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Lesson 1: Framing The Fretboard

Well here we are at square one! For our first lesson we are going to do what I call "Framing The Fretboard". All of the notes on the guitar, as well as any other instrument have letter names taken from the music alphabet. The music alphabet is ABCDEFGABC... over and over again until we run out of strings and frets. These are called natural notes and if you look at a piano, would be the white keys. Some of the natural notes have notes in between called "accidentals" and are also referred to as "sharps" and "flats". These would be the black keys on a piano. When the natural notes and accidentals are played in succession from low to high, the ascending order is said to be in "half steps" or "semi-tones". This ascending order on the guitar ascends from left to right fret by fret. If we count the number of natural notes and accidentals, the total is twelve. All of western music is composed of these twelve pitches we call notes. When we begin begin on any note and ascend fret by fret until we arrive at the same note twelve frets higher, we call that the Chromatic Scale. In The Stuff Of Legends Method, we will use the chromatic scale in much the same way a painter uses a color pallet when he or she paints. Only we will be "painting" with sound, learning how to blend and arrange pitches into time to make music!

To simplify this process, we are going to focus only on six notes to start with. Those notes are EADGBE, the five notes that the strings of the guitar are tuned to, plus C. Because of this tuning, most guitar based music is written in these six "keys". We'll learn about keys later on, but for now we are going to take EADGBE and "frame the
fretboard".

 

  • Step one is simple. From low to high or thickest string to the thinnest, pick the open strings. That is do not depress any fret as you pick the strings. The resulting sound will be the open EADGBE notes. Keep in mind the strings are numbered from the bottom up so from top to bottom they were played in the order of 654321.

 

  • In step two, we are going to play the same six notes on the sixth string starting with the open E, then fret 5 (A), fret 10 (D), fret 15 (G), fret 19 (B) and assuming you are playing a 24 fret guitar, fret 24 will be the high (E). If you don't have 24 frets then play the fifth string on the 19th fret as an alternate "unison" E. By matching them with the six open strings they will sound basically the same . You will notice the notes on the staff are in the same location while the tab numbers are different.

 

  • Step three is to move down to the first string E, which is said to be two "octaves" higher. Press the same frets that you did on the sixth string and you will have a higher version of the same six notes. If you don't have 24 frets, then you will not have access to the highest E, but that's okay.

 

  • The final step for you 24 fret guys is to play the 24th fret from low to high and that will complete our fretboard frame! An alternate for you 22 fretmeisters is shown in the video below. The goal of this lesson is to become completely familiar with this fretboard frame.

 

That's it for lesson one!

Training Tips - Do these to improve your technique and timing.
  1. Practice to a metronome click set at around 60 beats per minute (BPM), give or take.
  2. Run through each lesson using whole notes (every 4 beats) half notes (every two beats, quarter notes (every 1 beat) and eighth notes (half a beat each).
  3. Memorize the lesson. 
  4. When moving up and down the fretboard, move your eyes slightly ahead of your hands in order to target the fret just prior to playing the note.
  5. Say the names of the notes as you play them.

Lesson 2: Know Your Roots

Now that you've learned EADGBE around the perimeters of the fretboard, the next step is to begin filling in the frame by learning their locations on the other strings. Before we start here's two tips that will help you.

 

  • Look at the fretboard inlay markers on your guitar. You'll notice the single dot inlays are placed on the odd numbered frets.

 

  • Then take note that the double dotted fret skips to an even number which is fret 12, the one octave point. It's also the half way point between the nut and the bridge. So the 12th fret serves as a threshold of sorts, where the notes on frets 12 - 24 are repeated in the same order as the first 12 frets, but in the next higher octave.

 

  • If you know that the third and fourth dot are located on frets seven and nine then you know tha unmarked fret between them is fret eight! Easy right?

 

Now begin working through this study of learning the lcoation of EADGBE plus C on all six strings in the first octave. When you get to the first string, you'll notice that the unison for this note can be played on each of the six strings beginning with the open 1st string and ending on fret 24 of the 6th string.

 

This study concludes with these notes being played across the 12th fret.

 

We are now going to call these notes "Root" notes as they will serve as the foundation of the chords and arpeggios we're going to begin bulding in the next few lessons.

 

 

 

Lesson 3: Threefold Chords - Major Triads

lesson-3-threefold-chord.pdf Lesson 3: Part 1 243 KB
major-triad-six-string-drill.pdf Lesson 3: Part 2 218 KB

Lesson 3 is divided into two parts. It begins with six single string chromatic scales with the interval names abbreviated above each step in the scale.

 

The definition of an interval is it is the the space between two notes. "P" stands for "Perfect", Upper case "M" stands for major and lowercase "m" indicates minor. For example the space between the open E on string six and the 4th fret G sharp is an interval of a major third from the root.

 

In this lesson we are going to extract the tones that make up the major triad from each of these chromatic scales. There are four primary triads. Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented. These serve as the buliding blocks for chords.

 

This lesson will focus on major triads only and we will stretch them out over one string by playing them one note at a time. When we play these notes one at a time, we are playing them as "arpeggios". When we blend them together by strumming them across adjacent strings, we are playing them as chords.

 

The major triad is comprised of the Root or P1, the M3 and P5. By examining the chromatic scale you will see that the P1 is Open, the M3 is located at the 4th fret and the P5 is located at the 7th fret. I've also included the P8 at fret 12, which is the same note as the root, and is said to be one octave higher.

 

So on each string you will ascend the triad and then descend back down to the root where you will then run back through the roots on each string the same way you did in lesson 2. This will set you up for the Major triad drills in the next part of the lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 3: Part 2 - The Major Triad 6 String Drill

For this second portion of Lesson 3 we are going to ascend and descend the initial triads in the same way we did in Part 1, but this time we are going to build a triad on each subsequent root across all six strings and all 5 roots.

 

By now you should have noticed that the M3 is four frets (called two whole steps) up from the root and the P5 is three frets (called 1 &a1/2 steps) up from the M3. 

Lesson 4: Threefold Chords Part Two - Minor Triads

We begin lesson 4 by expanding the chromatic scale over two octaves which will now cover the entire range of the fretboard.

 

Then we will play minor triads covering both octaves followed by locating and playing the roots EADGBE over six strings in the upper octave.

 

The minor triad replaces the major 3rd with a minor 3rd (P1-m3-P5). Take note of how major triads sound bright and cheerful and minor triads sound dark and melancholy. These are our musical "bookends" where all of our other tonal colors will fall somewhere in between.

Practice Tip: Go back and review the major triads and expand them into the full range of the fretboard in the same fashion as the minor triads.