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Recognizing Intervals Visually on Guitar

Chord voicings and more

As I began to study guitar seriously in college, I had a decent understanding of how chords were built (1, 3, 5, dom7 = Dom7 Chord, for example), but I was still struggling knowing how to play them. These diagrams below were a game-changer for me.

Once I understood them I instantly had more confidence. As long as I knew the intervals in the chord I could very quickly access at least two voicings. I thought I’d share in case they are helpful for anyone else out there, as well.

Another great side benefit is that these kinds of diagrams help to you literally see the intervals and patterns on the fretboard — a tremendous skill for any guitarist to have.

Also, these diagrams depict chords with the Root as the lowest note. You’ll get to all the great beginner jazz voicings this way. But obviously this isn’t the only way. Try experimenting with leaving off the root, or building chords with the 3rd or the 7th being the lowest note (on the 5th string). I’m sure you’ll find beautiful and clever ways to play move from chord to chord.

Note: Due to spacing issues I’ve left out redundant intervals so keep in mind that the following are interchangeable:

  • 2 and 9
  • 6 and 13
  • 6 and º7
  • b5 and #11
  • #5 and b13
  • #9 and m3
  • sus and 11

Root on 6th String

Root on 5th String

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