Vertical Truth - Harmonic Mechanisms for the Guitar  is a comprehensive method for learning chords - from the simplest 2-note power chord to the most complex bi-tonal altered dominant chord you can think of - in every key and every position possible. Going through the method and doing the drilling required will automatically result in a complete understanding of the guitar fretboard - every note, every chord, every voicing, every possibility. The ear will be trained organically, and if you are a decent guitar teacher, technique issues will be uncovered and dealt with along the way as well. The principles of music theory will be inculcated - applied initially to the guitar but ultimately applicable to any instrument.


The method is broken up into a series of 10 Units in 9 different books that are sold to the student as he or she progresses through the method. See the Table of Contents on the right side of this page for an idea of how Vertical Truth is laid out. Units 1 and 2 are the same basic stuff you can get anywhere online or from the teacher at the local music store. Unit 1, subtitled The Basics, presents first position chords, power chords, major and minor bar chords, major and minor scales, and so on. Unit 2 is subtitled, The Blues and involves the 12-bar blues form, pentatonic scales, principles of improvisation, etc. However, in Vertical Truth this basic material is organized in a manner that allows it to dovetail into the more advanced material - which is where this method becomes unique. The first two Units are not exhaustive. For instance, I do not give every possible fingering and position for the Minor Pentatonic Scale. The idea is to give the student the most amount of usable stuff for the least amount of effort. Starting with Unit 3 things become more exhaustive.


Go here to view some sample pages.


Unit 4 begins the concepts that I received from my mentor, John Elliott. John's approach was unique and is superior to anything I have seen. It has produced many world-class players, some of whom have created styles that are historically influential. The last 3 Units on Bitonalism are especially significant, in my opinion, and the approach is worthy of preservation (John didn't seem all that concerned about whether his approach would continue after he was gone).


Applying Music Theory to the Guitar

In general my concept of applying music theory to the guitar neck involves learning everything in two positions with at least two octaves included in each position. These positions are visualized from a root on the 6th string and a root on the 5th string. I use the Key Circle as a mechanism to memorize the names and locations of the 12 possible roots on the 6th and 5th strings. Going counter-clockwise (cycle of 4ths) around the circle is very applicable to the guitar because the 6th and 5th strings are tuned a 4th apart. I then start building from the key circle notes. Add a 5th to the key circle notes to get a power chord. Add an octave. Add a 2nd octave. Add major and minor bar chords etc. All chords, scales, blues patterns, arpeggios, and everything else are learned from a 6th string root and a 5th string root with at least 2 octaves included from each root. The student then drills the lesson of the day around the circle. I usually have them recite out loud the key that they are in as they play it. On almost every page you'll see: "Around the circle - recite names" or the phrase: "All keys" which means the same thing.


Concerning Reading Music

I am not in favor of tablature. It does not exist in the real world. Tab only exists in the very inbred guitar sub-culture. No producer or bandleader is ever going to put a tab chart in front of you. I've played over seven thousand gigs and thousands of recording sessions and not even once have I ever been asked to read tab. You only need tab if you don't know your instrument. Allowing the student to get by on tab is doing them a disservice; they will not make the cut for Jazz Band at school, they may lose the gig, or not get called back to the studio because they are not able to read standard notation or chord charts. 


Having said that, my attitude about reading music is pretty casual, and I use my own tab system to chart out tunes that the student wants to learn - until we get into reading (Unit 4). However, unlike standard guitar tab, my tab system requires and reinforces knowledge of the neck instead of sabotaging knowledge of the neck, thus preparing the student for reading if and when he gets that far. Go here for more in-depth thoughts and an explanation of my tab system. Units 1-3 use standard fretboard diagrams (which I concede is a tab system). Unit 4 introduces the concept of standard notation but also includes some fretboard diagrams along with the notation. Fretboard diagrams are given for 7th chord inversions in Unit 5. After that there are no more diagrams, it's all notation. By that time, the student should have a handle on the fretboard and be able to figure out where things are for himself. Most methods teach the neck, technique, and reading at the same time. That's overload for most people. So the correct order is: learn the neck first, then the reading won't be such a trauma. Didn't you learn to talk before you learned to read? 


So it's possible to go through the method up through Unit 4 without reading music - further than that if the student is sharp on the conceptual side. The world is full of million dollar guitar players that are musically illiterate. Doesn't mean they can't play, doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing, doesn't mean they're not a genius, just means they can't read. Nevertheless, if a student studies with me long enough, sooner or later they will be reading.



