Welcome to the YGA Theory Lab! In this section of the members area we look at the inner workings of everything you play on the guitar to help you become the complete guitarist. We firmly believe that theory can be fun and enjoyable, as long as you are always applying the theory to practical examples, which is exactly what we do in this course. In this first part we look at the major and minor scales and how to build them on the guitar.

Summary: 'All the notes'

Our first task is to simply learn and memorise all 12 notes in western music. These notes will be our base upon which we build all of our scales and chords, and therefore the base upon which all songs are written! Let's start by laying out the 12 notes in sharps and flats.

Summary: In Practice

Let's take a look at those notes on the E and A string of the guitar. It is important to memorise these notes on the neck as they will help with every part of your guitar playing as you advance!

Summary: The major scale

It's now time to work out the formula for the major scale. The major scale is the base of every other scale and chord shape that will will learn, so it is crucial that we can work out any major scale. To work out the major scale all we need to learn is a simple formula: 'Tone, tone, semi-tone, tone, tone, tone, semi-tone'. This is demonstrated below:

Summary: Major Scale In Practice

Now you have thew theoretical understanding of what a major scale is, let's check how that works in practice on the guitar neck. Below we have a fretboard demonstrating the D major scale across one string, and then in the shape we eventually learn and commit to.

Summary: The minor scale

As mentioned before, any scale from now on in can be derived from the major scale. The numbers 1-8 with no alterations 'spell' a major scale. When you start altering those numbers you get new scales. To create a minor scale you need to take those numbers and flatten the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes. We can clearly see how this works int he diagram below.

Summary: Minor Scale In Practice

Let's put the new theory into practice by applying it to the guitar. We can now work out a C minor scale using the formula: '1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8'. Below we have the C minor scale across the neck as well as in one position which creates the shape to settle on using.

Ready to move on? Remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

Essentials Part 2

Now that we have learnt the basics of scale construction we will turn our attention to chord construction. In this set of lessons we learn how to construct the 3 main triad chords - major, minor and diminished.