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note: because of the detailed visuals, we recommend the paper version over the eBook.


Part I (pitch): The String

An overview of the properties of a vibrating string, partials and harmonics, how string length relates to pitch, just intonation and equal temperament, stopped pitches and the placement of frets. Exercises include extensive studies in the possibilities of natural harmonics, and various methods of tuning the guitar by ear.

Part I (pitch): Monads

Locations of all single pitches on the guitar, beginning with the idea that everything on the guitar is related to a Pentatonic framework (the open strings). The section continues by building Diatonic scales from the Pentatonic and building other scales from the Diatonic. The final pages explore all possible symmetrical scales and their fingerings. Exercises include all fingerings for all scales, all possible non-redundant two and three note diatonic patterns, possibilities for modulation, randomized practice with magic squares, shifting between scales with pivots, common tones and fragments, and techniques for mastering a chromatic scale.

Part I (pitch): Dyads

Every way to play two notes on the guitar. Exercises include fingering charts for all possible dyads in any position and a method for training interval recognition by ear and on the guitar.

Part I (pitch): Triads

Every way to play three notes on the guitar. Exercises include complete fingering charts for all of the 19 possible triads, ideas for transposition and mutation, and various ways of filling 12 tone space with triadic shapes.

Part I (pitch): Tetrads and Beyond

An exploration of four note structures, beginning with building tetrads from triads. It continues with an exhaustive look at the four note chords that naturally occur in the major, melodic minor, harmonic minor, and harmonic major scales, followed by a theory of dominant movements, a study of all-interval tetrads, and tables that complete the listing of all 351 possible pitch shapes. Exercises include fingering charts for the seven naturally occurring tetrads, dominant chord resolutions, cadences, and progressions, exploring chromatic space with inversions of all-interval chords, and looking at the possibilities of larger pitch sets.

Part II (rhythm): Symmetrical Picking

A complete course in Symmetrical Picking, a method developed especially for this book. The study uses six drum rudiments (single stroke, double stroke, triple stroke, paradiddle, flam, and ruff), to explore the possibilities of reaching any string at any time with the pick with maximum speed, flexibility, and dynamic range. Exercises include Symmetrical Picking applied to the Diatonic modes, individual pages for each rudiment, and workouts for accuracy, articulation, and endurance.

Part II (rhythm): Subdivision of the Beat

A look at subdivisions of the beat into 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 parts. Exercises include controlling accents on each subpulse and executing rhythmic figures in changing subdivisions of the beat.

Part II (rhythm): Legato

Producing more than one pitch on one string with one finger and one stroke (slides) or multiple fingers and one stroke (Slurs). Exercises include legato fingerings on Diatonic scales, Glissando, Diatonic Ornaments, and all possible Chromatic Ornaments from 2-4 pitches.

Part II (rhythm): Polypulse

Right hand finger independence – playing constant pulses on two or more strings. The study looks at the 28 possible unique polypulses that are created by combining the numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Exercises include ideas for building independence between two layers of pulses and extension of this idea into three or more layers.

Part II (rhythm): Polyrhythm

Right hand finger independence – playing uneven rhythmic figures on more than one string at a time. The section begins with the idea of rhythmic dyads, triads, tetrads, and beyond, and continues with a table of basic figures and exploration of their possible applications. Exercises include permutations of a basic “heartbeat” rhythm, all combinations of the first three basic rhythmic figures, and examples of how the study could be extended into infinite variations.

Part II (rhythm): Larger Structures

Canons, Tiling, Generative processes, and ideas for further self-directed study.

Navigation: Book Map

People have different approaches in their studies. In order to move around the book easily, each page is labeled as one of four types: Illustration, Concept, Exercise, or Notes. This is a map of the book by page type.

Page Type: Illustration

A visual display of information. These pages are meant to inspire further study in an area if they seem interesting, or to serve as visual summaries of concepts. The goal is to provide alternative points of entry for different types of musicians.

Page Type: Concept

A verbal explanation of a musical idea. These pages deal with music theory, with an emphasis on simple language. A glossary is provided at the end of the book for the definitions of technical terms that were necessary in the text.

Page Type: Exercise

A description of a physical process to work on a concept on the guitar. These pages are useful as a "quick start." If the material is confusing or difficult, the reader can review nearby pages to understand the context. Exercises make up the majority of the book.

Page Type: Notes

An array of empty staves, fretboard diagrams, pitch circles, or other notation devices. These pages are inserted here and there to encourage readers to interact with the book with their own thoughts.


Compositions are used extensively as examples of how information could be used in a musical context. They serve as technical études and as jumping off points for improvisatory practice.


Miles Okazaki is master musician and teacher. In this wonderful book, Miles shares tips, tools, and techniques that you cannot find anywhere else. I recommend this book for any guitarist, beginner to advanced, who wants to take their playing and understanding to the next level. Fundamentals of Guitar is a “must have.”

Fundamentals of Guitar provides a detail-oriented approach not only to the basics of holding, tuning, playing, and conceptualizing the guitar, but also a comprehensive reference for all instrumentalists exploring the fundamental possibilities of pitch and rhythm. (more…)


Okazaki addresses some of the real nuts and bolts of playing tonal—and not-so-tonal—music. This book inspires me and sometimes makes me question everything I think I know about the guitar.