For those of you who just can’t stop asking yourself: but why?!?, might have looked at the stave in the last couple of music theory lessons and said:
- Why is C on a ledger line?
- What does the clef actually mean?
- Aren’t there other clefs as well?
And you would be right, let’s clear this up as well since the clef determines everything we do on the stave!
The clef we use as guitar players is called a treble clef. When we start drawing this by hand, we start on the second to lowest line of the stave and draw out.
This line is where the note G will be.
In some countries the treble clef is therefore called a “G clef”.
But there are also other clefs, the bass clef for example starts on the second to highest line and that note is an F, but two octaves lower than where the treble clef indicated its G.
This F is on fret 1 on the guitar so there is no point for guitar players to use this clef since almost everything we play would be above that system.
On bass on the other hand, the majority of its range sits perfectly well on the stave using a bass clef or “F clef”, what the bass player reads as an F sits where the D is on guitar!
The Guitars range on the stave
The guitar has a huge range, below you can see how the low E starts several ledger lines below the stave and ends several above.
Not all guitars have the same amount of frets, 24 fret metal guitars for example go all the way up to E, spanning 4 octaves.
Most guitars however have 3 octaves and a bit available.
In the picture below we go from a low E to a high G.
Playing in different octaves
The 8va sign is used to allow us to write on the stave, so it’s easy to read, the 8va sign then tells us to: play this an octave up.
Similarly there is an 8vb tells us: play this an octave down.
The system below further explain this.
How much you end up using the 8va sign and how often you use ledger lines is up to you, most sheet music you’ll end up reading, if you really get into this, will be your own!
Music Theory in The whole Enchilada!
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-Dan (your guitar guru)