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Naming notes

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Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 350
Topic starter  

Is it important to be able to hear a note and be capable of naming it?

If so, do ya'll have any suggestions for developing this skill?


"Like the coldest winter chill. Heaven beside you. Hell within." -Jerry Cantrell

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1468

I don't know if there's any definitive answer to that question. I think you should be able to read a note and know where it is on the fretboard and I think it's important to be able to name the notes on the fretboard.

Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 477

For me, it's hear it, play it, name it. I'd have a job to listen to you sing a note, and say, "that's F#". But I could pick up a guitar and play what I heard - which of course would be 4th fret, 4th string - or 2nd fret, 1st string - I don't know your voice :wink: Then I'd know it was an F#!

It comes with practice, with playing with others, with learning licks off records, all that stuff. I'm sure someone somewhere's invented a method for learning it, but for me it just growed :D

Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2337

" Is it important to be able to hear a note and be capable of naming it"

If you plan on becoming the best you can be at playing guitar . I'll say YES. If you plan on doing any studio work you'll also need to read music. learning the notes, playing by ear, and reading music all part of becoming a good guitaist.


Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2261

It depends what you want to do IMHO, I get by fine without it for now (not that I haven't tried, and I can do it sometimes if the notes last for long enough, but I wouldn't class it as something I've 'got down' by a long shot).

If you're wanting to transcribe something, then hitting 12 notes one at a time and seeing which one sounds the same is no big deal. If you're jamming with a group of people who like to change key all the time with no warning it might be a bit more urgent to identify notes :) - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer

Trusted Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 58

Hearing and Playing is where it's at, not naming it.

I'm not great Guitar player, and I'm not the world's best musician. But from my years (only 6, and I haven't played for nearly a year and a half now) on Piano I can say that hearing a note, and playing something that matches it.... is more beneficial as a musician than naming it. Because then you can accompany, you know what sounds good - where it progresses to.

On a Guitar, I don't know every note on the fretboard, so if someone starting playing a chord - I could do a small lick to that chord - simply because I know the shape, therefor I know the name, so I know what licks match it.

However, if someone played a lick, I could out a riff/chord sequence to go with it... based on sound, and raises etc - But I couldn't necessarily tell you what that note was. But I could tell you the key it was in once I had got the sequence.

Hope that makes sense.

To Sum Up: If you want to be the worlds best musician. Yes, learn every sound and know what note it is. If you want to be able to play with other musicians, "think on your feet" and play in groups etc - You don't need to know the notes, only the sounds.


Gutiars: Sheraton II | Yamaha APX-7A | Taylor 510CE-LTD
Equipment: Hiwatt 40 Amp | Switch Pedal | Zoom 200 FX Pedal
Piano: Roland 236