Learn Chords

Learning Chords

If you are a brand-new guitar player and have no idea what chords you should learn. My suggestion is to start with these 8 chord shapes, they represent very commonly used chords and they have relatively easy fingerings for beginners to start with.

These chords are going to be really hard for you as a beginner because you have not built up any guitar callouses and you have zero guitar-related muscle memory in your system. Check out these super easy chord fingerings, the easiest I could find!

Learning chords is a challenge, but a bigger challenge for most beginners is switching between chords. Try out these super simple chord combinations for practice. These should get the blood flowing and the left hand moving!

I started a series called “Open String Fun” and it uses a number of chords in one key that all utilize the open strings on your guitar. From decent beginner guitarist to pro, everyone could have a lot of fun with this series:

Open String Fun in A Minor Open String Fun in D Major

In my opinion, the 3 most important chord families to learn in the beginning are MAJOR TRIADS, MINOR TRIADS, and DOMINANT 7th CHORDS.

Triads are guitar chords built from 3 notes. That doesn’t mean that when you play them you are only hitting 3 strings. For example, a C Major Triad is built off the notes C, E, and G, so a typical C Major guitar chord may be built like this: CEGCE. So the C and E notes appear more than once in that particular version of the chord.

If you understand your Pentatonic Scale shapes, then the following videos should be very helpful. They show all the major and minor triads as they fit into that scale:

Visualizing Major Triads from within the Pentatonic Scale Visualizing Minor Triads from within the Pentatonic Scale

Dominant 7th chords are used a lot in pop music and songwriting, and they are very prominent in the styles of Jazz and Blues. So learning them is a must!!!

Check out these related posts:
Cool Open String Guitar Triads
Cool Open String Guitar Chords 

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Learn to Solo

You need to learn how to crawl before you learn how to run. So if you are brand-new to this subject my first suggestion would be to learn your string names:

E-A-D-G-B-E: these are your string names from top (thick strings) to bottom. That means that when you pluck the string alone (without no left hand on the string) then you get that note.

The next step is learning how to find and recognize the notes on your guitar. Start with finding notes on the E-bass string. Then A string. Then D string. These are the strings that your common chords will be based on and knowing how to find, for example, an “A” on any of these strings will be an asset for your playing for life.

Something that will help you immensely in your journey of guitar is learning your octaves. An octave is a musical interval and learning your intervals is a crucial part of the learning process. It goes hand-in-hand with learning about the notes on your guitar. After learning octaves I would move on to learning 5th’s. And after 5th’s I would start learning about 3rd’s and their relationship to minor and major (lessons coming soon!).

While learning your scale shapes is extremely important, it is equally important to remember that there are MANY ways to learn guitar soloing and memorizing scale patterns is only one. So don’t neglect learning your intervals just because memorizing is easier! These are the most important scale families to learn:

Chromatic Scale (12-note) Pentatonic Scale (5-note) Diatonic Scale (7-notes)

If you are wondering why I put the 12-note scale first instead of last, it is because the Chromatic Scale has the easiest memorization patterns. But to be honest, I only include it for beginners because it is a great scale for warming up your fingers and building that crucial muscle memory. Learning how to use the Chromatic Scale in context is not a beginner lesson.

The Pentatonic Scale is the MOST important scale in my opinion because it is the foundation of all of the other scales, and there are lots of different guitar scales once you get past these three! Here is a free PDF of the Pentatonic Scale Shapes for computer viewing and printing. And here is a Youtube video if you prefer that method.

Protip: Getting ALL FIVE SHAPES down in ONE KEY will help you more in the long-run than learning 1 or 2 shapes really well and neglecting the others.

Here is a video explaining exactly HOW you should be learning these shapes:


The Diatonic Scale is built by adding two extra notes to the framework of the Pentatonic Scale. Easy right? That is why I suggest knowing your Pentatonic Scales inside and out, because they will be your compass.

Here are a couple different variations you can implement into your Diatonic Scale practice:

The “Stutter” Variation The “Triplet” Variation

Protip: Guitar Modes and the Diatonic Scale have a DIRECT relationship. So if you do not have a solid grasp on Diatonic Scales then I would not suggest trying to understand Modes.

To make interesting music, it is important to not get “stuck” playing in memorized boxes and there are solutions. Here is a video I made a while back addressing this issue. A lot of guitar players begin to get bored with their own playing and getting stuck in boxes is one of the main reasons.

Here are some of the MANY ways to play the Diatonic Scale that will make you rethink the box, I call them “Scale Paths”:

Scale Paths from E-bass string Scale Paths from A string
Scale Paths from D string Scale Paths from G string

There are many ways to play scales “outside of the box”, here is a post with a ton charts showing you how.

Here are a couple interesting concepts that will introduce you to the most important aspect of your soloing, the mental aspect:

Musical Glossary

(This page is still in the early “Draft” stage but I have opened it so others can learn from it and provide feedback/suggestions/help.)


