Chord Construction

Chord Construction 101

chord construction

Chord construction is easy once you understand that chords are not unrelated combinations of notes, they are created from scales, i. e., chords are the children of the scale.

The basic process of harmonizing a scale is to stack notes in thirds on top of each other (much like a layer cake). Any scale can be harmonized, and will produce harmony unique to itself.

Here’s how it works, if we take a C major scale (shown below)

C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C


Imagine that each note is a stepping stone, if we were to play a game of leap-frog and hop over every second note, we would be stepping on notes a third apart.

          C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C

chord construction



For the purpose of this lesson we will only hop twice.
Starting on the second note of the C major scale the  “D” note, we would produce the following :

chord construction d minor triad



This leap frog process can begin on any note of the scale and the chord structures this process creates in the key of “C Major” are shown below:

chord construction - triads c major

chord construction - triads part 2
















Notice how chord eight is the same as chord one.

It helps to think of the scales as horizontal structures and chords as vertical structures (derived from the parent scale).

Important : The above process always produces the same chord structures in every key.

Chord one in every key is a major chord

Chord two in every key is a minor  chord

Chord three in every key is a minor  chord

Chord four in every key is a major chord

Chord five in every key is a major  chord

Chord six in every key is a minor  chord

Chord seven in every key is a diminished chord

Chord eight in every key is a major chord



Special note: Chord seven (the diminished chord) can also be thought of as a minor chord with a flattened 5th.

Therefore “B diminished” could also be written as “Bmb5”

In the key of G major this “leap frog” process would produce the following chords:

Key of G Major

G Major scale : G  A  B  C  D  E  F#  G

Chord 1 = G (major)

Chord 2 = Am (minor )

Chord 3 = Bm (minor )

Chord 4 = C (major)

Chord 5 = D (major)

Chord 6 = Em (minor )

Chord 7 = F# dim (diminished)

Chord 8 = G (major)


This layering process would produce the following chords in the key of F major:

Key of F Major

F Major scale : F  G  A  Bb  C  D  E  F

Chord 1 = F (major)

Chord 2 = Gm (minor )

Chord 3 = Am (minor )

Chord 4 = Bb (major)

Chord 5 = C (major)

Chord 6 = Dm (minor )

Chord 7 = E dim (diminished)

Chord 8 = F (major)

Click HERE to watch a video to see the chord construction process in action.


Each scale produces it’s own set of chords these groups of chords can be thought of as chord families  as all of the chords are related to the original parent scale.


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Chord Families

chord families

Chord families: A question that pops up quite frequently at workshops and private lessons is: How many chords are there on a guitar and how many should I know to be a good guitarist?

An approach that has served me well is to understand that music is a language and the more conversant I am with that language the better equipped I am to express myself.


Further developing the music – language analogy whereby I think of:


  •  scales – as my musical alphabet​​​​​​​
  • chords – as musical words
  • chord progressions – as musical sentences

Thinking about music in this way helps me learn in a more effective, efficient manner.


I am no longer thinking about chords as isolated blocks of harmony.


That would be like trying to learn a language by opening a dictionary and learning all the words that began with the letter “A”.


I would know a lot of words however, I would not be able to assemble these words in a way that would communicate anything meaningful.


How many chords are there?


Answer: an awful lot!!!


To give you an idea about what you’re up against I’m going to quote master guitarist George Van Eps from his Harmonic Mechanisms Book; where he identifies the number of possible harmonic combinations on guitar.


“there are 344 billion, 881 million, 152 thousand combinations – Spending one second on each of the possible combinations 24 hours a day – 7 days a week – 52 weeks a year – to reach the end of the order would take: 11, 036 years.”


Clearly learning chords in a random or piecemeal manner is a lost cause.


After 11, 036 years you would be:


  • very tired


  • very, very hungry (remember, if you stop to eat, it will take longer than 11, 036 years) and


  • pretty cranky, because you would not necessarily be able to play a song.


Even though you would know a lot of chords you have not have acquired the skill to know which chord goes with which in order to form popular chord progressions. (laughing)


A better way!


I prefer to approach the subject by:


(a) learning how chords are derived from a parent scale (chord Families) and by


(b) learning chord progressions and how those chord progressions are used in music.


This way I have a connected learning process whereby each new discovery helps me grow deeper into music and increases my enjoyment in the learning process.


Chord families:


The concept being that chords are not unrelated groups of notes; they are created from scales.


Naturally, any scale can be harmonized, and will produce a harmony unique to itself.


Here, for instance I am using the C major diatonic scale and layering the scale (much like a layer cake) in 3rds.


