Chords, Scales, Arpeggios etc.
Here are a load of reference materials of the kind that I give to my private students during lessons. I want this section to grow into a comprehensive resource for every kind of chord, scale and arpeggio. I’ll start by uploading the basics, and eventually I might get around to the Ukranian Dorian mode (it does exist – I just checked). Feel free to print this stuff off and use it in your own practice routines – click under each diagram to download a high-quality PDF. Guitar teachers are welcome to use these materials in their own lessons too, as long as this website is credited.
Most of this stuff is organised according to the CAGED system whereby the neck is divided up into 5 areas so you can play each scale/chord arpeggio anywhere on the fretboard. It’s not the only way of viewing the fretboard, and not always the best way, but it is a tried and tested system which really does work. I like to number the various patterns 1 through 5 rather than talk about the “C form” or the “A form” etc. which can get confusing. I call the E form pattern 1, as it’s usually the most common pattern and the first one you’ll want to learn. Not everyone does this, but for me it makes sense. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what you call each pattern as long as you understand where the root notes are and are able to make some music with it. (I do plan on filming a video on the CAGED system at some point as it is something which confuses a lot of people.)
I haven’t written out every scale etc. in all 12 keys as it’s unnecessary and, frankly, would take too bloody long. I’ve just chosen any key which fits conveniently on the diagrams. You should of course practise in all the other keys though. As long as you know which notes are the roots (I’ve highlighted them in red) it’s easy enough to shift up or down the neck and play in any key you want.
Essential Open Chords Every beginner must know these chords.
Open-Position Dominant 7th Chords Learn these once you know your basic open chords.
Other Useful Open Chords A few more very widely-used shapes.
Major Chords 5 moveable shapes which also provide the basis for the CAGED system.
The Minor Pentatonic Scale The first scale most guitarists learn, and possibly the most useful.
The Major Pentatonic Scale A widely-used scale, especially in blues, country and rock.
The Major Scale Another essential scale. All other scales are derived from this one, so you need to know it.
The Dorian Mode An essential jazz scale for playing over minor 7th chords, also used lot in blues, and sometimes in rock.
Three-note-per-string Major Scale Modes An alternative to the CAGED way of viewing the neck.
The Notes On The Guitar
The Notes On The Fretboard A useful diagram showing the locations and names of all the notes on the guitar.
How To Learn The Notes On The Fretboard Not an easy thing to do, but here are some ideas.
Dominate the Fretboard using Octave Shapes, Part 1 A simple, powerful method of understanding the fretboard.
Dominate the Fretboard using Octave Shapes, Part 2 How to play any lick, anywhere on the guitar.
Blank Music Paper
Feel free to print these out when you need to notate things for yourself. These are the formats that I find the most useful. The tab or notation + tab paper is great for transcribing other people’s songs and solos, or for keeping a record of licks and ideas of your own. Use the chord grids to create your own dictionary of all the chords you know. The guitar necks are good for writing out your scales and arpeggios: it really seems to help speed up the learning process and get the shapes seared into your brain if you actually write this stuff out for yourself.
Guitar Tab Guitar Tab I’ve deliberately designed this with a slightly wider spacing between strings than usual, as in most of the other blank tab I’ve come across it’s too squished, making it a pain in the ass to notate chords accurately and legibly.
Standard Notation + Guitar Tab Use this when you want to be thorough and write out the dots and rhythms as well.
Standard Notation Plain music staff paper for those times when you want to go all old school and just use standard notation.