Accidentals – when the sharp () and flat () are used to mark notes; though in music theory/notation, the term “accidental” is more complex



Alternate Changes – see Chord Substitutions

Alternate Tunings –

Amp or Amplifier


Arpeggio – a musical technique where notes in a chord are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than ringing out at the same time




Backing Track

Bar (or Measure) – is a segment of time corresponding to a specific number of beats


Bend – [gif]


CAGED System



Changes – see Progression

Choke – Stopping the sound of a bent note as soon as it reaches the intended pitch

Chord – any set of three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously

Chord Inversion – a chord voiced with a note other than the root in the bass

Chord Substitutions – using a chord in the place of another – often related – chord, in a chord progression

Chord Voicing – the order of the notes in a chord: which notes are on the top or in the middle, which ones are doubled, etc…

Circle of 5th’s – a visual representation of the relationships among the 12 notes of music, their key signatures, and the associated major and minor keys

Closed Position –

Comping – (an abbreviation of accompanying; or possibly from the verb, to “complement”) is a term used in jazz music to describe the chords, rhythms, and countermelodies that piano players or guitar players use to support a jazz musician’s improvised solo or melody lines.


Compound Chord – see Slash Chord

Contrary Motion

Cowboy Chord – see Open Chord

Cycle of 5th’s – a series of chords whose root notes are a 5th apart


Diatonic Scale – a scale composed of seven distinct pitch classes.


Dissonance – is the quality of sounds that seems unstable


Double-tracking – Double tracking or vocal doubling is an audio recording technique in which a performer sings or plays along with their own prerecorded performance, usually to produce a stronger or “bigger” sound than can be obtained with a single voice or instrument. It is a form ofoverdubbing; the distinction comes from the doubling of a part, as opposed to recording a different part to go with the first.


Drone – when a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece.

Drop Voicing – “A drop voicing is created from a close position voicing by dropping one of the notes down an octave.  If the second note from the top is dropped, the voicing is called a drop 2 voicing; if the third note from the top is dropped, the voicing is called a drop 3 voicing.  For a C7 chord in root position, “C E G Bb”, the corresponding drop 2 voicing is “G C E Bb”.  The second note from the top, G, has been dropped down an octave.  The corresponding drop 3 voicing would be “E C G Bb”.”




Enharmonic – if two notes have the same pitch but are represented by different letter names and accidentals



Fill – a fill is a short musical passage, riff, or rhythmic sound which helps to sustain the listener’s attention during a break between the phrases of a melody. “The terms riff and fill are sometimes used interchangeably by musicians, but [while] the term riff usually refers to an exact musical phrase repeated throughout a song”, a fill is an improvised phrase played during a section where nothing else is happening in the music.[2] While riffs are repeated, fills tend to be varied over the course of a song.

Fingerpicking or Fingerstyle Guitar – using your fingers (or fingerpicks) instead of a pick


Flat – on a guitar: when you go one fret to your left; see Accidental

Flat 5 Substitution – see Tritone Substitution


Fret (noun) – [pic] metal strips inserted into the fretboard

Fret (verb) – to push down on the string with your finger

Fret Buzz – occurs when the vibrating part of one or more strings physically strikes the frets that are higher than the fretted note (or open note). This causes a “buzzing” sound on the guitar; Fret Buzz can be caused by different things: low action, improperly installed frets, strings too loose, improper relief of guitar neck


Fuzz Distortion – a term used to describe a particular form of distortion; originally created by guitarists using faulty equipment (such as a misaligned valve tube) which is now emulated by a number of ‘Fuzzbox’ effects pedals

Hammer-on – [gif] a technique performed by sharply bringing a fretting-hand finger down on the fretboard, causing a note to sound; this technique is the opposite of the pull-off

Harmonics – the stop points on a stringed instrument at which gentle touching of a string will force it into a harmonic mode when vibrated. Harmonics are described as having a “flutelike, silvery quality that can be highly effective as a special color”

Harmonized Chord Scale


Heptatonic – a musical scale that has seven pitches per octave


Hook – a musical idea, a passage or phrase, that is believed to be appealing and make the song stand out


Interval – the difference between two pitches

Intonation – the pitch accuracy of a musical instrument or a musician’s realization of pitch accuracy


Key Signature – [pic] is a set of sharp or flat symbols placed together on the staff

Lick – not to be confused with riff

Luthier – someone who makes or repairs stringed instruments (except harps); the term originally referred specifically to makers of lutes



Measure – see Bar


Movable Chord

Nashville Number System – similar to (movable-do) Solfège which uses “Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti” to represent the seven scale degrees of the Major scale. However the NNS instead uses numbers to represent each of the scale degrees. In the key of C, the numbers would correspond as follows: C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7. In the key of B, the numbers would be B=1, C=2, D=3, E=4, F=5, G=6, A=7.

Nashville Tuning – a way of simulating a twelve-string guitar sound, using two six-string guitars playing in unison. This is achieved by replacing the lower four courses on one 6-string with the higher octave strings for those four courses from a 12-string set, and tuning these four strings an octave higher than normal tuning for those courses on a 6-string. Double-tracking this guitar with the standard-tuned 6-string is commonly used in recording studios to achieve a “cleaner” 12-string effect.

Natural Notes – the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G; also represented by the white keys on a piano


Neighbor Tone – where you step up or down from the chord tone, and then move back to the chord tone


Oblique Motion

Octave – the interval between the first and last notes is an octave. For example, the C Major scale is typically written C D E F G A B C, the initial and final C’s being an octave apart. Two notes separated by an octave have the same letter name and are of the same pitch class.

