The Beginner Rhythm Guitar Practice Plan Vol. 3 Fretboard Harmony

Skill Building Guitar Course from David Isaacs

In the beginning of your guitar journey, you probably memorized shapes. This “geometric” approach is very helpful early on, but real command of the neck comes from knowing the relationships inside those shapes. We’ll do this by exploring the intersection between scale and chord forms, and how we pull chord tones from scales to create different sounds we can learn to recognize by ear as well as by formation.

25 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Full Course Breakdown

Dave takes the fundamentals along with the strumming and groove studied in the previous volumes and amps them up with a look at tonality. By committing chord and scale forms to memory you'll have a better understanding of how to extract the types of sounds you want from your rhythm playing.


Series Introduction

Dave gives you a description of the course and what you need to know to get going.

4:12 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


Fretboard Mapping

Dave helps us understand string and note relationships across the neck as a way to understand the fretboard. Specifically, we are going to look at octaves from string to string.

7:30 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Fretboard Mapping - Practice Guide

Dave shows us an exercise using those octave shapes to really cement them into place for us, breaks it down, and then we practice it together.

15:47 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Scale Degrees

Now we are going to look at scales. Why scales in a rhythm course? Because it will inform how the chords in a key relate to each other. So we will first learn how the scale degrees sound.

7:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Scale Degrees - Practice Guide

This exercise walks us through the scale degrees and helps us familiarize them with shapes on the neck.

14:34 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Basic Chord Theory: Triads

The first step to understanding how chords work is learning about triads, or three note groups that form the basic building blocks of chords.

6:01 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Triads - Practice Guide

In this exercise, we use the triads we just explored in the previous lesson to outline melodic figures in a progression.

13:01 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


The Chord Scale

In this lesson we are going to explore the primary, or diatonic, notes in the major scale. These are the notes that we will use to build the diatonic chords to a key.

5:28 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

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The Chord Scale - Practice Guide

Now Dave will show us an exercise that will use the triads to build a scale of diatonic chords across and up the neck.

15:22 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Chord Theory: Intervals Within a Chord

Dave is going to explore two note forms, stripping chords down even further so that we can become familiar with implying full chords and modifying intervals.

10:16 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Chord Theory: Intervals Within a Chord - Practice Guide

Let's learn an exercise that uses those two note forms to build another melody. This will help you understand how these two note shapes fit into chords. Then, like usual, we practice.

12:39 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Chord Theory: Parallel Major and Minor Intervals

Dave is going to start breaking down two note forms into intervals, and specifically what makes intervals major or minor.

5:11 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty


Chord Theory: Parallel Major and Minor Intervals - Practice Guide

Now Dave with show you an exercise that uses two note chords that use voice leading and chromaticism to outline a descending melody, and we practice together.

14:31 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Dominant 7th Chords

Let's talk about seven chords, or dominant chords, which that use the flatted seven scale tone.

7:18 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Dominant 7th Chords - Practice Guide

This Dominant 7th exercise uses scale tones and chords to explore the relationship between the scale and the dominant sound, and how it pushes to resolve.

16:21 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Major 7th Chords

Dave shows you a major 7th chord and shows you how it relates to the dominant, or flat 7th, sound. We then explore some shapes up and down the neck.

8:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Major 7th Chords - Practice Guide

Now let's try an exercise that explores this major 7th tonality and how it can be used to lead the chord progression into interesting places outside of the key.

13:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Minor 7th Chords

Let's explore the minor 7th sound, and learn the various shapes we can use access to this sound all over the neck.

6:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Minor 7th Chords - Practice Guide

Dave is going to show you an exercise that uses several minor 7th shapes. As usual, we then practice together.

13:01 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Ninth Chords and Upper Extensions

Once we establish the 7th chord, we can add scale tones above the seven to create more chord colors. In this lesson, Dave explores nine and eleven chords and some of the main shapes.

7:37 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Ninth Chords and Upper Extensions - Practice Guide

This exercise explores nine and eleven chords, exploring how they can be used to create voice leading and how some tones are implied by context. Then we practice.

16:11 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Diminished Chords

Common to Jazz, diminished chords are very dissonant but also have a very strong drive to resolve. Dave shows you various diminished shapes in this lesson.

9:25 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Diminished Chords - Practice Guide

This diminished exercise is fingerpicked, for a different kind of challenge. But using our fingers allows us to voice lead our chords in a more interesting way.

15:53 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Chromatic Progressions

If we include all of the notes in the scale, not just the diatonic ones, this is referred to as a chromatic progression. In this lesson we explore using voice leading and chromaticism together.

11:10 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Chromatic Progressions - Practice Guide

This final exercise brings together all of the concepts we have discussed in this series and ties them together with chromaticism.

13:54 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

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Dave Isaacs Group

  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Playing since 1980
  • 478 lessons at JamPlay
Nashville-based Dave Isaacs has made a name for himself as one of Music City's top guitar instructors, working with both professional and aspiring songwriters and artists at his Music Row teaching studio. He is also an instructor in the music department at Tennessee State University and is the coordinator and artistic director of the annual TSU Guitar Summit.

A seasoned performer as well, Dave has released eight independent CDs and gigs steadily as a solo artist, bandleader, and sideman. He continues to write, record, and perform as well as arranging and producing projects for other artists.

Reviews & Feedback 87/100 with 121 ratings

Can't wait for first lesson


Thanks -- this lesson truly deciphered (and defined!) diatonic chord scales for me in an easy to understand and practice form.


this stuff is gold, thanks


Very good the teacher and was easy to understand.