The Foreword from ‘The Reference Book’.

Music contains three elements: melody, harmony and rhythm. This book aims to provide the guitarist with some of the tools necessary to take care of the harmony and melody.

Literally 1000’s of chord shapes exist for guitar, so the chords in this book have been carefully chosen to best prepare guitarists to cover a wide variety of musical harmony. Like chords, many scale shapes exist for guitar. The scales in this book have been selected to help prepare guitarists to play melodies. Melody includes traditional sung lines, the ‘head’ of a Jazz tune, and composed and improvised solos and riffs.

The large full-colour format of this book has been developed to show the guitarist which chords, scales and arpeggios are likely to be played in full or in part, in one position on the guitar at any given moment. This is achieved by including as many musically relevant fretboard diagrams on the one page opening to minimise page flipping, and so that we can see the ‘big picture’. Working up and down a page vertically will generally give you musically relevant tools in the one position on the fretboard. Working across a page horizontally will generally give you musically relevant information along the fretboard. The colours have been chosen to help to quickly distinguish similar and differing material.

In order to fit so many fretboard diagrams on one page the decision has been made not to include notation and TAB in this book. I’m sure that these exclusions will disappoint some people, but I hope many more people will see the huge benefit of seeing so much more musically related material on the one page opening. Although I would have liked to have included the detailed explanations on music theory and its applications that you might find in other books, adding additional pages to a large format colour book like this one means that it becomes cost prohibitive. This material will eventually be included on the website.
You will notice that all the fretboard diagrams are horizontal, whereas other books may have all of them as vertical, or a combination of vertical for chords and horizontal for scales. This never made any sense to me. I think it’s logical to have both chord and scale fretboard diagrams laying horizontally – and on top of each other if possible for an easy comparison. When we look at a guitar neck from a playing position it is horizontal. This book shows all material as if a right handed guitarist was looking at their own guitar (sorry Leftys!). If this book encourages the change of only one legacy of educational material for guitar, I hope that people will start laying all their chords out horizontally.
Of all the fretboard diagrams in this book, some shapes are easier to memorize and play than others. That is the nature of the guitar. The harder shapes have been included in this book so that we can see the bigger picture.
Whilst studying guitarists’ approach to music and to chord/scale relationships, it quickly becomes apparent that there are many approaches. The five very distinctive but complementary chapters in this book have been developed in order to reveal the patterns that most guitarists use to make music on guitar using the most common musical approaches.

Guitarists are lucky that they have an instrument where they can learn relatively few moveable chord and scale shapes that they can transpose up and down the fretboard in order to create music. However, guitarists are both lucky and unlucky that they have an instrument where the possibilities of chord, scale and arpeggio shapes are almost limitless. This can be discouraging to some, and a great challenge for others.

The problem: There are many ways to learn and teach guitar. Most methods include visualising and learning chords, but some do not. Traditionally, if you go to a good guitar teacher they will try to narrow the enormous possibilities on guitar, and they may draw you a chart that looks like the five Major scales on Page 1 of this book. Like several of my own teachers , your own teacher may then say something to you like: “there are five main patterns on guitar that can be played as scales. With these five patterns, by sometimes adding or subtracting and sometimes altering notes, and by being able to transpose the pre-existing or new patterns, and by either playing the notes simulteously or consecutively, we can derive all of the scales, modes, arpeggios and chords that are possible on guitar”.

This is not quite the entire truth. The extended truth is that this method does not totally cover important devices like many ‘2-note-per-string’ Pentatonic scales. It does not cover the very important and more modern ‘3-note-per-string’ scales. Also, most modern guitarists will agree that there are seven basic shapes and not five. You will see these seven scale shapes purposely repeated several times in this book.
Like I was expected to, a good guitar teacher may then expect the avid student to connect the dots by figuring out all the chords, scales and arpeggios on guitar for themself. There is inherent value in doing this yourself, but I feel that there is greater value in just using the tools of the trade rather than having to find and fashion them first.

In the development of this book, I realised that ‘connecting the dots’ by drawing up fretboard diagrams by hand can take years, and even then you can still end up with a piecemeal patchwork of less efficient patterns. This book has set out to map the patterns. This removes the need for the aggregation of material from many sources, and the hand mapping that many of us have laboured through.

The solution – Part 1: THE REFERENCE MATERIAL. In The Reference book I have transcribed many of the chords, scales and arpeggios from the seven basic scale shapes so that you don’t have to. There are 1000’s of chords and scales in this book, and a lot of them are in common usage today. This book has laid out many of these shapes in order to decode the mystery of the guitar and its patterns. This is so that we have the entire overview, and so that we can make informed choices. The fortunate thing is that you will only need to apply relatively few of these shapes in order to obtain musical results.

The solution – Part 2: THE LEARNING METHODS. So what are the most common chords and scales, and how do we apply them to make music in a particular genre? Apart from looking at the website, the best advice I can give is to get a good guitar teacher in the musical genre you are interested in. Also, most methods for guitar that I have seen are valid and can be used in conjunction with this book.

So where is a good place to start with this book? Learn songs. If you can then apply the material in Chapter 1 to these songs to play,spice up, jazz up, and/or solo over the chord changes yourself then you are well on the way. If not, then the right teacher will be able to help you with this. Part of what a teacher should do is to teach you how to transpose the material in this book. To complement what a good guitar teacher can offer, I will upload free videos, lessons and other material to the website in the coming years. I hope to evetually go through the application of a great deal of this book on the website with Free Online Guitar Lessons.

The lessons will show how many guitarists from many musical genres might use the material in this book to make music. The ‘ Reference Book’ is the reference material, and the website will be the means to show the instruction methods.

I aim to provide some of the world’s finest original educational and reference material for guitar in both printed and digital formats. I hope that you’ll join me on this journey of discovery!

Andy Mack. July 2010.

Footnote: This book was developed by studying the approach many guitarists take to playing guitar in many genres. However, even within the same genre of music many guitarists can approach similar musical material in vastly different ways. The power of transcribing music cannot be overstated. Also, all the fingerings for the chords and scales in this book have been thought about logically, but should sometimes be altered. All material contained within this book is the opinion of one person, the author Andy Mack. Opinions will vary. Extreme care has been taken to eliminate mistakes from this text, but if you find a mistake, need to contact Customer Service, or would like to make a comment then please contact the Publisher at GuitarGeniusCom [at]

If you find this book useful please tell all your family, friends, guitar teachers and students!

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