learn-the-fretboard“My Mr. Guitarist, what note are you playin?”  says Mr. Sax Player.

“Fourth fret, Fifth String.”

“Huh?”

You wouldn’t hear that!  I don’t know when you saw a saxophone last, but it doesn’t have any frets!  You see, we need to know a little bit about music to play guitar.  Sounds strange, I know.  As guitarists, we need to be in tune with music and less focused on just the guitar.

That starts with learning the fretboard.

Let’s take a quick review of my six step plan to learn the fretboard.

Plan to Learn the Fretboard

Six steps to learn the fretboard:

  1. Learn the open string names
  2. Learn the notes on the 6th string
  3. Focus on key frets
  4. Learn the notes on the 5th and 4th strings
  5. Use octaves to learn the notes on the 3rd and 2nd string
  6. Use the 6th string notes to learn the notes on the 1st string

Learn the Notes on the 5th String


As with the 6th string notes, really focus on the note names at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets. Doing this will give you a running start at knowing all the notes up and down the 5th string.

Once you have those down, move on to the 4th string using the same strategy as the 6th and 5th string.
What’s Next?

Dedicate a small portion of your practice time to learning the note names on the fretboard and you’ll be surprised at how many things will start to come together.

After learning the 6th, 5th and 4th strings, you should be well on your way to being able to carry on a conversation with the sax player.  I think this makes a little more sense than asking the sax player to learn the fretboard.

Next we’ll tackle the top three strings with a simple trick that will cut down on memorization time. Once you get the notes down on the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings, you might even be able to talk to a piano player!

This is the 4th installment in a series of posts on How to Learn the Fretboard.

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