Guitar Theory The Easy Way

Learning music theory sometimes can seem over whelming so we are going to learn guitar theory instead. This way of learning will make it less complicated for anyone, so you can say that this is music theory with a new nontraditional twist.

Since you want to learn how to play the guitar we are going to learn exactly that by skipping all of the traditional staff and bass clef techniques that can seem so confusing to many beginner guitar players. Most people that learn to play the guitar do not want to learn how to read music, they just want to play.

We are going to break this down into two parts; first, we are going to learn how to read guitar note tablature and then we will learn guitar chord tablature. Look at the traditional music theory image here and you will see what I mean about it being complicated for most people.

guitar theory

Note Tablature

Take a look at this note tab image and we will break this down as to what all of the lines mean as well as the numbers that are on these lines.

guitar tabs

This is simple guitar theory to learn. The E, A, D, G, B, E that you see are the notes on the guitar that if strummed without fretting are called open notes. The lines are the strings on a guitar, and if these were bass guitar tabs then you would see four lines instead of six.

The numbers that you see represent the fret and the position of these numbers represents what string to pluck. Anytime you see a zero that means that it is an open note, therefore, you would not press the guitar string – you would just pluck or strum that string that the zero is on.

guitar theory

In this example here that means that by plucking the open note you would be hearing the sound of an open low E note. The number 2 that you see means that you will press the 5th string or the A string on the second fret which will make a B note. You would follow the pattern for the rest of the numbers. Here is an image of the fret board with all of the notes you will get if each string was pressed on that specific fret.


This guitar theory concept will skip all of the music reading teaching that seems so complicated to many and gets straight to the point of learning how to read tablature, unless of course you want to learn how to read music, but you won’t find that here. Our goal is to teach you in the simple form.

Chord Tablature

You have learned how to read guitar tabs in general so now you will learn how to read guitar chord tabs. This will help you to understand chord charts and teach you how to make chords. The concept that you have just learned will be applied the same here except you will be using three to four fingers to make a chord.

guitar chords

Guitar tabs are just a little different when reading them than note tabs, but the concept is very simple. In the image here the lines still represent the strings but the only difference here with the numbers is that they represent the finger that you use to press the specific guitar string. This is another step in our guitar theory.

The number 3 means that you will use your third finger on the third fret pressing the 5th string where the number 3 is, and the number 2 means that you will use your second finger to press the 4th string on the second fret. The number 1 means that you will use your index finger to press the 2nd string on the 1st fret. Placing your fingers in these positions at the same time will make a C chord.

Here is a picture of the hand that you will use to make the chords with along with the numbers of the fingers used. This will help you to understand our guitar theory better with making chords.

music theory

The T in this picture stands for your thumb and is only used to hold the back of the guitar neck. Notice the numbers for each finger and apply these techniques to make any chord from a chord chart. This is our guitar theory in simple form and will make it easier for you to learn beginner guitar and read tablature for songs in the future.

Train your ear for guitar

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