Playing the guitar (or any instrument) is mainly physical. The intellectual part is easy - the physical part is what takes all the time and repetition. That means technique is most of the deal. What's the use of having all these very cool musical ideas if you can't play them? How can you express yourself if you can't talk? So if you were to somehow learn everything in this book and nothing else then you would have only a very small percentage of what it takes to play the guitar. So why is there only one page of technique stuff in the whole method? Answer: good technique cannot be learned from a book. It must be truly real-time interactive. A book (or a video) can't say, "You're having trouble controlling your pinky because your thumb is in the wrong place". You can improve if someone who is better than you watches you play and points out your deficiencies and then suggests ways to correct them. The concept underlying good technique is: control that results in economical movement. By-products of economical movement are things like speed, accuracy and stamina. Not to mention not injuring yourself. If there is no control, then a rule is necessary. Where there is control, there are no rules. Controlling the movement of every finger all the time is good technique. Actually, it's more than that, it's controlling the whole body, focusing the mind, and playing with spirit. But we start with the hands! Muscle memory is attained through repetition. Control is attained through repetition, repetition, repetition. If the student cannot find self-motivation and joy in practicing the same thing over and over until he consistently gets it right he won't last very long. Most people have the ability to be really good, few people are willing to do what it takes. No one springs forth from the womb fully formed.


I'm interested - what do I do now?


The next thing to do is to buy your copy of the Vertical Truth. I call it the Teacher's Edition. It is the same thing the student gets except it is all 10 Units bound into one book. This will give you access to the entire method. You can then go through it and decide if you want to use the Vertical Truth in your own teaching activities.


The Teacher's Edition is priced at $52.50 retail and I will pay the shipping. I will take checks, money orders, or you can pay through PayPal.


You are completely free to integrate Vertical Truth with whatever it is you are already doing. I am available for instruction and support via phone, email, and Skype or FaceTime. Many teachers take some lessons from me via Skype just to make sure they "get" the method, and to get ideas on how to optimize the use of my books in conjunction with their own method and teaching style.


Any teacher who uses Vertical Truth in their teaching activities can have a free page on my website, linking to their website and/or contact info. I have a network of teachers - last count was 29 teachers in 16 different states - using my method to one degree or another. I refer prospective students who contact me about learning Vertical Truth to a qualified teacher in their area.


Any teacher who uses Vertical Truth in their teaching activities can purchase books at wholesale and sell them to students at retail thus making a profit on every book. Or you can discount the book from retail, show your student what a nice guy you are, and still make a profit (though not as much as you would selling at retail)!


The retail prices are here - contact me and I will send you a wholesale/retail price list.


Vertical Truth is the culmination of over 45 years of playing, performing, studying, teaching, and thinking about the guitar and about music. It begins with the most fundamental aspects of music theory applied to the guitar and systematically leads the student through 1,000 years of musical evolution. It is a rigorously systematic approach designed to be used under a competent instructor. When a student is systematically guided through this method the result is a musician who is knowledgeable about music, can communicate intelligently with other musicians (who are not guitarists), and who knows the instrument.

