Electric Guitar Syllabus

Understand the requirements for your certificate

I offer you the opportunity to get certified in playing the electric guitar, using the London College of Music syllabus. I have provided you with the information you need to understand what you will have to learn.

The electric guitar grades range from Grade One to Eight, are regulated by Ofqual, and have been placed on the Qualifications and Credit Framework, so establishing a formal and recognised standard by which the skills and abilities of electric guitarists can be assessed. From Grade Six onwards, the examinations attract UCAS points towards university entrance. The examinations are also endorsed by a range of eminent guitarists including Sir Paul McCartney and David Gilmour.

What happens during an examination?
The examiner will begin by asking you to play a selection of scales and (from Grade 3 onwards) arpeggios, followed by a selection of chords. The examiner will then show you a chord chart and ask you to play through it using an appropriate rhythm. Next the examiner will show you another chord chart – but this time the examiner will play through it once whilst you listen, then you should improvise some lead guitar over further playing. After this, the examiner will ask you a few spoken questions to test your knowledge of the instrument. The exam will conclude with the examiner testing your ‘ear for music’ by giving you a selection of aural assessments. At Grades 6-8, you will be asked to perform your chosen guitar specialism.

Marking structure
The following table shows the maximum marks that can be awarded in each section of the examination.
Section 1 – Scales (& arpeggios from Grade 3 onwards)
Preliminary: 8. Grades 1& 2: 10. Grades 3 & 4: 12. Grades 5 to 8: 10.
Section 2 – Chords
Preliminary: 12. Grades 1& 2: 10. Grades 3 to 8: 8.
Section 3 – Rhythm playing
Preliminary: 30. Grades 1 to 5: 30. Grades 6 to 8: 25.
Section 4 – Lead playing
Preliminary: 30. Grades 1 to 5: 30. Grades 6 to 8: 25.
Section 5 – Spoken tests
Preliminary: 10. Grades 1 to 4: 10. Grades 5 to 8: 12.
Section 6 – Aural assessment
Preliminary: 10. Grades 1 to 8: 10.
Section 7 – Specialism (Grades 6 to 8 only)
Grades 6 to 8: 10

0-54.5 = BELOW PASS, LOWER LEVEL.
55-64.5 = BELOW PASS, UPPER LEVEL
65 or above = PASS.
75 or above = MERIT.
85 or above = DISTINCTION.

Section 1 – Scales and arpeggios

The examiner will request a selection from the lists below. All should be played ascending and descending and from memory. Candidates should consult the relevant grade examination handbook, which gives full details of all required scales and arpeggios and includes helpful advice on the techniques involved in scale and arpeggio playing.

Preliminary Grade

The use of open strings is permitted at this grade.
a). C Major scale – 1 octave.
b). G Pentatonic Major scale – 1 octave.
c). A Natural Minor scale – 1 octave.
d). E Blues scale – 1 octave.

Helpful videos for Preliminary Grade

Grade 1

a). ‘Open’ scales of E Natural Minor, E Blues and G Pentatonic Major – 2 octaves.
b). ‘Fretted’ scales of A Major and A Pentatonic Minor – 2 octaves.

Helpful videos for Grade 1

Grade 2

At this grade all scales should be played without the use of open strings.
a). C Major and G Major – 2 octaves.
b). B Pentatonic Minor – 2 octaves.
c). A Natural Minor – 2 octaves.
d). D Pentatonic Major – 2 octaves.
e). A Blues and G Blues – 2 octaves.

Helpful videos for Grade 2

Grade 3

Scales and arpeggios may be selected by the examiner in ANY key. Candidates will not be asked to play in fingerboard positions that are inaccessible for their particular instrument.
a). 2 octave Major scale.
b). 2 octave Pentatonic Major scale.
c). 2 octave Pentatonic Minor scale.
d). 2 octave Blues scale.
e). 2 octave Natural Minor scale.
f). All Major and Minor 2 octave fretted arpeggios.

Helpful videos for Grade 3

Grade 4

Scales and arpeggios may be selected by the examiner in ANY key. Candidates will not be asked to play in fingerboard positions that are inaccessible for their particular instrument.
a). 2 octave Major scales in 2 different fingerboard positions.
b). 2 octave Pentatonic Major scales in 2 different fingerboard positions.
c). 2 octave Blues scales in 2 different fingerboard positions.
d). 2 octave Natural Minor scales in 2 different fingerboard positions.
e). All Minor 7th, Dominant 7th and Major 7th 2 octave fretted arpeggios.

