Chord inversions, theory, practice and perfect fifths that connect it all.

So last night while taking a shower (where all my best thoughts seem to be born), I thought about what I want to learn on the guitar. A few months ago I decided to write down two goals:

1. Learn C, E and G by ear.
2. Learn A, D and E arpeggios.

Seems simple right? I can’t believe I haven’t practiced those at all. Weak. Anyways, I thought, ‘Maybe writing them down isn’t the best way to commit to my goals, maybe I need to tell others (or at least myself on the Internet because no one is reading this except me, but thats okay, I still need the pseudo accountability) so I have someone or at least this post staring me in the face, asking if I have practiced those things yet. Which brings me back to what I was thinking last night about what I want to learn now.

3. (yes, I WILL be practicing 1 and 2 even though this is my NEWLY desired goal) Learn the fretboard notes.

Now I need to explain what I was thinking here. I could try to just memorize all the notes haphazardly, which I have kind of done already to some extent. (It doesn’t work, at least not very well from my experience, although maybe I just needed to wrap the whole neck of my guitar in a vinyl note map like this, http://www.dontfret.com/instructions.html) I was thinking, learning the low E string and the high e string were, no….. they ARE pretty easy (I know *most* of the notes on the E strings up and down the fretboard from learning some chord inversions) so I should learn the other notes around these notes first. So here is what I propose to learn for number 3:

a) Learn all the E string notes all the way up and down the fretboard, this will be a 2 for 1 since 1/3 (2 of 6 strings) of the fretboard is covered by E strings and they have the same notes at the same frets.

b) Learn the chord inversions where the root note is on the E string, for example, the E major chord inversion with E (the root note) on the E string looks like this in tab:

e –12– this note is E (the root of the E major chord)
b–12– this note is B (the perfect 5th of the E major chord)
g–13– this note is G# (the 3rd of the E major chord)
d–x–
a–x–
E–x–

(I like to remember the above chord inversion as the highest 3 strings from the F chord shape, just moved up from the 1st fret to the 12th fret to get the E chord)

c) Learn the perfect 5ths of each chord inversion with the root note on the E string (so the B note, 12th fret on the B string). So that will give me all the B string notes. Now 1/2 (or 3/6 strings total) of the fretboard will be learned. Also, consequently, if you learn those notes on the B string, you can now play the D shaped chord inversions up the neck. (start with D at fret 3 of the B string, normal D position and start moving that shape up the fretboard, beginning with two frets up to the E chord at fret 5 on the B string, still D shape finger positioning)

d) Now that the D position chord inversions are learned, and the root notes for them on the B string are learned, which is also the perfect 5th note for the E string root chord inversion, we can begin learning the perfect 5ths for the D position chord:

here is the E chord with the root (E note) on the B string at the 5th fret (remember, its just the D chord moved up two frets):

e–4– this note is G# (the 3rd of the E major chord)
b–5– this note is E ( the root note of the E major chord)
g–4– this note is B (the perfect 5th of the E major chord)
d–x–
a–x–
E–x–

e) Now, if we learn all the perfect 5ths for the D shaped chord inversions up and down the neck, we will have learned 2/3 (4 of six strings) of the fretboard! NICE!

f) Ok, so now all we have to figure out is how to memorize those a and d string notes. How are we going to do that? Hmm….well, maybe there is another chord inversion and perfect fifth to learn!
Let’s see….
We have the A chord shape when we finger the d, g and b strings at the 2nd fret. Lets move that shape up to the 9th fret to get another E chord that looks like this:

e–x–
b–9– this note is G# (the 3rd of the E major chord)
g–9– this note is E ( the root note of the E major chord)
d–9– this note is B (the perfect 5th of the E major chord)
a–x–
E–x–

g) Ok, hopefully you are with me by now, if not, leave a comment and I will try to address it and/or possibly update this post to be a little more comprehensive/thorough. So finally, here is how we will get the final string, a, notes all up and down the fretboard. We will use the open E chord shape which is on the g string @ the 1st fret, the d string @ the 2nd fret, and the a string @ the 2nd fret. And this is the E chord so we don’t need to move it to get the E, but like all the chord inversions mentioned, we move the shape up and down the fretboard to find the chord we want (and if we practice these with the root notes and perfect fifths of those chords in mind we will learn where all the notes on the fretboard are). So here is the tab for the open E chord:

e–x–
b–x–
g–1– this note is G# (the 3rd of the E major chord)
d–2– this note is E ( the root note of the E major chord)
a–2– this note is B (the perfect 5th of the E major chord)
E–x–

Glory to God!
-Forgivenick 🙂

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About Nick

A servant and worshiper of Christ, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a gecko breeder, a guitarist, a mountain biker, a GIS specialist.
This entry was posted in chords, Guitar, practice, scales, Techniques, Theory. Bookmark the permalink.

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