How to work out the chords in a key

This new lesson available here will explain in very basic terms how you can figure out what chords fit in any key. This is a really important skill every guitarist should be able to apply. Learning to work out chords in a key will allow you to do things like:

  • Write your own song or chord progressions
  • Jam with other guitarists and other musicians
  • Work out chords and scales used in songs

The lesson explains a simple formula you can follow and gives a few exercises to help you get used to it.

Check out the lesson here.

Quick guitar quiz – April 2011

It’s always a good idea to test yourself to get an idea of how well you know a topic. Guitarists can sometimes get a little close minded (been to a guitar forum lately?) and will assume they know everything they need to know. An expert guitarist on the other hand knows that they will never know everything and they constantly look to learn more. This little quiz will give you a quick snapshot on how well you know a couple topics on guitar. The topics this month are music theory and playing with a capo. Two very important areas that everybody should understand.

Write out your answers as you go through the questions then compare them to the answers below. There’s no point cheating – you will only set yourself back.

Music Theory

  1. What is the formula for the Major Scale?
  2. What is the formula for a Major chord?
  3. What is the formula for a minor chord?
  4. What notes are in the chord G Major?
  5. What notes are in the chord F Minor?
  6. What notes are in the scale A Major?
  7. What notes are in the scale D Major?


Playing with a capo

What chord will you be playing if you play:

  1. Em chord shape with the capo on the third fret?
  2. C chord shape with the capo on the fifth fret?
  3. Am chord shape with the capo on the second fret?
  4. Dm chord shape with the capo on the fourth fret?


What chord shape will you need to use to play a:

  1. Em chord with the capo on the seventh fret?
  2. G chord with the capo on the fifth fret?
  3. Fm chord with the capo on the third fret?


Take your time and write down your answers before you even think about checking them below. It’s okay if you need to pick up your guitar and work the answers out by placing a capo on the guitar – it’s all about getting the answer in the end. Over time these answers will come to you in an instant.


Music Theory

  1. W W H W W W H
  2. 1 3 5
  3. 1 b3 5
  4. G B D
  5. F Ab C
  6. A B C# D E F# G#
  7. D E F# G A B C#


Playing with a capo

What chord will you be playing if you play:

  1. Gm
  2. F
  3. Bm
  4. F#m


What chord shape will you need to use to play a:

  1. Am shape
  2. D shape
  3. Dm shape


How did you go?

“That was easy!” Great! Many guitarists struggle to answer questions like these so if you got through them easy you should be happy with your understanding.

“I got most of the answers, it just took a while to work them out” Good work. You don’t need to be able to answer the questions instantly. If you understand the theory behind the questions then that’s great. Over time you will get faster at figuring out the answers until it becomes a piece of cake.

“I sort of knew what to do, but didn’t get many right” Don’t stress about it. With practice you will get the hang of it. Being able to answer questions like these is a skill like any other. It may be worth reading up on the theory again to make sure you understand what you need to do (see resources below).

“The questions may as well be written in Greek, I didn’t understand anything!” If you are only starting out guitar, questions like these may seem confusing and hard. But like anything else, you can learn the theory and learn to apply it. If you struggled with these questions, check out the two lessons below as they contain all the explanations and exercises to help you out.

Resources (to help you get the right answers)

Check out these lessons to learn the theory behind these questions. After reading them, save this post in your bookmarks/favorites and come back to it in a weeks time to try out the quiz again.

Understanding guitar chord formulas and the major scale

Playing chords with a capo

Guitar blogs worth checking out:

There are so many quality guitar blogs out there that people need to hear about. Even if one site has lessons and resources on every topic you need, you should always read through other blogs as every writer will explain things in different ways. You could say it’s like having 50 different tutors help you learn guitar.

Therefore I think it would be helpful for readers if I write up if I come across a blog worth checking out. The blog I would like to mention this week is

A wide variety of lessons and tips are constantly posted to the site so it’s a good one you can come back to again and again to learn something new. In the past Gary has interviewed me on practice habits (you can read this interview here) as well as other guitarists. Interviews like these are well worth the read as you will often gain valuable insights into how other players think.

Have a read through the posts and you will be sure to find quality insights to help your development.

New lesson: Learn how to use chord formulas and the major scale

This new lesson available here will help you learn the basic theory behind the major scale and chord formulas. You will learn to use this theory to figure out the notes in any major scale as well as use chord formulas to figure out any chord. This is a great lesson for anybody wanting to really understand how chords and scales work together.

Here’s some of the things you can do with the material taught in this lesson:

  • Figure out chords you have never seen or played before (eg: do you know how to play C#m?)
  • Work out which chords you can play in a certain key
  • Jam with other players and play the right chords in the right key
  • Figure out the name of a chord off of a guitar TAB
  • Write basic songs that work together
  • and many more ..

Check out the lesson here.

12 reasons to use flash cards to learn guitar chords

Flash cards are well known to be powerful educational tools – they can help people learn math, languages, formulas and even guitar chords. So many people have been using flash cards as a simple tool to help them learn so many different subjects. Here are 12 reasons why the same simple tool can be used to learn guitar chords and why you should get yourself a pack and give them a go.

  1. They’re easy to use – what’s easier than using a pack of cards?
  2. They’re the cheapest method (versus books, dictionaries or charts)
  3. They’re fun to use  – learning from a chord dictionary is as boring as it sounds
  4. They’re effective – I’ve noticed that my students who use them know up to 10 times more chords then the students that don’t
  5. You can take them anywhere – which means you can learn faster
  6. You can use them to write basic songs and find new chord progressions
  7. They can teach you music theory
  8. You can focus on whichever chords you pick from the deck
  9. They can help songwriters break the feared “writers’ block”
  10. You can use them to practice chord changes easier than a book
  11. You can play memory games with them to learn faster
  12. You can focus on one card a day and potentially memorize 50 chords in under two months


There are many more reasons and ways you can use flash cards to help you learn guitar chords faster and easier. Once you give them a go you’ll find out why they’re so effective. A chord dictionary with 400+ chords may sound like a good idea, but if its boring to use you won’t even learn 10 chords from it. Find out more about flash cards here or visit the store here to get yourself a pack.

New guitar lesson: Method to memorize 50 chords in 10 minutes a day

Our latest lesson has been used over the last couple of years by students and works suprisingly well. Some students managed to properly memorize all 50 chords within a few weeks while other students took up to two months. But in the end all students managed to memorize all 50 chords using this method so because it has been so effective it has been written out in the lessons section for you to try.

The lesson details step-by-step what to do as well as why it is important to do it. This method works because it focuses your attention on the important points you need to learn. When most people try to practice and learn chords they often take an unfocused approach which takes longer to learn. By focusing your attention you can work at this method as little as 10 minutes a day to see results.

Included with the lesson is a PDF instruction sheet you can print out so you have a quick step-by-step reference right in front of you any time.

Check out the lesson by clicking the link below and give it a go.

How to memorize 50 chords in 10 minutes a day

Good luck and remember that to achieve results you need to put in the practice.

New blog feature!

This new section on the website will contain blog posts with interesting information and updates in related guitar topics. The posts won’t be as formal as the lessons or articles but they will still contain valuable information to help you out.

Blog posts may include information on:

  • New products and gear from different companies
  • Advice and wisdom gained from a range of sources
  • Links to interesting blogs and websites you may want to check out
  • Short exercises or mini-lessons not detailed enough for the lessons section
  • Anything else deemed to be useful for you

The blog posts will be open to comments so feel free to ask questions or post suggestions.