Blues Guitar Institute

Know Your Fretboard

Fretboard Toolkit


Knowing the note names on the fretboard opens up a world of understanding. Try this simple plan to learn the notes on the fretboard.

Should you learn the note names on the guitar?


If your only guitar goal is to memorize a few songs to play by yourself on the back porch, then maybe taking the time to learn the note names on the fretboard isn’t going to benefit you that much.

But, it will make things easier.

Even if you only plan to play a few songs by yourself, simple tasks like decoding tabs or chord charts on Ultimate Guitar become infinitely easier.

It’s hard to play B chord, if you can’t find a B note…

Playing With Others

Plus, the moment you play with another musician, knowing the note names is nearly required. Here’s one real-world example:

You want to jam some blues with a harmonica player and they will need to know the key of the song in order to grab the right harp. Unfortunately for us guitar players, their harps aren’t labeled with our fret numbers 🙂

But if you know the song starts with a chord whose lowest note is on the 3rd fret, 6th string and you know that’s a G note. You can take a pretty good guess that the tune is in the key of G.

Without that knowledge, you might be jamming by yourself.

Understanding Music Theory

Knowing the note names Improves your understanding of music theory.

When you know the notes, you can build chords, understand scales, and analyze music in a more meaningful way.

Knowing the fretboard helps you play in different positions on the guitar neck. There are so many duplicate notes on the guitar which can be confusing to many.

But, this also means that if you know where the duplicate notes are, you can jump to them and explore new possibilities from a different spot on the neck.

This can really open up your playing.

Improvising a Solo

When you know the notes on the guitar fretboard, you can improvise more easily.

Knowing the notes under your fingers comes in super handy when you’re creating a solo on the fly.

Studying the neck will help you play melodies and solos without having to think about where your fingers are going, which frees up your mind to focus on the music itself.

Here’s a Plan to Help You Know Your Fretboard

The following guide outlines a simple plan to help you memorize the notes on the fretboard.

Fortunately, there are a few quick hacks that we can use to help use memorize things along the way.

Spend a few minutes each time you practice working through this plan and you’ll be surprised by just how much you can commit to memory in a relatively short period of time.

Hey, Before You Go...


Unlock the fretboard so you can play great blues guitar.