Advanced Guitar Lessons – An Essential Guide

Looking for advanced guitar lessons? Then you’re in the right place!

advanced guitar lessons In this free guide you will learn:

    • The secret to becoming an advanced guitarist.
    • 6 essential chord shapes that every guitarist must know.
    • 3 advanced guitar scales which will make you sound amazing.
    • 2 super easy ways to enhance your rhythm and musicality.

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The guitar world can be understood in four quarters.

  • Chords
  • Scales and Lead
  • Rhythmic Techniques
  • Musical Theory

In this advanced guitar lessons we’re going to show you some essential lessons that you must know if you want to become an advanced guitarist.

Advanced Guitar Lessons | Guitar Chords

Advanced guitarists must know how to play the following chords :

  • Major 7 Chords
  • Minor 7 Chords
  • Dominant 7 Chords
  • Major 9 Chords
  • Minor 9 Chords
  • Dominant 9 Chords

These chords are far more harmonically advanced than your standard major and minor chords.

Want to add a level of sophistication to your playing? These chords are the answer.

Let’s learn some essential advanced guitar lessons about chords.

The Major 7 Chord

Here’s the chord box for a C major 7.

This chord is often heard in pop, soul, funk and jazz! It’s one of the most versatile chords you can learn.

The Minor 7 Chord

Here’s the chord box for a D minor 7.

advanced guitar lessons

You may have come across this chord if you’re into funk and soul.

The Dominant 7 Chord

Here’s the chord box for a G7 chord.

advanced guitar lessons

If you’ve ever played a 12 bar blues, you would have heard this chord.

The Major 9 Chord

The major 9 chord is a more advanced version of the major 7 chord.

Here’s the chord box:

advanced guitar lessons

The Minor 9 Chord

The minor 9 chord sounds deep and rich!

Here’s the chord box:

advanced guitar lessons

The Dominant 9 Chord

This chord is used frequently in funk music.

Here’s the chord box.

advanced guitar lessons

When can I use these chords?

Here’s a really cool trick that you can use to spice up ANY chord progression.

Any time you see a major chord, you could try a:

  • Major 7
  • Major 9
  • Dominant 7
  • Dominant 9

Any time you see a minor chord, you can try a:

  • Minor 7
  • Minor 9

A lot of the time this trick works. However some chord changes can sound a little weird.

As a rule, ALWAYS trust your ears.

If something sounds great, it is great!

If it doesn’t sound good, try a different chord.

In music, there is no wrong or right other than what sounds good!

What sounds good can vary greatly between different genres.

Changing The Chords

Let’s try an example to put this concept into action.

Here’s a standard progression, here we’ve used basic major and minor chords.

D Minor | G Major | C Major | A Minor

If we were going to change these chords to 7 chords, here’s what we’d do.

D Minor 7 | G7 | C Major 7 | A Minor 7

If we were going to change these to 9 chords, the progression now becomes.

D Minor 9 | G9 | C Major 9 | A Minor 9

The best way to integrate these new chords into your playing is to try and use them as much as possible.

Every time you see a major chord, sub it out for a major 7, or dominant 7.

Or if you see a minor chord, use a minor 7 or minor 9.

The more you do this, the more you’ll become comfortable with these new chords.

NB: Diatonically, chord 1 and chord 4 of a key are major 7s and chord 5 is a dominant 7. This doesn’t mean we have to stick to this as a rule. Blues for example often has all 3 major chords as dominant 7s, but it is useful to know.

How do I play chords in ALL keys?

To play chords in all keys, you MUST change the root note.

The root note is the first note in the chord.

As a few of the voicings of these chords are on the E and A string, we must know what the root notes are on both of these strings.

Here are the root notes on the low E string.

advanced guitar lessons

Here are the root notes on the A string.

advanced guitar lessons

To change the key of your chord, simply move it to a different root note.

So for example, if you wanted to play a major 7 chord in the key of Bb with the root note on the E string.

  • Move it to the 6th fret.

Or, if you wanted to play a minor 9 chord in the key Db on the A string.

  • Move your shape to the 4th fret.

This works for ANY chord. All you have to know is where the root notes are!

