How To Use Harmony Notes In Thirds For Your Guitar Solos

Joe Satriani playing guitar

How To Use Harmony Notes In Thirds For Your Guitar Solos

Learn how to use harmony notes in thirds for your guitar solos.  These can also be used in playing rhythm guitar as well.  The more you know about the notes on your guitar fretboard, the better understanding you will have of music.

Harmony notes

Harmony notes are two notes that can be played together to add depth to your guitar playing.  They can be played when creating rhythms as well as in creating guitar solos.  Using them in guitar solos is what we will focus on in this lesson today.

Utilizing this kind of technique can add color and emotion to your guitar solos.  Not to mention your enhanced fretboard knowledge.  Because to use these notes, you need to know where they are located on different guitar strings.

The major scale

In order to find out what notes we will be using for this technique to be valuable, we need to learn the notes of the scale.  That way we can pick put the proper notes to use.  In the key of C (we use C because it is the easiest to understand) we have the notes C D E F G A B C.

If we give each one of these notes a number value, we can clearly see that there are 8 notes.  The C is 1, the G is 5, the B is 7, etc.  By knowing this information we can see to play thirds we will be using the two notes C and E.  If we were to play in 6ths (the 1 and 6) what notes would we need to use?

Finding them on the fretboard

Now that we know what notes to use theoretically, we need to be able to find them on the fretboard for practical application purposes.  Without this, we only know it in theory.  That doesn’t do is any good as far as actually playing them on the guitar.  We need to know about finding them on the fretboard.

This is where learning your notes comes into play.  By learning the notes on all six strings, you’ll be able to find the notes you want to create with very quickly and easily.  No guesswork.  Through study and practice, you will know them without fail.


Thirds are when you use the 1 and 3 of the scale that you are playing in.  For instance, if you are playing in the key of C major you will use the C and E notes.  You can play these together like a two-note chord or you can play them individually.  But you must know where they are located along the fretboard in order for you to benefit from using them.

Example in the key of C major.

Harmony notes in thirds

Harmony notes in thirds. Written in tab

In this example, we have the root note (the C note) on the bottom string and the third note (the E note) is on the top string.  You can play these together to create interesting phrases in your playing.

Watch the video lesson below

Harmony notes in other ways

In addition to using harmony notes in thirds, you can also use them in sixths and octaves.  Sixths would use the 1 and 6th notes.  In the key of G major, for instance, the notes would be G A B C D E F# G.  This would tell us that the notes we want to use would be the G and the E notes.

If we were playing in octaves, we would use the 1 and 8th notes.  Which we can see are the same.  That is why they are called octaves.  Two notes that are the same.  In this case, the two notes would be G.

Harmony notes in sixths.

Harmony notes in sixths

Above we have harmony notes in sixths on two strings.  The G note is on the 4th string and the E (sixth note) is on the 2nd string.  For these notes to line up easily on the fretboard we need to skip a string.  Play these two notes together or individually.  Either way, you’ll be able to come up with great ideas.

Harmony notes in octaves

Harmony notes in octaves

In this example, we have two notes in C.  This is the natural octave that occurs between these two strings.  Two strings down and two notes over you will always find the octave.  Multiple things can be done with harmony notes in octaves.

Commit to the craft

To fully understand the material presented in this lesson will take some time.  Commit to the craft and you will get there.  In being committed myself, I have written and published a book that can surely help you.  Lead Guitar Wizardry.  This method book is designed to teach you how to create your own guitar solos as well as learn those from your favorite players.

Lead Guitar Wizardry volume 1

Combine the study of this training manual with a regular daily practice routine and you will begin to develop skills you once thought were not possible.  Such kills as:

*Lead guitar basics

*Pentatonic scale patterns

*Major and minor key progressions

*Hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, etc

*Alternate picking, harmony notes, and tremolo picking

*Transposing keys, music theory, reading notation, and the 12 bar blues

Along with a whole bunch more concepts and principle techniques to make you a lead guitar wizard!  Although you will have to study and practice.  But if you do, I guarantee you will learn how to do some wonderfully fun things on your guitar.

