Getting Started Learning Notes on the Fretboard, Installment #1: “Important Guideposts on the Guitar Neck”

Posted on Posted in Tips from Mark
Students ask me how to learn the names of the notes all over the guitar neck.

The system I have devised uses certain frets (5th, 7th, 10th, 12th) as guideposts, from which I suggest my students extrapolate to find other notes. Here is how to get started using my system for standard tuning:

1. I know the open strings: E A D G B E (bass to treble)
2. I know the 12th-fret notes because they are the octaves of the open strings: E A D G B E
3. I know the fifth-fret notes because they are the same note as the adjacent higher-pitched string (the time-honored “Fifth-Fret” tuning technique):
Sixth string, 5th fret = A (same as open fifth string)
Fifth string, 5th fret = D
Fourth string, 5th fret = G
Third string, 4th fret = B *
Second string, 5th fret = E
* The one exception is the 4th fret of the third string.
4. I know the 7th-fret notes because they are an octave higher than the adjacent lower-pitched string:
Fifth string, 7th fret = E (one octave above open Sixth string)
Fourth string, 7th fret = A
Third string, 7th fret = D
Second string, 8th fret = G *
First string, 7th fret = B’
(Sixth string, 7th fret is also B, like the first string)
* The one exception is the 8th fret of the second string.
5. I know the 10th-fret notes because I can count backwards in the alphabet (at least up to G!). The 10th-fret notes are all “white” notes (no sharps or flats), one letter in the alphabet before the name of that open string:
Sixth string, 10th fret = D (the open string is E; D is the letter prior to it in the alphabet)
Fifth string, 10th fret = G
Fourth string, 10th fret = C
Third string, 10th fret = F
Second string, 10th fret = A
First string, 10th fret = D

That’s enough for the first installment. In subsequent installments I will explain how to learn the other notes on the guitar neck.

Mark Hanson

Copyright © 2009 Accent On Music, LLC, and Mark D. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.

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