able to understand what scale it is specifically that we’re dealing with.

Scale Analysis: Watch the Video

As you just noticed, this process is really easy. You can do it with any group of notes from a melody that you’re working on and when you start playing guitar like this, you’ll notice three things:
  1. a lot more freedom to move ideas around on the neck, 
  2. make up new related ideas for the music you’re playing
  3. start composing musical parts that fit together fast and easy

In our melody, now we know that this idea is based within a Major sound with the root note being “G.” This means we can expand on the melody, using something like the “G” Major Pentatonic scale.

We also know that it’s a basic major scale. So, this tells us that our melody is really coming from the key of “G Major.” So, that means, that any chord based out of the key of “G Major” can work to create additional chord patterns.

With all this information, we could write a whole song around just one simple riff.

Let’s alter a note in our melody and run through this method one more time. Here’s our melody played again, but this time with an “F natural” replacing the “F#.”

Version (2):

The new fretboard layout:

Analyze the notes:

Next, let’s head over to “” and learn more about the new interval on our melody.

Interval Analysis: Watch the Video  

From the interval study, we know that we still have a major scale sound. But, the root is “G” and the 7th step is minor 7. If we add the missing notes and check the scale over at “Chord.Rocks” we will find out what scale this really is…

Scale Analysis: Watch the Video

Now that we’ve organized the intervals, we realize that the notes are all natural based off of the root of (G). When we used the scale finder at “” we found out that this riff (with the “F natural” tone), is actually the “G Mixolydian” scale.

"G" Mixolydian:

"G Mixolydian" is the 5th step mode of the key of “C Major.” This means we can use all the chords and notes of the key of “C Major” to go forward and compose more ideas around this riff.

So, in wrapping up, my parting advice is to start using everything I just went over here. Start doing more analysis of what you’re playing.

Learn about intervals, keys and scale types. It’s so beneficial. In the beginning it might seem a little over-whelming, but if you stick with it, and push yourself to fill in any of the gaps that exist across your current level of knowledge, you’ll really broaden your horizons.

Once you understand all the basics, you’ll start playing guitar like a musician, like a composer, and most importantly, you’ll have a lot more freedom around the guitar fretboard.

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