donegan_zealot
UG's Clueless Guitarist
Join date: May 2009
577 IQ
#1
I've gotten to the point to where I am going to slow down on working on technique and start working on my theory, So I am starting with the very basic.. learning the notes on my guitar. I am pretty good at finding all my octaves.

What's the most effective way of learning the fretboard? Do I learn where all the sharps and flats are first? Should I learn horizontally or vertically up the fretboard?
HotspurJr
Registered User
Join date: Jul 2011
191 IQ
#2
I like "The Guitar Fretboard Workbook." It's focus isn't on learning all the note names, but it gives you a technique for learning them.

Start by learning the various root shapes, so you can see how a note repeats. They all repeat in the same pattern. (This is the heart of the CAGED system).

Then start one note at a time. Location all the C's. Play them. Repeat this, saying the name of the note as you play it, for a couple minutes a day for a week. Then move on to the next note.
Scott Jones
Tab Contributor
Join date: Nov 2004
955 IQ
#3
3 things you HAVE to just know, and from there, you can access every note on the fretboard:

The musical alphabet: A B C D E F G (A)
That there are 1/2 steps between E-F and B-C (no sharp or flat between); all else are whole steps
And the names of the open strings: E A D G B E (6 5 4 3 2 1)

Avoid sharps and flats FIRST

Start on the 6th string: E
Proceed upward on that single string, going fret to fret (or open string to fret) when you encounter E-F or B-C

All other notes: skip a fret A-B. C-D, D-E, F-G, G-A

Do this on the 6th string and the 1st string. Both are E. It's a mirror image.

E (open), F (fr1), G (fr3), A (fr5), B (fr7), C (fr8), D (fr10), E (fr12).

Proceed to the 5th string, A: ascend, alphabetically and stepwise in a similar manner

Proceed to the remaining strings.

When you're done, return to the 6th string (E) and add in sharps and flats (for clarity in this, just use sharps ascending, and flats descending) >E, F, F#, G, G#, etc... <E, Eb, D, Db, C, B, etc...

Do this on the 6th string to get the idea. The principle applies to the other strings.

Then, learn the visual relationships of octaves across the fretboard...

To assist in learning the notes on the 4th string, notice the octave from the 6th string.

For the notes on the 3rd string, notice the octaves from the 1st string.

For the notes on the 2nd string, notice the 2 octave jump from the 6th string.


Vlasco
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2007
121 IQ
#4
I usually teach students in this order:

The musical alphabet
Where the half-steps occur
Notes without sharps/flats that can be reached from the open position
5th fret is the equivalent of the next open string with the B being the exception (4th fret on G)
The 7th fret is an octave above the previous open string
We then move up to the 7th fret on the A string where the same layout of notes repeats (mind the B string!) The 12th fret becomes the new "5th fret" of this position
Everything past the 12th fret repeats so we have now covered the entire fingerboard with one overarching visualization (0-5 first, 7-12 second, above 12 repeats)
I then add in the sharps and flats as we play, if an F# is present they simply move the F up one half step.

Everything after that is just drills for note recognition speed.
AeolianWolf
Tonal Vigilante
Join date: Jul 2009
186 IQ
#5
when i teach? string by string. avoiding sharps and flats, do first position first (frets 1-4), fifth position second (frets 5-8), and ninth position last (frets 9-12). i don't usually teach by the "octave rule" (two strings up, two frets up) unless the student is having a hard time. i want my students to know the fretboard, not to have to calculate it. you need to have the information down pat if you want to make use of it in real-time. after this, then i explain flats and sharps to fill in the remainder.

keep in mind that (unlike many guitar teachers, i notice) i teach my students to read. so if you're looking to read music, i advise this method.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
CarsonStevens
Rocksmith
Join date: Sep 2010
688 IQ
#6
I never actually consciously learned the fretboard. If you asked me to find a note on it, depending on the string, I might be able to do it immediately, or it might take a moment of thinking.

Still, the strings I do know well, I know because I learned the note placements by playing chords. The low E and A strings, for instance, because of the power/barre chords you can play on them. And the high E, since it's the same as the low E. So, that's three strings just by practicing chords.

