Intervals are a great way to develop your core sense of relative pitch, and guitarists find it particularly useful to learn interval recognition for the sake of improvising. If you’re a lead guitar player and want to break free of the scale patterns and fretboard-based approach to soloing, practice interval ear training on your guitar!

The main lessons of interval ear training all apply whether your main instrument is guitar or not. So learn about the three different approaches to interval recognition, and use interval exercise MP3s to tune your ear in. But there are also some guitar-specific strategies that can help you learn intervals faster.

Get to know guitar interval shapes

Each interval has several fretboard shapes: the positions of your two fingers on the strings that create that interval. The best starting point is to know the intervals which separate each open string:

  • Low E → A: Perfect Fourth
  • A → D: Perfect Fourth
  • D → G: Perfect Fourth
  • G → B: Major Third
  • B → High E: Perfect Fourth

Note that everything’s consistent except that G/B string pair. That means that your interval shapes will all need slight adjustment for that string pair. Bassists are lucky – they avoid this complication by skipping those top two strings!

Start by learning that each fret represents a minor second. For example, the end of a major scale fretboard pattern moves up just one fret, and that’s a minor second (a.k.a. semitone, half-step) interval.

Then learn that two frets represents a major second (a.k.a. tone