As you dive deeper into the world of guitar playing you will inevitably encounter the terms "Half Steps" and Whole Steps." These two terms will no doubt seem foreign to you the first time you hear of them, but rest assured, the basic concept of half steps and whole steps if a fairly simple one.
An interval is simply a measurement of the distance between two notes. The overall topic of intervals does not apply to the guitar alone, but is a general concept in the study of music theory. The broad range of intervals and how they function can be somewhat confusing to those unfamiliar with music theory so I will provide limited information to avoid as much confusion as possible. All you need to know at this point is that a half step is the smallest interval, or distance, between two notes. That being said, two halves make a whole, so a whole step is the distance equivalent to two half steps.
Navigating The Fretboard
Now that you have a basic definition of intervals, you undoubtedly want to know how this applies directly to playing the guitar. The concept of half steps and whole steps on the guitar ultimately boils down to a very basic system of navigating the fretboard. The big take away from all this is...
A half step is the distance of 1 fret on the guitar
A whole step is the distance of 2 frets on the guitar
Now let's look at a couple of examples just to be crystal clear...
This example is an ascending half step. The pitch is raised by one fret from the 8th fret to the 9th fret on the 3rd string. If you were to reverse the order, you would now have a descending half step in which the pitch is lowered by one fret from the 9th fret to the 8th fret.
This example is a descending whole step. The pitch is lowered by two frets from the 3rd fret to the 1st fret on the 1st string. If you were to reverse the order, you would now have an ascending whole step in which the pitch is raised by two frets from the 1st fret to the 3rd fret.
At first glance, this question would be surprisingly obvious to most people. Of course you know your alphabet, but in this case we are referring to the musical alphabet. On the surface the musical alphabet seems pretty simple, right? Its just the letters A through G. 7 letters isn't much of a challenge, or is it?
The 7 letters that rule the art of music...
So I know that not everyone is familiar with the musical alphabet, but I think it's pretty safe to assume that if you're reading this article you have somewhat of an idea of what we're talking about here. Just to play it safe, though, let's start with the basic 7 letters of the musical alphabet.
A - B - C - D - E - F - G