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Advanced Guitar Lessons | Guitar Scales

If you want to become an advanced guitarist, you must learn more than your standard major and minor pentatonics.

Don’t know these scales? Go here: Learn Guitar Scales In 8 Easy Steps

In this advanced guitar lessons we’re going to learn the following scales:

  • The Major Scale
  • The Minor Scale
  • The Dorian Scale
  • The Mixolydian Scale

The Major Scale (the Ionian mode)

Here’s the tab for the major scale in the key of C.

advanced guitar lessons

Scales help you play lead guitar, to learn lead guitar go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

The Minor Scale (the Aeolian mode)

Here’s the tab for the minor scale in the key of A minor.

advanced guitar lessons

Want to learn more scales like this? Go here: Jazz Guitar: A 5-Step Programme For Rapid Jazz Skill

The Dorian mode

Here’s the tab for the Dorian scale in the key of D minor.

advanced guitar lessons

The Mixolydian mode

Here’s the tab for the mixolydian scale in the key of G.

advanced guitar lessons

Learning guitar scales can turn you into a shred demon, check out this article by Guitar Player which shows you 5 awesome guitars for the advancing guitarist: Roundup: 5 Shred Guitars Reviewed

When can I use these scales?

In music, there’s broadly two scale types.

  • Major
  • Minor

The standard major scale (also called the Ionian mode) and the Mixolydian mode are both major scales, however:

  • The Ionian mode matches up with chord 1 of a key
  • The Mixolydian mode matches up with chord 5 of a key

So, if a song is in the key of C and it starts on a chord of C, then you could use the C Ionian mode.

If a song is in the key of C, but it starts on a chord of G, then you could use the G Mixolydian mode.

For minor keys, you can use the following scales.

  • The Dorian mode
  • The Minor Scale (the Aeolian mode)

The Dorian mode matches up to chord 2 of a key.

The ordinary minor scale (also called the Aeolian mode) matches up to chord 6 of a key.

So if a song is in C, but it starts with a Dm chord you could use the D Dorian mode.

If a song is in C, but it starts with an Am chord, you could use the A Aeolian mode.

Not sure which chords are in which keys?

Not to worry. Here’s a handy chart to help you:

advanced guitar lessons

Not all music is strictly diatonic (ie. strictly adherent to the confines of the key) so feel free to experiment with different scales and see what sounds you can create.

You may find you like the sound of a Dorian mode against chord 6 rather than chord 2 for example.

Some genres thrive on this clashing of notes.

Advanced Guitar Lessons | Rhythmic Techniques and Musicality

One of the best ways to become an advanced guitarist is to learn new rhythmic techniques which develop your musicality.

By doing this you will become a well rounded, polished guitarist!


To add flavour and texture to your guitar playing, it’s essential that you learn how to inject some syncopation into your rhythm playing.

Syncopation can be thought as ALL of the rhythms which aren’t placed directly on the beat.

The strong beats are beats 1 2 3 4.

Any rhythm which lies between these beats is considered syncopation.

Syncopated Rhythm Guitar Secrets

Here are a couple of advanced guitar lessons on syncopated rhythm guitar.

Exercise #1 Reggae Strumming Patterns

Syncopation features heavily in reggae music. Learning reggae music is perfect for developing your rhythmic techniques.

advanced guitar lessons

Here’s what it sounds like:

Use up strokes to make those chords ping.

Make sure that you practice this through other chords! This is a rhythm exercise, it can be used with ANY chord.

Exercise #2 Funk Rhythm

Syncopation is a HUGE part of funk music, learn this funky riff to take your rhythmic techniques to the next level.

advanced guitar lessons

Here’s what it sounds like:

Watch out for the x’s on the tab. The x’s mean you must mute those strings. Try muting the strings with your left hand to create a percussive texture.

Palm Muting With Both Hands

To enhance your musicality and rhythm, it’s essential to learn how to palm mute the strings with BOTH of your hands.

This technique can really spice up your rhythm playing.

Right Hand String Slapping Technique

If you’ve ever listened to Ed Sheeran or Jack Johnson, you’ve heard this technique.

Right hand string slapping technique is when you use the palm of your hand to mute the strings to create a rhythmic effect.

