How do I memorize the fretboard well?


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adsala
10-29-2005, 02:17 AM
I've been playing for a long time pretty much by ear. I just decided to take lessons for about a year now. My teacher is very musically inclined and he keeps pushing me to learn all the notes on the fret board. He knows them so well, he can make chords instantaneously, play just about any scale and look at a tab or a solo on sheet and play it right out. I know this takes a long time to learn this stuff but he tells me that soloing and improvising will come very easy if you know where the notes are. I believe him as I've seen him prove it to me over and over again. It's not like I don't know any notes. I can pull out a note in a few seconds but this isn't good enough.

So far he has told me to learn the major scales up and down. Learn the natural notes first. And write out the tab as I play them. I believe that learning notes so they become second nature will help my playing in a great way. I'm stuck with the scale patterns but not really knowing the notes. I've tried fretboard learning software. But I don't think this is the answer. Having the guitar in your hands is different. I've been playing my scales talking out the the notes. And trying to say them out backwards is always difficult. And I've tried other various things with bad results. When I go back I have to almost start over again. Why is this so difficult?

It would be interesting to see if there are any good methods for learning the fretboard notes so well that they really stick. Like riding a bike. Can anyone help me?

Any help is appreciated. :)

By the way this is my first post.
Dean

InSaynePig
10-29-2005, 02:23 AM
yeah ive been wondering the exact same thing. my idea is to get some of those tiny white dot stickers, write the note letters on them, and stick them on the frets under the strings. that way, you see the note names constantly as you play and they begin to stick. i haven't actually tried this yet; anybody think it will work or have a better idea?

crazee201
10-29-2005, 02:30 AM
i dont think stickers r gonna work, unless you're gonna stick with just noting one string at a time..

jessejames1414
10-29-2005, 02:43 AM
just learn the notes

A - B C - D - E F - G -

and there's no split note between BC and EF

just memorize that and know the notes of your string
when played open

the 12th fret is another octave so it repeats again

memorize the 5th 7th and 9th

Play like that often and it'll come really quick to your head later

Like top string and bottom in standard tuning

Open is an E, 12th is E again, 3rd is a G, 5th is an A, 7th is B, 9th is C sharp or D flat depending on what scale you're playing in

using the fret inlays helps alot..


gah I hope Im talking about what you wanted to know...

vaifan666
10-29-2005, 02:47 AM
i think the best way is to write down the notes on a piece of paper and say them as you play though it. also if you look up the CAGED sequecnes that help out a lot of people i know that are in your spot

adsala
10-29-2005, 02:47 AM
I've been wondering about the sticker thing as well. But there are two issues here. One, how do you keep them there. A couple of string bends will wipe them right off. And two. You might aquire a dependency on them.

Thanks keep them coming.
Dean

pokescab
10-29-2005, 02:50 AM
By the way this is my first post.
Dean

and...???

I just learnt all the notes string by string. took about a month to get it so i know em pretty much straight away

InSaynePig
10-29-2005, 02:52 AM
A couple of string bends will wipe them right off.

true, hadn't thought of that...

Jandy
10-29-2005, 03:26 AM
You could do it, but it would require almost inlaying them. I've thought about this too.

What you may want to try is to get a map of the fretboard with every single note listed on it and lay it down as you play. Go through scales and call out each note off the sheet then play the scale again without the sheet calling them out. Kind of killing two birds with one stone.

Also knowing your intervals helps quite a bit.... if you know where the root is you will always know that the 5 is one string down and two frets toward the bridge (except the b string)

a------7
e--5----

A, E.

The 4th is always below the root (except the b string)

a--5--
e--5--

A, D

etc

YouKnowYourRite
10-29-2005, 03:37 AM
Lean the e & a strings firstt ehn go from there

Corwinoid
10-29-2005, 05:08 AM
... read sheet.

Honestly, the best way to learn the fretboard is to not look at it, learn it by sight/sound association with paper.