Helpful videos for Grade 4

Grade 5

Scales and arpeggios may be selected by the examiner in ANY key. Candidates will not be asked to play in
fingerboard positions that are inaccessible for their particular instrument.
a). 1 octave Pentatonic Minor scale in 5 different fingerboard positions.
b). 1 octave Blues scale in 5 different fingerboard positions
c). 1 octave Major scale in 3 different fingerboard positions.
d). 2 octave Pentatonic Major scale in 3 different fingerboard positions.
e). 2 octave Harmonic Minor scale.
f). 1 octave Pentatonic Minor scale in 5ths.
g). All Minor 7th, Major 7th, Dominant 7th, Suspended 4th, Major 6th, Minor 6th –
1 octave arpeggios in 2 different fingerboard positions.
h). All requirements from the previous grade.

Helpful videos for Grade 5

Grade 6

Scales and arpeggios may be selected by the examiner in ANY key. Candidates will not be asked to play in fingerboard positions that are inaccessible for their particular instrument.
a). Natural Minor scale – 1 octave in 5 different fingerboard positions.
b). Major scale – 1 octave in 5 different fingerboard positions.
c). Dorian modal scale and Mixolydian modal scale – 2 octaves.
d). Chromatic scale – 2 octaves.
e). In 8ths: Major scale and Pentatonic Minor scale – 1 octave.
f). In 3rds: Major scale – 1 octave.
g). 1 octave arpeggios in 2 different fingerboard positions – Augmented 5th, Diminished 7th, Minor 9th,
Dominant 9th, Major 9th.
h). All requirements from the previous grade.

Helpful videos for Grade 6

Grade 7

Scales and arpeggios may be selected by the examiner in ANY key (except where indicated). Candidates will not be asked to play in inaccessible fingerboard positions.
a). 1 octave Pentatonic Major scale in 5 different fingerboard positions.
b). 2 octave Dorian modal scale and Mixolydian modal scale, both in 2 different fingerboard positions.
c). 2 octave Phrygian modal scale and Lydian modal scale.
d). In 8ths: 1 octave Natural Minor scale.
e). 2 octave Whole-tone scale.
f). 3 octave Pentatonic Minor scale and Blues scale in the keys of F to C inclusive.
g). 1 octave Minor 7th and Dominant 7th arpeggios including sharp or flat 5ths and/or sharp
or flat 9ths.
h). All requirements from the previous grade.

Helpful videos for Grade 7

Grade 8

Scales and arpeggios may be selected by the examiner in ANY key (except where indicated). Candidates will not be asked to play in inaccessible fingerboard positions.
a). 3 octave Chromatic scale F to C inclusive.
b). 1 octave Dorian and Mixolydian modal scales, in 3 different fingerboard positions.
c). 1 octave Phrygian and Lydian modal scales, in 2 different fingerboard positions.
d). 3 octave Major scale in the keys of F# to C inclusive.
e). 3 octave Natural Minor scale in the keys of F to C inclusive.
f). 2 octave Locrian modal scale.
g). 1 octave Dominant 11th and Dominant 13th arpeggios.
h). All requirements from previous grades.

Helpful videos for Grade 8

Section 2 – Chords

The examiner will request a selection from the lists below. All should be played from memory.
Candidates should consult the relevant grade examination handbook, which gives full details of all the required chords and includes helpful advice on the techniques involved in chord playing.

Preliminary Grade

Non-barré (open position) chords are expected at this grade.
a). Major chords – C, D, E, G.
b). Minor chords – Am, Dm, Em.
c). Dominant 7th chords – A7, B7, E7.

Grade 1

Non-barré (open position) chords are expected at this grade.
a). Major chords – A, C, D, E, G.
b). Minor chords – Am, Dm, Em.
c). Dominant 7th chords – A7, B7, D7, E7.
d). Major 7th chords – AMaj7, CMaj7, DMaj7.

Grade 2

a). Non-barré chords – Am7, Bm, C7, Em7, FMaj7, G7, GMaj7.
b). Chords using half-barré – Dm7, F, F#m.
c). All requirements from the previous grade.

Grade 3

Candidates should be able to play the following barré chords at any pitch (as selected by the examiner), in 2 different fingerboard positions.
a). All Minor chords.
b). All Major chords.

Grade 4

Candidates should be able to play the following barré chords at any pitch (as selected by the examiner) in 2 different fingerboard positions.
a). All Minor 7ths.
b). All Dominant 7ths.
c). All Major 7ths.
d). All requirements from the previous grade.

Grade 5

Candidates should be able to play the following chords at any pitch (as selected by the examiner), in 2 different fingerboard positions.
a). All Major 6ths.
b). All Minor 6ths.
c). All Sus 4ths.
d). All requirements from the previous grade.

Grade 6

Candidates should be able to play the following chords at any pitch (as selected by the examiner), in 2 different fingerboard positions.
a). All Major 9ths, Minor 9ths and Dominant 9ths.
b). All Diminished 7ths and Augmented 5th chords.
c). All requirements from the previous grade.

