While a 2nd is not as common a musical interval as some, like everything, it’s important to be able to find intervals on guitar. Finding chord intervals like a 3rd or a 5th are probably the most important ones to know, so once you know those, what next?

Let’s talk about 2nds.

Compared to some of the other intervals you’ve read about, the 2nd is pretty easy because, well, it’s just the 2nd degree of the scale. It’s close to the root and should therefore be pretty easy to find, even without this guitar lesson.

What Is A 2nd?

A 2nd sits 2 semitones (frets) above the root. 2 semitones can also sometimes be called a whole step or a tone (a half step being one semitone/fret).

In this article, and general, if someone says to play a 2nd, they’re generally talking about a major 2nd. However, there are other kinds of 2nds out there, like a minor 2nd, which is only a semitone.

What Does A 2nd Sound Like?

The first two notes of Silent Night are a 2nd. If you ever want to hear this note in your head, just hum the first two notes of the song in your head.

Playing 2nds On The Same String

Playing a 2nd on the same string couldn’t be easier, you don’t even need to shift position.

Diagram showing the interval of a 2nd on a guitar fretboard.

As mentioned, this interval is only2 frets apart, so, in most cases, it’s something you can play with your first and third fingers.

Playing 2nds Across The String On Guitar

By now, you should easily be able to play a 3rd across the strings on the guitar. There’s a gap of 2 frets between the 2nd and the 3rd degree of a major scale, so finding the 2nd across the strings is just a matter of going back by those 2 frets.

Diagram showing 2nds on the guitar fret board.

In the diagram shown, you can see the 2nds across all the different strings in different colours.  As usual, it’s the same across all the strings except for between the G and B strings thanks to guitar’s unique tuning.

Why Knowing Your 2nd Interval Is Useful

While it’s not the most common interval on its own, guitar chords like a suspended 2nd or a 9th chord both use the 2nd degree of the scale. Knowing where the 2nd is in relation to the root is useful in quickly finding these chords.

Going further, knowing this interval is good for generally knowing and understanding your guitar scales. Keep in mind that scales are made up of steps of both tones and semitones. A major scale starting at the root, for example, is just tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, and semitone to get back to the root. You don’t need to think of this interval as the difference between the root and the 2nd degree of the scale. Think of it as the difference between two notes.

Knowing the interval of a 2nd, especially across the strings, allows you to quickly find the next note of the scale on the next string. So, while it may seem to be a not so important interval, it actually really helps with note finding on the guitar.

And That’s It

I appreciate this has been a short lesson. The interval of a 2nd isn’t a complicated one so there’s not a lot to say! But hopefully you appreciate this unappreciated interverval.

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