C major scale (C Ionian mode) – C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C


Overlaying this scale with notes from the same scale only this time beginning on the 3rd note of the scale “E”. (E Phrygian mode)


This process will produce the two note (Diadic form) of the C major scale
Diadic form –


E – F – G – A – B – C – D – E  (E Phrygian mode)
C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C  (C Ionian mode)


Once again, overlaying our two note harmonization of the C major scale this time beginning on the 5 note of the scale the note “G”. (G Mixo-Lydian mode).


The result will be the triadic (3 note) version of the C major scale.


Triadic form –
G – A – B – C – D – E – F – G  (G Mixo -Lydian mode)
E – F – G – A – B – C – D – E  (E Phrygian mode)
C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C  (C Ionian mode)


The vertical structures formed by this method are the basic chords in C major.


Chord names highlighted

chord families

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Learn Guitar – This Simple Trick Makes It Easy

Learn Guitar – This Simple Trick Makes It Easy

Learn Guitar - This Simple Trick Makes It Easy

This simple trick makes it easy


Tired of the Struggle trying to Learn Guitar?

Have you have ever tried to learn the guitar and found the process confusing and frustrating, take heart you are not alone, the good news is there’s a simple trick to learning the guitar that makes playing and learning fun.

Bottom line?

The choice is yours … you can either continue struggling to play even the simplest tune or learn a new and easy way to play that works with your nervous system not against it.

If you have been trying to learn guitar for a while you have most likely tried several different approaches and ending up losing your mojo.

Sound familiar?

Well, before you sell that guitar …

Here’s the naked truth about learning the guitar …

You ...

  • Don’t have to spend all day practicing
  • Don’t need to be musically gifted (whatever that is?)
  • Don’t need a ton of special equipment

You also don’t need to concern yourself about having …

  • Fat fingers
  • Dumb fingers or even
  • Slow fingers

The best part?

This Simple Trick That Makes It Easy … is FREE


You read that correctly …

It’s free … you can’t get any better than free can you?

Before you head out to spend a fortune on books, DVD’s and equipment let’s take a moment to break the project down into small pieces.

Here’s the deal:

Most people start out all excited and motivated to learn then after a series of bad experiences trying to learn they eventually start thinking that guitar playing is not for them

Actully, the real truth is that the people who can play the guitar are no more naturally talented or gifted, they have simply worked out how to do it and the people that can’t play or struggle to get results haven’t worked out how to do it.

So, what is This Simple Trick Makes It Easy To Learn Guitar?

I hear you ask … I want it, I want it!

In a word … practice … o.k nothing new there!

But there’s a catch!

It’s not just a matter of practicing yourself silly … that’s what most people on the planet do.

It’s not practicing alone that makes a great player it’s HOW you practice!!!

The trick is to work in well organized time frames.

I can’t explain this enough …

  • If it’s new material work in 2-5 minute time frames
  • If you are practicing something you already know a 25 minute time frame is good.

With new material the idea is to work on a very small amount of information, play as perfectly as possible, without mistakes and not exceed our attention span.

Set a timer and when the bell goes off take a break away from the guitar, preferabily go into another room and stretch etc.,

When you are practicing something you already know you are developing your motor skills via repetition … again set a timer and take a break when the timer goes off.


It’s not practice that makes perfect  it’s … perfect practice that makes perfect.


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Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

Teach Yourself Guitar Chords – Easy G Chord Shape

Teach Yourself Guitar Chords The Easy Way!

Teach yourself guitar chords without having to deal with difficult chord shapes, impossible finger stretches and blisters on the brain!

Tip 1:  Teach yourself guitar by designing your own chord shapes.

Forget trying to teach yourself guitar chords from big thick, boring chord books.

If you have ever tried to teach yourself guitar chords this way you will know how frustrating it can be, busting your fingers trying to play chords like ‘B’ and ‘F’,

In fact many people just give up thinking they ‘just don’t have what it takes’ to play guitar.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Trying to this way simply does not work here’s the solution …

Solution:  The trick to learning guitar chords is to understand that each chord is made up of specific notes that are unique to that particular chord e.g., the G chord is made up of the notes G, B & D.

It’s these three notes when played simultaneously that create the G chord note any particular fingering on the guitar.

The key to playing easy chord shapes is to design your own chord shapes, music is a language and once you know how to speak that language you will be able to find many ways to play any chord without having to struggle with difficult shapes.

Tip 2:  Teach yourself guitar chords by mastering accurate chord changes.

Once you have decided the best chord shapes for your song the next project is to learn how to change chords smoothly.

Teach yourself to play guitar chords accurately by practicing with a metronome; start by setting the metronome to a slowly tempo; around mm = 60 is a good place to start (that’s 60 beats per minute).

