Tips for Learning the Notes on the Fretboard

It can feel extremely tough trying to figure out the notes on the fretboard, but really all it takes is a bit of practice. Consistent and regular practice. Here are some tips to incorporate into your practicing that will make learning the notes on the fretboard a whole lot easier.

Learn the Open Notes First

It’s important for your playing to learn the notes of the strings plucked open first. They are E-D-G-B-E. Then, pressing down on each string at the 12th fret will give you the same open note one octave higher. A handy way to learn the notes is by pressing the bass E string at the fifth fret and then the D string open. Notice that they are the same? Likewise, the fifth fret on the D string is a G. The fifth fret on the G string is a B, but the fourth fret on the B string is an E.

Learn Every E Note

Every day, spend a few minutes learning all the different positions of a single note. The first string plucked open, for instance, is an E. Now find all the other Es on the board as part of your practice every day until you can find them without trouble. Then move on to the next note, and the next, and so on.

Learn Each String at a Time

Another way some people have found useful is to learn all the notes in order for each string from week to week. Go down the string naming each note as you go along, first out loud, starting with the open note. As this becomes easier, start doing this naming each note in your mind only. Then continue by doing it without naming. Finally, do it without looking. Then go on to the next one. If it is relatively easy for you, you can do this with all the strings instead of just mastering one at a time and continue with the same method.

Learn Scales and Modes

First, learn the notes of each scale. This will help you to identify by name each note you are playing when you learn the scale on guitar. Spend each week or a couple of weeks at a time devoting a part of your practice to learn a new scale or mode. Make sure to learn it throughout the entire fretboard. Your ears must get used to the sound of these notes in sequence because they are what make up every song you will ever hear or play. Continue to practice a single scale until you master it and can literally play it with your eyes close before moving on to the next one.

Use a Fretboard Guide

This is a cheap fretboard sticker or sticker set that you can buy to put on your guitar. The sticker has little colored dots showing the notes on each fret. It can be removed and repasted as many times as you want. Many guitarists would advise against using one of these because they believe it to be something students will get dependent on. I disagree for the simple fact that over time, you commit the motions to muscle memory anyway. I do however advise that you remove the guide and try the other tips on this list as part of your practice before putting it back on again. This way you will benefit from the guide while also preventing a potential dependence.

In addition to all of this, it will greatly help you to learn to read tabs and to read guitar sheet music. It will make learning from different sources a lot easier and communicate with any other musician a breeze.

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