Ins
10-29-2005, 01:08 PM
I started by finding the pattern it follows, like.. find every F note. memorize that pattern, then say you want to find G, do the same pattern just start on G. I found it helped me get atleast more associated with the fretboard at first, I really started to understand the logic behind it.
The patterns pretty simple, and like say you want to find all the E's, you find the first set of the pattern, then from fret 12 to whatever, its the same pattern again.

Bare in mind this wasn't the only thing I was doing, it's just how I started to memorize it, the pattern can be a crutch if you rely on it, because you'll have to make you're way through it.

adsala
10-29-2005, 01:09 PM
I guess I should mention to that I do know all the strings. (E A D G B E) And I know varations on how to map one string to the other to find notes. I also, know how to resite the C, G, D, A, E majors and I am working on more from the circle of 5ths. I've studied many things in the last year about music theory. My problem is memorizing the notes on the fret board. Like I said, I can find the note but not very quickly. Sure, I can go to the 5 fret second string and play the D major scale from there. But is it's because I know one pattern to play it in. Assuming I know the notes in a D major, I would like to go to any "D" on the fretboard and play it's major scale in all the possible patterns not because I know the patterns but because I know the notes on the fret board. Patterns come second.

jessejames1414 mentioned to memorize the 5th 7th and 9th frets. I will try this.
Thanks.


Yes Corwinoid,
My teacher has told me that reading sheet is best way too... Start with mary had a little lamb, then on to Yankee doodle etc etc. I have started to do this and it helps. I just need to be more consistent at it as it's very slow and boring. No other way I guess.

Thanks for all friendly comments
Dean

Corwinoid
10-29-2005, 03:29 PM
^ Pick up a -good- beginning classical book; like the Shearer book. It'll give tips on sight reading, and the music is a lot more interesting than children's songs, but not much harder to play.

John Kimble
10-29-2005, 04:19 PM
Berklee guitar method volume 1 by William Leavitt is a very good book to start to learn to sight read.

Nome
10-29-2005, 06:12 PM
google search something called "fretboard warrior", it's a cool little free flash program that has helped me a lot...

tHewHiteHendrix
10-29-2005, 06:48 PM
ooo the inlay thing gave me an idea. a neck solely made to improve ones scale memory/ knowledge. a neck w/ interchangable inlays. every fret has 6 interchangable inlays, one for each string. most inlays are wood colored, others are white. place the white ones in the slots of the scale you want to learn. IM A GENIOUs. patent this and i will eat your colon. twice.

Meddling Idiot
10-29-2005, 10:26 PM
well i learned all the notes for the E and A strings cuz that was i would know the names of all the bar chords and i forget how i memorized it but yea it comes pretty naturally once you know the order of the notes and the strings..

rageandlove04
10-30-2005, 12:46 AM
Learn to sight read

adsala
10-30-2005, 01:49 AM
Well, so far we have three post saying sight read. And thanks for the material suggestions.

Guess my teacher was right too. He has been trying to give me alternatives but when you get down to it, sight reading may be the only real way to make it stick. I am thinking that note inlays would be just a good shortcut. Then when you remove the inlays what happens? Just like Fret Board Warrior. I was using it till I could nail every note within split seconds, but when I picked up the guitar, and ran some scales, I got lost.

It's really amazing watching my teacher whip out great melody because he knows where he is at on the fretboard. He tells me that even speed can dramatically increase with note awarness. . It's not like I don't know any fret board notes. Of course I do. Especially on the E and A strings. But going backwards on scales is always a problem and the B and G strings is where I really have the problem. I guess I'm a little impatient. It does take time.

Thanks for all the comments :cool:

Dean

Jandy
10-30-2005, 05:17 AM
ooo the inlay thing gave me an idea. a neck solely made to improve ones scale memory/ knowledge. a neck w/ interchangable inlays. every fret has 6 interchangable inlays, one for each string. most inlays are wood colored, others are white. place the white ones in the slots of the scale you want to learn. IM A GENIOUs. patent this and i will eat your colon. twice.

Interchangeable inlays? Could be possible, although difficult to play.