Just begin playing the chord progression making sure you can change chords without breaking tempo and that all your chords are sounding clear.

If 60 beats per minute is to slow move the tempo up a few clicks to where it is more challenging; the important thing to keep in mind is that we are using the metronome to track our progress.

Don’t set a tempo on the metronome and try and keep up with it; this only promotes mistakes.

On the other hand if the tempo is too fast slow the metronome down until you arrive at a tempo were you can comfortably play the chord progression without making any mistakes.

Most songs we hear on commercial radio are between 100 and 120 beats per minute; our strategy is to learn to play the chords and chord progression without any mistakes and gradually bring the chord sequence up to the correct performance tempo.

Let’s say we can play the chord progression accurately at 60 our end week tempo objective would be 72 beats per minute; the next week we would aim for 84 beats per minute.

The concept is to gradually increase the tempo by 12 per week .

For example:

  • first week  = 60
  • second week = 72
  • third week  = 84
  • fourth week  = 96

A great way to teach yourself guitar chords and develop confidence in your playing is to continue increasing the practice tempo until you reach 160 that way you will be very relaxed play at a tempo of 100.

Important: Remember speed is a by-product of accuracy!

Tip 3:  Teach yourself guitar chords by learning chord progressions.

Many popular songs are based on a very small number of popular chord progressions; one of the best ways to teach yourself guitar chords and accelerate your progress on guitar is to learn to play and recognize the sound (by ear) of these basic chord progressions.

The most common chord progressions are (all example presented in the key of G):

1 – 5 – 6 – 4  (G – D – Em – C)

1 – 6 – 4 – 5  (G – Em – C – D )

1 – 3 – 4 – 5  (G – Bm – C – D)

And the basic 12-bar blues

G /// | G /// | G /// | G ///|
C /// | C /// | G /// | G ///|
D /// | C /// | G /// | G ///||

Use these tips and you will be able to teach yourself guitar chords without all the pain and struggle.

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Teach Yourself Guitar – Tips 101

Teach Yourself Guitar

The Guitarist’s Guide To Problem – Solving

Teach Yourself Guitar the easy way, learning to play guitar was never meant to be a struggle, we all have the music inside of us the trick is to find the easiest, most natural way to get the music out. The key to learning guitar is to understand that music is a language and once you learn that language and apply that knowledge to the guitar fingerboard everything becomes effortless.

Like everything else there’s a few tricks of the trade that can really help skyrocket your progress; below I’ve created a short troubleshooting guide that identifies the most common learning hazards, along with the problem I’ve included a diagnosis and solution to help you overcome these problems so you can find the best way to teach yourself guitar.

The Guitarist’s Guide To Problem – Solving

Learning hazard #1: Player keeps making mistakes

Diagnosis: Practicing too fast

Solution: Always remember that speed is a by-product of accuracy, the key to eliminating mistakes is to slow everything down until the player reaches a tempo were there are no mistakes. Our fingers are not the thinking part of our body so unless we make a conscious effort to eliminate any errors in our playing the mistakes will be constantly repeated. If the errors are not corrected the mistakes will become ingrained and extremely difficult to overcome. Working with a metronome is recommended.

Important: When learning guitar it’s important to make certain that you are working with your nervous system not against it; use a metronome to track your progress, don’t set a fast tempo and try to keep up with the metronome.

Learning hazard #2: Guitarist can’t remember songs/music theory.

Diagnosis: Practice session is too long

Solution: The key with practice sessions is to remember that there are two types of practice: (a). Data memory practice and; (b) motor skill practice. In this instance the guitarist is having difficulty remembering new or unfamiliar material; therefore it is a Data memory issue. When learning new material it is vitally important to keep the practice sessions short between 2 to 5 minutes.

Important: To avoid overload it is recommended that you use a timer to make certain the short 2 to 5 minute time frames are adhered to.

Learning hazard #3: Player has trouble changing chords

Diagnosis: (a) Fingers are not moving in a single movement like a rubber stamp or (b) player is not clear on the chord shape.

Solution: (a) Slow the chord progression down to a tempo were the guitarist can make the chord changes without breaking tempo then gradually bring the tempo up, never playing faster than 100% accurate;

Solution: (b) quite often the player incorrectly blames their fingers when in reality the problem is that they do not know the chord shape clearly enough, if that is the case the best idea is to practice writing out the chord shape without the guitar until the chord shape is correctly ingrained.

Learning hazard #4: Player does not seem to be making progress

Diagnosis: Set goals

Solution: You need to be clear on what you want to achieve. Write down exactly what you want to achieve and set time frames to monitor and review your progress regularly.

