On Practice: How the Guitar Works
By Daniel Roest

The guitar is easy to play and learn on if you know just a few key points. You should learn and memorize these facts as soon as you can to make everything else easier to learn. Looking at and comparing the piano to the guitar is a big help in quickly learning the guitar.

1The musical alphabet has just seven letters: A  B  C  D  E  F  G,  and then it repeats.
The White Keys of the piano are the Natural Tones and are named A  B  C  D  E  F  G;
then they repeat. All up and down the piano the white keys are named ABCDEFGABCDEFGABCDEFGABCDEFGABCDEFG, etc. So, going up a piano
keyboard or up the neck of a guitar, you will be playing notes with these letter names.

2The Black Keys are the Sharps and Flats, and have names like A Sharp, B Flat, C Sharp,
D Flat, D Sharp, and so on. Altogether there are twelve keys on the piano or twelve frets
on the guitar before a letter repeats itself. This is called an Octave.

3The six strings of the guitar are named E  A  D  G  B  E. You must memorize these names, and you might like to use a sentence like, "Every Animal Does Get Breakfast Early."

4Notice that you can see a pattern on the piano: two black keys, three black keys, two black keys, three black keys, etc. There are two pairs of white keys with no black key between them. On the left of the two black keys, the white keys are B and C. On the right of the two black keys, the white keys are E and F. Memorize this and you will be able to identify any place on the guitar!

5Distances between notes on any instrument have names. The shortest distance is a half step.
The two white keys with no black key between them are a half step apart. When white keys
do have a black key between them, they are a whole step apart. Just like the white keys on the piano, most of the tones in the musical alphabet are a whole step apart; they have a black
key (a sharp or flat) between them. The two pairs of natural tones that are just a half step apart, like the white keys of the piano, are B and C, and E and F.

6On the guitar, from one fret space to the next is a half step. Two fret spaces are a whole step.

7Now we can apply what we've learned about the piano and the musical alphabet to the guitar.
Play and name tones on the high E string: Open E; 1st fret F; 3rd fret G; 5th fret A; 7th fret B; 8th fret C; 10th fret D; and 12th fret E. You can continue up the neck this way until you run out of frets. It's exactly the same on the low E (6th) string. You can apply this to the A string, the D string, the G string, and the B string, too!

8Practice finding natural tones first, then fill in the sharps and flats. Now you can name any
spot on the guitar!
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