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The notes on the fretboard


(@rhcpfan)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 36
Topic starter  

Hey, can someone tell me the importance of learning all the notes of the fretboard? And some different ways to learn them in a somehow fun way besides bruteforce learning (if you know what I mean).


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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

it is a simple thing to learn the notes.
if you already know the name of each string then you are part way home.
if you know the names of each fret marker then you are closer.
knowing how the notes stand in a row is key.
E F G A B C D E.
the high E string at fret marker 5 is A.
the second string B at fret 5 is E.
etc. etc.

when I began lap steel playing and had to play open tunings I was at a loss at first.
then I took some paper and pencil and mapped the fretboard, I followed each string and fret and wrote down the note.
by the time I finished I knew most of them. I guess just by going trhough the process of writing helped me create a picture that I undedstood.
next I started seeing the triads. those three notes that make a chord.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@pearlthekat)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1472
 

i don't think there actually a fun way but it's something you have to know. sooner or later you will pick it up somehow so you may as well just try to learn it now.


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(@noteboat)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

Yes, there are different ways... when I get an intermediate student who already "knows" the fretboard, I can usually tell which way they approach it. As near as I can tell, there are four methods. In order of really "knowing" the neck, they are:

1. Octave relationships. If you've learned one string, you can figure out the notes on two others. Let's say you know the sixth string all the way up from playing barre chords... if you find a note like C (8th fret), the same letter name will be 2 frets higher on the 4th string (10th fret) and 3 frets lower on the 3rd string (5th fret). Working from the fifth string, it'll be two frets higher on the 3rd string and 2 frets lower on the 2nd string - the difference is because of the 2nd/3rd string tuning.

I can tell when students have learned the neck this way because their fingers go to a different string first - if I ask for F on the third string, they'll find F on the 5th or 6th string first. So you don't really "know" the fretboard if you learn it this way, but you know how to navigate.

2. Anchor points. At the fifth fret, the notes on every string are the same as open strings, except for the third (again because of 2nd/3rd string tuning). And at the 12th fret, the notes are the same as the open strings. So if you learn the fretboard this way, you need to count from an anchor, but any note is no more than 3 frets from a note you know - you figure the 6th, 7th, and 8th frets by counting up from the 5th, and you figure the 9th, 10th, and 11th by counting back from the 12th.

I can tell when students have learned the neck this way because their fingers go to a different fret first. Like octave relationships, you don't really "know" the neck, but you can get around. If a student doesn't want to learn to read, this is the way I teach the notes - I find they recognize notes slightly faster than those who learn by octaves. But I also tell them about:

3. Brute force. This is the way I originally learned the neck - by using flash cards. I made a set of 21 cards (one for each letter, one for each letter with a sharp, and one for each flat). I'd flip a card and find that note on every string as fast as I could. It took maybe 3 weeks of about 15 minutes a day, and I knew all the note names.

The advantage to this method is that you do KNOW the neck - there's no figuring things out in relation to other strings or frets. And finally, there's the best way:

4. Reading. As I said, I learned the neck by brute force, because I was impatient... so I "knew" the notes everywhere before I could read them all. The problem, though, is that you've got more "notes" than "pitches" - if you have a 24 fret neck, you have 14 "E" notes, but you only have five different "E" pitches. There's a subtle difference between knowing a note is E and knowing which E it is - and really, only reading will get you to this level. You can come close to understanding the neck at this level by instinct and ear, but if you can read you'll really know it.

Believe it or not, If I study the way someone plays for a while, I can usually tell if they know how to read - it's in the way the change positions. A guitarist who knows the notes by brute force will shift positions on one string... that way they're sure the line is rising/falling to the right pitches. A guitarist who reads will do this too, but they can also use an open string to buy time for a positon shift - because they know which note in the new position comes next in pitch.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@coloradofenderbender)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1120
 

In my opinion, you are really holding yourself back until you memorize the notes on the fretboard. It is a pain in the rear, but it must be done. You will be using it ALL the time. Its like being a writer, but not knowing the alphabet!

And, there are some pretty good learning tools out there for free on the net. I am not sure it makes learning the notes "fun," but it does make it a little more enjoyable. Try Fretboard Warrior, a great free one:

http://www.francoisbrisson.com/fretboardwarrior/fretboardwarrior.html


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(@yournightmare)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 108
 

I second fretboard warrior.


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(@heatherjocey)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 12
 

Laugh, I just tried the Fretboard Warrior game, and it showed me just how much I still need to learn! Fun lil tool though, and I'll definitely be trying for a few more rematches on it later. So from me another + to the little flash game and making the memorization a little less painful. :)


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(@causnorign)
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 559
 

Fretboard Warrior is the best way to go. If you remember that there is no B# or E# on the fretboard, you can work it out for yourself alphabetically.