Open Chord – is a chord that includes one or more strings that are not fingered. Thus in an open chord the strings ring, or sound, freely and fully

Open Position – the area of the guitar where open chords are typically played

Overdrive – a less extreme version of Distortion

PA (System) or Public Address System – is an electronic sound amplification and distribution system with a microphone, amplifier, and loudspeaker

Palm Mute

Passing Tones – a non-chord tone prepared by a chord tone a step above or below it and resolved by continuing in the same direction stepwise to the next chord tone (which is either part of the same chord or of the next chord in the harmonic progression)



Pedal Tones


Pentatonic – is a musical scale or mode with five notes per octave








Pitch Class


Progression or Chord Changes – a series of musical chords

Profile – see Relief

Pull-off – [gif] a technique performed by plucking a string by “pulling” the string off the fretboard with one of the fingers being used to fret the note; this technique is the opposite of the hammer-on

Quarter Tone


Relative Minor – major and minor scales that have the same key signatures.

Relief (or Profile) – the amount of curvature in the fingerboard of a guitar

Reverb (or Reverberation) – the persistence of sound after a sound is produced. Noticeable when the sound source stops but the reflections continue, decreasing in sound until nothing

Riff – a short, repeated, memorable musical phrase

Root (Note) – denotes the idea that a chord could be represented and named by one of its notes. It is in this sense that one can speak of a “C chord”, or a “chord on C”, a chord built from C and of which C is the root. The root needs not be the bass note of the chord: the concept of root is linked to that of the inversion of chords


Scale – a sequence of ordered musical notes


Semitone -the interval between two adjacent notes; the smallest musical interval commonly used in Western tonal music



Sharp – on a guitar: when you go one fret to your right; see Accidental


Slash Chords or Compound Chord – a chord whose bass note or inversion is indicated by the addition of a slash and the letter of the bass after the root note letter; example: a C major chord in second inversion is written C/G, which reads “C slash G”, or “C over G”. If B were the bass it would be written C/B, which is read “C slash B”, or “C over B”.


Solfège – assigning the notes of a scale a particular syllable, and then practicing by singing different note sequences using these syllables. The seven syllables commonly used for this practice in English-speaking countries are: do (or doh in tonic sol-fa),[2] re, mi, fa, sol (or so in tonic sol-fa), la, and ti. In other languages, si is used (see below) for the seventh scale tone. There are two ways of applying solfège: (1) fixed do, where the syllables are always tied to specific pitches (e.g. “do” is always the pitch “C”) and (2) movable do, where the syllables are assigned to different pitches based on musical context




Standard Tuning – the typical tuning of an instrument, on guitar: EADGBE




Tap-on or Tapping


Time Signature – [pic] used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are to be contained in each bar and which note value is to be given one beat

Tone Pot


Tremolo Picking

Triad – three-note chord consisting of a root note together with the third and fifth

Trill – rapid alternation between two adjacent notes

Tritone – strictly defined as a musical interval composed of three adjacent whole tones; for example: the interval from F up to the B above it (in short, F–B) is a tritone as it can be decomposed into the three adjacent whole tones F–G, G–A, and A–B.

Tritone Substitution




Unison – two or more musical parts sounding the same pitch or at an octave interval, usually at the same time.


Vibrato – when the finger that is used to play the note is wobbled on the fretboard, or actually moved up and down the string for a wider vibrato

Walkdown – (in country music) a bassline which connects two chords whose roots are a third apart, often featuring an inverted chord, example: G and Em (a minor third apart) may be joined by an intervening chord to create stepwise motion in the bass: G-D/F-Em; (in jazz) a descending bassline below chords sharing a common tone, example: if the above was G-D/F-Em7 the bassline would descend, G, F, E, while D is held in common; (in 12-bar blues) refers to the movement from V to IV in bars nine and ten

Walkup – opposite of Walkdown





B-Bender – [pic] a guitar accessory that enables a player to mechanically bend the B-string up a whole tone (two frets) to C-sharp.

Capo – [pic] a device used to shorten the playable length of the strings, hence raising the pitch. Derives from the Italian “capotasto” which means the “nut” of a stringed instrument. Musicians commonly use a capo to raise the pitch of a fretted instrument so they can play in a different key using the same fingerings as playing open. In effect, a capo uses a fret of an instrument to create a new nut at a higher note than the instrument’s actual nut.

Effects Pedal – [pic] electronic devices that alter how a musical instrument or other audio source sounds; many are organized onto a pedalboard

Fingerpicks – [pic] clips onto or wraps around the end of the fingers and thumb (thumbpick)

Pedalboard – [pic] allows a performer to create a ready-to-use chain of multiple pedals

Pick – [pic <–no pun intended] usually gripped with two fingers—thumb and index—and played with pointed end facing the strings; generally made of one uniform material—such as some kind of plastic (nylon, Delrin, celluloid), rubber, felt, tortoiseshell, wood, metal, glass, tagua, or stone. They are often shaped in an acute isosceles triangle with the two equal corners rounded and the third corner less rounded.

Plectrum – see Pick

Rackmount – [pic] commonly used in recording studios and “front of house” live sound mixing situations, though many musicians use them in place of stompboxes. Rackmounts are controlled by knobs or switches on their front panel, and often by a MIDI digital control interface. During live performances, a musician can operate rackmounted effects using a “foot controller”


Strap – [pic] a strip of fabric made to hold a guitar via the shoulders, at an adjustable length to suit the position favored by the guitarist

Strap Locks – [pic]


Tuner (Electronic) – [pic] a device that detects and displays the pitch of musical notes


Action – the distance between the fretboard and the string; the action on a guitar can be adjusted

Body (guitar part) –

Bridge – [pic] a device for supporting the strings on a stringed instrument

Cutaway –Venetian and Florentine.

