Friday, June 10, 2011


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Welcome to the first of my MUSIC THEORY MADE SIMPLE series.  If you have searched the internet for quality lessons before I feel your pain.  Everything out there is poorly done or it seems like you have to already have a masters in music theory to understand it.  Where are the lessons for those of us who want to go beyond just learning songs, but don't know where to start?  Well, I have many lessons at that address that very subject.  Now I am giving you a free taste of that in written form here on my blog.  This is not meant to be an all-encompassing lesson series, but I will brush across a few lessons that should knock down some road blocks for you.  To view a ton of my free lessons check out my YouTube channel at


I want to talk about natural half steps and how they specifically relate to the guitar.  The importance of learning about natural half steps becomes more apparent after you start learning about barre chords, scales, keys, etc.  That being the case, trust me, you want to spend the time learning this.  To start with, the half step actually refers to the distance between notes.  Let me show you what I like to refer to as the musical alphabet.  It goes like this.

A   A#   B-C   C#   D   D#   E-F   F#   G   G#   (# is the symbol for sharp)

As you can see between most major notes there is another note in between them.  For example, between A and B there is an A# (A sharp).  This note could also be called a Bb (B flat) but to keep things simple I will just use the sharp note names.  The distance between the A and A# is called a half step.  This relates to the guitar as one fret.  The distance between the A and B is called a whole step.  This relates to the guitar as two frets.  Therefore, on the guitar, the low E string (the thickest guitar string) plays an A note in the Fifth fret.  A half step up (the sixth fret) is the A#, and two frets away (the seventh fret) is the B note.

Now you may have noticed that there isn't a sharped note in between B and C or E and F. That's because there is no note between these two pairs.  Therefore, when you come to a B note on the guitar, the next note isn't a B# because that note does not exist.  Instead you go straight to a C note.  The same thing happens when you go to an E note.  The next fret higher will be an F and not an E#.  This jump from B to C and From E to F is called a NATURAL HALF STEP.  This is important because if you know what note the string starts on you can figure out what every single note is on that string all the way up the neck!  This is crucial when you are trying to find a specific Barre chord which I will cover in another blog post.  Not taking the natural half steps in consideration would cause you to get off on the wrong notes as soon as you passed that natural half step.

For practice, try naming the notes all the way up the strings.  If you do it correctly, when you get to the twelfth fret you should be calling it the name of the string.  For example, the twelfth fret on the E strings will be an E.  Twelfth fret on the B string will be the B note.  You see the pattern.   Just remember, the first note is the open note, then comes the first fret, second fret, etc.  So the first fret of the A string is not A, it’s A#.  I hope this helps you.  As always I encourage feedback, so post comments here on the blog or email me at  Don’t forget to enter yourself in the drawing for a free membership to my website just by subscribing to this blog!



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