Lesson conclusion

Be sure to add harmony notes in thirds to your bag of guitar tools to help you create awesome guitar magic.  Remember, you can do them in sixths and in octaves as well.  Just refer to the lesson if you get stuck.  These can add depth and diversity to your guitar playing.

Make sure to learn your notes.  It will make playing these so much easier and also give you more enhanced fretboard knowledge.  And that my friend is always a good thing.  And if you haven’t already, be sure to grab my FREE action-guide “Guitar Solo Secrets” to help you get a head-start in the right direction.

If more help is needed about anything that I teach, just remember I’m an email away.  Contact me and I’ll help you out.

Keep practicing and until our next lesson, take care.

Sincerely, Dwayne Jenkins

How To Use Finger Dexterity Exercises To Benefit Your Guitar Solos


writing music

How Important Is It To Learn Music Theory?

music theory

Learning music theory can be beneficial in a lot of ways when it comes to playing music.  But more so when it comes to understanding how the notes in music work together in harmony.  It is this harmony that allows the music to connect with the listener.

The language of music

Music is a language like any other type of language.  English, Spanish, Chinese, etc.  And the concepts and principles that govern the musical language are very much like the concepts that rule the written language of words, phrases, and paragraphs.

Musicians who understand the language of music theory know how to use it just like writers know how to use the letters of the alphabet to create stories that move the reader.  A musician knows how to use the notes to move the listener.

Benefits of music theory

There are many benefits to learning music theory:

  1. write out your own ideas that others can execute

  2. transcribe music from the audio recording.

  3. understand what notes reside in any key.

  4. learn how to transpose these different keys.

  5. put notes together to create chords.

  6. String together chords to create chord progressions.

  7. figure out scales and notes that are in them.

And many, many more things.  Too many to list really.  But this is just a few that will give you a better understanding of what can be accomplished by learning music theory.  Is it important to learn music theory?  I’d say it couldn’t hurt.  It definitely gives you a better understanding of what you are doing.

Playing by ear

playing by ear

A lot of guitar players (especially rock guitar players)  play by ear.  Which means they don’t depend on knowledge of music theory to write their songs.  They just put enough hours into the instrument to figure it out by ear and know what to play through hours and hours of dedicated practice.

I’ve read in many interviews in guitar magazines and have also seen them in interviews on TV and on Youtube, with successful guitar players (you know the ones who inspire you to play) and they have mentioned time and time again that they don’t know any theory.

Some (most actually) don’t even know how to read sheet music.  In fact, there is an old joke that says:

How do you get a guitar player to turn down?

Put sheet music in front of him.

Reading sheet music can be very beneficial, but it doesn’t seem like it is necessary to be able to write great songs.  The Beatles didn’t know about the inner workings of music theory and how to read sheet music as a symphony musician does, but yet they wrote some of the best rock songs the world has ever known or ever will know.

So, how important is knowing music theory?…

When playing by ear, they listen to a song or a piece of music and replicate it on the guitar.  This is a very common practice among rock guitar players.  Actually, some of the best players like this and still do to this day.

Playing by ear is a whole other skill set that can be developed if you just take the time.  Some people are actually born with this skill.  I’ve heard people say they could play anything they hear without having to look at the sheet music.  In fact, they prefer not to.

A great many rock songs that you like were written like this.  Not by studying music theory and then writing from that point of view, but from listening to sounds in their head and getting them to come out through their guitar.

A little bit of both

It is a good idea from my point of view as a guitar teacher to learn a little bit of both. Learn some music theory for a better understanding of the instrument and learn to play by ear.  Both require two different skill sets an that is why most guitar players choose one or the other.  But if you could acquire skill sets in both areas, you could be above most guitar players that have a skill set in just one.