F-hole – [pic] a sound hole in the shape of an “f”; usually made in pairs and placed symmetrically on both sides of the strings; most hollow-body and semi-hollow electric guitars have F-holes

Floating Pickguard – [pic] a pickguard that is raised above the guitar

Floyd Rose – [pic] a popular type of locking “Whammy Bar”

Fretboard or Fingerboard – [pic] a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument; the strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge; to play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fretboard

Headstock (or Peghead) – [pic] contains the pegs or mechanism that holds the strings at the “head” of the instrument

Heel or Neck Joint – [pic] the point at which the neck is either bolted or glued to the body of the guitar; almost all acoustic steel-string guitars (with the primary exception of Taylors) have glued (otherwise known as set) necks, while electric guitars are constructed using both types; most classical guitars have a neck and headblock carved from one piece of wood, known as a “Spanish heel”.

Inlay – [pic 1] [pic 2] decorative materials set into the wooden surface of the instrument

Machine Head – see Tuners

Neck – [pic] the part that projects from the main body and is the base of the fingerboard, where the fingers are placed to stop the strings

Neck-through or neck-thru – [pic] a method of electric guitar or bass guitar construction that involves extending the piece (or pieces, in a laminate construction) of wood used for the neck through the entire length of the body, essentially making it the core of the body. The strings, fretboard, pickups and bridge are all mounted on this piece. So-called “ears” or “wings” (i.e. side parts of the body) are glued or laminated to the central “stick”

Nut – [pic] a small piece of hard material that supports the strings at the end closest to the headstock, and is usually notched or grooved for the strings.

Peghead – see Headstock

**Pick Guard – [pic] a piece of plastic or other (often laminated) material that is placed on the body of a guitar

Pickup(s) – [pic] a transducer that captures vibrations and converts them to an electrical signal

Pickup, Magnetic –

Pickup, Piezoelectric –

Saddle – [pic]  the part of the bridge that physically supports the strings. It may be one piece (typically on acoustic guitars) or separate pieces, one for each string (electric guitars and basses)

Scratchplate – see Pickguard

Sound Board

Sound Box

Sound Hole

Tap plates/golpeadores

Tremolo Arm – see Whammy Bar

Truss Rod – [pic] the part of the guitar used to stabilize and adjust the lengthwise forward curvature (also called relief), of the neck. Usually it is a steel rod that runs inside the neck and has a bolt that can be used to adjust its tension.

Tuners (Guitar Part) – [pic] a geared apparatus for tuning stringed musical instruments by adjusting string tension

Whammy Bar (or Tremolo Arm) – [pic] a vibrato and pitch bend device attached to the guitar

TYPES OF GUITARS……………………………………..

Acoustic (Guitar) – a guitar that produces sound by transmitting the vibrations of the strings to the air

Acoustic-Electric (Guitar) – an acoustic fitted with a magnetic pickup, a piezoelectric pickup or a microphone. In acoustic-electric nylon string guitars, piezoelectric pickups and microphones are always used because magnetic pickups are not capable of picking up vibrations of non-magnetic materials

Archtop – [pic] a semi-hollow steel-string acoustic or electric guitar; the arched table combined with violin-style f-holes and internal sound-block creates a timbre that is acoustic and mellow; these two factors have made archtops a firm favorite with jazz guitarists.

Baroque Guitar – [pic]

Carved-top Electric


Double-Neck Guitar – [pic] designed so that two guitar necks can share one body; this allows the guitarist to switch between either neck with ease; it will normally have a standard six-string neck and a twelve-string neck though other combinations exist

Dreadnought – [pic] The dreadnought guitar body is larger than most other guitars that existed at the time of its creation, and thus results in a bolder and often louder tone. In 1916 the word ‘dreadnought’ referred to a large, all big-gun modern battleship. The neck is usually attached to the body at the 14th fret.

Electric Guitar – a guitar that produces sound by relying on electronic amplification

Flamenco Guitar – [pic] similar to a classical acoustic guitar but with thinner tops and less internal bracing

Hollow-body Electric or Semi-Acoustic (also see Semi-hollow) – [pic] a type of electric guitar that originates from the 1930s. It has both a sound box and one or more electric pickups. This is not the same as an acoustic-electric, which is an acoustic guitar with the addition of pickups or other means of amplification

Lap Steel – [pic] a type of guitar where the player changes pitch by pressing a metal or glass bar against the strings instead of by pressing strings against the fretboard

Pedal Steel – [pic] a type of electric steel guitar that is built on legs or a stand and is fitted with foot pedals which adjust the sound of the instrument; typically plucked with a thumb pick and fingers, or two or three fingerpicks

Resonator – [pic] a guitar that swaps a regular sound hole for a large circular perforated cover plate which conceals a resonator cone; the cone is made from spun aluminum and resembles a loudspeaker; the bridge is connected to either the center or edge of the cone by an aluminum spring called the spider; the vibrations from the spider are projected by the cone through the perforated cover plate

Semi-acoustic – see Hollow-body

Solid-body Electric – [pic] a guitar built without its normal sound box and relying on an electric pickup system to directly receive the vibrations of the strings

Twelve-String Guitar – [pic] a guitar with six regular strings and a second set of thinner strings that corresponds to the note of its regular string counterpart; the strings form pairs and therefore you play a twelve-string guitar in the same manner as you would a standard six-string.

