ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Deacon Martin's Guide to Understanding Music (for Guitar) / Part 1

Updated on January 26, 2016
vrdm profile image

Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....

Basic basics

Music is a mysterious place. It is close to being mathematically perfect, but not quite.

Although the original western scales devised by the Greeks were simply multiples of certain lengths of vibrating string, many factors have conspired to make contemporary western scales a little more complicated. For example, to work out the frequency of any note on the piano you would have to apply the following formula:

Pn = Pa(12√2)(n-a)

This would tell you that the frequency of A is 440 Hertz, B is 493.88 Hertz, C is 523.25 Hertz, and so on. These are irregular increments and these irregular increments have implications for all the western scales - but, luckily for you, none for us here today. We're going to keep away from this stuff.

This guide sheet is a beginner's brief glimpse at both the complexity and the simplicity of musical notes, scales, keys, and chords as they relate to the 6 string guitar.

To make best use of this guide you will need to know:

  • what a fret is
  • how to tune a guitar
  • the letters associated with the 6 strings (EADGBE)
  • that a western musical “scale” consists of the letters ABCDEFG

All of the following diagrams represent the neck of a six string guitar, and are referred to as “necks”. They assume 22 frets and the standard (E A D G B E) tuning. If none of this means anything to you, I'm afraid you probably need something even more basic than this guide.

Notes and Scales

So, what is the meaning of ABCDEFG in the context of music? You may be more familiar with the usual “doh, ray, mee, fah, soh, lah, tee, doh” from “The Sound of Music” and your perhaps tedious music lessons at school. They are one and the same thing - the standard 12 note musical “scale” found on every piano.

12 notes? Yes, because hidden among them are the mysterious “half tones”.

Yes, between each of them - EXCEPT between B / C and E / F - there is a half tone. These are the black keys you see on every piano keyboard. To add to the confusion, if you are going up the scale (from low to high), these half tones are known as “sharps”, but if you are coming down the scale, they are known as “flats”. You may have heard of “B flat” or “C sharp”.

In this treatise, hence forward, we will use # (as in C#) to designate sharp and b (as in Bb) to designate flat.

So the scale (going up) actually looks like this: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G# - giving you 12 notes. Coming down, the scale looks like this: G, Gb , F, E, Eb , D, Db , C, B, Bb , A, Ab . Strange but true.

You will have noticed that pesky absence of half tones between B / C and E / F. There is no rationale for this. It is one of the mysteries of the universe. You just have to accept it and move on. (I discuss these things a little bit more at the end of all this but, believe me, you don't want to know any more about it just yet.)

So, to summarise so far, you have musical “notes” running in “scales” from A to G. These scales also include some half tones.


Deacon Martin's Guide to Understanding Music (for Guitar) - Part 2

Deacon Martin's Guide to Understanding Music (for Guitar) - Part 3

Deacon Martin's Guide to Understanding Music (for Guitar) - Part 4

Deacon Martin on Youtube


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)