But it's probably been done. I had the great idea couple years back to have a guitar solely for teaching where the fretboard inlays were leds and would light up to show you scales/chords/notes etc. The thing could even have a build in drum machine and speaker to demontrate a lick or scale or chord and then you could play it back. Built in metronome, and chord finder, all that good stuff.

I opened up a guitar magazine at barnes and noble and there was an ad for Fretlight guitars :( motherf'er I could have been rich.

aprescott_27
10-30-2005, 09:40 AM
Learn to sight read
i had to play a musical on guitar back in april. i didn't really take a look at the music ahead of time (i did, but it wasn't that extensive) because i figured that since sight reading trombone (yes, i also play trombone) was easy. i forgot that you have possibly six notes at a time to worry about on guitar (aside from the fact that i didn't know all the notes on the guitar fretboard.) my point? sight reading requires learning notes and chord structures first!

and i completely use patterns. that's how i memorize anything.

Diabolic Clown
10-30-2005, 09:44 AM
Well, here's the notes. This is really the complete basics of music theory, and it's very simple to memorize once you see how it works. The scale repeats twice, two different octaves. I haven't read the other posts yet, so I don't know if it's been posted yet but.. http://www.guitarbasics.com/theory/chords_scales_images/image002.gif

aprescott_27
10-30-2005, 09:48 AM
ooo the inlay thing gave me an idea. a neck solely made to improve ones scale memory/ knowledge. a neck w/ interchangable inlays. every fret has 6 interchangable inlays, one for each string. most inlays are wood colored, others are white. place the white ones in the slots of the scale you want to learn. IM A GENIOUs. patent this and i will eat your colon. twice.

that's not a bad idea, except six pieces for each fret? why not just take it down to 1 piece per fret and say that you have to learn in standard tuning. and give more sets of inlays for alternate tunings (like dropped d, open g, open d)

hoolan
10-31-2005, 03:09 PM
learn the notes in music in order and the open note of the strings and all the frets go in order from the open string hope you understand that

PurpleMonkeyDW
11-01-2005, 10:41 AM
A good way to learn is by learning the notes on the fretmarkers first. Learn the notes at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets. You can then go on to learn the notes in between them by going relative to the notes you just learned. When you have this reasonably well in your head, start calling out random notes and finding them on that string without counting up the frets. After you can do this effortlessly do the next string. When you have two strings learned then do the same test with the two strings: call out a random not the find it on one string and the same note (in the same octave) on the next string. Repeat until all strings are learned. Gets harder as you go along though.

rageandlove04
11-01-2005, 11:21 AM
my point? sight reading requires learning notes and chord structures first!


Uhh...no. You don't need to know where all the notes are before you learn to sight read, that's stupid. You just need to know how to find the notes and if you practice reading sheet, you'll guadually learn where the notes are and not have to spend time figuring out where they are. Furthermore, your example didn't help your point, on the contrary, it hurt it. I mean, are you really willing to admit that you thought sight reading on guitar would be easy because you can do it on trombone (in a different clef??!?!!). Brilliant.

edit: And chord structures? Why would you have to know those to read off a sheet of music? If you have a four note chord, you'll realize that you need to use four strings and you'll learn to quickly figure out the best place to play all four of those notes.

GuitarMauler
11-01-2005, 12:02 PM
I'm trying my darndest to learn the same thing. What I do is when I'm sitting there drilling away just going up and down the neck, the first thing I do is I stare at a picture I found of every note on the fretboard, and I sit there on each position of the drill I'm doing and keep slowly plugging away at drill while saying each note I play out loud until I don't have to think about it too hard or look up at the picture very often.

I do a lot of drills that require a lot of chromatic movements, so I can usually figure out what the notes are if I know the note on first fingering of that position.

gmsje
11-01-2005, 03:15 PM
Berklee guitar method volume 1 by William Leavitt is a very good book to start to learn to sight read.
I second this recommendation. Not only did it get me to read music for the first time where teachers had failed to get me to do so, but I also started hearing where notes are for melodies/scales.

