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A while ago I found an electric guitar. I've just been making up my own stuff on it, and I haven't been reading any tab, or playing chords or anything. But I found myself curious of something.

Certain frets sounds 'good' together. I am playing D tuning if that matters, DGCFAD. On the A string, all of these sound good for jamming: 2,3,5,7,9,10,12. These also sound good playing with all of 1,3,5,6,8,10,11. This work similarly with all the other strings, I just found these while playing.

But otherwise, I could play all of these on the A string 2,4,5,7,9,11,12. Etc.

What is the theory that underlies this?

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It'd be good to learn some scales, because that's what you are playing! No need to reinvent the wheel, since it has already been done.

On the A string,

  • 2,3,5,7,9,10,12. are these notes: A (open string), B, C, D, E, F#, G, A(octave), which make the A Dorian mode.

  • 1,3,5,6,8,10,11 are these notes: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab which make the Bb Mixolydian Mode.

  • 2,4,5,7,9,11,12. are these notes: A(open string), B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A(octave) which make the A Major scale or else Ionian Mode.

Basically, you've found 3 (out of many) scales/modes by yourself. You can easily find resources for all the scales and modes online and that's what I'd recommend you to do, because it will take you quite some time to find all of them by yourself. It won't be bad, if you don't want to look them up, but you can save a lot of time if you look them up.

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