Blues Guitar Institute

Are You Overwhelmed By Your Fretboard?


That’s how many different notes there are to choose from on a 24 fret, 6 string guitar.  Sheesh!  And I always thought 88 keys on the piano was a ridiculous amount of notes to choose from.

So, if you’re overwhelmed by your fretboard…you should be!

Still, it’s incredibly important for every guitarist to learn the fretboard.  And below I’ll show you my plan to help guide you through the process.

Why You Should Learn This

While there is no shortage of posts on popular guitar forums arguing the opposite, every guitarist should know the note names of each note on the fretboard.  It’s fundamental.

The argument against learning the fretboard is that knowing the note names of your fretboard is irrelevant unless you are reading sheet music.  I disagree.  I barely read music (to say even that is a stretch) and I can tell you that learning the notes on the fretboard has helped me tremendously.

The benefits are pretty far reaching.

Talk the Talk

Learning note names moves you away from being ‘just a guitarist’ and closer to becoming a musician.  When you know where the notes are, you can talk the talk.  Knowing where each note is located on the fretboard will help you speak the language of music.

Understand How Chords and Scales are Built

Chords aren’t built with frets.  They are built around notes.  The same with scales.  It is incredibly freeing the minute you stop thinking of scales as patterns or boxes locked on the fretboard and start thinking of them in musical terms.  This deepens your understanding of music which in turn, makes you a better guitar player.

How to Learn the Fretboard

Here’s a method that helped me make sense of the fretboard and eventually know all the notes completely cold.

  1. Learn the note names of the open strings
  2. Start with the notes on the 6th string
  3. Focus on the ‘key’ frets (the ones that have fret markers)
  4. Move on to the 5th and 4th strings separately
  5. Use octaves to learn the 3rd and 2nd string notes
  6. Use the 6th string notes to help you learn the 1st string notes

Here is part one of a video series that I put together which will explain the first step in more detail.

This is part 1 in a series of posts on How to Learn the Fretboard.

When you are ready, there are two ways I can help you:

Back Porch Blues Course:  A proven system to fingerpicking the blues.  This step-by-step course guides you through building fundamental fingerpicking skills.  Plus, you’ll learn three levels of a delta blues style performance study to put your new skills into action.

Become a myBGI Member: Membership comes with access to Back Porch Blues plus over 70 step-by-step courses.  Get proven results with one of myBGI’s structured Roadmaps.

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    Hey, Before You Go...


    Unlock the fretboard so you can play great blues guitar.