This is How I Learned ALL My Basic Music Theory (JUST DO THIS!)

If you are like a lot of Beginner and Intermediate guitar players, then you are probably experiencing some confusion about where exactly to start when you're trying to work on Basic Music Theory. If this sounds like you, then you need to watch this video...

In this lesson, I’m going to show you the best way to start into learning basic music theory. Plus, I will also show you how to understand Major and Minor chord quality once and for all.

Everything starts by learning about Major and Minor 2-note chords (intervals). Let me explain, these 2-note chords (intervals) are the building blocks for everything else that happens in music. Once you learn how these 2-note ideas can build up to bigger principles, you'll start to comprehend how everything else fits together.

Music Theory (of any kind) is generally thought of as a complex topic for a lot of Beginners, (as well as, for Intermediate students). And, one of the reasons for that thought is because a lot of guitar players have problems with Theory. This is often caused by the fact that they aren’t often unsure of where to start with learning it.

Most books will suggest starting with key signatures, which is good! But, I’ve also noticed that (for myself and others) it can be nice to actually use the guitar fingerboard to start learning music theory.

That way, you can keep track of everything by associating everything to what you know about the guitar neck, and how the details about music theory can be laid-out on the guitar.

In this lesson, we’re going to break down one of the very first music theory assignments that I was ever given. It served as the beginning for all of the theory that I studied after!

In this lesson, we’re going to work on the two primary qualities of musical sound, and how they look on the neck.

There are two entry level chords that we often start learning music theory with. One group is called “Dyads,” (which are 2-note chords), and the other group are the “Triads,” which are of course 3-note chords…

Dyads are interesting to work off of because when we stack major and minor dyads on top of each other we actually build the next chord level, (that was the level that I had just mentioned a minute ago, the triad type).

Let’s start with how the theory of this actually appears on the guitar. We'll begin with a few major dyads found on the upper 3 guitar strings. The first one we’ll play will be located across our top two strings and it’s only two frets apart.

Major Dyad:
Top two guitar strings

The other shape that I have for you, is on the 3rd and 2nd guitar strings, but this shape is vertically aligned and looks like this.

Major Dyad:
3rd and 2nd guitar strings

Now, let’s look at two more shapes. Both of these will be Minor Dyads.

Here’s the first one, it’s on the top two guitars strings and the notes are a two fret span apart from each other. Here’s how this idea looks on guitar...

Minor Dyad:
Top two guitar strings

The next idea switches once again to the 3rd and 2nd guitar strings. This shape is a one fret span apart, (looking awfully similar to the 1st shape we had done which if you’ll recall was a Major pattern).

The new minor shape looks like this...

Minor Dyad:
3rd and 2nd guitar strings


I wanted to take a minute to let you know, that if you want to learn even more about scales and theory I have a great offer for you.

With any donation over $5, or any merchandise purchase from my Tee-Spring store, I’ll send you free copies of THREE of my most popular digital handouts.

One is called, “Harmonized Arpeggio Drills” (it’ll train you on developing your diatonic arpeggios).

Another one is my “Barre Chord” Handout which includes a page showing all the key signatures along with a chord progression that applies barre chords.

Plus, you’ll get my Notation Pack! It has 8 pages of important guitar worksheets for notating anything related to; music charts, guitar chord diagrams, and TAB.

As a BONUS, (from my "Over 40 and Still Can't Play a Scale" video), I'll also throw in a breakdown of all of the chords that are diatonic to the "F Major" scale.

As an EXTRA BONUS for my Phrygian Dominant video, I'll also throw in a breakdown featuring all of the chords that are diatonic to the Phrygian Dominant scale.

Just send me an email off of the contact page of to let me know about either your donation or your Merchandise purchase and I’ll email you those digital handouts within 24 hrs.    


The music theory of these different Major and Minor shapes on guitar are based around stacking these two note patterns on top of each other. When we stack them up, we create actual chords which have 3-Notes, (I’d mentioned them earlier by calling them “Triads”).

Here’s what a Major Triad looks like on a Music staff…

The example above shows a “C Major,” triad and it contains the notes of, “C, E and G.” But this “C Major” triad can be thought of as having a “pair” of Dyads within it.

These would include the major interval of, “C to E,”

Along with the Minor interval of “E to G.”

If we go ahead and stack the two together on the fingerboard we get a Major Triad chord shape that looks like this…

As you can tell, we’ve stacked a lower register Major shape (located on the 3rd and the 2nd strings), onto an upper register Minor shape, located on the 2nd and 1st strings. This Dyad stack produces a Major Triad chord.

Now that you understand how to stack 2-note chords to create the Major Triads, let’s next have a look at how we can stack up a couple of those 2-note shapes in another way to build the “Minor” Triad.

Here’s what a Minor Triad looks like on a Music staff…

The example above shows a “C Minor,” triad and how it contains the individual notes of, “C, Eb and G.” But just like that Major Triad, this “Minor” triad can be thought of as having a “pair” of Dyads within it.

The pair would include the interval of, “C to Eb,”

Along with the interval of, “Eb to G.”

If we stack the two together we get a shape that looks like this…

As you probably noticed, we’ve stacked a lower register Minor pattern (located on the 3rd and the 2nd strings), onto an upper register Major shape, (located on the 2nd and 1st strings).

I’m not going to kid you, but as you might imagine, there’s a lot more studying involved with getting yourself really good at having a solid understanding for how music theory works, and how to actually apply it.

This exercise we did here, was the foundation for how I went ahead to eventually learned all of my Music Theory.

Basically, what we’re doing here is chunking things down into smaller (and easier to understand pieces) so that the concept of how everything works on the neck makes sense from a 2 note chord idea, out to 3 notes, and eventually you can do this with 4 notes and even 5 notes, till you’re working across full scales and more complex harmony.

When you combine the concept of key signatures with how musical sound becomes major or minor, you have the core elements of how songs are composed and what to look for if you’re; transposing music, or composing your own music, or if you want to get interested in improvisation.

These small pieces of theory build on one another and eventually become even bigger musical ideas over time!



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