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Guitar News – Death Of A Guitarist (Part 2)

Guitar Tips: For Guitar Players Only

Guitar - Art of Survival Tips

Everything we do we choose. So what is there to regret? You are the person you choose to be.

Well, well, well…

My previous post on “Death of a Guitarist” caused quite a stir.

Where were we? … that’s right – our little fellow Rusty was on the brink of a life changing moment.

Mr. Fingers was about to make a DECISION that would change his life forever.

This was a particularly BIG day for little Rusty because up to this point his life had been remarkably uneventful.

Actually …

… it was astoundingly, uneventful!

However, throwing all caution to the wind he made the decision to play the guitar.

… a decision he has never regretted!

Rusty was very CLEAR about his GOAL and threw the full FORCE of his WILL into the project.

You see, this little chap unwittingly stumbled onto the key to being successful …

Which is (drum roll, please …)

Two things

1. CLARITY of intent


Life is all about decisions (minute by minute).

Everything we do we choose.

So what is there to regret?

You are the person you choose to be.

No matter what life threw up at him our guitar playing friend Rusty always PRIORITIZED guitar playing and studying music in his life.

In the end he learned more about himself than about the guitar.

In short he learnt the three P’s

Practice, Patience and Perseverance.

His DETERMINATION kept him going when thousands of other guitarists who started playing guitar on that exact same day fell off their perch.

Think about that for a moment before it scuttles you …

The death of a guitarist is not getting shocked by an ungrounded microphone or having a cabinet fall on you.

Instead, the death of a guitarist is when he/she stops playing.

If you have lost your way and feel like you could be one of the next guitar playing causalities …

STOP, whatever you are doing and work out what you need to do to re-ignite that PASSION for GUITAR.

(I’m assuming guitar IS your passion otherwise you wouldn’t be on this blog.)

Remember, we all do tons of stuff of other people, it’s time to be a little selfish and do something for yourself.

Go on! You deserve it.

Mike ‘Coach’ Hayes

P.S: I would like to thank Mr. Jumbo Fret and Mrs High Strung for their invaluable assistance with the proofreading.

P. P. S: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

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The Death of a Guitarist (part 1)

Guitar News – Sudden Death Of Guitarist


Art of Survival Tips For Guitar Players

Life is all about decisions (minute by minute)

I must tell you about this …

It’s really quite sad.

But, before I get right into it I want to dedicate this work to ol’ Uncle Leap Frog…

… without whose valuable assistance I could have finished this story six months ago.

Still, that’s another story altogether.

Thanks, old chap!

Now, I’m here to tell you about something that happened needlessly; in reality, with the right treatment it could have been avoided entirely.

Incidentally, this is not an isolated incident it’s a REAL problem that affects hundreds if not thousands of people.

In fact, it would be fair enough to say that it’s now reached epidemic proportions worldwide.

By the way, before I go any further I did start out to tell you about the death of ONE player …

…however, I’m afraid it’s much worse and we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and hope that it will go away.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive in …

Not so long ago, a young whippersnapper called ‘Rusty Fingers’ came under the spell of the guitar.

Actually, he had been hit by the ‘guitar bug’ when he was only seven years of age
when this creative little fellow started building his own guitars.

(Editors note: the term ‘building’ is used loosely here)

Fade back three years earlier …

… and we discover that long before this fledgling Luthier began hacking away on unsuspecting pieces of wood he had fallen …

under the spell of MUSIC.

And so it began …

… as a young youngster Rusty spent countless hours laying on the floor in front of the big radio cabinet in his parents house.

As if possessed, music would effect him in such a way that he would relentlessly rock his head from side to side on a pillow in time with the music.

(this probably explains a lot of things — let’s just say Rusty is a little “different”.)

Fast forward to the day before Rusty’s thirteenth birthday to an event that would transform his life.

When Rusty made a DECISION to …

Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode.
Mike ‘no regrets’ Hayes
P.S The names have been changed to protect the guilty!

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6 Top Ways to Instantly Boost Your Guitar Playing

Guitar Playing Tips

Guitar Playing Tips To Accelerate Your Guitar Playing

Guitar Playing Tips

Ever wondered why no matter how much time you spend practicing the improvements come  slower than a drunk turtle?

We’ve all been there …

Quite often when it New Years’ resolution time, your birthday or some other milestone it makes us re-think our priorities.

We start asking those serious questions.

What am I doing with my life….Does it have meaning?

Have I made a difference in this world?

What legacy do I want to leave behind…


If you are a guitar player you might ask yourself …

How is my guitar playing progressing?

