Guitar Lesson 10 – Guitar Chromatic Explained

Hello, people and welcome to the interesting lesson in our guitar basics course. Today we’ll discuss about next essential topic that really helps in working on the guitar playing technique and fingering. Today is the guitar chromatic day. It’s as important as intervals, scales or chords. We’ll discuss about chromatics, figure out what is it and how to “eat” it.

Chromatic scales can be really incomprehensible term to many guitar players, especially for beginners. Once I also didn’t understand the meaning of it, any lessons or the term itself. I didn’t overlooked and I didn’t use it in my playing. But when I knew more about it, then it opened new ideas in my playing and improved technique. I understood that this is one of the “gold mines” in guitar practice. I’ll share some basic tips with you about and tell you more about it.

So, today’s lesson will be dedicated to:

  • What are chromatics?
  • How to practice it?
  • What it can do?
  • Where to use it?

There’re many resources in the internet that can help you to know more about this topic. I’ll tell you how I understand it and how I use it and what are benefits from it.

The meaning of guitar chromatic term

Chromatics are adjacent notes on the fretboard.

For example, take G string and play all 12 frets from 1st till 12th fret. These are adjacent notes. Listen how they all sound like.

There’s no complicated science about this topic, these are simply adjacent notes or half tones. One fret – one note. And that’s it!

Now, what are the benefits?

First, playing half tones really builds playing technique. To play clean, fast, with no mistakes you need to work on your technique. Your hands and fingers need to move in correct order with no difficulties. They must play notes correctly when you play them up or down to the neck. It’s very important. To learn to play the guitar right way you need to dedicate a lot of work and time on the technique.

Maybe you’re one of the World’s music stars like Eddie Van Halen or Ingwie Malmsteen who uses different technique in their playing, but that playing style also must be worked on.

The most adopted way to work on your playing right way is the classical guitar playing technique. It starts from correct siting, holding an instrument and putting both hands on the guitar. Maybe classical playing style looks like an old style and not so cool, but it’s very comfortable and doesn’t strain all body. You need to play as relax as possible. Do you prefer feeling relax and comfortable in playing or cool with “iron feeling”?

Relax, don’t overdue your playing! Relax and enjoy what you’re doing!

The Chromatic scales really helps in working playing technique which is very important part of the guitar basics. When you play half tones on one string, think about how you hold you hands. Try to feel as light as possible. Your fingers movement must be economic and dynamic. Pay attention to every move and work on it. Do exercises with Metronome. Trust me; practicing the guitar with no Metronome – you’re wasting your time.

How to use chromatics in playing?

Chromatics playing is very popular in Jazz. All Jazz sits on half notes. They sound like out of tune (sometimes), but that’s the beauty of Jazz music. If you’re not emphasizing false notes, then they sound warm and add sound. It reminds of moving snake that moves fast, then slow, then again accelerates.

Next, it’s very good to use them over one chord.

For example, try to G chord, minor or major, it doesn’t really matter. Over this chord play all 12 frets of the G string. Listen to every note. Some of them sound better, some worse. Some of them really “fits” in the chord, some not quite. But all of them are in tone. That’s the real power of half tones.

(if your playing only on one chord, then it’s best to play chromatics, because your playing will sound much more interesting).

And the lastly where to use chromatic scale is also in every playing. Playing scale notes it’s quite good to add some adjacent notes. But don’t overdue with them. If you do that then your playing will be out of the melody which audience doesn’t like. Use them in fast licks playing. It sounds amazing.

Watch this video carefully. It’s very good video I found on the Youtube about chromatic lesson. It’s very long about 92 minutes. But it’s worth seeing it. It will help you to better understand this topic and use it your practice. If may be too long but it’s much more valuable then watching TV and doing guitar practice at the same time.

It’s funny teacher, I liked video a lot.


Ok, we have quickly gone thru the interesting and very essential topic that needs a lot of work. Remember that to really learn the guitar you need to invest a lot of time and work in your playing technique. It won’t happen in a month. It takes quite longer time.

Here’s the main feature about guitar chromatic:

  • These are adjacent notes;
  • They help work on technique;
  • They add sound to melody;
  • They make sound more interesting;
  • They build up speed;
  • They open new ideas on the guitar fretboard.

Take your time working on it. Do it slowly and think of what you’re doing. You will be rewarded!

Next time we’ll cover the blues scale that need to be known.

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