Theory Part Two

So far you've learnt the notes from G on the third string up to G on the first string. But you'll have noticed that we left some notes out. What about the note between F and G or between C and D.

These notes are called sharps or flats. When you raise a note by one semitone, you sharpen it, when you lower it by a semitone you flatten it. The note between F and G can be called either F sharp(shorthand F#) or G flat(shorthand Gb). If you look at a keyboard, the sharps and flats are the black notes.

When written on the stave a sharp will have a # symbol next to it

F Sharp

Now you know where F# is you can play a G major scale

G Major Scale

When you play a major scale, it may sound familiar. What makes a major scale sound the way it does? Well first you'll notice that you started on G, and ended up on a higher note with the same name. The thing that makes it sound that way is all the intervals in between.

Tones and Semitones

The intervals used in a major scale are tones and semitones. If you play a note and then play another one two frets higher the difference is a tone. One fret higher is a semitone.

The intervals in a major scale are: Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone.

It is easier to see this if you try playing it on one string. Start with the open first string and then play all the intervals shown above until you reach the 12th fret. The 12th fret is usually marked on the neck of your guitar, sometimes with 2 dots or a thick bar. Try the same thing on all the other strings and you will always get a major scale.

Major Scale on E String

The interval between the low G note and the high G note in the scale you just played is called an Octave.


If you want to learn in depth about theory and reading music, take a look at this book.

The AB Guide to Music Theory Vol 1