Guitar Ear Training Exercises | 5 Revolutionizing Tips

You have just reached the holy grail of guitar playing. Guitar ear training is one of the most, if not the most important element to learn on guitar. It’s a great idea to get into ear training as soon as possible to get the amazing benefits. By developing your ear slowly over time, you will be able to do many awesome things such:


  • Learn Any Song – Tabs are the easy way out, and it’s no wonder that everyone loves them. Tabs are great, but if you want to make sure what you are playing is accurate, ear training is the only way to know for sure.


Especially For Uncommon Songs, finding accurate tabs can be hard to find so the best solution is to figure it out yourself. When your start off your journey, you will get many of the notes wrong, but this is exactly what should happen. It’s all trial and error, as you keep practicing you will get more accurate.


  • Tune Without A Tuner – Being able to tune in a live situation quickly is crucial, so if you practice on your ear, you will be able to tell whether or not a guitar is in tune.


  • Play What You Hear – This is the ultimate goal for many guitarists, being able to play what you hear in your head. Do you hear the most amazing sounds in your head but you have no clue how to get it onto the fretboard? This is your solution. The exercises that you need to do are also very simply, which will be discussed shortly.


  • Get Out Of That Pentatonic Box! – It’s a struggle for many guitarists to get out of that repetitive pentatonic box. With ear training you can achieve complete fretboard freedom. If you have a seasoned ear, you can tell generally what the next note will sound like, giving you the edge to identify a good sounding note and a bad one.

if you are not too familiar with the pentatonic box shape, it's basically just a group of notes that are in a box-like shape.


Now that you understand the benefits, hopefully you are sold on them. Now you will the best guitar ear training exercises, so you can reach your potential.


Practice The Guitar Intervals

Guitar Ear Training Exercises

One guitar ear training exercise that you should start off with is intervals. Internal training is quite important for any guitar player who is trying to develop their ear.

What is interval training? It’s the ability to recognize the relationship between two notes of a scale when they are played separately. If you can identify intervals, you will be able to easily transcribe songs.

There are 12 intervals in total and they are as follows:


Minor Second

Major Second

Minor Third

Major Third

Perfect Fourth


Perfect Fifth

Minor Sixth

Major Sixth

Minor Seventh

Major Seventh



Every interval makes a certain sound. What guitar players do is associate an interval with a certain tune that they know very well, this is handy to remember intervals. The perfect 4th interval is usually associated with the happy birthday song. The minor 2nd interval is associated with the Jaws theme song.

Practicing intervals is quite simple, you start by playing the root note, singing it, and then playing another note and singing it. By singing the notes you will be able to establish the relationship between the 2 notes. A good idea is to test yourself on an interval tester.

If you want a quick reference for intervals, that will be easy to remember here is an easy list (Keep in mind it’s better to choose a strong that you remember very well):


Minor Second – Jaws Theme

Major Second – Never gonna give you up

Minor Third – Cowboys from hell

Major Third – When the saints go marching in

Perfect Fourth – Amazing grace

Tritone – Simpsons theme

Perfect Fifth – Twinkle Twinkle little star

Minor Sixth – Close every door

Major Sixth – Jingle bells

Minor Seventh – Theme from Star Trek

Major Seventh – Take on me

Octave – Sweet child o mine



Start Singing! (No you don’t need to be a good singer)

Guitar Ear Training Exercises

Yep, you heard that right. In fact, being a terrible singer is more than adequate for this next guitar ear training exercise. Similar as mentioned above, every time you play a note or a song remember to sing that note. This will create the connection between your fingers and your musical mind. Do you practice scales for a certain amount of time each day? This is great way to multi-task and get 2 benefits at once!


Learn Your Favorite Songs

Guitar Ear Training Exercises

Luckily ear training doesn’t have to be boring. Is there some awesome riff or solo you want to learn? You can do that while improving your ear at the same time. This is the best method if you want a combination of ear training effectiveness and fun at the same time.

Learn solo’s is more beneficial as opposed to learning rhythm. This is because lead guitar is a lot more challenging and can make it harder to make out the notes, forcing your ear to listen harder. The chance of error will be higher, but this is fine as you can always revisit the song later.

It’s recommended that you start with some easy songs, then work your way up. Don’t start by learning songs with crazy sweeping arpeggios, as they are quite difficult to make our by ear. Here is a list of easy songs that you can start off with (including solos):

If you find that the music is too fast simply turn it down 75-50%. Don’t go too low otherwise the notes will be muddy and impossible to hear out. Sometimes you will just have to keep up with the fast changes.

If there are some sections that you just can’t figure out then just watch guitar players play the section and copy them. This isn’t cheating, and it will serve as a good reference for when you go to learn something next time by ear.


Use Your Mouth To Create Licks!

Guitar Ear Training Exercises

This is very similar to singing your guitar except with a twist. Instead of singing your guitar notes as you are playing you will first sing a few lines and then play it. Make any random noise with your mouth and then try and translate it onto the fretboard. This exercise is also incredibly useful to help connect your musical mind with your fretboard.

This guitar ear training exercise is also a pure trial and error exercise. The first time you sing and attempt to hit the notes on the fretboard, they are most likely going to be wrong but it will improve as you keep practicing.

Start by singing something simple. If you know a blues lick very well, you can sing that then translate it. After you have done that, start again and add a extra note with the same lick and try play the whole thing. Doing this gives you a foundation to start with and extend to something awesome.

Check out this awesome guide if you want to get a visual idea of what you need to do.

Cup Your Ears

This is not so common guitar ear training exercise, but only that is highly effective. When you blocked your ears, you will be able to hear yourself much better. Many singers such as Mariah Carey do this so they can hear the vibration in their head more clearly.

How to do this?

Step 1) Start by folding your fingers to create a cup-like shape.

Step 2) Place your hands over both your ears

Step 3) Start singing!

You will immediately recognize a volume boost. If you feel embarrassed to sing, a good idea is to go in a corner. By doing this you will trap the sound in a much more confided space.


Final Thoughts

Guitar ear training exercises should always be part of your practice schedule, it’s arguably the most important thing that you can work on. There is some hard work involved but keep it fun by constantly learning your favourite songs.

Don’t learn random songs or solos because you will forget them. Yes, you will train your ear, but it makes more sense to learn things that you will play again. This way you will have a big file of songs that you know.