Guitar Lesson 3 – The Importance Of Guitar Intervals

Hello, World! The third lesson of basics course covers the importance of guitar intervals. Intervals are as important as any scale, chord structure or fretboard notes. It’s the one of the starting points in the music and any guitar theory that open new sight.

There’re many articles on the internet about this topic, but they all look complicated to me and don’t really explain the essence. Personally, I like to keep things as simple as possible, because, personally, I understand better and faster in that way.

So, why this is so important anyway? They are simple distances between notes. Knowing the structure of distances (drops) will help you understand better:

  • Any chords;
  • Guitar scales;
  • Arpeggios;
  • Build new ideas in playing.

So, how can this topic can help me if I already know it or don’t know any? What they can do?

Well, knowing mileages between notes on whole freatboard opens new ideas in improvisation. Playing favorite music style, there always comes such thing that your head are out of ideas.

“Damned, I’m out of ideas! What could I play something else? I need something new!”

This is the question that hugged in my head for a while. As an answer came intervals on guitar! There’s no need to create new bicycle. There’s good melody by playing fifth’s, sixths, fourths and thirds. Sounds crazy? We’ll see…

Ok, let’s start!

We’ll take G major scale as a basis

Here’s the G major scale:


Nut (in the image) is the start of the fretboard. Take a look at the scale. Scale is made from:

G; A; B; C; D; E; F#; G notes

Clear so far? Ok, let’s go on. Intervals have their own names. There are 13 names.

First is the G. It’s a root note. (Number 1). It’s the first interval.

Second one is G# the minor second. To easily understand that, try to hold your first finger on the root G and second finger on G#. It’s semitone drop (between G and A).

Third one is G and A the second major (Number 2 of the image of the G scale).

Third one is good adding in major and minor chord. It builds non-chord (add 9) and it sounds very warm. Try to play standard G chord and add major second interval to it (5th fret A note on the high E string):

Listen how bright and warm they sound. Personally, I use only second major one in chords, I rarely use second minor.

Fourth is the G and A# which is called small third. Small third is minor which is used to build minor chords. Here how it looks like:

Fifth one is G and B notes which are third “Big Third” (The number 3 of the scale). Thirds build simple major chords. Here how looks Big Third:

The difference between these two is only one note (the distance) which builds minor or major chord. It’s very important to note that.

Ok, the next (sixth) is G and C notes. It’s perfect fourth (Number 4 of the scale). It’s perfect for playing power chords and rhythm. Here’s the fourth:

Seventh is the G and C# notes which cause Triton or Voodoo. From music theory it’s minor fifth or augmented fourth. It creates a strain in rhythm. But I call it different. Jimi Hendrix used a lot of “voodoo’s”. It sounds mysterious and reminds of some magic. Here’s the triton or voodoo:

Eight is the G and D notes, the good old fifth. (The number 5 of the G major scale). Fifth is the basis of any power chords and rhythm. Metal, rock, heavy rock rhythm is built on fifth’s. Here’s the fifth’s:

Next, ninth note is G and D#. It’s augmented fifth or minor sixth. It’s just another extended fifth which makes music even more strain. Try to play any fifth interval, for example G and D notes. Then play voodoo, and then extended fifth. Try to listen to the difference.

(Tip: in this image I’m playing D# on the fourth string. The same note is on the A string 6th fret)

Tenth is G and E notes which is major sixth. (Number 6 of the G major scale). There’s not much to say about sixths, so just let’s go on. One thing to say about sixths is that they sound very interesting on Mixolydian scale. Mixolydian sounds quite interesting on sixths.

Eleventh is G and F notes which is minor seventh. Minor seventh builds Dominant chord (for example, G7). It makes chord sound very strain. After dominant chord always root chord is required. For example if our key is G major, then dominant is D7. After D7 it must be G again. That’s the guitar theory. Music is the strain and solution, solution and strain again. We’ll cover about chord structure later in this guide.

Ok, 12th notes are G and F# which is major seventh “Big seventh” (Number 7 of the scale). Major seventh interval builds maj and maj7 chords, which is also known as Big Major Chord. Here’s the major seventh:

And the last 13th note is octave. It’s root G and it’s the last note of the scale. It’s called octave. Steve Vai plays “Tender Surrender” and Eric Johnson plays “Manhattan” on octaves. It sounds very interesting and creative. Here’s the octave;

That’s it! These were major scale intervals that are used in any tonality. Hope that your head is still there.

For now just relax and try to put it all together. If you want to learn to play the guitar, you need to learn these guitar basics.

Today we have covered guitar interval chart on three strings. If you want to find these drops from the 5th (the A) string, for example, on C major scale then they will be the same structure. What is important try to visually remember how they look like on all strings, because that will open new playing ideas in your mind and your playing skills will automatically grow up. This topic really open sight to arpeggios, and arpeggios open new ways to play on whole fretboard. That’s the real knowledge that you will learn only in music school.

For conclusion of today’s lesson, let’s assume the main topic:

  • Interval scales are distances between notes;
  • They build chords;
  • They open new ways in guitar improvisation;
  • They build scales;
  • They allow easily to find out chords!

That’s it for today. Next time we’ll cover the structure of guitar chords. For now take a rest for few minutes.


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