How to Write Instrumental Guitar Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Learn how to write great sounding instrumental guitar music. This guide will show you how to choose the right chords and progressions, and how to create a catchy melody.


First things first, you need to have a basic understanding of music theory. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. You don’t need to be able to read sheet music or anything like that. Just a basic understanding of key signatures, chords, and scales will do. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources available online and in bookstores. Once you have a grasp on the basics, you’re ready to start writing your own instrumental guitar music!

There are a few things to keep in mind when writing instrumental guitar music. The first is that the guitar is primarily a melodic instrument. This means that the majority of your piece should be focused on the melody, with the accompaniment playing a supporting role. The second thing to keep in mind is that the guitar is very capable of producing a wide range of sounds, from gentle strumming to aggressive shredding. Use this to your advantage and don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and textures.

When it comes to structuring your piece, there are no hard and fast rules. However, it is generally a good idea to start with a simple idea and build from there. For example, you could start with a basic chord progression and add layers of interest by introducing different melodic motifs or embellishments. Another option is to write an entire piece based on a single scale or mode. This can be an effective way to create unity and coherence in your music.

Once you have a rough idea of what you want your piece to sound like, it’s time to start putting it all together. Begin by sketching out the main ideas on paper or in a music notation program such as Finale or Sibelius. If you’re not particularly experienced with notation software, don’t worry – there are plenty of tutorials available online that can help get you started. Once you have all of your ideas sketched out, it’s time to start working on bringing them to life on the guitar!

What is Instrumental Guitar Music?

Instrumental guitar music is music that is composed specifically for the guitar. It can be played solo or in ensemble with other instrumentalists or singers. The genre has its roots in classical and Spanish guitar music, but has since evolved to include a wide variety of styles.

Instrumental guitar music can be written for the acoustic or electric guitar, and can be performed on either type of instrument. The acoustic guitar is typically used for classical and Spanish-style music, while the electric guitar is more commonly used for rock, blues, and jazz.

There are a few things to keep in mind when writing instrumental guitar music. First, it is important to consider the range of the instrument. The guitar has a limited range compared to other instruments, so it is important to write within that range. Second, because the guitar is a plucked string instrument, it is important to take into account the sustain of each note. Sustain is the length of time that a note will ring after it is plucked. Chords usually have more sustain than single notes, so they can be held for longer periods of time.

Instrumental guitar music can be written in a variety of different genres. Some common genres include classical, Spanish, jazz, rock, and blues.

The Different Types of Instrumental Guitar Music

Instrumental guitar music can be broadly classified into two main genres – classical and rock. Classical guitar music is typically associated with slower tempos and more relaxed atmospheres, while rock guitar music is generally associated with faster tempos and more aggressive attitudes. However, there are many subgenres of both classical and rock guitar music, and the lines between the two genres are often blurred.

Instrumental guitar music can also be classified according to the specific techniques used. For example, fingerstyle guitar music uses the fingers of the right hand to pluck the strings, while flatpicking involves using a pick to play rapid-fire notes and rhythm patterns. Hybrid picking is a technique that combines both flatpicking and fingerstyle guitar, while tapped harmonics are a specialized technique used to produce a ringing, high-pitched sound.

How to Write Instrumental Guitar Music

Compose a basic melody
The first step is to come up with a basic melody. This can be anything from a simple riff to a more complex melody. For this example, we will start with a simple four-note melody. Once you have your melody, you need to figure out what chords will accompany it.

If you are not sure what chords go well together, there are many resources available that can help you (see below). For this example, we will use the following chords: C major, G major, Dmajor, and Aminor.

Once you have your chords mapped out, you can start adding in other embellishments to your melody. This could include adding hammer-ons or pull-offs, slides, or other techniques. Again, there are many resources available to help you with this step (see below).

Once you have your basic melody and accompaniment worked out, you can start fleshing out your composition by adding in additional parts. This could include a second guitar part, bass part, drums, etc. If you are not sure how to add these additional parts, there are many resources available that can help you (see below).

Adding final touches
Once you have all of the parts of your composition written out, it’s time to add the final touches. This could include adding dynamics (e.g., crescendos and diminuendos), articulations (e.g., staccato and legato), and tempo changes. Again, there are many resources available to help you with this step (see below).

Tips for Writing Instrumental Guitar Music

If you want to write instrumental guitar music, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, the melodies you create should be memorable and catchy. A melody is the most important part of any song, so it should be able to stand on its own without lyrics. Second, your music should be interesting and varied. You don’t want your song to sound like one long guitar solo. Finally, make sure your song has a strong rhythm section. A good drumbeat or bassline will keep your song moving and make it more enjoyable to listen to.


Now that you know how to write instrumental guitar music, it’s time to get creative and start writing your own songs! Remember to keep your song structure simple, focus on creating catchy rhythms and melody lines, and experiment with different guitar techniques to create interesting sounds. With a little practice and experimentation, you’ll be writing great instrumental guitar songs in no time.

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