I tend to find notes on the middle D, G, and B strings by knowing my intervals from the strings below them. Like, if I'm on the A string, I know that going up a string and over one fret is a major third. I may not know the note name, but I know if it belongs in the melody I'm trying to play.

As I don't improv much, and I use composition software to write out my melodies, knowing where the notes are isn't quite as important. I can find them, use that as a jumping-off point, and write out my melody. That's good enough for me.
FretboardToAsh
UG's Wise Man Says
Join date: May 2006
1,241 IQ
#7
I simply wrote it out when I was young, I have quite a decent visual memory so that worked for me.
Wise Man Says: The guitar is obviously female, she's got hips, breasts... and a hole.
UG's Flamenco Club
ouchies
UG's OG
Join date: Jan 2006
1,613 IQ
#10
I learned the standard diatonic shapes and pentatonic shapes up the neck while at the same time learning arpeggios up and down the neck.

In hindsight, I spent WAY too much time on playing the diatonic shapes up and down the neck.

The best way, for me, to learn the fretboard is to learn arpeggios and chord shapes and see how all the notes relate to the respective chord shapes/arpeggios.
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#11
I learned the fretboard by learning scales, simple as.

Start with the C major scale, because it's all the natural notes. Then just go around the circle of fifths, so you're only adding one sharp or flat at a time.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
donegan_zealot
UG's Clueless Guitarist
Join date: May 2009
577 IQ
#12
Thanks a lot every one, I'll probably try giving Aeolian Wolf and Vlasco's methods a try to see if one seems to be more effective since they seem the most practical.
Kerbache
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2011
922 IQ
#13
I located the C note on each string

8th fret 1st string
1st fret 2nd string
5th fret 3rd string
10th fret 4th string
3rd fret 5th string
8th fret 6th string

Did this with each note (not including the sharpes and falts)
OperaIsNotMusic
Banned
Join date: Dec 2012
40 IQ
#14
Just read a tab of whatever you want to play in the beggining. I do that, and i would concider myself atleast intermediate.
Morphogenesis26
UG Nerd
Join date: Apr 2011
469 IQ
#15
Quote by OperaIsNotMusic
Just read a tab of whatever you want to play in the beggining. I do that, and i would concider myself atleast intermediate.


Are you saying he should look at a numbered diagram of the fretboard with the notes being pointed out? Or do you mean he should just use a tab for any songs he wants to learn?

If it's the former, memorizing that seems fine. If it's the latter then that would hinder his progress more than anything. A tab every now and then is fine, but for a musician a trained ear is probably the best tool you can have, and a tab wouldn't be helpful in obtaining that tool.
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#16
Quote by Morphogenesis26
Are you saying he should look at a numbered diagram of the fretboard with the notes being pointed out? Or do you mean he should just use a tab for any songs he wants to learn?

If it's the former, memorizing that seems fine. If it's the latter then that would hinder his progress more than anything. A tab every now and then is fine, but for a musician a trained ear is probably the best tool you can have, and a tab wouldn't be helpful in obtaining that tool.
This. In my opinion, you should only ever use tabs as an absolute beginner or if you have an obligation to learn something that is beyond your aural ability.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#17
Quote by food1010
This. In my opinion, you should only ever use tabs as an absolute beginner or if you have an obligation to learn something that is beyond your aural ability.


I would say use notation for that
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#18
i started listening

Quote by macashmack
I would say use notation for that


oh, shit on you. i'll say it: notation just doesn't have that much use for contemporary guitarists. unless you're going into a professional session, you probably won't find notation for any given song short of (typically inaccurate) guitarpro translations.

this isn't to say you shouldn't know how to read or write music, but for guitar music, notation just isn't as prevalent as if you were to learn, say, piano or trombone.
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Last edited by Hail at Jan 19, 2013,
Vlasco
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2007
121 IQ
#19
Quote by Hail

oh, shit on you. i'll say it: notation just doesn't have that much use for contemporary guitarists. unless you're going into a professional session, you probably won't find notation for any given song short of (typically inaccurate) guitarpro translations.

this isn't to say you shouldn't know how to read or write music, but for guitar music, notation just isn't as prevalent as if you were to learn, say, piano or trombone.



