Guitar Interval Map | Hub Guitar

Guitar Interval Map

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Hi. This is Hub Guitar.

Let's talk about learning the intervals on the guitar fretboard.

A lot of guitar players never take this step, and it's a shame because this is really key to understanding how the guitar works.

You probably already know what an interval is. It's the measurable distance between any two notes. For instance, this is one interval, and that is another interval. You also probably know of a few intervals already. You have your octave, which is a note of the same name that is higher up. You've also heard of half-steps, consisting of one fret, which is really the interval called a minor second. And whole-steps, consisting of two frets, would be the interval called a major second.

But actually, every distance between any two points has a specific name and a consistent relationship on the guitar that you can learn. If you can learn how to play and recognize all of them, it will really help unlock the fretboard.

You can do this between any two points at all, so you can just take this note, and this note, and ask yourself what the interval is. you can also give each interval a different name sometimes depending on whether you're thinking in terms of the bottom one going up, like is it a G going to C, or it's a C going down to G. For instance, the half-step here can be thought of as a minor-second if you're going up a half-step, but if you're going down a half-step it can be thought of as a major-seventh going down. because this would be the major seventh above, this would be the major seventh below. For now, we are just gonna think of them as a low note, and what the higher note is in relationship to the low note.

For now, we're gonna start just the fifth string and sixth strings.

So we'll play C on the fifth string and figure out what all the intervals in this neighbourhood are. So here is a C on the fifth string. I want to know that in relation to this note, what're all these notes in this neighbourhood. The best thing to do is to play a major scales and start there. For instance from C to E is a major third. From C to F is a perfect fourth. From C to G is a perfect fifth and so on. So we want to look at all of these other notes around this neighbourhood and then figure out what interval they would be. The C was root.

We can also do it at the VIIIth fret, and we'll have similar results.

This is very very useful for understanding chords, scales and arpeggios. In fact, when you get good enough at this, you can play a lot of patterns in real time just by using your head. Even if you haven't memorized the pattern, you can sort of calculate it if you can think quickly enough. And that's a powerful tool to have.


What are Intervals?

If you’re not sure what an interval is, you will probably want to review how intervals work before continuing with this lesson.

Understanding the Intervals on Guitar

If you want to understand the note relationships on the guitar fretboard, one of the best things you can do is to learn all of the guitar intervals across the neck. One simple way to do this is to create your own “chart” or “map” to write down all of the intervals you encounter.

There are two different systems for understanding the guitar fretboard: first, that of memorizing the notes and knowing which you intend to play. Second, that of learning about the relationships between notes and knowing which relationships you intend to create.

Most guitar players learn by relationships. It’s important to know the notes, but knowing the relationships between them is a logical step to take because of the instrument’s layout.

One great way to begin visualizing these relationships is to select a note on the fifth string and study all of the possible intervals in relationship to that note as the root.

Consider the following example: the note below, (“C”), is the root of some chord or of some interval. We want to create a “map” to all of the other notes.

Guitar intervals from a fifth string root.

In the image below: what interval do we find between the root note and the question mark?

Guitar intervals, blank page.

(AnswerThe question mark note would be a perfect fifth.)

What are the two notes? The root is C. The question mark is G. Since G is the fifth note of the C major scale, we can say G is a fifth above C. When the root is on the A string, a perfect fifth can be found two frets higher on the D string. This is always true.

If you wanted to know what this note was, you could also try finding the same note on the fifth string (the string of the root) and then figuring out what note it is by counting up the scale as before.

Fill in the rest of the notes in the first example by yourself.

Root On The Sixth String

Guitar intervals from a sixth string root.

We can also repeat the exercise by moving the root, C, to the sixth string.

Most of these intervals will be the same. Write them out yourself with a pencil, and then cross-check your answers with the answer key.

Exercises

  1. First, fill in the intervals that occur in the major scale: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.
  2. Fill in the gaps by using the higher tone as a reference. For instance, the tone a half step below the fifth will be a ♭5 or flatted fifth.
  3. Using both of the examples above: choose notes at random and attempt to quickly name their interval from the root. Repeat until you’ve named all of the notes. The goal is to get recall time to be fast, and eventually immediate.

Answer Key

Note: All flatted intervals can be enharmonicIn 12-tone equal temperament, a note is enharmonic if its spelling has changed. Since G♯ and A♭ are the same note in this system, G♯ can be referred to as the enharmonic spelling of A♭.ally spelled; for instance, ♭5 can be spelled as #4.

Guitar intervals from the fifth string.
Guitar intervals from the sixth string.

Key Tasks

  1. Study the intervals on the guitar from both positions.
  2. Choose from random a starting note on fret V; pick a random interval and locate it.
  3. Repeat the random exercise until you can quickly locate all intervals.

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