Tom Serb

Tom Serb is a Chicago area guitarist who has been making music professionally since 1978. Over the course of the past twenty-five years he has managed to amuse himself by teaching, writing, performing, producing and composing. He is the author of Music Theory for Guitarists (NoteBoat, Inc., 2003), and a frequent contributor to the Guitar Noise forums.

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  1. Oscar Barrios
    February 19th, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    Greetings Everyone, Just found out about your site. And I really like it. I have a DVD about learning guitar and I am having so much trouble with it. I don`t usually have mental blocks regarding learning anything but learning guitar which I love is getting on my last nerve. I know it is ME that`s screwing everything up but I just don`t want to fail at this. Know what I mean? So I am trying to be patient & learning sure comes slow to me. I know chords, can keep a beat but I lose it when I have to read music to make sure I am in time. I also have back pain (back surgery gone bad) anyway this is another problem I have when it comes to learning music. But your site is making it easier. Thanks for being here. Thanks alot. -Oscar

    • David Hodge
      February 20th, 2012 @ 10:52 am

      Hi Oscar

      Thanks for writing and thank you as well for your kind words. Being able to play while reading notes takes time and practice so don’t get too hard on yourself. The fact is that you’re working at it and that alone will get you making progress. Trouble with progress is that it’s never as fast as we’d like it to be! And that goes pretty much for all of us!

      If you ever have any questions at all, feel free to post them here or on the Guitar Noise forums ( or even email me directly at

      Looking forward to hearing how you’re moving forward with your playing.


  2. djvipmog
    March 16th, 2012 @ 3:38 am

    Hello David,

    this is indeed a very nice lesson for someone who really wants to learn reading sheet music but had no clue how it works.
    It really cracked the code of may concepts I was dwindling with.

    My one doubt is,
    how do we know by looking at the Staff notation, tones to be played on Which String. As the notes, A through G are present on each and every string.

    If you could reply me, would greatly relieve me as I have been struggling to find the answer since long.

  3. Tom
    March 17th, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    I’ll take that one – there are two ways standard notation can indicate a specific fingering:

    1. By position – if the score says “cV” and the note is G, you’d play it at the 5th fret of the 4th string. The “C” is short for “capotasto” (Italian for ‘fret’) and since the other G notes with the same pitch can’t be reached form that position, what’s left is what you do. The English equivalent would be “5th pos.”, but the Italian is more common.

    2. By string designation. A number inside a circle is a string number in standard notation; if the G note has “4” in a circle above or below it, that note is to be played on the 4th string.

    If the music doesn’t have either notation, it’s up to you. Anywhere you play it, it will still be the same pitch, so it will be correct to the notation.

  4. djvipmog
    April 4th, 2012 @ 1:01 am

    Hello TOM,
    It was indeed a very clear explanation.
    Appreciate your efforts into this.

    Thank you very much.

  5. akash singh
    December 31st, 2012 @ 3:02 am

    I dint understand dis line. Pl explain.
    “But that only gives us notes from D (below the bottom E line) through G (above the top F line). That’s eleven notes… and we can play a lot more than eleven different notes on the guitar.”

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