This can almost sound like a back beat when you use it correctly.

Watch this video to learn how to do this killer technique.

Left Hand Muting Technique

To improve your rhythmic techniques, it’s essential that you learn how to mute with your left hand.

Muting with your left hand creates syncopation and enhances your musicality.

The basic technique consists of this:

  • Relaxing your hand so that your fretting hand mutes the chord.

To practice this, fret a barre chord then relax your hand. Once you’ve done this, strum the chord.

This should create a thick, muted sound.

Even though this doesn’t sound great on it’s own, when you put it into a musical context.

Click play to learn how you can use this awesome technique.

Learn Different Chord Voicings

One way to enhance your knowledge as an advanced guitarist is to learn different chord voicings.

There is nothing worse than two of the same guitarists playing the same chords.

If one guitarist is playing a barre chord, you should try and play a chord which is higher up the fret board.

For example, if a guitarist was playing a A major chord you could use a higher voicing of this chord.

A great option would be to play a standard open A shape, 12 frets higher.

Like this:


Or play a D shape on the 9th fret (This is still an A chord!)

A_High_Voicing_D shape

It’s vital that you learn how to play a variety of different chord shapes.

This WILL make you a better guitarist.

To learn more about chord shapes go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

Advanced Guitar Lessons | Guitar Theory and Musical Keys

It’s impossible to become an advanced guitarist if you don’t have an understanding of guitar theory.

In this advanced guitar lessons we’re going to go through a few music theory concepts that will enhance your guitar playing.

Don’t run away! Most guitarists are scared of music theory, however music theory actually helps you become a better guitarist.

What is a musical key?

One of the best advanced guitar lessons you can learn is that.

A musical key is a group of scales and chords which work well together.

It’s vital that you understand how musical keys work, as this helps every other element in your guitar playing.

Everything in music can be related back to the major scale.

The Major Scale

The major scale forms the foundation of guitar theory.

For today’s example, we’re going to use the major scale in the key of C.

The notes in a C major scale are:

Each of the notes in a C major scale represents a chord.

In a major key, you’ll only ever going to have major, minor and diminished chords.

Notes 1, 4 and 5 of the major scale represent major chords.

Notes 2, 3 and 6 represent minor chords.

Note 7 represents the diminished chord.

Therefore in the key of C, the major chords are:

Harmonising Chords

We can harmonise each of these chords to turn them into 7 chords.

Chords 1 and 4 are major 7 chords.

Chord 5 is a dominant 7.

Chords 2, 3 and 6 are minor 7 chords.

Therefore in the key of C you have.

  • I – C Major 7
  • ii – D Minor 7
  • iii – E Minor 7
  • IV – F Major 7
  • V – G7
  • vi – A Minor 7
  • vii – B Minor 7 b5

Scales in the key of C Major

Most people think that there is only one scale in the key of C major.

However there are 7.

For each note of the C major scale, there is a scale which represents it.

These are known as modes.

Here are each of the modes in the C major scale :

  • C Major
  • D Dorian
  • E Phrygian
  • F Lydian
  • G Mixolydian
  • A Aeolian
  • B Locrian

Each of these are ALL have the same notes as the C major scale. However, each scale starts on a different degree of the scale.

Like this:

advanced guitar lessons

Don’t worry too much each mode, for now just learn :

  • The C Major Scale.
  • D Dorian
  • G Mixolydian
  • A Aeolian.

Once you learn these scales, try and use them in a musical context.

This is the fastest way to learn guitar scales.

Why is this useful to know?

This is useful to know as each of these guitar scales can be used over specific chords.

You can use a:

  • Major Scale over a major 7 chord.
  • Dorian or Aeolian over a minor 7 chord.
  • Mixolydian over a dominant 7 chord.

This is a fantastic way of making your guitar sound more sophisticated. If you can target specific chords, with their related scale you’ll be well on to becoming an amazing guitarist.

Bonus Tips

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, however some of the best advice we can give you is that you go out and play with other musicians.

This is the FASTEST way to becoming an advanced guitarist.

Get out into the world and interact with other people.

Nothing is more transformative for your guitar ability and musicality than playing with other musicians.

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