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So I've been teaching myself guitar for the passed 5 years and have been reluctant to actually sit down and learn some theory. I can't afford lessons so basically Youtube has been my instructor. lol. Now I'm looking to pick up some literature on guitar theory and I'm going to begin learning scales. So I have a couple questions.


1. Does anyone have any books to recommend?


2. What do you guys consider the most important components of theory?


3. Where should I even begin????


I have pretty good technique. I broke most my bad habits when I started learning speed metal songs. haha


Getting an instructor is not an option for me. lol.


I'd love to hear from anyone who has an opinion on this or any suggestions, but I know that a lot of you have taught yourselves or are instructors yourself. I'd especially love to hear from you guys.



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I'd just head down to your local music store and see what books they have and recommend.

Start with the bare basics. It'll be boring as h*ll at first but will benefit you in the long run.

There are also a few websites that offer videos and theory lessons for around $10/month. Is $10/month too much?

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lol no 10 bucks isn't too much. It's just guitar lessons around where i live, which is central cali are just as expensive as everything else here in wine country. a bud of mine is paying a **** load for 2 lessons a month...


But I'd much rather teach myself so i don't have to sit through, "on every count of one strum D.... You're doing great!" lol.

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so you know the notes you can play in a key say c using the formula 2212221 starting from c? so you know the idea of playing that scale from a different starting point of the scale (and it becoming the end point) on the neck ie a "mode?"


(here's vinnie moore from his 1987 video.)


you know what the modes sound like and how they can be usefull? (by flavouring a song with a different tonality in the same key.) you know the chords that fit in the key of c? (c, dm, em, f, g, am, bmb5.) and you know basic techniques: vibrato, hammer ons and pull offs, bending strings, sliding in, double tapping, trem use etc... there are some things to learn and commit to memory but i think alot of it is completely in "practice, practice, practice!"


there are also other scales that fit with metal but some are too cliche unless you give things your own spin. (harmonic minor.) but hey throw it in if it sounds good. the blues scale also called pentatonic scale is a cutdown version of the major scale and even look at diminished or whole tone! for a horror feel if you find you can use it. i bought a fretlight guitar ages ago to light up those scales and play songs through guitarz software. (there are lots of other scales.)


i am using an online lesson program:



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try going to major book stores like Barns & Nobles, or Borders

go to the music section

and check out the pentatonic scale books, and arpeggio books and theory books.

try sitting down, runthrough a couple and see which seems like it will help a whole lot.

thats what i did, and i picked up quite a few gooood books.

they're just boring sometimes, but if you stick with it, you'll learn alot.


also, check out Pebber Brown on youtube.

hes one of my mentors

he's one of bucketheads old teachers,

hes crazy!

he went and stayed with like some tribe in the jungle in like africa, to study 'picking' for like 6 months or something crazy.

maybe 6 weeks..

i dunno, but yeah look up pebber brown

he offers a lot of free lessons and things like that online.

google him



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I didn't learn theory as a separate discipline, but I know and understand it well, by years of music reading and this is what I recommend!


I read through scores regularly on bus and train rides, and am constantly sight reading and writing music too. If you forget about tab and throw yourself into only reading only printed music notation, I promise you a whole new world will open itself to you.


This is how you can 'know' music.


It is not a quick fix formula but to quote quote Clarke W.Griswald in National Lampoon's Vacation "Nothing worthwhile is easy" =D>



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Call me a simpleton. All I ever needed was a guitar chord dictionary, Hal Leonard Incredible Scale Finder, and sometimes I'll check out You Tube and steal some licks. Paul Gilbert is an awesome instructor. I bought one of his DVDs. I also got a Batio DVD, but forget it! That guy is so fast and mathmatical it pisses me off. When he plays slow it's still too fast for me.:DD

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Here's a way to learn 'guitar theory' (I like that term better than 'music theory', unless you aspire to be a real studio musician...) that is actually do-able in small steps and fun along the way:


1. Whatever lessons you watch/read, focus on the minor and major pentatonic box patterns first (hey, they are the same!) and learn them up and down the neck.


2. Learn to bend your G,B,E strings in tune. I hate to hear people bend out of tune. Learn it right early.


3. Learn how to modify the pentatonic scales by adding or modifying notes. Like I mentioned in another post, in Stairway to Heaven (a great solo to learn for lots of great phrasing ideas, etc.) Jimmy Page adds the F natural to the standard Am pentatonic because it fits the chords and melody, not because he is playing some scale. All of the 'scales' that you might think you need to learn can really be replicated by varying the pentatonic scale as it fits the music. This way you have a solid framework to work around (because you did step 1 above and practiced it a lot) and you don't need to 'know' which fawking scale it is. Also this will train your ear to recognize certain 'flavors' of melodies/scales.


4. It's OK to learn all the scales and practice them because this builds technique (dexterity, alternating picking, etc.) , but for playing real music (improvised guitar solos) they are only useful if you compare them to the pentatonic as in #3 up there, so you know how to 'flavor' your pentatonic stuff, NOT so you know you are playing some scale.


That's just my 2 cents. Flame on, brothers.



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I found two books that were good, the others seem to be more of the same stuff.


- Fret board Logic I & II

- Music theory for dummies


I know that this last one sounds pretty stupid, but it explains how cords are constructed and about different musical scales. It's done with guitar and piano examples.


With those two, you should pretty well get a good technical footing.


Have fun !

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Thanks Crgrisson and drumrnmuzik for the help. Cr i checked out a lesson just yesturday and learned some scales (who's names i did not commit to memory) and just today i feel like i'm getting better by just using them as a ground work. It's loads of fun. i wish i hadn't been so afraid to delve into theory before. i would be so much better off if i had.


and Drumrnmuzik i will be sure to check out those books first. I did shy away from the "... For Dummies" line of books just because i don't like the marketing concept. lol. but i will be sure to give it a real chance. thanks for the input!

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Hi. I've played guitar professionally for 40 years, and for most of that,

I've been ONLY an improvisationist. I don't bother learning songs any more,

I create them spontaneously. I think my understanding of music theory for

guitar is pretty good and usable.


My website has a 17 page guide to guitar lessons/theory. It contains

basically all you need to know for quite a long time if you're going to be in

the rock and somewhat jazz area.


It is written VERY straightforwardly and very concisely, which means that

everything is there, but one paragraph could take 3 hours worth of

thought and 50 hours worth of guitar playing to really "get".


Maybe it's for you, maybe not. But I think it's well done for a thinking

player who really DOES want to learn.


www.axuality.com -click on 'Cool and useful information' link on the left side of the homepage.

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