Hi, welcome to The Guitar Source.

‘The Guitar Sourcebook’ and this resulting website was written over several years in my spare time, and includes many of the tips and tricks I have picked up along the way.

Here you will find just about all you need to know about playing the guitar. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, with clear diagrams and tablature on most pages.

It is intended for students of the guitar who may know nothing about music, as an introduction to practical music theory and guitar method. It is also an excellent reference for more advanced students as a source for practical and compositional ideas.

To get the most out of the information presented here, it is recommended you download the entire 81 pages of this site as an e-book, print it off, and keep it as a reference manual. Click here to download.

This site (and the downloadable ebook) is broken up into 5 sections:

Use the navigation bar on the top to navigate the sections. Happy playing!


Hi, my name is Steve Marcus.
I have been playing guitar for around 29 years. I have been a guitar tutor for several of those years and have performed and written songs in a wide variety of bands. I got the guitar ‘bug’ when I was 17; I wanted to learn everything there was to learn, and I couldn’t put it down. Here’s hoping you will get the same bug.

The key I think is lots and lots of practice, and a desire to get it right no matter how many attempts it takes. I hope you have as much fun learning as I did!


Tuning the Guitar

Before the guitar is played, it is most important that the instrument is tuned correctly. It will not have the correct tone otherwise, and players usually end up frustrated because they cannot make the guitar sound pleasing to them. There are many different theories and discussions regarding tuning methods for guitar, some of which are better than others. The most … Read More


If you pluck any string of the guitar, it will produce a tone – a single musical note. A single note can vary in pitch (how high or low the note is). On the guitar the pitch is determined by where the string is fretted. Fretting a string near the nut (towards the headstock) will produce a low-pitched note. Fretting the string higher up the neck … Read More

The Chromatic Scale

If we include sharps and flats, there are a total of twelve notes we can produce in music before hitting the same note we started at, an octave higher. For example, if we started at A we would produce the following notes: This progression of notes is called a Chromatic scale. Note: There are no sharps or flats between the notes B & C and E & F Also note that the sharps and … Read More

Reading Music

Traditional music notation attempts to record music in a written form. This has developed over the years to include symbols for pitch, note duration, timing, rhythm and feeling, and more recently tablature specifically designed for guitarists. Traditional music notation is written on a stave consisting of five horizontal lines, and, for guitarists, will always have a treble clef to denote the range the notes fall in … Read More

Guitar Tablature

Guitar tablature is another form of written music specifically designed for guitarists. Rather than having five lines as in traditional music notation, tablature has six lines – one for each string of the guitar. We then place a numeral on the line of the appropriate string, which tells us the fret number on that string to be played: Listen: This … Read More

Melody and Harmony

This website will look at two aspects of music in detail – Melody and Harmony. The third aspect of music, Rhythm, is touched on briefly in parts, but does not have a section dedicated to it on this site. Melody is concerned with the way single notes sound in succession. Harmony is concerned with the way groups of notes sound when played together. Melody can be … Read More


When we play a run of single notes in succession, we are producing a Melody, or melodic line. Depending on the order of the notes, and what notes we play, we can make a melody sound happy (major), sad (minor), strong, emotional, cheerful etc. A pattern of notes played at set intervals apart is referred to as a Scale. There are many … Read More

The Major Scale

As an example, lets look at the A major scale. As the name suggests, the scale starts on the note ‘A’, and contains the following 7 notes: ‘A’ is referred to as the root note, and we arrive back at A (the octave) after the 7th note (G#), an octave higher. If we refer to our Chromatic Scale (immediately below), we can see the Step Pattern that … Read More

Fingering The Major Scale

Here we will look at how to play the major scale on the guitar. We will use the C major scale as the first example, since it contains no sharps or flats: Listen: Since it is not entirely functional to play a scale on a single string, we can find the notes of this scale across all strings on the guitar. If … Read More

Fingering The Major Scale (Moveable)

More generally, we can play a major scale on guitar for any key by using the following movable patterns, which are to be memorized. The numbers in the circles below refer to which finger you should use to hold down the string: 1=index 2=middle 3=ring 4=little finger/pinky Make sure you use the right fingering. FINGERING FOR ROOT NOTE ON 5TH STRING: This pattern … Read More

Applications of Major Scales

G MAJOR SCALE IN THIRDS (ASCENDING) Also try this descending. Listen: G MAJOR SCALE IN FOURTHS (ASCENDING) Also try this descending. Listen: G MAJOR SCALE IN FIFTHS (ASCENDING) Also try this descending. Listen: ‘YANKEE DOODLE’ USING THE G MAJOR SCALE Listen:

The Minor Scales – Natural Minor Scale

There are three different types of minor scales: a) Natural Minor Scaleb) Melodic Minor Scalec) Harmonic Minor Scale All three minor scales differ from the major scale by having a flattened third note. This is referred to as a minor third. This gives it its sad, minor sound. Let’s look at the natural minor scale first. A) NATURAL MINOR SCALE The Step Pattern is as follows: 1st to … Read More

The Minor Scales – Melodic Minor Scale

B) MELODIC MINOR SCALE The melodic minor scale differs from the natural minor scale in that it has a raised 6th and a raised 7th note. So the step pattern is therefore: So, in the key of A, we get: tone semitone tone tone tone (#6th) semitone (#7th) tone A ^ B ^ C ^ D ^ E ^ F# ^ G# ^ A Frets: 2 … Read More

The Minor Scales – Harmonic Minor Scale

C) HARMONIC MINOR SCALE The harmonic minor scale differs from the natural minor scale in that it has a raised 7th note. This gives it a kind of Eastern or Arabic sound. The step pattern is therefore: So, in the key of A, we get: tone semitone tone tone semitone 1+1/2tone (#7th) semitone A ^ B ^ C ^ D ^ E ^ F … Read More

Applications of Minor Scales


Other Scales – The Pentatonic Scale

There is a wide range of other scales around, all of which have different sounds and different applications. Here are a few of the more popular ones: THE PENTATONIC SCALE As the name suggests, this scale contains only five notes, and is used extensively in blues and rock music. It is a strong, powerful sounding scale and is great for … Read More