You learn music theory to get a full understanding of how music works and you learn to play by ear for motor skill development.  See, if you just study music theory you’ll get great at understanding the music but you won’t get great at playing it because your physical abilities won’t be developed.

That is why it is so important to add playing the guitar as well.  Now if you take the music theory you learn and apply it to writing your own songs, that will develop these skills.  But don’t overlook the fun of playing songs by your favorite artists.

Lesson conclusion

Is learning music theory important?  Yes!  It can really help you to understand how music works and how to communicate the language to others who know it.  It can also help you to do all that is stated above.  But make sure you don’t get so wrapped up in learning music theory that you miss out on the fun of playing songs by your favorite artists.

There is a lot of fun doing this.  Not to mention the skills that you learn along the way.  Ear training, timing development and the overall discipline of trying to get a song down the way it is written.  This skill requires much study and practice and will also help to improve your guitar playing as much as studying music theory.

Remember most rock guitar players that have hits on the radio play by ear without looking at sheet music.  So study their approach to the instrument and follow suit.  As you will learn all kinds of skills not found in studying just music theory alone.

And if you need any further help, check out my books I have authored on playing guitar:

Rock Guitar 101. 

Rock Guitar 101

A starter book that teaches the fundamental principles of how to play rock guitar.  From the correct tools to get started with chords, rhythm, picking hand development, establishing timing and classic rock riffs.

Learn Guitar For Beginners. 

Learn Guitar Simple Method for beginners

A classic study on learning to play the guitar no matter if it is acoustic or electric.  A step-by-step method that takes you from not knowing anything about the guitar to being able to play songs and understand what you are playing.

Rhythm Guitar Alchemy.

Rhythm Guitar Alchemy

The science of playing rhythm guitar.  This book is for the person who wants to take their rhythm playing to the next level.  For those who know a few chords but want to expand on them.  Those who know how to strum but want to learn more.  A person who has good timing but wants to develop it better.  All this and more can be found in this book in a simple step-by-step method.

Lead Guitar Wizardry vol 1. 

Lead Guitar Wizardry volume 1

Beginners guide to playing lead guitar and guitar solos.  From learning about music notation, 12 bar blues, rock riffs, minor pentatonic scales, personality notes, harmonies, octaves and everything else needed to create your own guitar solos and learn guitar solos by your favorite artists in your favorite songs.

Lead Guitar Wizardry vol 2.

Lead Guitar Wizardry Volume 2

A more advanced guide book on how to take your guitar solos to the next level.  For the person who already knows how to play guitar solos, but wants to enhance their playing with new scales and guitar licks.  This volume goes through modes, additional minor scales like harmonic, melodic, diminished & more advanced concepts such as using double stops in your solos and melodic sequencing.  Plus many more things to improve your learning and understanding of music theory as it relates to playing guitar solos.

So check them out and if you have any questions about what I’m teaching, be sure to visit my website at DwaynesGuitarLessons where you will find all the answers to your questions.  And if you need private instruction, feel free to contact me.

Best of luck and take care.

Sincerely, Dwayne

Chord Progressions That Work With The Minor Pentatonic Scale

C major guitar chord

Why Certain Notes Are Used When Forming Guitar Chords

In this lesson, we are going to learn why certain notes are used when forming guitar chords. The reason for these notes being in the chords themselves is that they have to resonate in harmony when being played together.  If not, they will sound “off” and will not be pleasant to the ear.  This is called chord-embellishment theory.

What is chord-embellishment?

This is the understanding of what notes are used in creating guitar chords. When learning guitar chords, there are certain notes that are chosen for this purpose and they are not chosen randomly. They are chosen for the purpose of sounding harmonically correct. Or in basic terms, notes that sound good when played together.

When you put certain notes together on any instrument whether it be guitar, piano, violin etc, they must be in harmony with each other or else they won’t sound good when played. This usually happens when a person is just starting out learning a song or certain piece of music and doesn’t quite have all the notes mastered.

Although once all the notes are mastered, the music sounds good to the ear and is pleasant to listen to. That is because all the notes are in harmony with each other. This is usually because these notes all come from the same musical key.

