Guitar Lesson No .1-

Posted on November 28, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Learning Guitar – Lesson Four
Part 2: Notes on the Neck

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So far, most of what we’ve learned on the guitar has been focused on the bottom few frets of the instrument. Most guitars have at least 19 frets, so you can see by only using the first three, we aren’t using the instrument as effectively as we could. Learning the notes all over the guitar fretboard will be the first step we will need to take in order to unlock the instrument’s full potential.The Musical Alphabet

Before we begin, it is very important to understand the way the “musical alphabet” works. It is similar in many respects to the traditional alphabet, in that it uses standard letters (ABC’s). Where it differs, is that in the musical alphabet, the letters only progress up to G, upon which, they begin again at A. As you continue up the musical alphabet, the pitches of the notes get higher (when you go past G up to A again, the notes continue to get higher, they don’t start at a low pitch again.)
The trick to learning this on the guitar is that there are extra frets in between many of these notes in the musical alphabet. Consider the following:

This is an illustration of the musical alphabet. The ties between the notes B and C, and also between the notes E and F, reflect the fact there is NO “blank” fret between these two sets of notes. Between ALL OTHER notes, there is one fret space. This rule applies to all instruments, including piano. If you are familiar with the piano keyboard, you will know that there is no black key between the notes B and C, and also E and F. But, between all other sets of notes, there is a black key.

SUMMARY: On the guitar, there are no frets between the notes B&C, and between E&F. Between all other notes, there is one (for now, unnamed) fret between each.

From guitar lesson two, you’ll remember that the name of the open sixth string is “E”. Now, let’s figure out the other note names on the sixth string. Coming after E in the musical alphabet is, of course, F. Using the above summary, we must remember that there is no blank fret between these two notes. So, we know that F will be on the sixth string, first fret. Next, let’s figure out where the next note, G, will be located. From the summary, we know that there is a blank fret between F and G. So, the note G will be found on the third fret of the sixth string. After G, in the musical alphabet, comes the note A again. Since there is a blank fret between G and A, we can surmise that A is on the fifth fret of the sixth string. Continue this process all the way up the sixth string. You can check the diagram to the left to make sure you are correct. Remember: there is also no blank fret between the notes B and C.
Once you reach the 12th fret (which is often marked on the neck of the guitar by double dots), you’ll notice that you have reached the note E again. You will find that, on all six strings, the note on the 12th fret is always the same as the open string.
Once you’ve finished with the E string, you’ll want to try the same thing on the A string. This shouldn’t be difficult… the process is the exact same on all sixth strings. All you’ll need to know is the name of the open string to get started.
Unfortunately, understanding how to figure out note names on the fretboard isn’t enough. In order for these note names to be useful, you’ll have to go about memorizing them (for now, we’ll just worry about the sixth and fifth strings). The best way to go about memorizing the fretboard is to start by committing several note names and frets to memory on each string. If you know where A is on the sixth string, for example, it will be much easier to find the note B.
In lesson five, we will fill in the blank frets in the diagram with note names. These names include sharps and flats. Before you start learning about these other notes, however, it is very important to understand and memorize the above notes.

  • The musical alphabet goes from A to G, then back to A again.
  • There is no blank fret between the notes B&C, and E&F.
  • The note name on the 12th fret of any string is always the same as the open string.
  • Memorize the open string name, and several more note names and locations on both the sixth and fifth string. This will make finding all other notes much quicker.


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