Tips About Learning Guitar Fretboard Notes

Kevin Casper
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Learning fretboard notes can actually help improve your playing. Here are some tips for committing those notes to memory.

Locate Notes on the Fretboard

The following chart starts with the low E string (the biggest string on your guitar) and then moves along one string at a time all the way to the high E string. The first note on the far left of each chart corresponds to the note that is created when the string is played open. Notice that the notes begin to repeat after the 12th fret. Therefore, you really only need to learn eleven notes on each string.

Low E String
E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E
A String
A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A
D String
D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D
G String
G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G
B String
B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B
High E String
E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E

Tips for Memorizing Guitar Notes

There are as many techniques for learning notes on the guitar as there are guitar players. Some people can memorize effectively by simply taking a few minutes each day and looking over the note charts above. Others need to learn with the guitar in their hand and relate the notes on the strings to actual songs. Most people benefit from some combination of these techniques. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you begin.

1. Learn the Open Strings First

Before you can learn the notes of the fretboard, you need to know the notes of each open string. When you are totally confident that you know each open string, you will be in a better position to learn the notes of the fretboard because you'll always have a solid starting point. For example, if you are trying to remember what the fourth fret note is on the G string, you can simply work your way up from G to G# to A to A# to B.

2. There's No Sharp/Flat Between B and C, E and F

All the notes in music have a sharp/flat between them except B and C and E and F. There is no B#/Cb or E#/Fb (technically there are, but a B# is just a C and a Cb is just a B. The same goes for E# and Fb.)

3. Memorize One String at a Time

The easiest way to learn anything is to break it down into smaller chunks. Try learning one string at a time. In fact, start with the E string because once you learn one of the E strings, you have automatically learned the other one. After that, you only have four strings to go.

Why Learn Guitar Fretboard Notes?

Some guitar players who are familiar with tablature might wonder why you really need to learn guitar fretboard notes. Since tablature uses numbers instead of traditional musical notation, guitar players are able to figure out how to play some of their favorite songs without having to really understand the language of music. While tablature is a great tool for guitar players who are just learning the instrument, in order to really understand the guitar on a deeper level, you ultimately need to know the notes you are playing. When you go to a jam session and someone calls out a song that is in the key of A, you won't be able to play along if you don't understand what that means.

Tips About Learning Guitar Fretboard Notes