by Alex Cortes Editor, Guitar Theory in Depth

There are more guitar styles in today’s musical world than sheep in New Zealand!

Yet, regardless of style or genre, the instrument is the same.

Ok, granted -each style has its specific techniques. Each kind of guitar allows slightly different possibilities. Add electronics, and the number of sounds you can produce grows wildly.


Basic Principles

However, they all share the same basic principles. If you understand your instrument, you will unlock all the secrets behind all styles. And learning the fretboard is the single most useful thing you can do to that end.

Even so, learning the fretboard is also the single hardest thing to do, when it comes to learning to play guitar. Or so they say!

Most methods suggest using rote learning to memorize the names of notes on the fretboard. They then suggest further rote learning to memorize a myriad patterns: chords, scales, modes, intervals, inversions… you name it!

The crux of the matter is that we need a system.

We need to understand the basic principles of music theory. And not only from a theoretical stand-point. We need to assimilate them with our ear and our whole body.

Getting the Whole Picture

Once these points are clear, we can start to analyze resulting patterns on the fretboard from a wider perspective. We were looking at trees in the forest before. Now we can get the whole picture; understand it, grasp it, make it ours.

After that, learning all the different styles is easy. Any of these styles will fall neatly within those possibilities. What could be easier?

Yet, be warned, if you try to master guitar styles without first having understood the principles, you’re in for real trouble!!!

About the author:

Alexander Cortes is a composer and guitarist with a wide range of interests, musical and otherwise. He currently lives in Mexico, where he travels the deserts, the jungles, and the beaches for inspiration.

He is editor of an online resource for guitarists seeking new solutions to age-old problems:

Visit Guitar Theory in Depth for more on learning the guitar fretboard