12-bar Blues World

Your First Blues Lesson –> Blues Turnaround #1 –> 12-bar Blues World

The 12-bar Blues is a great learning tool for guitar players of EVERY genre. Learning how to play through “the changes” is essential practice for anyone interested in how to solo. As a complete beginner, I would pick the appropriate Pentatonic Scale (ex: A Minor Pentatonic for “Blues in A”) and give it my best. Protip: Practicing over Blues Backing Tracks help a lot! Learning to throw in the “Blue Notes” helped me find that particular Blues flavor and I loved the unique sound they added.

After thirteen years of playing, I approach the Blues in a completely different way. I look at every chord and every bar as a different and unique piece that can be utilized. Blending Major Pentatonic and Minor Pentatonic is also a great approach, but one that takes skill and experience (lesson coming soon). The beauty of the 12-bar Blues is that both a complete beginner and a lifelong player can always learn more from it.

The 12-bar Blues are a fixture of the guitar world for a reason. If you think it is just some little 3 chord ditty, this post should open up your eyes:

Guitar 12bar blues one-02

Guitar 12bar blues two-02

Guitar 12bar blues three-02

Guitar 12bar blues four-02

Guitar 12bar blues five-02

Guitar 12bar blues six-02

Guitar 12bar blues seven-02

Guitar 12bar blues eight-02

Guitar 12bar blues nine-02

Oh, and there’s lots more. But this should give you a nice start.

Question 7.21.15

I memorized all 5 Pentatonic Scale Shapes but how do I “play music” with them? My solos sound lifeless, like I am just playing through the scale patterns. I feel stuck in the Pentatonic boxes!!!!

Okay, so you have memorized all 5 shapes of the Pentatonic Scale (in at least one key). First off, great job!!! You would be surprised how many players skip this step or somehow convince themselves that they don’t need it. As far as I am concerned, you have already taken a huge step in the lifelong journey of mastering the guitar. So pat yourself on the back!

So now what? How does one apply the knowledge of seemingly random plotted dots on the fretboard?


(Links in red –>) Open up a backing track. Having the internet is freaking awesome, can you imagine what people used to have to go through in order to practice? Now you can simply click on a site like youtube and have access to thousand of awesome tracks recorded for the sole purpose of making you a better solo guitar player.

I would suggest a I-IV-V Blues backing track. The chord changes are going to be very easy and repetitive. And your Pentatonic Scale is going to work out just fine over the whole thing. Important point though: “The Blues in A” refers to A minor pentatonic. And this is an important distinction because every other time you hear “in A”, the major will be implied. But the Blues is different for reasons that we will not go into right now.

So for example:

    • Blues in A = play your A minor Pentatonic Scale shapes (same patterns as C major Pentatonic, but with a focus on the notes A, C, + E)
    • Blues in E = play your E minor Pentatonic Scale shapes (same patterns as G major Pentatonic, but with a focus on the notes E, G, + B)
    • Blues in Bb = play your Bb minor Pentatonic Scale shapes (same patterns as Db major Pentatonic, but with a focus on the notes Bb, Db, + F)

THE COLD HARD TRUTH…………………………………………………………..

Okay, but maybe you have already done this step and you are thinking “my solos sound shit, how come they don’t sound… I dunno… awesome?”

Well unfortunately, we all have to suck at something before we get better at it. The first time Carlos Santana picked up a guitar, he was NOT a bad-ass. He sounded exactly like you do right now. And he was like “Que pasa guitarra, why you no sound bueno?” Because you need to PRACTICE to get more bueno Carlos!!!

Look at all those little dots on your guitar as lego building blocks. Every player had the same blocks in the beginning and then they begin to work through the pieces. When you hear someone making the Pentatonic into something so beautiful that you cannot even believe it is the same scale that you learned, it is because that player has worked through that box of legos for years and decades. And guess what, you are allowed to beg/borrow/and steal from that amazing player! Music is for everyone. That same player begged/borrowed/and stole from the musicians before him. Use their accumulated knowledge as a springboard for your own.

THE SOLUTION…………………………………………………………..

Okay, but you want to make YOUR OWN LICKS, I get it. So how do you make ones that are interesting?

Well for one, you can start playing this guitar game that I call “Guitar Simon”. It is a memorization game but has the amazing side-effect of spitting out original licks that you would never have been able to come up with if you were only focused solely on creating them. While focused on “the game”, you will be amazed at what ends up coming out the other end.

Another thing that you can do is to start changing the way you play through the 5 Pentatonic shapes you learned, for example:

    • stop playing one note at a time, this is a classic beginners first mistake, you can play that note 3 or 4 times, you can play the same two notes back and forth and then move to the 3rd note. It doesn’t always need to be a new and completely different note every time.
    • check out the “Basics” section of the Guitar Bucket List for different techniques to make your playing more interesting. Trills, Pull-offs, Bends, etc…
    • Play two notes on two strings at the same time, these are called double-stops (video coming soon).
    • Start learning about how to play by interval:
    • work out little “bridges” that connect adjacent shapes, the shapes you learned were broken up a certain way just for teaching’s sake.
    • play only one string, play only two strings, play a solo that NEVER uses the G string, many times creative breakthroughs comes from limitation, etc…
    • focus on playing horizontally instead of vertically, start at the top E-bass string and do your best to work to left or right and end up on the bottom E string.