To Teachers

Unit 1 - The Basics


1st Position Chords

Technique Exercises

Notes on the Dots

Add C and F to Dotnotes

Key Circle

Power Chords

Open String Power Chords


Bar Chords


Suspended Bar Chords

1st Position Suspensions



Unit 2 - The Blues

The Shuffle Pattern & the 12 Bar Pattern

Minor Pentatonic Scales

Add Shifts to the Minor Pentatonic Patterns

Add Passing Tones

Minor Box & the Octave Pattern

Shifting Pentatonics

Minor Boxes in G

Blues in Open E

Turnarounds Unique to the Key of E

Blues in Open A

Dominant Blues

Minor Blues

Open String Keys, Part 2

Relative Harmony

Dorian Mode

Double Stops


Unit 3 - Triads

Theory & Major Triads

Progression #1

Progression #2

Minor Triads

Triads in Bar Chord Shapes

Diminished Triads

Augmented Triads

Scale Tone Triads in Root Position

Scale Tone Triads in 1st and 2nd Inversions

Scale Tone Triads Across the Neck

Triad Suspensions

Combined Shapes

Add Notes to the Large Triad Patterns

Triads on the 3rd and 4th String Sets

Scale Tone Triads on the 3rd and 4th String Sets

Triads in the Blues



Unit 4 - 7th Chords

Note Reading




Scale Tone 7ths





Altered Scale Tone 7ths

Chromatic Scale Tone 7ths &
Altered Chromatic Scale Tone 7ths

Thoughts on 6th Chords

6th Chords - Root Position and 1st Inversion - Notation

6th Chords - Root Position and 1st Inversion - Shapes

3 Position Exercises

6th Chords - 2nd and 3rd Inversion - Notation

6th Chords - 2nd and 3rd Inversion - Shapes

Thoughts on the Following Exercises

Position Exercises - 6ths

Suspensions - Notation

Suspensions - Shapes


Unit 5 - 7th Inversions

[Note: Units 5 and 6 are bound together in one book.]

7th Arpeggios - Major, Dominant, Minor - Notation

7th Arpeggios - Major, Dominant, Minor - Shapes

7th Arpeggios - Half Diminished, Full Diminished - Notation

7th Arpeggios - Half Diminished, Full Diminished - Shapes

3 Ways to View Inversions

1st Inversion - Notation

1st Inversion - Shapes

2nd Inversion - Notation

2nd Inversion - Shapes

3rd Inversion - Notation

3rd Inversion - Shapes

Position Exercise

Full Diminished 7ths

Common Tone 7ths

Four Common Key Schemes

1) Whole Tone

2) Chromatic

3) Minor 3rds

4) Cycle

Dominant Cycle

Turning the Inversion - 1

Turning the Inversion - 2

Inverted Suspensions


Unit 6 - 7th Voicing

7th Voicing

Position Exercise

Scalewise Basses

Scalewise Basses - Added Melody

Leaping Basses

Leaping Basses- Added Melody

Walking Bass Lines


Unit 7 - 9th Chords

9th Chords

Adding Non-Essentials in Voiced Positions

9th Inversions

2 Other Ways to View 9th Inversions

Position Exercise

Common Tone 9ths

Dominant Cycle

6-9 Chords

Altered Dominant 9ths - Single Alterations

1) Flat 9

2) Sharp 9 - page 1

    Sharp 9 - page 2

3) Dominant Sharp 5 and

4) Dominant Flat 5

Altered Dominant 9ths - Double Alterations

1) Dominant Flat 9, Sharp 5 and

2) Dominant Sharp 9, Sharp 5

3) Dominant Flat 9, Flat 5 and

4) Dominant Sharp 9, Flat 5

Dominant 9-13 Cycle

Dominant Cycle with Alterations - p.1

Dominant Cycle with Alterations - p.2

9th Suspensions

13th Suspensions


Unit 8 - Major and Dominant Bitonals

Major Bitonals


2-Chord Patterns

Combination Pattern

Dominant Bitonals

Non-Suspended Group

Suspended Group

2-Chord Patterns


Unit 9 - Altered Dominant Bitonals

Note for Unit 9

Sharp 5

Sharp 5 - 2-Chord Patterns

Flat 9

Flat 9 - 2-Chord Patterns

Flat 9, Flat 5

Flat 9, Flat 5 - 2-Chord Patterns

Sharp 5, Flat 9

Sharp 5, Flat 9 - 2-Chord Patterns

Sharp 9

Sharp 9 - 2-Chord Patterns

Sharp 5, Sharp 9

Sharp 5, Sharp 9 - 2-Chord Patterns

Sharp 11

Sharp 11 - 2-Chord Patterns

Sharp 9, Sharp 11

Sharp 9, Sharp 11 - 2-Chord Patterns

Sharp 11, 13

Sharp 11, 13 - 2-Chord Patterns

Flat 9, 13

Flat 9, 13 - 2-Chord Patterns

Flat 9, Sharp 11, 13

Flat 9, Sharp 11, 13 - 2-Chord Patterns


Unit 10 - Bitonals-Melodic

Major - Lydian II

Major - Lydian III

Major - Lydian V

Major - Lydian VI

Major - Lydian VII

Major - 2-Chord Patterns

Dominant - Mixolydian V

Dominant - Mixolydian VI

Dominant - Mixolydian II

Dominant - Mixolydian VII

Dominant - 2-Chord Patterns

Altered Dominants

Sharp 5

Flat 9

Flat 9, Flat 5

Sharp 5, Flat 9

Sharp 9

Sharp 5, Sharp 9

Sharp 11

Sharp 9, Sharp 11

Sharp 11, 13

Flat 9, 13

Flat 9, Sharp 11, 13

Table of Contents

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