SMG Guitar Lesson #2: The Five Octave Positions

Most beginner guitar instruction will teach scales and barred chords in position one, where the root note is the lowest note found on the sixth string. The root note two octaves above, is found upon the same fret on the 1st string. This relationship provides an excellent foundation and frame of reference.

Listen: 2 – P1 Octaves Exercises

Position 2 occurs when the root note is located on the fourth and second strings.

Octave Position 2 for Guitar

Listen: 3 – P2 Octaves Exercise

Helpful Tips for position 2:

  • There are two frets and one string in between the root note on the fourth string and the root note on the second string.
  • In the open position, the notes D and Eb occur in position 2

Position 3 occurs when the root note is located on the second and fifth strings.

Listen: 4 – P3 Octaves Exercise

Helpful Tips for position 3:

  • Notice how this position seems to fall upon a reverse diagonal
  • The two notes are two strings apart with one fret in between
  • In the open position, the notes B, C, and C# occur in position 3

Position 4 occurs when the root note is located on the fifth and third strings.

  • Thanks Robert. Appreciate the lessons, very helpful…

  • David asks “Hello, I saw your videos on the octave positions, but how do you use them for a song and what are they use for?”

    Good question.

    – Because there are five ways to find octaves, there are at least five ways to play each chord. When composing music, I use this knowledge to find interesting chord voicings and create strong call & response chord progressions. For example, you can play a progression once through and then use different voicings the second time through to create more movement. You can even use your knowledge of chord inversions when writing guitar solos.

    Also when memorizing scale patterns, it’s important to remember which octave position the root note of the key is found in. – This becomes a strong “lock and key” approach to playing, unlocking the entire fretboard for any key you want to play in.

    Be sure to sign to sign up for my free newsletter and be on the lookout for upcoming lessons, where I’ll go into more detail about this technique. In the meantime, be sure to learn the five octave positions – because they’ll come in handy!

  • Mark Ayers Sr

    I just revisited learning the fretboard this morning, timely lesson from you. Thanks Robert.

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