These next two concepts go hand in hand and should introduce you to a very important factor in your soloing: how you think. There is a strong mental aspect to guitar, here are two ways to dive into it.

1) Start thinking about chord tones while you solo:

2) Learn about “swapping” pentatonics:

Okay, but you may be asking whats the “diatonic” scale?

THE DIATONIC SCALE…………………………………………………….

Pentatonic are 5 note scales, I only suggest learning these first because that is how I was taught. Many people learn “the major scale” first and then the Pentatonic second. There really is no “right” or “wrong” order. Diatonic scales represent the standard major and the natural minor scale.

Learn about them here! And remember that you can apply most of these learning suggestions to that scale as well.


Okay, I think that is a good start for now. Feel free to send me an email for questions or clarification. And remember that playing guitar takes time. Playing guitar is a physical activity that uses your fingers and the longer you play, the harder the tips of your finger will become and the MORE you will be able to do.

Also, muscle memory. It will take some time for you to build up that finger memory. It is better to play 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week, then to play 4 hours only one day a week. Its like your fingers have little brains in them and it is essential to keep reminding those little fuckers. Soon enough you will notice them doing things that you don’t even remember teaching them. Have faith in the words “you get what you put in”.

And of course, the best and final tip of all is the easiest: LISTEN TO THE MUSIC YOU LOVE!!!

The more you listen, the more you will absorb.

Now go do it!!!!!!

Backing Track Channels

Backing Tracks Channels

QuistJams (Holy Grail of Jam Tracks!!!)

NowYouShred (solo suggestions on the screen, great for learning!)

Matt Stotman (lots of genres, even punk backing tracks!)

GuitarBackingTrack.com (exactly what the name implies)

Daily Backing Tracks (great mix of genres, chords/scales in description)

BackingTrackWorld (lots of genres, even metal backing tracks!)

JamTracksChannel (lots of genres)

Abdobicas (acoustic, latin rhythms)(with chord charts)

Kennis Russell (blues, rock, jazz)(with chord charts)

Ex3vious (blues, jazz, metal)

130Grit (lots of genres)(chords in description)

Scratch Track Productions (rock)

Ralph Patt’s Jazz Web Page (jazz)

Learn Jazz Standards (jazz)

Learning Guitar Now (blues)

Masanoriutsumi (blues, rock, jazz, pop)(with chord charts)

FooTracks (jazz)(with chords)

RandyMartinGuitar (with chords)

The Flatpick Apprentice (single tracks, many speeds)

John Paul Hill (gypsy jazz)(with chord charts)

Carl Roa (modes, jazz, rock, gypsy jazz)

Spiffing Tunes (jazz)(with full sheet music)

GB Quartet (gypsy jazz)(with chord charts)

Sean Armitage Music (up-in-coming channel covering different genres)

Backing Tracks: Blues

Backing Tracks: Blues

I-IV-V (12-bar Blues)

[E] Slow Blues [Quist] (long: 12+ min)

[E] Johnny Winter – Elmore James style [JamAlongTracks]

[E] Shuffle [BackingTrackTV] (chord change animations)

[E] Texas Shuffle [BackingTrackTV] (chord change animations)

[E] Blues (90bpm) [Ell”eminem”Sw]

[E] Chicago Blues [Danny’s Guitar Channel]

[E] Detroit Blues Boogie [ZenMusicUK]

[E] Chicago Blues [SkylarkBackingTracks]

[E] Shuffle [JonhallMusic]

[E] Boogie [JamTracksChannel]

[E] Smooth [FooTracks] (organ)

[E] Rockabilly [Backing Tracks]


[F] Swing Blues [Guitnotes]

[F] Medium Tempo [Cliff Smith] (chord chart)

[F] Chicago Blues [Quist] (long 10 min+)


[G] Shuffle Blues [Guitare Improvisation] (chord change animations)

[G] Buddy Guy Style [Quist]

[G] Backing Track Blues [Mr.Yae]

[G] Gorgeous Blues [Masanoriutsumi]

[G] Chicago Style [Quist] (long 12+ min)

[G] Rock & Roll Blues [Smz Guitar]

[G] Easy Shuffle [Quist] (long 9+ min)


[A] Blues [Kennis Russell]

[A] Slow Blues [LearningGuitarNow]

[A] Funky Organ Blues [JamAlongTracks]

[A] Country Fast Blues [Richard W]

[A] Shuffle [LearningGuitarNow]

[A] Clapton Style Shuffle [Quist]

[A] Stevie Ray Vaughn Shuffle [BluesTracks]

[A] Very Slow Hendrix Style [Now You Shred] (long 12+ min)

[A] Fast Blues [VODJams]


[Bb] Blues [GuitarShed]

[Bb] Fast Blues [Cliff Smith]

[Bb] Funky Blues [Ricard Bennett]

[Bb] Funky Blues [BluesBackingTrack]

[Bb] Real Slow Blues [RandomJammer]

[Bb] Slow Blues (long) [TusClasesDeGuitarra]


[C] Boogie Woogie [Maximo Spodek]


Minor Blues

[Bm] Minor Blues [Quist] (long) (chord chart)

[Bm] Slow Minor Blues [JamTracksChannel]

[Bm] Thrill is Gone [Mostafa Moftah]

[Bm] Thrill is Gone [attituderoyale]

