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Going from one instrument to another is easier for some than others. I don’t care what anyone says, going from guitar to bass guitar is easier than going from guitar to a flute!

So when it comes to piano to guitar – how easy can it get? I’m not going to say it’s easy, but there’s a way to make it easier.

See the guitar like 6 pianos

Seeing six pianos sounds confusing and counter-intuitive to making things easier,  but it’s essentially what a guitar is. Think about it: each guitar string is like a miniature piano.

The confusing part is that each string starts on a different note. What you end up having is an arrangement like this.

Note: Thinnest string on the top, notes go open string note to the 12th fret, black keys (accidentals) are bold.

E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E

B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B

G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G

D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D

A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A

E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E

Standard guitar tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E. Most of these notes are perfect fourths apart, which gels with a piano player because that’s consistent. The trip-up is from G to B. This is a third.

To help you understand what’s so confusing I’ve pasted a post from a seasoned concert pianist who was looking to start learning guitar.

The forum post

I am a concert pianist, and have played for 30 years. I decided to start learning the guitar. I have a question regarding the design of the instrument, as there seems to be a strange anomaly regarding the note arrangement between the second and third strings. Starting from string number 6, the strings are perfect fourths distance apart, E-A-D-G-B-E the notes are perfect fourths apart, except between G-B which is a third. Why is this? My years of piano have taught my brain to think in perfect linear increments. Why isn’t the guitar made that way? According to perfect incremental math, the open second string should be C, and the first open string should be F. Why isn’t it made this way? This seems strange to me, and will this make the instrument difficult to learn by someone who is so use to playing by mathematical principles applied to music? How do I get past this? The piano is a linear board where the stringed sound frequencies are perfect integer distances apart. I play by ear also b/c my mind knows that a perfect fifth, fourth, seventh, or even an augmented chord without looking b/c I know the distances between keys that the particular frequencies should lay on an integer board, (which is really what a piano is: a mathematical sound board.) The guitar is not a linear or mathematical instrument. Any suggestions? Is there a mathematical logical way to learn the guitar or am I just going to have to memorize the finger note placements by memory alone

Wow…this pianist almost sounds like a robot.

Buzz* – THe GuiTAR IS nOt A mathMaticaL INStrumeNT Ω≈çß˚ GAMMA GAMM-DELTA——

It looks like this person is VERY rigid in his views on music. That’s okay, he/she’s been trained for many years and has developed a personal method that works best. Well here was my response, short, sweet, non robotic, paraphrased.

 It’s all about playability

Think about it, if the guitar was set up without that major 3rd interval from G to B barre chords would be impossible. Here are a few things to consider

  • Think about a A major barre chord at the 5th fret in standard tuning EADGBE.
  • Here is what you’d have to do with a “mathmatically perfect” tuning of all perfect 4ths – EADGCF

    Since the top two strings are raised a half-step it kind of makes for a jacked up chord huh? Just try playing one and then the other. Find other chords and see how hard, or impossible, they are to play.

    I hope this helps all would be piano-guitarists to pick it up without scratching their heads. Do you play piano? In what other ways do you see the guitar?

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