Edit - PurpleMonkeyDW's suggestions are similiar to the way I learned to read music from the Leavitt book. The first lesson is in C major. I learned the notes on the sheet for the open strings first, and then was able to fill in the other notes relative to the open string notes while looking at the sheet and without looking at the fretboard.

comma
11-28-2005, 05:41 PM
It would be interesting to see if there are any good methods for learning the fretboard notes so well that they really stick. Like riding a bike. Can anyone help me?

Any help is appreciated. :)

By the way this is my first post.
Dean

"The Bead Method of Fretboard Mastery" uses the CIrcle of Fifths to help you see everything you want on the fretboard. You can name your notes and key using this method. It works like this. Take a look at the Circle of Fifths and it is aranged in 4ths if you go backwards.

Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G-C-F

Look at the 3rd fret. You can use the circle of fifths to name all the notes. G-C-F-Bb drop down one fret Eb-Ab. Practice looking at the fretboard this way and you will have the whole neck down by site. The book probably explains it better but I think you can see how to do it.

Mark Frelkie

sirpsycho85
11-28-2005, 09:48 PM
yeah learn to read music, and sight read even if you start verrrry slowly.

i'd also say instead of doing just those scales with letter names, do arpeggios and random repetitive patterns, that way you don't just get into a habit of moving fingers and saying the next note in the alphabet. if you do different arpeggios and chord voicings in different keys, you'll have to pay attention more to the note you're playing.

Jawshuwa
05-16-2008, 02:15 PM
I'm working on memorizing the fretboard as well, and I read somewhere that you should learn the natural notes first, and the accidentals will fall into place quite easily afterwards.

So, scales -- since this is everyone's double-edged sword -- with all natural notes:
C Major.
D Dorian.
E Phrygian.
F Lydian.
G Mixolydian.
A Aeolian.
B Locrian.

Take your pick (l0l, guitar joke) and memorize the scale, horizontally along every string and vertically up all strings all across the fretboard. Once you're comfortable with what you've memorized, call out a note name and find each note on every string.

In concept, it's not that hard to pull off (...I'm on a roll) and get down. It's boring, though, can't deny that.

steven seagull
05-16-2008, 04:08 PM
I'm working on memorizing the fretboard as well, and I read somewhere that you should learn the natural notes first, and the accidentals will fall into place quite easily afterwards.

So, scales -- since this is everyone's double-edged sword -- with all natural notes:
C Major.
D Dorian.
E Phrygian.
F Lydian.
G Mixolydian.
A Aeolian.
B Locrian.

Take your pick (l0l, guitar joke) and memorize the scale, horizontally along every string and vertically up all strings all across the fretboard. Once you're comfortable with what you've memorized, call out a note name and find each note on every string.

In concept, it's not that hard to pull off (...I'm on a roll) and get down. It's boring, though, can't deny that.
Wow, way to necropost :eek:

Also, what you're recommending is pointless - you just said to learn the exact same thing 7 times over...where's the logic in that?

mjkshreds
05-16-2008, 06:52 PM
well the way i got good at knowing all my notes was by learning the scales because they contain all the notes and if you learn them all over the fingure board not only will u be able to improvise u will be able to know all the notes which will help u with everythin

ILoveGuitar07
05-17-2008, 02:42 AM
theres no real easy way out. Sit down and do them everyday until u got em all.

gmsje
05-18-2008, 08:05 PM
After years of staring at scale books, I finally noticed a pattern for finding where all the repetitions of any note are on the fretboard.

Say you want to find all the E notes. Start with the low E string. 1. To find the next E go up two strings (D) and up two frets. 2. From that position, to find the next E go up two strings (B) and up three frets. 3. From that position, since you can't go up two strings anymore, to find the next E, reverse the last procedure and go down three strings (From the B to the A) and up two frets.

If you use the A string to start and end up on the high E at the 5th fret, of course all you have to do is go back to the low E on the same fret to continue finding the same note farther up the fretboard.

So, whatever note you pick anywhere on the fretboard, depending on which string you are starting with, you can plug in the above formula and find the same note everywhere on the fretboard. If you start in the middle of the fretboard and going up the strings leaves you on the B or high E string, just make sure to always go up three frets.

