What THEORY do you NEED to know to JAM? // Another Guitar Show Episode 18

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In this episode we discuss the music theory you need to know, but also what most 'hobby' guitar players DON'T need to know! 

In summary, the theory I believe you DO need to know includes (in order);

  • ​Musical note names and understand sharps and flats

  • C major scale (moving on to other keys, minor pentatonic scale and on from there)

  • Learning to read TAB including

  • Diatonic chords aka the chords in a key (start with the key of C, then go in order of sharps and flats per key)

  • Cadences, intervals and recognising these by ear

  • How rhythm is written & time signatures

  • How to play a solo in a key (which then goes on to improvisation and total freedom of playing what you want to hear!)

Above is my revised 'complete list', so don't let that overwhelm you.The crucial thing is that none of this includes sign reading traditional notation (treble and bass clef etc)

>> See a playlist of all Andy's FREE music theory lessons here

Here's a written summary of what is covered in the video above along with helpful links for further learning!


We kick off with some basics, leading up to building a diatonic key. The first thing we need is to take our major scale. 

When you construct a key, you take the scale (in our case we'll be using the major scale) and build a chord from each of the 7 notes of that scale. The chord that you build can only use notes that are on that scale. For example, if you are using the key of C major, all of the chords must be built from the notes within the scale of C major. This is why the chords within the key of C major all work together and can be classed as being in the same key. 

Here is the formula you can apply to any major scale: 

major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished

Further Learning

>> Chords in a key lesson

>> C major scale lesson


When we see guitar players jamming, there is an understanding of theory taking place. The person playing the chords understands the theory above. The lead player knows that, because the chords are all diatonic, and built from the scale, they can simply use those scale notes to solo with. 

In the example Thomas and Andy use, they are playing a C major to F major and using the C major scale over the top

>> Andy's C major scale lesson


Check out Andy's FREE major scale soloing and improvisation course using the link below!

>> Lead Guitar with the Major Scale - free course with Jam Tracks!

Or, if you're more of a Rocker - check out Andy's Rock Lead guitar course here

>> Andy's Rock Lead Guitar Course

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