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Boiling Down the Guitar

Hi fam,

Do you ever feel like the guitar is a pretty complicated beast? Well, I sure have felt that way at times over the years. That’s why I want to share this story of one guitar player who has learned and is still learning to boil the guitar down to smaller and smaller pieces. Anyone can use these ideas to make great music.

You will figure it out as soon as you watch the video, so I may as well tell you that the story is about me. Initially, I started guitar by learning my open chords, bar chords and pentatonic scale or two. I quickly heard that I needed to learn scales to play guitar "Correctly".

What that in mind, I went on a quest and bought every book, VHS tape, and piece of software I could find to learn about scales. I quickly found that I loved playing and practicing scales, but it was difficult to make music that didn't sound like scales.

Later down the road, I started focusing more on pentatonic scales. That made it a little easier to play over chord changes and have things sound musical, but it wasn't the final answer I was looking for.

From there, I heard I should learn arpeggios, so I learned all I could stomach. That improved things too, but I was still not getting the results I wanted.

The more I dug into the guitar, the more I started hearing about triads and how they could transform your playing. I went down the next rabbit hole and learned all I could about triads, but I ended up pretty confused and frustrated.

Now let me tell you, the entire time I was studying this stuff, I was consciously (or unconsciously) avoiding memorizing all of the notes on the fretboard. I thought it was just too difficult of a task. I was also asking every great guitar player I could about how they thought about soloing over guitar chord changes, but I never got an answer that satisfied me.

One day, I finally gave in and admitted that I needed to learn the notes on the fretboard cold. Good thing I didn't waste decades of practice on other things like scales and arpeggios. LOL

Once I learned the notes on the guitar, I realized that they were where I should have started. What are major scales, minor scales, pentatonic scales, arpeggios, and triads all made of? Notes! I learned things exactly backwards from what I should have. At least it seems that way to me looking back on my life now. It took me years and years to realize that I needed to boil these big elements of music down to the individual notes.

I'm telling you this story to encourage you to spend some time learning all the notes on the guitar. Boiling down the guitar will make learning modal scales, pentatonic scales, chords, arpeggios, and triads much easier.

Here is a lesson on some tactics to learn the notes on the guitar. It doesn't take long, but it does require commitment and regular practice. Trust me, you will be glad you did.

Thanks for watching,


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