What is the musical key?

A musical key is a certain set of notes that reside at a certain pitch in the musical spectrum. They may be a set of notes that are up high or they may be a set of notes that are set low. Maybe even in the middle somewhere. Regardless of where they sit, they are all relative in one way or the other and that is why they sound good together.

This is considered playing “in key” and it is when all the notes in the piece of music sound good together. And for this to happen we must have a basic understanding of how this works. This is where the embellishment theory comes in.

So when it comes to playing guitar chords, you want to make sure you choose the correct notes.  Because if you don’t the chords won’t sound good when you form them.  They also won’t sound good when you play them with other chords either.  Make sure you fully understand the basics of why these notes are chosen to form the basic foundation.  Then you can proceed to extend the chords from there.

How chords are formed.

First, we start with the key that we’re are playing in.  Let’s say the key of C.

C D E F G A B C.  Now let’s say we give each note a number value.  1-8.  C being one D being two and so forth and so forth.

The most basic natural chord in music is the triad.  A chord that is made up of 3 notes.  Tri meaning three, ad meaning notes.  A three-note chord.  Out of the key of C, or any key for that matter, the numbers chosen for this triad are going to be the 1, 3 & 5 of the key. This is what’s known as the guitar chord theory.

notes of the C chord

That means that the notes we would choose to make the C Major triad would be the C E & G.  Look at the notes in the above paragraph.  You can clearly see that the 1 3 & 5 are these notes.  And if you look at the C major chord forming it on your guitar and you know your notes (if you don’t I highly recommend you learn them) you can clearly see these notes in this chord.

Why do I need to learn chord theory?

Learning chord theory can help improve your guitar playing in many ways.  It can help you to understand how music works and why it works in harmony when certain notes of the key (any key) are put together to form guitar chords.  Actually chords in general no matter if you’re playing them on the guitar or piano.

Improving your guitar playing is what it’s all about.  By knowing your notes, you’ll be able to create additional chords as well.  Like minor chords (where you flatten the 3rd note by one fret) and 7 chords (where you add the 7th note of the chord, sometimes flattened seventh) and augmented or diminished triads.

By knowing this information, you’ll be able to switch between chords faster, add to your chord vocabulary and be able to express yourself much better in general.  By knowing what notes to add, move or take away you’ll be able to enhance your musical palette of emotion.  You’ll be able to see chords as colors.  And like colors, you’ll be able to create different shades.

Lesson conclusion.

Being able to fully understand what is needed when forming guitar chords is essential to forming, and alternating guitar chords.  This valuable skill will allow you to make leaps and bounds above the competition.  Most guitar players do not know this information.

So if you can take some time to study & wrap your brain around the concept that is being taught in this lesson, you will see very clearly how knowing this information can benefit you.  It can really help you to compose better songs and also to understand the inner workings of music theory.

And if you’d like a book on the topic, I recommend The Guitarist’s Music Theory Book.  This book will show you a lot more in-depth about what is being taught in this lesson and taken further down the path.

The Guitarist's Music Theory Book

The Guitarist’s Music Theory Book by Peter Vogl is the first music theory book designed for guitar by a guitarist. The book explains music theory as it applies to the guitar and covers intervals, scales, chords, chord progressions, and the Nashville Number System. You will also get online access to audio examples of all the music in the book and also an ear training section. The Music Theory Book was written to help all guitar players achieve a better understanding of the guitar and of the music they play.

Need any additional help in this lesson, feel free to reach out.   And if you haven’t already, grab my FREE action-guide Rhythm Guitar Secrets with insider tips to help improve your guitar playing.

Thanks again for reading and until next time, take care.

sincerely, Dwayne.

The Beatles in concert

How To Use 7th Chords To Enhance Your Guitar Playing Creativity

7th Chords can be used to enhance your guitar playing creativity.  If you know how to form them and move them around the fretboard.  With a simple easy trick and the right mindset, you can do this quite easily.