Now, if you answer that question with any of the following (or similar) …

* don’t know
* stagnant
* boring

It’s a familiar story and it usually goes like this …

You’ve sweated blood to try and master the guitar but the results are less than spectacular.

We’ve all done it …

Look: the majority of players are stuck in a rut with their wheels spinning and don’t know how to move forward, if you suffer from … lifeless, uninspired, mind-numbing practice sessions but you still haven’t given up on your guitar playing dreams.

… you might like to check out my 6 Top Ways to Boost Your Guitar Playing and avoid the holiday/birthday blues.

6 Top Ways To Boost Your Guitar Playing

1 – If you are a performing guitarist one of the BIG traps is to know which gigs to take and which ones to pass over.

Shouldn’t I take ALL the gigs that are passed under my nose? (I hear you say.)

Heck NO!

The absolute best way to loose your motivation is to play a series of brain numbing, energy draining gigs.

Tip #1make yourself a checklist containing three criteria BEFORE you accept the gig.


(a) Good fun

(b) Good money

(c) connections for the future.

The gig MUST score two out of three; if it doesn’t qualify move on.

2 – Pay attention to your practice environment.

If you have to spend half an hour looking for your guitar/lead/picks or whatever you will have lost the urge to practice altogether.

At best, even if you do press on and push yourself to practice you can guarantee a very uninspiring result.

Tip #2 – have everything set up/tuned up/switched on etc., PRIOR to your practice session.

3 – Get inspired.

Rekindle that passion for playing guitar by going back to the very reason you took it up in the first place.

Tip #3: Put on a track or two of your favorite guitar music (or any music YOU really like) this will set the mood for your practice session.

If you have a set of good quality headphones that would be a great way to listen to the music.

4 – Begin with the end in mind.

Tip #4: a neat way to ramp up your playing is to visualize yourself playing to a live audience.

The trick is to see yourself ONSTAGE looking out to the audience not looking at yourself from the audience view.

Really get into the moment …

How does it feel to hear the applause, to see the smiling faces in the audience, to feel the band really pumping etc., get right into the vibe.

5 – Be aware of Parkinson’s law.

Ever heard of Parkinson’s Law?

I hadn’t until I visited a musty old bookshop way up in the mountains when I was on a holiday break several years ago.

Anyway, I was ferreting away through the bookshelves when I stumbled upon a musty little book.

(BTW: best place to find a musty book is in a musty bookshop)

I digress …

… in this cool little book it explained Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it’s completion”

Very important!!!

If you set aside 5 hours to do something … it WILL take 5 hours to do it!

Tip #5: Set time frames in your practice session.

(a) learning new material – short time frames. (approx. 2-5 mins)

(b) practicing material you already know – longer time frames. (30 mins)

6 – Re-focus your goals.

Remember to give yourself a 3 monthly guitar checkup, review your results to see if you are making the type of progress you want.

Change ANYTHING that is not serving you well (this includes guitar teachers).

Tip #6 – keep in mind that learning guitar is an accumulative process therefore regular review is a must.

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Learn Guitar – The Worst Thing I Ever Did


Learn Guitar

Learn Guitar - To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

I have something to tell you that might
change your perspective on playing music
and the way you learn guitar…

I hope that this single piece of advice
helps you so that you can succeed.

But first, let’s start off with a short

Way back in the mists of time (I think
they were still building the Pyramids) –
I started getting involved with other
fledgling musicians with the goal of
forming a band.

This all seemed pretty innocent and we
did have a lot of fun (let’s call this
the honeymoon period).

However, as any experienced person
discovers the honeymoon period ends only
too soon and reality moves in (let’s
call this the realization stage).

This is were you start to realize that
the other members of your band (make
that bands) do NOT all share the same
degree of passion for music as you do.

After several bands and an unbelievable
series of Soap Opera Style Dramas I
began to realize that music was much
more IMPORTANT to me than it was to the
people I was hanging around with.

Unfortunately this took a LONG time for
me to realize!


You see, and I’m not sure if this
happens to everyone but it sure DID
happen to me …

That I suffered from some kind of
chameleon phenomenon whereby I confused
myself confused with the people around
me ….

I had lost me way, I forgot what I was
all about!

Here’s a quote that is only too true …

“One’s real life is so often the life
that one does not live.” Oscar Wilde

To this day I regret ever doing what I

Moral of the story?

Never confuse your level of passion with
ANYBODY else. Period.

Always remember: Your level of ability
is in direct proportion to your level of

Anyway’s, I hope this helps someone
learn guitar and stay focused.



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Chord Substitution Using Slash Chords…

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