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Intervals on the Guitar

Core Location: Theory and Mapping

Also included in the Nucleus.

musical interval naming chart


An interval is the relationship between any two tones. Sometimes it is defined as the distance between tones, & that is one dimension to what they are. They are also the sounding relationships, or interactions, between any two tones. We can identify them with our ear by how they resonate. We should be able to identify intervals by listening (melodic - one after another, and harmonic - at the same time).

Before looking at the guitar fretboard, let's look at the names for each type of interval. For more naming options, see Tone Naming.

Now let's apply these to the guitar, starting with the intervals between the open strings.

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Open String Intervals

open and closed intervals between guitar strings

The open strings in standard tuning have these intervals between the strings. If closed, they are the same. And interval types can also be described in half steps.

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From a 6th String Root

guitar intervals from the 6th string

The black dot is any root [the lower down the string the root is located, the nut cuts off some the possibilities - this is true for any string].

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5th String Root

guitar intervals from the 5th string

The interval shapes and relationships from the 5 string are the same as string 6. Makes sense of this...since the intervals between the strings are the same, the shapes are as well.

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4th String

guitar intervals from the 4th string
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3rd String

guitar intervals from the 3rd string
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2nd String

guitar intervals from the 2nd string