[Bm] Thrill is Gone [RandyMartinGuitar] (chord chart)


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Guitar Bucket List


Alternate Tunings with Dave Doll (5:25)

Arpeggios with Justin Guitar (14:31)
(Arpeggio) Rolls with Peter Vogl (3:22)

10 Basic Lead Guitar Moves
with Jim Bowley (6:33)
(combining hammer-ons, pull-offs, trills, bending, finger rolls)
Trills with Howcast (1:02)

Bass-String Techniques…………………
Alternating Bass with Orville Johnson (14:49)
Walking Bass with ZamarGeetar (4:24)

Capo Pro-tips with Dave Doll (5:48)

Chordal Muscle Memory Builder with Jody Fisher(5:13)

Classical Guitar Techniques……………..
Baroque Ornamentation with Scott Morris (18:45)

Counterpoint with Ben Levin (5:07)

Double Stops with Redd Volkaert (3:45)

How a Talk Box Works with Raven Cliff (2:30)

Electric Guitar (only)…………………….
Divebombs with Tazzlyn (5:19)
Floyd Rose tricks & ideas with Aaron Mifsud (2:49)
Pick Scrape with Neal Walter (3:10)
Volume Swells with Mike (3:28)
Whammy Bar Techniques with Rob (9:08)

Eliminating Guitar String Squeak with David Youngman (6:38)

Fingerstyle (or left hand)……………….
Beginner Fingerstyle & Intermediate Fingerstyle with me (8:34)
Clawhammer style with Steve Baughman (9:26)

Abanico with Free Flamenco Guitar Lesson… (7:18)
Alzapúa with Spanish Guitar School (3:54)
Golpe with GiveOrLooseIt (4:07)
Picado with Juanito Pascual (6:37)
Rasgueos with Jan Garcia (4:33)
Tremolo with Vahagni (4:57)

Flat Picking………………………………….
Alternate Picking with Peter Vogl (5:37)
Carter Family Picking with Denny Sarokin (4:12)
Chicken Picking with Boo Reiners (3:41), with Johnny Hiland (1:12:34)
Cross Picking with Sean Ray (7:54)
Economy Picking with Dweezil Zappa (3:50)
Gypsy Picking
with Hank Marvin (3:36)
Hybrid Picking with Rob Schulman (4:09)
“Outside” and “Inside” Picking with Mark Wein (5:59)
Slide Picking with Florent Atem (3:46)
Snap Picking with Andy James (6:36)
Sweep Picking with Tazzlyn (8:49)
Travis Picking with Dan Danly (5:20), with Thom Bresh (1:06:48)
Tremolo Picking with Superstrat9999 (2:05)

African Guitar Style (not a lesson just really cool and unique) (2:46)
Bluegrass with Orville Johnson (25:21)
Bossa Nova with Gustavo Oliveira (7:50)
Chicago Blues with Mark Mamae (8:27)
Country Guitar with Kieron Bourke (6:04)
Delta Blues with Darren Watson (7:35)
Flamenco with Ben Woods (4:25)
Folk Guitar with Ben Zinn (11:17)
Funk with Marty Swartz (9:17)
Gypsy Jazz with Jeffey Paul Ross (13:27)
Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar with Curtis Kamiya (7:22)
Heavy Metal with Simon Smith (12:40)
India Raga (Sitar-style Guitar)
with Swift Guitar Lessons (5:39)
Motown Guitar
with Ben Zinn (7:31)
Punk Guitar with Robert Bas (7:38)
R&B Guitar
with Cornell Dupree (56:53) **FIXED**
Ragtime (Blues) Guitar with Andrew Wasson (5:53)
Reggae Guitar with Tuff Lion (9:45)
Rockabilly Guitar
with Jim Weider (2:01)

Dobro Slide Guitar with Ed Dowling (2:53)
Lap Steel Guitar with Dave Anderson (4:52)

Harmonics (Natural) with Dan Epchinsky (4:13)
Harp Harmonics with Justin Guitar (9:09)
Palm Harmonics with PixxyLixxx (6:08)
Pinch (Artificial) Harmonics (squealies) with Carl Brown (8:05) *Updated*
Tap Harmonics with Carl Brown (8:22)

with Ben Higgins (3:39)
Strict Legato with Teknik Gitar (1:14)

Left Hand Muting with Dave Uhrich (4:57)
Palm Muting with Andy Collins (5:29)

Percussive Guitar………………………………
Adding Drum Beats to your playing with Skyx88 (2:03)
Slap Guitar with Guthrie Govan (3:11)
Thumping with Tosin Abasi (7:35) with Ben Eller (27:23)

Raking with Robert Renman (8:21)

Slide Guitar……………………………………..
Slide Guitar Basics with Jody Worrell (6:22)
Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Slide compiled by Bluesnoodler_

Staccato with Paul Gilbert (7:41)

5 Exercises to Improve Rhythm with Matt McCoy (9:38)
“Boom-Chika” Strumming with Jonathan Kehew (29:16)
Gypsy “Backbeat” Strumming with Andreas Oberg (4:04)
Palm-Mute Strumming
with CountryGuitarTeacher (4:30)
Punk Style Rhythms with youcanlearnguitar (15:44)
Reggae Style Rhythms with Steve Golding (3:09)
Scratch Rhythms with Andrew Dubrock (1:46)

