Learning music theory is an essential component of becoming a skilled guitarist. It can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we will explore some of the ways that guitarists can learn music theory and apply it to their playing.

Why Learn Music Theory?

Many guitarists start playing without ever learning any music theory. They may think that they don’t need it, or that it’s too complicated. However, understanding music theory can help you improve your playing in many ways.

For example, learning music theory can help you:

Where to Start?

If you’re new to music theory, it’s important to start with the basics. Here are some concepts that every guitarist should be familiar with:

Notes and Intervals

The first step in understanding music theory is knowing the notes on the guitar and how they relate to each other. This includes understanding intervals – the distance between two notes.

For example, the distance between C and D is a whole step, while the distance between C and E is a major third.

Scales and Modes

Once you understand intervals, you can start learning scales. A scale is simply a series of notes played in a specific order. There are many different types of scales, including major scales, minor scales, pentatonic scales, and more.

Modes are similar to scales but are based on different starting points within a scale. For example, if you start a major scale on the second note, you get the Dorian mode.

Chords and Progressions

A chord is a group of notes played together. Learning how chords are constructed and how they fit into chord progressions is an important part of music theory.

For example, a basic chord progression might be C – G – Am – F. Understanding why these chords work together can help you create your own progressions and improvise more effectively.

How to Learn?

There are many ways to learn music theory as a guitarist. Here are some options:

Online Resources

There are many websites and videos that can teach you music theory for free. Some popular options include Justin Guitar, MusicTheory.net, and YouTube channels like Signals Music Studio.


There are also many books available on music theory for guitarists. Some popular titles include “Music Theory for Guitarists” by Tom Kolb, “The Guitarist’s Music Theory Book” by Peter Vogl, and “Fretboard Theory” by Desi Serna.

Private Lessons

Taking private lessons with a qualified guitar teacher can be an excellent way to learn music theory. Your teacher can provide personalized instruction and help you apply what you’re learning to your playing.


Learning music theory may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s an essential part of becoming a skilled guitarist. By starting with the basics, using online resources or books, or taking private lessons, you can begin to understand how different elements of music fit together and improve your playing in countless ways.