where steel guitar players connect
Author: Hank Ruf
There are eight notes in a major or minor scale. A chord can be built on each note. Numbers are then assigned to each of these chords. Let’s use the C major scale to explain this. The notes of the scale are C D E F G A B C. So, C=1, D=2, E=3 and so on. We only number the first seven notes of the scale since the first and last note are both “C”. Remember, the Number system, or better known as the Nashville number system, is about the chords associated with the scale tones.
The only other thing we have to know about a major scale is that normally chords built on 1, 4, or 5 are major chords. Chords built on 2, 3, and 6 are minor chords. The chord built on 7 is normally diminished. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule; And any of the chords can be altered. But that’s a whole other story. We’ll stick to the basics here.
Ok. If we have a song in the key of C, whose intro is a 1, 4, 5 progression, then we know that the intro goes from C to F to G. (If C is 1, just count up) If the intro is a 1, 6, 4, 5 progression then it goes from C to A minor to F to G. (if C is 1, just count up again) Remember the 6 chord in a major scale is a minor chord. The Nashville number system in it’s basic form is really that simple.
If you are trying to communicate a minor chord, you will notate it with a dash (-) Notate Major 7ths with a triangle. Notate diminished chords with an zero, (0) and augmented chords with a plus sign (+).
Hand Signals can be given by holding fingers up such as 1 finger for the key you are in and 2 for the second cord and 3 for the third cord and so on.
Example; the key of C
C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7
Signal, Thumbs Down means minor (-)
Signal, Thumbs Up means Augmented (+)
Signal, Tringle means Major 7th
Signal, Zero means Diminish (0)
Thanks Hank , the Nashville number system is very interesting
Hank this has helped out a whole lot and is very much appreciated. Do you recommend any literature or DVD's, etc. for the beginner? Thanks again for the help and this site truly makes a difference and is awesome to talk to fellow players and get opinions and advice and everybody seems to be eager to help out!!