Enhance Your Creativity By Using 7th Chords

Being able to form this one chord shape will allow you to open up your creativity in new ways.  It will allow you to think about what your playing and develop your musical knowledge of the fretboard.

If you need to learn how to read chord charts, I suggest you check out my lesson on this topic.  It will really help you out in this lesson.

How to read chord charts in 7 easy lessons

By being able to form this one chord shape, the C7 and move it up and down the fretboard, you can create all kinds of cool sounds quite easily.  You just add your pinky to the C major chord (which is your flattened 7th note of the major scale) and move the chord up and down the fretboard.

Here is what I mean.  C Major scale:  C D E F G A B C each one of these letters has a number value.  If you look at the scale the numbers are 1-8.  Which means, the 7th of the scale would be the B.  If we flatten it (bring it back by one fret, this note now becomes an A# or Bb (same note) which is the note that the pinky is now laying.

Adding the pinky to form the 7th chord.

Adding the pinky can be a bit tricky at first.  But it is necessary for this exercise and chord shape.  Her are some tips to help you include your pinky in your guitar paying.

1.)  Work on finger exercises.  This will help limber up your fingers before you play.

2.)  Always include your pinky when ever you can.  This will allow you to form chord extensions along with the 7th.  like sixth’s 9th’s and so forth.

3.)  Be aware of the enhancement qualities you can develop by using your pinky in your playing.  You will be able to play things most people can’t.

Find additional chords quickly by knowing your notes

By knowing your notes and being able to see them on your fretboard, you will be able to find chords quickly. You will be able to create chord progressions and figure out ways to alter chord shapes and add substitutes.  But this takes time.  You must study the fretboard.  If you need help in this area be sure to check out this lesson.

How to recognize notes on the fretboard

Practice this technique of forming the 7th chord and moving it up and down the fretboard. Look at ways to play the chord easier for your own enjoyment.  Look for different ways you can find chords on the fretboard as well.  Like for instance, where can you find the A7 chord with this shape?  How about if you go from the C7 to the G7.  How many frets apart are these two chords?  What if you try a progression like C7 to F7 to G7?  Where along the fretboard would these chords be located?

These are the things you want to master.

1.)  What your notes are on each string,

2.)  what your major scale formula is

3.)  where these chords reside non the fretboard

4.)  In any key

By being able to form the C7 chord shape and repeatedly move it up and down the fretboard you are going to able to enhance your guitar playing by creating new exciting tones.  And when you add different types of picking as well as rhythm patterns, your going to be able to expand your playing ability.  Your going to be able to recognize chord shapes within songs that you otherwise would have not.

Lesson Conclusion

When it comes to improving your guitar playing over all you must keep learning.  Learning new note locations, new chord shapes, new scale patterns and new music theory.  You want to keep experimenting with new tools to move your guitar playing forward.

Make sure you develop a practice routine for accelerated learning.  Make sure to set your goals so you know where your going.  Be sure to practice and study on a daily basis.  Even if it’s just a little bit.  It will help improve your development of motor skills and memory retention.

And if additional help is needed, check out The Guitarists Chord Book.  This  has helped me out in my learning over the years quite well.  If it helped me, I know it will help you too.

Here’s some additional lessons to look into as well.

How to find any major scale when playing guitar

Dunlop crybaby wah review 

How to switch between chords quickly and easily

Until our next lesson, take care.


Ritchie Blackmore playing guitar

How To Find Any Major Scale When Playing Guitar

How to find any major scale when playing guitar is a skill all guitarists should know and the reason this is so important to learn is that they are the foundational building blocks of music.  So learning a lesson in this area of the guitar will really benefit your playing.  For this lesson, we are going to use the scale of C Major.

What makes the major scale fun, is that the notes become the “Do Ra Me” we all know from either school or movies.  If you’ve heard this Do Ra Me before it is because it represents the major scale.  We use the C major scale for this example because it has no sharps or flats in the notes.  Any major scale is made up of 8 notes.  By knowing how to find these 8 notes, you are able to find any scale for creating an unlimited arrangement of possibilities.

