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5 Things You Need to Know on Guitar

Watch as Gabriel Bergman outlines five essential topics you need to level up your playing.


How Do I Learn All the Notes on the Fretboard? 

The guitar fretboard can be a very tricky instrument to memorize, but understanding how to visualize the notes on the neck is absolutely essential no matter what style you play. Start by learning your octave shapes and then moving them all over the neck while saying the name of the note out loud. Pretty soon, your eyes, ears, and fingers will start to connect and you'll understand the fretboard on a deeper level.

How Do I Learn the CAGED System? 

The CAGED system is simply a series of shapes based on the open-position chords we are learn when we are starting out. These shapes can help you not only understand chords, but also scales, arpeggios, and pentatonics. Start with our in-depth CAGED lesson and really develop seeing these shapes all over the neck.

How Do I Learn Triads on the Guitar? 

Having a deep understanding of triads all over the neck is the foundation for a well-rounded view of the fretboard. Start simple with a few shapes on the top three strings and then move those through a few keys. Once that feels good start slowly moving those shapes to other string sets. Not all of them will be comfortable or useful in all situations, but soon you will develop a vocabulary of shapes.

How Do I Learn Arpeggios on the Guitar? 

What's an arpeggio? It's when you play the notes of a chord one at a time. Arpeggios can take many forms, so don't try to tackle them all at once. Start with triads on adjacent strings and then slowly expand to 7th chords.

How Do I Learn Pentatonics? 

Pentatonics are the bread-and-butter of blues-rock guitar. The shapes are easy to get under your fingers and learning some stock pentatonic licks is relatively easy. One tip: Learn the scales horizontally up the neck in addition to the vertical positions. It will make shifting patterns much easier.

While Annie Clark was named the 26th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone in 2023, she couldn’t care less about impressing an athletic stamp on either her sound or her image.


Photo by Alex Da Corte

On her eighth studio release, the electroacoustic art-rock guitarist and producer animates an extension of the strange and singular voice she’s been honing since her debut in 2007.

“Did you grow up Unitarian?” Annie Clark asks me. We’re sitting in a control room at Electric Lady Studios in New York’s West Village, and I’ve just explained my personal belief system to her, to see if Clark, aka St. Vincent, might relate and return the favor. After all, does she not possess a kind of sainthood worth inquiring about?

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The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

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Mdou Moctar has led his Tuareg crew around the world, but their hometown performances in Agadez, Niger, last year were their most treasured.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

On the Tuareg band’s Funeral for Justice, they light a fiery, mournful pyre of razor-sharp desert-blues riffs and political calls to arms.

Mdou Moctar, the performing moniker of Tuareg guitar icon Mahamadou “Mdou” Souleymane, has played some pretty big gigs. Alongside guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and bassist Mikey Coltun, Moctar has led his band’s kinetic blend of rock, psych, and Tuareg cultural traditions like assouf and takamba to Newport Folk Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival, and, just this past April, to the luxe fields of Indio, California, for Coachella. Off-kilter indie-rock darlings Parquet Courts brought them across the United States in 2022, after which they hit Europe for a run of headline dates.

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How do you capture what is so special about Bill Frisell’s guitar playing in one episode? Is it his melodies, his unique chord voicings, his rhythmic concept, his revolutionary approach to pedals and sounds…? It’s all of that and much more.

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