The formula is basically 2 strings up + 2 frets up; 2 strings up + 2 frets up; 2 strings up + 3 frets up; -3 strings down +2 frets up (from the B string) or back down to the low E string on the same fret (from the high E). I finally noticed this pattern looking at a scale all over the neck with the root notes depicted as a hollow circle and the other notes as filled in circles. :cheers:

Andrewkrippner
02-28-2009, 12:00 AM
Well the reason you know the E and A strings well is because that's where you find the roots
for power chords. But the other strings are foreign to you because they are in the middle of the chord and are mostly used within individual notes rather than a root of a chord. The obvious solution now would be to use those notes for the root of a power chord and use those chords in songs you know, instead of the chords used starting on the E and A strings. When you actually use them in songs rather than staring down the fretboard for hours, you actually get something out of it. Worked for me hope it does the same for you.

tagergat85
06-11-2009, 11:46 AM
I'm in the process of teaching myself all the notes on the neck. I made a simple diagram of the neck with blank circles to fill in the notes. Whenever I'm bored I fill one out, alternating from the top of the neck and the bottom so I memorize it forwards and backwards. I'm not sure if this method will work for me, I just started doing it but it seems to be helping. Also once in a while playing the notes and calling them out as others have suggested is a good idea.

qoody
06-18-2009, 10:50 PM
Naming notes as you play them seems to be a good way to learn. Another great alternative to naming the notes is picturing the note on the staff... should help with sight reading :)

troll2
11-08-2009, 09:23 AM
I used a "C.Parkers Omnibook" to learn the notes. It took some months but the learning was quite straightforward and easy. I think there are some flash games on some sites that can teach notes on fretboard. But for OPs initial post - there is fretography, guitargrid, bead method, neckmapping, CAGED systems and what not.

Nick_
11-08-2009, 01:14 PM
I'll add to the sight reading recommendation - the most important thing about it, though, is it forces you not to look at your fretboard. Keep your eyes on the music. If you get lost in a position change, look down quickly to see where you are, go back to the music. When you sit with any measure of posture you should only be able to see the side dots anyway (that's what they're there for, and your wrist will thank you later). More importantly, the less you play with your EYES the more you'll start to use your EARS.

It's important to sight read properly. That means every day, because most of the effectiveness is lost without regularity. 20 minutes is more than enough. Set your metronome to a tempo where you can make it with only a few mistakes, and play through the whole thing without stopping. Don't stop for any reason. Remember where you made mistakes and go back to learn from them after you've finished.

Practice your scales, arpeggios and chord voicings while singing the notes (with good pitch - start slow, and NO SCOOPING!) to their solfege syllables or note names. Make sure you play and sing right on beat - be disciplined, don't use one as a crutch for the other. Trains your ear and your mind. I recommend no more than 2-3 keys a day, otherwise you get swamped. Playing while singing is also a good way to learn a tune quickly. And the variations are endless (play the line, sing harmony, sing the line, play harmony, and so on). If you're feeling confident, maybe even try sight reading this way.

Melodic Rhythms is a decent book but I prefer Rhythms Complete, by Collin and Bower. Much more melodic - many of Leavitt's melodies are kind of awkward, which makes it needlessly difficult. No one should ever lack sight reading material as long as they use www.mutopiaproject.org - I prefer to read clarinet and violin music (for range). It's always good music, which makes it enjoyable to read, and the nice thing about sight reading is that difficulty is dependent on tempo. So nothing's too hard.

There's nothing wrong with reading from the omnibook but I'd suggest you can get far more from Parker by transcription, using the omnibook to check your work.


