Finding Your Guitar Keys – Part 3 (Jam Session #40)

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In Jam Session #40, we continued our training on finding the musical Keys on guitar.  Today’s goal was to

  • Review all 12 Keys
  • Turn them into usable Major and minor chords
  • Be able to name each chord

All About Guitar Keys

Why play in Key?

For most songs, all the notes within the song are from the same Key.

What is a Key?

A set of 7 notes that sound good together. Example: Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti (that last one “ti” is a weird rare chord so we won’t be concerning ourselves with that for now.  Most songs only use 6 different chords within a single Key.

So, for jamming in the Key of G, for example, you’ll know al the chords within the Key of G that you can mix and match.

For songwriting…

To evoke a sad feeling = use minor chords

To evoke an upbeat feeling = use major chords

The 2 “Maps”

  1. The “Stacked” Map
  2. The “Shifted” Map

We were shown 2 fret board maps to use in order to find each chord in any given Key.  The map to be used is dependent upon which string contains the root note of our chord.  For chords with root note on the 6th string, use the “stacked” map.  For chords with the root note on the 5th string, use the “shifted” map.


E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A# – these all use the “stacked” map

B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb – these all use the “shifted” map

In any Key,

Chord #1 = Major

#2 = minor

#3 = minor

#4 = Major

#5 = Major

#6 = minor

The way we designate this in written form is:

I, IV, V (the Major chords of the Key)

ii, iii, vi (the minor chords of the Key)

Another rule: every letter must be represented in a Key.  For example:

Key of F

I = F Major

ii = G minor

iii = A minor

IV = Bb Major

V = C Major

vi = D minor

Recommended Resources

A great way to see how certain songs are composed from certain Keys is to choose an easy beginner guitar song and then visit to see what Key it believes that particular song is in.  You should find that the chords used in the song are taken from the chords that comprise that Key.

You can get a full replay of this Jam Session, all the other previous ones, plus access to upcoming LIVE trainings with your membership to The Band.


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