Why The Guitar is a MINOR Instrument

I’ve often said that guitar is a minor instrument; however the other day someone called me on that and asked me to explain it.

You see, that’s why the minor guitar scales sound best (in my humble opinion) on the guitar. Not that other scales don’t sound good, but the minor ones sound great, and they have the added benefit of just lining up great, fingering-wise.

Have you ever noticed how the minor pentatonic or diatonic scale pattern has that row where all the notes on the one fret are used?

That’s not by accident folks!

So, WHY is the guitar minor?

Well, look at the notes of the standard E tuning: E-A-D-G-B-E

What chord do those notes form? (Didn’t think that was a chord? Gotcha.)

Well, the E, G and B form an E minor chord. The second E is a repeat, so we don’t worry about that. The D is a 7 in relation to the E, which means that so far we have an Em7 chord.

That just leaves us with that pesky A…

Well, A is a perfect fourth of E, and as such it can still work in the chord. The only weird part is that given its low octave, it muddies the sound a bit. (Try an Em7 with a higher A over top, and it will sound great).

So that leaves us with an Em7+4

Hence why the guitar is a minor instrument.

To learn more about the number system that governs all this stuff on the guitar, checkout my Guitar Theory Unlocked course – that’s the kind of stuff you can have a handle on in no time flat.

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12 years ago

Outstanding. I always heard this and it did make me wonder. Now that you told
me it makes it clear. Thank you. ImanAli Messiah (aka Thomas Pilgrim)

Bob Nelson
Bob Nelson
12 years ago

Jonathan, I appreciate the things you send me. And I guess you are wondering why I have never bought anything from you. My wife and I are both retired and the monies we get from different places like s/s, my wife has a part time job,etc. is just barely enough to get us by. I have M.S. and can’t work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It’s just tight. I am 70. we have been married 39 years and we have a good life. Sorry I got off on that. Anyway I was able to get a guitar for 50 bucks 3 years ago. I had been wanting to play the guitar all my life and only had time after retirement. And everything I’ve learned has been off of the computer. (free things) If you fallow everything real close you can pick up a lot of material. I have learned enough to sing gospel songs at church. My wife taught me how to sing. At church they say I sound pretty good.
I said all that to say thank you for the things you send.

Bob Nelson

will smeaton
will smeaton
12 years ago

I’ve just acquired your Kindle version of GCMS. Congratulations! It’s a crystal-clear and fascinating account of how it all hangs together and has finally allowed me to ‘get’ the master plan. This is dangerous, because it’s addictive and makes me want to read more theory. Honestly, I got as much enjoyment and sense of achievement from your book as I do from playing. Now I can really start learning from a solid theory base; thank you.

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