This is the number one statement that I get faced with, both as a private guitar teacher, and as someone who occasionally pops into internet guitar forums.
Consider what that statement means to you. Why you think you’ll benefit from ‘knowing guitar theory’. What will you do with it? How will it make you a better player? What is your actual goal?
My belief is that the above statement has a couple of flaws. Firstly, what is guitar theory? The guitar is a musical instrument, and there is no specific guitar theory. What I will teach you in this book is music theory as it applies to the guitar, and from a guitarist’s point of view.
A rock guitarist quite rightly approaches music, (and music theory), very differently from a classical pianist. When we solo we use mainly pentatonic and modal scales, so our musical perspective does not necessarily begin from The Major and Melodic Minor scales as it might if we were classically trained. The first scale most rock and blues players learn on the guitar is the minor pentatonic. It’s our ‘go to’ sound before we start to explore more advanced concepts. I think this is what most people mean when they say “Guitar theory”.
Today is the day to stop thinking of yourself as a guitarist who plays music, you are a musician who plays the guitar.
It is important to remember though; theory is just a way of communicating ideas. Just because the classical and rock player may explain an idea differently, it doesn’t mean that one is wrong, it just means they have a different perspective and each is useful in different ways.
My second issue with the statement “I need to learn guitar theory”, is that there isno point in knowing any theory unless you can apply it musically.
Imagine for a second that you knew all the rules of English grammar: You knew all about pronouns, the subjunctive, prepositions and modal verbs etc…. Imagine you knew all that, but you didn’t know how to speak. That’s a really good analogy for studying theory without learning the vocabulary to apply it. What kind of musician do you want to be?
I’m writing this book because I feel that there is a tendency for guitarists to know the theory, but not how to make music with it. In this book I give real, constructive examples of everything that is covered. In other words, if you only know the theory and not the practice, it’s a bit like asking someone to describe the colour blue. Isn’t it easier to have a little blue in your palette just to show them?