I don't believe in systems for knowing the fretboard - the human brain is more than powerful enough to simply know the whole thing (how many words do you know? how many notes are there? exactly), and you're just adding extra steps and bindings to everything it does.

wolflen
11-08-2009, 03:51 PM
the guitar..being a illogical instrument..has many disadvantages for a new player...they are overcome with the desire..dedication & patients to learn and .. if you have natural talent all the better..

learning the 12 notes on 6 strings seems like an easy math test .. as being the notes don't move..

but

factor in the hand - eye - ear components and the relationship of the strings to each other
and the illusive "sound right" goal...all trying to be in the same place at the same time with the player feeling confident and knowledgeable as well...

thats asking an awful lot...dont ya think..

all the suggestions in this thread are good...and they are all used to their best advantage when it is understood how they work...and when to use them

take the C major scale..learn it from the 3rd position to the 5th in one octave .. given time and practice it will be easy to lean...but if that is the only thing you know about the fret board...its fustrating at best.

if you learn how to construct chords from that scale( diatonic harmony) and notice the finger patterns and how the notes from the scale are used in the chords ... now you have reinforced the scale by manyfold..then if you learn how to read what you are learning it will be reinforced again for the eye to see ... remembering that sight reading is learning a new launguage..

then move all the above up one octave and then on the the next key...

it takes alot of work and time to intergrate the "fretboard" under your fingers and if you are lucky enough to fing a good teacher..use that time to its full advantage..

my take is only one of many different approaches to learning the guitar...at the same time we are also learning music...which without an instrument is most difficult to share...

play well

wolf

TheGoGoer
09-05-2011, 02:09 PM
Hi Dean,

Your question hit a huge note of recognition with me - I'm struggling with the exact same thing! If I understood you correctly, you're looking for some methods or heuristics that can help expedite the memorization process.

As someone raised the point earlier of memorizing words, the key to real learning is associations. That's how we effortlessly know what "cat" means - we have mental associations with images, experiences, and meanings on both a conscious and subconscious cognitive level.

The way the super-memorization pros (the ones who memorize the number Pi to 3 zillion decimals...) do it is by associations.

On a fretboard, there is regrettably little that can be done, at least from my experience, outside of visual patterns and reference points. Scales serve this purpose, as well as using the dots on the fretboard. These at least anchor the location of the note to something else, giving it a point of reference instead of it just being a blip amidst 120+ others.

As for little tricks to make the memorization process easier, more effective, and more enjoyable, one thing that's been helping me is a little self-testing reinforcement routine that I do: I set a tempo (either with a metronome or just in my head) and move my fingers totally at random over a range of strings/frets while calling out the note, in time with the beat.

What this does is it mixes the mental act of knowing where the note is and the physical act of playing it - which necessitates drawing from that knowledge in an active way. The consistent beat forces you to think/play on your feet, and helps create a more intuitive knowledge of the note placement. Also, it allows for a sort of "mantra" to kick in, which helps you memorize for longer. The randomization of the note sequence is actually a hedge against over-association, where you would only know the note in relation to a certain scale or riff. This way you get to know the note where it is, as it stands. (This is what pianists can visually enjoy in a way that guitarists can't).

Anyway, I've found that doing this (and gradually increasing the tempo) helps speed up and strengthen the memorization, while fostering an intuitive knowledge that is not over-reliant on excessive associations.

Hope it helps - I'd love to hear some feedback on this. ;)

another_dave
09-05-2011, 03:05 PM
theres no real easy way out. Sit down and do them everyday until u got em all.
This is the approach I'm taking. I've written the notes on flash cards, one card for each fret, and I'm working thru.

(This was suggested on the Classical Guitar FAQ (http://www.faqs.org/faqs/music/classical/guitar/faq/))

Switchmunky7
09-06-2011, 07:24 AM
I would recommend a book called fretboard workout, it shows the five patterns and eventually starts to teach you how to memorize the fretboard. To me it is the most valuable guitar instruction book I own.

insushin
09-06-2011, 07:56 AM
BAM!!!!!!! use this, its what im doing and it really really works!
It will take time naturally but this i find effective


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuzB2_O8GGM

AlanHB
09-06-2011, 08:18 AM
This thread is 2 years old dudes, whatever issue TS had should have been resolved. In any case he's not going to check here.

So I'm going to close it. If you want to discuss further learning the fretboard, there are several current threads on the front page of this forum.

**Closed**