Tapping with Lick Library (5:41)
2-Handed Tapping with Paul Gilbert (3:02)
8-Finger Tapping with Eric Snyder (3:45)
Atonal “Buckethead” Tapping with Retrowheels (4:55)
Glitch Tapping with Josh Martin (10:01)
Overhand Tapping with Kevin Kinnu (8:11)
Pick Tapping
with PitchfeverAcademy (3:26)
Under-Strum Tapping with Josh Martin (5:21)

Warming Up………………………………………
Pick Hand Warm Up with Paul Gilbert (2:58)
Stretching (Essential Hand Exercises) with GuitarLessons365 (9:00)
Wrist Stretches (from Aikido) with Melinda (3:32)

Guitar Related

How to Change Your Electric Guitar Strings by fendermusical

How to Choose a Guitar Amp by wikihow

How do Electric Guitars Work by Showcaine

How to Adjust your Truss Rod with Will Kelly

How to Store and Travel with your Guitar with Dave Doll

How to Use your Guitar Settings by Cattledogcross

How to Make a Bottleneck Slide with Tony Furtado

How to Make a Fretted Cigar Box Guitar with NightHawkInLight

How to Make an Electric Lap Steel Guitar with Scrap wood City

Whats a “Shuitar”? with Jano Wix


**NEW**: Musical Glossary [Draft Preview!]


“Unlocking the Guitar” Section 1-4

I made these videos when I was trying to teach myself Adobe Flash. I was going to submit the course to Udemy, but I would want to rework the graphics and script of the entire series. So I look at this as my “first draft”.


Lecture 1: The Key of C Major
Lecture 2: The Twins of Music
Lecture 3: Sharps and Flats
Video Lesson: String Names
Lecture 4: Putting It All Together

Section One Study Guide (PDF)

Lecture 1: Whole and Half Steps
Video Lesson: Finding Notes
Lecture 2: WWHWWWH
Lecture 3: Using the Formula
Video Lesson: Scales and Strings

Section Two Study Guide (PDF)

Lecture 1: Musical Numerals
Lecture 2: The Next Peak
Lecture 3: Applying It
Lecture 4: Jazzin’ It Up

Lecture 1: The Circle of 5th’s
Lecture 2: Learning More


Backing Tracks: Modes

Backing Tracks: Modes

want to understand modes better? Click here


Ionian Mode: Click here for Study Guide

see Backing Tracks: Common – Major


Dorian Mode: Click here for Study Guide

C Dorian Mode Smooth Funk [guitarbackingtracks4]

D Dorian Mode Sad Ballad [guitarbackingtracks4]

F Dorian Mode Groove [Quist]

G Dorian Mode Groovy [Quist]

G Dorian Mode Jam Track [Tom Strahle]

A Dorian Mode Groove [Quist]

A Dorian Mode Epic Acoustic [Quist]

A Dorian Mode Jam Track – So Chic [Rowan J Parker]

A Dorian Mode Rock Ballad [guitarbackingtracks4]

A Dorian Mode Relaxed Acoustic [guitarbackingtracks4]

B Dorian Mode Funky Groove Jam Track [Quist]

B Dorian Mode – Groovy Backing Track! [Quist]


Phrygian Mode: Click here for Study Guide

C Phrygian Mode Groove [Quist]

C# Phrygian Mode Spanish Vibe [Quist]

D Phrygian Mode Psychedelic [Now You Shred] 

E Phrygian Mode [guitarbackingtracks4]

F Phrygian Mode Hip Hop [YT Jam Tracks]

F# Phrygian Mode Heavy [Backing Track]

G Phrygian Mode Minimal [Tom Strahle]

G# Phrygian Mode Chord Changes [Effective Music Practice]

A Phrygian Mode Funk Style [Vito Astone Music]

B Phrygian Mode Metal [Metal Guitar Stuff]


Lydian Mode: Click here for Study Guide

B Lydian Mode [Dan Nobles]

C Lydian Mode Groovy [Quist]

C# Lydian Mode Two Chord Vamp [Allan Haapalainen]

D Lydian Mode Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Satch [Quist]

D Lydian Mode J.M.A. [Rowan J Parker]

Eb Lydian Mode Smooth Jazz [Playback Guitar]

E Lydian Mode Psychedelic [Now You Shred]

F Lydian Mode Groovy Cruisin’ [Quist]

G Lydian Mode Jam Track [Tom Strahle]


Mixolydian Mode: Click here for Study Guide

C Mixolydian Mode Guitar Backing Track [Quist]

C Mixolydian Mode Emotional Acoustic Ballad [guitarbackingtracks4]

D Mixolydian Mode Rock [Guitar Playbacks]

Eb Mixolydian Mode Psychedelic [Will Resin]

E Mixolydian Mode Majestic Mood [Quist]

F Mixolydian Mode Jazzy Guitar [TomBaileyMusic]

F# Mixolydian Mode Long Funky [Fusion Jam]

G Mixolydian Mode Groovin’ [Quist]

G Mixolydian Mode Jam Track [Tom Strahle]

A Mixolydian Mode Mixin’ It Up [Rowan J Parker]


Aeolian Mode: Click here for Study Guide

see Backing Tracks: Common – Minor


Locrian Mode: Click here for Study Guide

G Locrian Jam Track [Tom Strahle]

G# Locrian Mode Dark Groove Backing Track [Quist]

B Locrian Mode Backing Track (from Groovin’ Through The Modes) [Quist]