If you do not get to grips with the notes on your guitar you will quickly find yourself stuck.
Your progress may stall because you have not learned about the fretboard or how to find your guitar notes quickly. In this how to learn the guitar fretboard fast article, we are going to help you overcome this problem.
Guitar playing is not only about picking up your instrument and plucking a few acoustic songs while you are sitting around a campfire.
Before you can even get to this point you will need to take an interest in your instrument and learn all about it. Only then can you grow and improve to the point you can call yourself a guitar player.
If you are eager to be able to pick out any note on your guitar fretboard this is the article for you.
In our article, we are going to guide you through the first stage of one of the most successful methods for memorizing the notes of your guitar and of course how you can get to grips with your fretboard.
The method we are going to talk about is known as the Four Step Memory Method.
The first stage, which we are going to cover in a moment, teaches you how important it is to know at least the basics of your fretboard.
If you are able to master this you will be able to play your guitar faster and take on more songs with ease.
So, let us get started!
Let’s Start At The Beginning
Okay, let us get started. In this section, we are going to cover the basics at a beginner level so that you can better understand the fretboard and notes associated with your instrument.
At the top of our list are some essential details which many beginner and intermediate players often get mixed up.
Get To Grips With Your Ups and Downs
You should always remember that when you look down at the frets on your guitar they are numbered from 1-12 starting on the left-hand side of the neck.
So if you see a number like ‘6’ (which means the 6th fret) it is actually referring to the 6th fret on the E string.
In fact, there is another way to think about these numbers. They represent where each individual string starts on the fingerboard.
This is why the first fret is on the first string and the 12th fret is on the 12th string. You should also note that the nut is located at the very end of the fingerboard closest to the bridge.
The easiest way to remember the directions on your guitar is to keep these memory triggers in mind:
- Pitch – As your hand goes down the neck of the guitar toward the nut your notes will go down in pitch. Because of this when someone says to move down the fretboard you go in the aforementioned direction. On the flip side when you move up the neck of your guitar with your hand going toward the body of the guitar your pitch will go up and that is why this movement is known as moving up the fretboard.
- Fret Numbers – You will count up from a fret one two and three etcetera as you go up the fretboard away from the nut. The same idea as above applies to fret numbers, you will count down frets in the opposite direction.
Now, let us go ahead and start learning about the notes.
Learn About The Open String Notes
At the beginning stages of learning guitar, you may want to focus on just learning the open strings of your guitar. It is best to do this because these are the basic building blocks of all music.
Once you have mastered this part of the process you will then begin to learn other notes.
If you follow along with what we are saying here you will find that the majority of the time you will need to use both hands to play the guitar.
This is something that is easy to forget about, but it is an important thing to consider. When playing bass or singing we only use one hand to hold the instrument.
We don’t have to worry about chords and strumming patterns. However, when playing guitar we must use both hands for most types of songs.
The reason being is that we have to be able to change between either holding a chord or strumming a rhythm.
Therefore, we must make sure that we know how to execute this technique correctly. Luckily, it does not take long to master.
If you practice using this method over and over again you will soon become an expert.
Know The Musical Alphabet by Heart
Once you get comfortable with the open strings you can now proceed to learn the letters of the musical alphabet.
Remember that every letter has its own unique sound which makes them completely different from any other letter.
For example, C is played as “Ch” while G is played as “Gee.” Also, the letter “A” is played differently than the letter “E” so you really cannot say that one sounds more similar to the other.
There are several ways to memorize this information. One of the best methods would be to read through the entire alphabet a few times.
Then, once you feel like you have it memorized you can write out the letters in order.
As you continue doing this you should notice that after a short amount of time you will see the words begin to form in your head without even thinking about it.
This is because there is no better way to learn anything than to practice it over and over until the information becomes second nature.
Learn The Intervals On The Fretboard
Intervals are basically a combination of two notes. There are four intervals: Major, Minor, Augmented, and Diminished.
These intervals will help you understand the way that music works.
You will also be able to recognize chords much easier because they contain specific interval combinations. Let us look at each of them separately.
When you hear the word major you might think that it means the first note in the scale. This is incorrect though because it actually refers to the distance between the root note and the third note.
In our case, we are talking about the third note from the root note.
So if you wanted to name the third note in the song you would call it the major third instead of calling it the minor third.
If we were to go back to the example of the C major scale we could identify the major third as the note E. This is because it is three frets below the root note C.
A minor interval is another type of interval that exists within the music. It is formed when the fifth note down from the root note is added to the fourth note up from the root note.
For instance, if we were looking at the key of A minor (the same key as C) we would find that the sixth fret is the fifth fret of the string.
Now, if we add the note D to this string then we end up with a perfect octave. This is why we call it augmented.
Now, let us try to play this same pattern but use the diminished interval. We are going to do this by starting with the note C and adding the note B.
When we add these notes together we end up with a sharpened 5th interval. This is what we mean when we talk about diminished.
