Monday, December 15, 2008

Guitar CAGED Chord System Theory

When I analyzed the CAGED system, I think it can be
simplified into just three (3) shapes. The D and C can
be combined. The A and G can be combined. And then the
E shape. So we have 3-shapes namely the D/C, A/G and

Inside these three shapes are found the patterns of
the major scales. Cool huh??? What do you think?

As a guitar teacher dedicated to illuminating the details of music theory for guitar, my goal is to break things down to the basic building blocks and then show guitar players how to develop from there. It sounds like you're on the right track.

The five CAGED chords can actually be simplified into just one shape. In fact, it IS one shape that covers the whole guitar fretboard. It's broken up into five pieces, or forms, so that you can learn and memorize it one step at a time. Eventually, if you learn lots of CAGED songs and apply the chord forms and arpeggio patterns to music, everything begins to bleed together. At that point, you can group the shapes however you see fit.

And yes, major scale patterns can be played inside any and all chord shapes.

The practical application of guitar theory will be thought of slightly different from player to player.

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna (Google me!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is it Really Necessary to Learn Guitar Modes?

Is it really necessary to learn modes? I've read
somewhere that Slash and Joe Pass don't know anything
about modal theory.

In a Guitar World magazine lesson, Slash just used the
pentatonic rock lead pattern and added chromatic

It's not necessary to learn about anything. In fact, you don't even need to learn how to play guitar. But we study things because they are interesting, provide enjoyment, and help us develop. Guitar modes is a confusion topic, but once players figure out how they really work they are very glad they did.

Many guitarists have their own convoluted way of thinking about musical concepts. As a result their explanations about what they're playing seem inconsistent with certain terminology. To say that Slash and Joe Pass don't know anything about modal scales is inaccurate. Everything is in a mode. They couldn't play music without them.

"Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns and Roses is a great example of Mixolydian mode. The two musical interludes that occur at 1:31 and 2:32 are based on the chords D, C and G which are V IV I (5 4 1) in the G major scale (guitars tuned down 1/2 step). Although the parent major scale is G, it's really the D chord that is functioning as the root.

Many guitar players make the mistake of basing the scale off of the root chord. But the D major scale won't work quite right in this example because the C# note clashes with the C natural in the C chord. The correct way to play over this progression is to recognize that it's a mode of the G major scale based on the fifth degree, D. This is called "D Mixolydian mode" (a.k.a. the Dominant scale).

So the correct major scale to play is G. If you want to apply the pentatonic however, you should follow the root chord, D. What you end up with is a combination of the G major scale and D major pentatonic.

Most guitar players favor the pentatonic boxes. So you could orient yourself in D major pentatonic first (pattern 1 starts at the 7th fret) and then mix in G major scale notes (G major scale pattern 3 overlaps D major pentatonic pattern 1). And this is exactly what Slash plays!

Now, Slash may explain the guitar theory differently, but it's still modes he's playing nonetheless.

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Mr. Desi Serna (Google me!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guitar Theory Songs, Tabs, and Videos

I really find your book/info helpful and enjoy the updates and full scale marketing you do. One comment I have is regarding the book. In it you name songs or pieces of songs as examples of each area of discussion. I don't know if you already provide it with the DVD or other ways but it would much more useful if those songs or pieces were tabbed (maybe at the back). Now I find myself trying to find the song to listen and apply the information and get somewhat frustrated when I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to.

Songs are the reason why we all play. Knowing how technical things like scales, chords, progressions and modes apply to popular music is key to developing a good working knowledge of guitar theory. This is why I include so many song references in my book, Fretboard Theory.

Learning music theory for guitar is a process that requires work and practice on your part. I provide lists of songs that pertain to each topic, and a few details to indicate which part of the song to focus on, but it's up to you to look up and learn the parts.

There exists already so many great resources to help you learn songs including guitar tab and guitar videos. It just doesn't seem necessary for me to reproduce these things and try to include them in my book. The book would end up being HUGE and costing a fortune. And I'd have to jump through legal hoops in order to get the rights to print the music. I'll teach the theory and leave the tab books to someone else.

With all of this said, I do have some free guitar tablature that I give away to all website visitors who sign up for a free preview of Fretboard Theory (customers get the tab as well). And I have posted a ton of guitar videos at YouTube. This free stuff is intended to help you get started learning the songs I reference in the book.

You could have found this stuff with a little hunting. Like I said, the learning process requires effort on your part!

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Desi Serna (Google me!)
Scales, Chords, Progressions, and More

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Difference Between Pentatonic & Major Scales For Guitar

If the pentatonic scale pattern is built inside the
major scale pattern, what's the point of learning the
pentatonic? If you learn the major scale, you
automatically learn also the pentatonic, right?

This is a great question about learning guitar scales. I could add to it, "If all scales are derived from the chromatic scale, what's the point of learning anything else? If you learn every chromatic note on the guitar fretboard, you're touching on any and all types of scales."

Of course, is doesn't work this way. Guitar scales make unique patterns on the fretboard. If you want to create pentatonic sounds, you must know which major scale notes to skip over, hence pentatonic scale patterns.

Since the pentatonic scale notes alone are so widely used for melodies, riffs, solos and bass lines, it's critical for guitar players to map out and learn just these notes on the neck. It's also critical for players to learn how to execute techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and bends with the special two-notes-per-string pentatonic patterns.

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Desi Serna (Google me!)
Scales, Chords, Progressions, and More

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guitar Picking Techniques Pentatonic Scale Sequence

I like the alternate picking exercise you cover in your Pentatonic Scale DVD that you do in groups of 3 notes.

My question is how would you approach the same exercise but in groups of 4 notes (i.e. sixteenth notes)? Would you maintain alternate picking starting on a downstroke ascending, then starting on an upstroke descending as you did on the DVD?

Playing around using a four-note pattern instead of three, I found it more difficult to make it flow smoothly with alternate picking.

My books and DVDs focus more on the topic of guitar theory, but I'll try to address this guitar picking techniques question anyway.

Picking the pentatonic scale in sequences of four notes is definitely more difficult than the three note sequence I usually start guitar players with. Not only is it more work for your picking hand, but the fingers you fret with have to scramble to grab all the notes. It's a bit like playing twister on the fretboard. You'll have to change the way you finger the pattern.

You still should continuously alternate your pick, without skipping or repeating any strokes. I recommend you start with the downstroke at first regardless of whether you're playing up or down the pattern. Once you master the picking sequence, you can starting each way on an upstroke. Again,continuously alternate your pick, without skipping or repeating any strokes.

The purpose of practicing picking by starting with both down and up strokes is to prepare you for whatever situation may come up while playing melodies, riffs, and solos. However you start off, you should be able to continue with alternating your pick.

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!
Desi Serna (Google me!)
Scales, Chords, Progressions, and More