Theory 1, 2, 3: Easy Concepts -- Half Steps and Whole Steps, Part 2

Theory Concept 2: So What Are Half-Steps and Whole-Steps on the Guitar?

On the guitar a half-step is one fret. A whole-step is two frets. It’s as simple as that. The distance from A at the 5th fret on your sixth string to A# at the 6th fret is one half step. The distance from A to B at the 7th fret can either be called a whole step, or two half-steps.

Half steps and whole steps

Steps are not about the guitar though. All musicians refer to half-steps and whole-steps, whether they’re playing a fretted instrument, or blowing into a saxophone, or playing a melody on the steel drums.

So really the steps refer to the “sonic” distance between the notes, not where they fall under your fingertips. So for example, the distance from G at the 3rd fret on the sixth string to the open A string is a whole step, because the distance from G to A is a whole step.

Click here to learn Concept 3: How Can I Figure Out A Scale Using Half-Steps and Whole-Steps?

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