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(@noteboat)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

But there are B# and E# notes.

You'll use both in the key of C#, you'll need B# for the key of C#minor (which has the same key signature as E), you need E# for playing in F#, and for F# minor (same key signature as A). The same thing is true of the other 'unused' notes of Cb and Fb, but in different keys.

There really are 21 different note names - more if you count double sharps and flats. You should learn where all of them are, even if you're used to thinking with the enharmonic names.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2198
 

Noteboat, as usually, really got to the heart of the matter with his "4 methods" post.

The only way to really know the fretboard is to be able to read music.

That's precisely because when you do come up against Cbb you know how to handle it without a second's pause.

For someone who is a pretty good rhythm player, I have a method that works pretty well and is mostly the 3rd method of Fretboard, but happens on the guitar neck instead of on flashcards.

Start by learning all the forms of 7th chords and their inversions with the bass note on the 6th string. Play a bunch of songs this way for 2 or 3 weeks.

Now learn all the forms of 7th chords and their inversions with the bass note on the 5th string. Again, play this way a few weeks.

Do the 4th string.

Now, go learn the top note of each of those 12 chord forms. Start with just the 6th string forms and learn the top note. Then 5th then 4th.

At this point you can toss in minor chords as well.

This is a slow learning method. However, it can be accomplished while doing other things. When finished, you'll know the fretboard and relative pitches, and you'll have gotten really damn good at jazz comping :)

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


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(@causnorign)
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 559
 

Fretboard Warrior is the best way to go. If you remember that there is no B# or E# on the fretboard, you can work it out for yourself alphabetically.

Sorry about giving that bit of misinformation, guess its cause I never play in those keys.


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(@poorpetebest)
Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 38
 

There is a really good flash trainer for this at:

http://www.musictheory.net/trainers/html/id81_en.html

If you check out the other sections of that site, you'll find a ton of other excellent trainers for theory related stuff. I have been using this to help pick up some understanding of music theory.


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(@chris-c)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3460
 

Hi,

Some great posts above. :)
Hey, can someone tell me the importance of learning all the notes of the fretboard? And some different ways to learn them in a somehow fun way besides bruteforce learning (if you know what I mean).

Short answer:

So that you know where the next noise you want to make can be found. 8)

Longer answer:

I learn best when there's a purpose to the knowledge. Just learning the note names on every string at each fret can be a pointless party trick if that's all you do. If you can't translate that knowledge into keys, intervals, scales, harmonies - or simply sounds - then it's somewhat empty information.

My ultimate goal is to know my way around the neck by sound, not by formulae or names. If I've played a note then I want to know where the next sound I want is located. I don't necessarily care what its official name is, whether it's going to be an interval of a third (or whatever) from what I just played, or whether it's the 6 of a certain scale, etc. I just want to be able to quickly and accurately find that next sound....

Now perhaps I could learn all that by brute force experimentation and ear training. But what works for me is to learn all the traditional stuff - scales, keys, positions, note names, reading music, etc. They're all just tools - but the thing is they're tools with a purpose and a point - and that purpose to serve the hunt for mastery of the sounds. 8) As NoteBoat says, there is a difference between the sound of one E and another. There are around a dozen or so Es on the neck and they do sound different. Some are different because they're several octaves apart, but even the ones that are nominally 'the same' can have a very different tone quality depending on which string and how low on the neck you are playing it. The more I know about the 'where' and 'why' of it all the happier I am...

Fun factor?

Well, what works for me is improvising and experimenting. I take a part of the neck and suss out what the neighbours are all called and who lives next door to who, and then I start running my fingers all over them and see who makes the best noises... :P

Good luck. It's all fun if you want it to be.

Cheers,

Chris


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(@quarterfront)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 225
 

Saw this somewhere recently, and it's working for me:

Print out or draw out charts of the fretboard. Sit down and pick random notes (at first, skip the sharps and flats) and fill in their names on the fretboard. Do this like you'd do a crossword, or such, just whenever you have time do one, wad it up and throw it away, do another....

Seems to be helping me get an intuitive handle on things like adjacent notes, scale patterns, octive patterns, and the devilishly simple fact that any given note will appear exactly once on every string between the nut and the 12th fret.


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(@switch10)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 49
 

Try fret pro. its free and sort of amusing.
http://tabguitarlessons.com/free-downloads.htm
they also have some other cool free stuff like a metronome, and a chord book.

Dave


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