If we look at the C Major scale, we start on C and go through the alphabet we get the notes C D E F G A B C.  As you can see, no sharps or flats.  Easy to understand.  If we give each note a number value we get 1-8.  The C is the 1 the B is the 2, C is the 3 and so forth.  Up to 8 notes (the 8th note representing the 1 of the next octave) and these 8 notes in all keys are what you want to master!

8 Notes Of The C Major Scale:

C     D    E    F  G  A   B   C = Notes

1      2    3    4   5   6   7    8 = Numbers

Do Ra Me Fa So La Te Do = Syllables

This works with all Scales.  Major or minor.  They just have different notes because of the difference in keys, but the formula stays the same.  Master this.  Remember it.  It will serve you well throughout your guitar study.

How To Find The Major Scale

Any major scale can be found on the guitar on any fret on any string if you just know the formula!  That’s right, the musical formula!  The way it works is simple.  One fret represents a “1/2” step.  So for example, if we moved from a B note to a C note which is right next to it, that would be considered a 1/2 step.  If we move two frets, that would be considered a “Whole” Step.

The major scale can be broken down into a formula that uses this information.  The Major scale formula using 1/2 & whole steps are.  W-W-H-W-W-W-H.  This magical formula will allow you to find any scale on any fret on any string.  Let’s look at it in more detail.

Key= C  Notes = C D E F G A B C  Formula = W-W-H-W-W-W-H

C W D W E H F W G W A W B H C  As you can see in the formula, the notes line up.  In the scale, we have an E & F which are next to each other & line up perfectly with the formula as note 3 & 4.  That has a half step between them.  This works every time, on any string on any fret.  Master this formula and you’ll be able to enhance your music theory & fretboard knowledge.

The more you understand how your notes work in relation to each other, the better you are going to be able to create music. The better you are going to understand how it all fits together & works in harmony.  That is why it is so important to learn how to find the notes on any major scale.  Then expand on it by flattening the third & 7th & finding the minor scale note formula.  It’s a science & this secret information allows you to have musical insights that many guitarists do not.

Why Start With The C Major Scale?

We start with the C Major scale because it is easy to understand & allows us a simple place to start building our musical foundation.  Once you learn the C major scale you can then (with the formula that you learned in this lesson) move on to other scales. G A D E etc.

By mastering this formula, your going to open doors to how music works & how the notes fit together to not only form scales but chords as well.  In fact, you master this formula & many others that the guitar holds, & you’ll be able to skyrocket above the crowd.

But it does take time.  You must put in the work.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  But if you work on it a little each day, you’ll see it benefit you in other areas of your learning.  Be patient & have a steady stride.  This will allow you to learn in a fun & enjoyable manner.

Lesson Conclusion

If you’ve gone through this lesson & really understood the importance of knowing your notes, you’ll see how easy you can find your notes in the major (& minor as well) scale all over the fretboard which will allow you to build chords, play unique interesting rhythms, scales & melody lines that are unique to you & your own sound.  As well as give you insight into how the “Masters” used them.  But that’s for another lesson.

But that is what we are going for.  Learning the techniques needed to create our own originality as well as pay tribute to those who inspired us to play in the first place.  For me personally, it was the Masters!!

Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Angus, Eddie, Randy, Priest, Maiden, Sabbath Kiss, Metallica, Etc, Etc, Etc.  We all play the same notes on a fretboard that has six strings, it’s just how we utilize those notes on those six strings that makes the difference.

By knowing some basic music theory like knowing how to find your major or minor scale anywhere on the fretboard at any time is really going to propel you forward in your music.  So take some time & figure out those notes.  Have fun.  Write it down on paper.  Make a game of it.

Additional training:

5 tips to improve your guitar playing today!

How to use 7th chords to enhance creativity

Until next time, take care & let me know if you have questions.