Grade 7

a). All Major and Minor chords using ‘non-root’ or altered bass notes.
b). All Minor 7th and Dominant 7th chords using altered 5ths and/or altered 9ths.
c). All requirements from the previous grade.

Grade 8

a). All Dominant 11th and Dominant 13th chords in 2 different fingerboard positions.
b). All Major chords and Dominant 7th chords in 5 different fingerboard positions.
c). All requirements from previous grades.

Section 3 – Rhythm Playing

All Grades
a). Candidates will be given a chord progression to play containing chords selected from Section 2 above. Time signature, tempo, (and from Grade 1 onwards) dynamics and other indications may be marked, however the style of the performance will be left to the candidate’s initiative.
b). Normally only one rhythm playing will be required, however, at the examiner’s discretion, candidates may be given an additional chord progression to play (as 3a above).
Candidates should consult the relevant grade examination handbook, which gives full details and examples of the requirements for the Rhythm Playing section. In addition, a series of books entitled ‘Rhythm Guitar Playing’ has been produced by RGT specifically to complement this section of the examination. (See inside rear cover of this booklet for more information.)

Section 4 – Lead Playing

All Grades
a). The examiner will play a chord progression similar to that presented in Section 3 above. The candidate will be required to improvise over this, demonstrating the practical application of scales (and, where appropriate, arpeggios) from Section 1 above.
b). Normally only one lead playing will be required, however, at the examiner’s discretion, a further performance (as 4a above) but with an alternative progression may be required.
Candidates should consult the relevant grade examination handbook, which gives full details and examples of the requirements for the Lead Playing section. In addition, a series of ‘Improvising Lead Guitar’ books with CD backing tracks has been produced by RGT specifically to complement this section of the examination. (See inside rear cover of this booklet for more information.)

Section 5 – Spoken Tests

Candidates may be asked questions relating to any of the topics listed below. Knowledge of notes on the fingerboard (taken from the scales and arpeggios listed in the relevant grade of Section 1) is a core requirement – particularly at earlier grades.

Preliminary Grade

a). Notes on the fingerboard (selected from the scales set in Section 1).
b). Basic anatomy of the guitar.

Grade 1

a). Notes on the fingerboard (selected from the scales set in Section 1).
b). Anatomy, mechanism and basic techniques of the instrument.

Grade 2

As for the previous grade, but in greater range and detail.

Grade 3

a). Notes on the fingerboard up to the 12th fret, including knowledge of all major and minor arpeggios.
b). Knowledge of the instrument, including anatomy, tone production, methods of achieving clarity and fluency.

Grade 4

a). Notes on the fingerboard up to the 15th fret, including knowledge of all the scales and arpeggios set in Section 1.
b). Knowledge of the instrument as for the previous grade, but in greater detail and extended to include methods of guitar tuning and string replacement.

Grade 5

a). Naming intervals from major scales.
b). Identifying any note on the fi fingerboard.
c). Application of scales and arpeggios, including knowledge of which chords occur in each key.
d). Knowledge of the instrument as for the previous grade, but in greater depth and detail.

Grade 6

As for the previous grade, but in greater range and depth and extended to include: application of extended chords.

Grade 7

As for the previous grade, but in greater depth and detail and extended to include:
an in-depth knowledge of chord relationships and keys; application of altered chords; chromatic intervals.

Grade 8

As for the previous grade, but in greater depth and range and extended to include:
chord construction; transposition; application of extended chords.
Candidates should consult the relevant grade examination handbook, which gives full details and examples of the spoken tests.

Section 6 – Aural Assessment

Candidates’ aural abilities will be assessed via tests appropriate to the grade which may include some of the following:
a). Repetition of rhythms.
b). Repetition of melodic phrases.
c). Keeping time, and (from Grade 4 onwards) recognition of time signature.
d). Pitch tests (including recognition of intervals and scale types).
e). Harmony tests, involving recognition of chord types or (from Grade 7 onwards) cadences.
Candidates should consult the relevant grade examination handbook, which gives full details and examples of the aural assessment tests.

Section 7 – Specialism

(only for Grades 6 to 8)
Candidates should select and demonstrate skill in one of the following topics. At Grade 8, if selecting a, b or c, candidates should also be prepared to answer questions about the musical structure and technical content.
a). Slide/Bottleneck playing.
b). Finger-tapping.
c). Solo fingerstyle or solo flatpicking.
d). Sight-reading from standard notation or from tablature.
e). Rhythm guitar playing.
f). Improvisation.
Candidates should consult the relevant grade examination handbook, which gives more information regarding this section of the examination.

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