You will notice that this interval does not exist in regular piano music since the fifth note is too close to the root note.
Now that we have learned this four-step method on how you can learn a guitar fretboard we can move on to some helpful tips that will certainly help you while you are learning.
- Remember the Chromatic Scale – Every chord contains a certain number of notes. If you want to know how many notes are in a particular chord you need to remember the chromatic scale. This is simply a list of all the notes that are available on the guitar. Each note in the chromatic scale has its own letter. Once you know the letter for a particular note you can easily figure out which strings to press down to get that note.
- Practice Playing Chords – Practice playing chords so that you can become familiar with different types of chords. This will give you more practice playing songs. Play Songs – Play songs so that you can learn the patterns used in music. Music theory is very important when learning to play the guitar. Learning music theory allows you to understand the rules behind the music and be able to apply them to your own songs.
- Learn How to Find an Octave – An octave is basically just eight notes played simultaneously. By knowing how to find an octave you will be able to play any song that uses the same pattern.
- Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself – Don’t get ahead of yourself when trying to learn new things. Take your time and make sure that you understand each concept before moving on to the next one.
- Get Some Help – Ask someone who knows what they are doing to help you along the way. They may even be willing to teach you something new.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below we have a series of frequently asked questions when it comes to learning about the fretboard of a guitar. Let’s dive right in.
How Long Does It Take To Learn The Guitar Fretboard?
It takes anywhere from 3 months to 6 months depending on how quickly you want to learn. If you’re interested in learning the guitar faster quite quickly you will need to put in the time and effort.
You will only improve and learn your fretboard by practicing and reading about where the notes are.
So, be prepared for hard work. But, if you are dedicated and set time aside you can easily learn the fretboard in under six months.
How Can You Improve Your Fretboard Knowledge?
The most important thing here is to get started. If possible, take lessons so that you can start playing songs and improvising.
Start small and slowly build upon yourself. If you don’t know any songs or scales yet, practice by reading books.
Don’t just read about the fretboard either. Practice it out loud. Play along with recordings or other people. Try to play along with more experienced players.
Do I Need Music Theory to Understand the Fretboard?
No. While understanding music theory is helpful in identifying chords and scales, it isn’t necessary to understand the fretboard.
Some people believe that they cannot learn the fretboard without having some background knowledge on music theory, however there are many things that music theory teaches you that are invaluable to the guitarist.
Here are a few examples:
1. How to create chord progressions
2. What different types of chords are used in music and how to recognize them
3. Understanding intervals and how they relate to the frequency of pitches.
There are of course many more things that music theory can teach you, however, it is not necessary when you are trying to learn a guitar fretboard.
What Oil Do You Use On A Fretboard?
You should use a mineral oil, if you do not have any handy it is recommended that you use linseed oil to help protect the wood of your instrument.
As far as which oil is best to use, this really depends on the person. Some prefer mineral oil while others like to use vegetable-based oils such as peanut oil.
Just make sure that you use something that is safe for your guitar. Also, avoid using petroleum-based products!
Where Should I Start Learning About The Guitar Fretboard?
Start by finding an online resource that has good tutorials. There are plenty of YouTube videos and websites that provide great resources.
Once you find one that you think is good you can then branch out and try to find other materials that you think are better.
Make sure you pick an instructor that provides quality content.
Remember, bad instructors will not tell you anything new. They will simply repeat the same information over and over again.
How Long Does It Take To Memorize Guitar Fretboard Notes?
Memorising notes can be as easy or difficult from one individual to another. For some, it’s an easy ask that would take a few hours to memorise. However, playing comfortably from muscle memory might still be problematic.
How long it takes to memorise and be confident in guitar fretboard fast depends on how much time you dedicate to practising them. Generally, with at least 10 to 20 minutes of practice, it can take you at least two weeks to learn the fretboard notes and play them comfortably through muscle memory.
You can also use the guitar fretboard to learn music theory. Just remember that all notes on the fretboard are written above or below the actual notes in the song.
If you want to know where certain notes fall on the fretboard, just count the number of frets from the beginning of the neck to the note.
For example, if the note “C” falls on the third fret, then you would simply count 3 frets back from the note “G”.
Once you get comfortable counting frets, you can start playing along with songs and learning how to improvise.
The next tip is to take your time while practicing. Although it may seem difficult at first, you must force yourself to slow down when practicing.
Slow down enough so that you can really focus on the details of the song’s melody. Take your time and make sure that you practice correctly. You don’t need to rush through things.
Slow down and stop whenever something doesn’t sound right. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. You will eventually figure out what the correct fingering is.
And, even better, once you have mastered a piece of music, you will see that you can improve on it over time.
This is the most important thing you should keep in mind when learning the guitar fretboard. You must be patient.
As we have said before, patience is probably one of the hardest things for beginners to master.
But, with practice, you will become more patient, and soon you will be able to play any song without thinking about anything else.
My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!