Agreed
cdgraves
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
44 IQ
#20
I think it'd be hard to develop good technique without "theory". If you're going to spend time playing, it might as well be stuff that is fundamentally musical. It's far more useful to work your technique up with scales/arps/chords because you'll actually use those when you play music. Chances are very, very slim that you'll find a gig playing 4-note chromatic patterns all night.
macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#21
Quote by Hail
i started listening


oh, shit on you. i'll say it: notation just doesn't have that much use for contemporary guitarists. unless you're going into a professional session, you probably won't find notation for any given song short of (typically inaccurate) guitarpro translations.

this isn't to say you shouldn't know how to read or write music, but for guitar music, notation just isn't as prevalent as if you were to learn, say, piano or trombone.


Well, for learning all the notes on the guitar, reading notation is more beneficial than tab IMO.
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#22
Quote by macashmack
Well, for learning all the notes on the guitar, reading notation is more beneficial than tab IMO.
True, but that's not the point. He did say guitarists should know standard notation as well, but tabs are more applicable for guitar (especially if they specify note duration).
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#23
Quote by cdgraves
I think it'd be hard to develop good technique without "theory". If you're going to spend time playing, it might as well be stuff that is fundamentally musical. It's far more useful to work your technique up with scales/arps/chords because you'll actually use those when you play music. Chances are very, very slim that you'll find a gig playing 4-note chromatic patterns all night.


you shouldn't use either. your exercises should be within a musical context.
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Hail killed MT

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I want to be Hail when I grow up.
Sleepy__Head
A cornucopia of trivia
Join date: Jul 2011
54 IQ
#24
Quote by food1010
True, but that's not the point. He did say guitarists should know standard notation as well, but tabs are more applicable for guitar (especially if they specify note duration).


Depends what kind of guitar music you want to play.

You want to play Tárrega? Learn to read music.
You want to play AC/DC? Tab is your friend.
You want to play Hank Williams? Stick to chords.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
HotspurJr
Registered User
Join date: Jul 2011
191 IQ
#25
Quote by food1010
True, but that's not the point. He did say guitarists should know standard notation as well, but tabs are more applicable for guitar (especially if they specify note duration).


You know what? I don't think even this is true.

Once you get good at guitar, tabs are incredibly tedious to use compared to notation. The advantage of tabs - the only advantage, really - is that tabs are designed for the way beginners and intermediates think about the guitar.

That's how beginners thing, really: playing guitar is about a series of finger positions. But that's not how good guitarists think about it. Good guitarists think about playing guitar as a series of sounds. The finger-position part is entirely subconscious.

And that's what notation does, that tab doesn't. A well-trained musician can look at notation and hear the sound of the piece in his head.

Yes, notes appear more than one place, but the question of where to play it is not really the sort of thing that good musicians worry about. If it matters, notation can, actually, incorporate that (yes - there are standards which indicate playing position for guitar!) but the simple truth is that when a guitarist is trying to "play what they hear" they don't worry so much about where their hand goes. They just play it. (And, strange as it sounds, yes, notation is really about playing what you hear - albiet in your head).

And if they decide they'd rather play it somewhere else, they play it somewhere else. Yes, there are differences in timbre between positions, but if you have the track to listen to, those will be obvious, and if you don't, why does it matter? (And really, even with tab that indicates timing, good luck playing it WITHOUT listening to it first. Can anybody do that? Can anybody site-read tab cold?)

Notation isn't terribly important for a guitarist, true. On the other hand, it's not like tab is!

Tab is a tool for beginners whose ear isn't well trained enough to play things they hear yet. Notation is a system for recording music on paper.
Sleepy__Head
A cornucopia of trivia
Join date: Jul 2011
54 IQ
#26
Quote by HotspurJr
And if they decide they'd rather play it somewhere else, they play it somewhere else. Yes, there are differences in timbre between positions, but if you have the track to listen to, those will be obvious, and if you don't, why does it matter?


Actually - sort of in support of your point - the reason it matters is that if you have a choice of playing a tune higher up the neck on a lower string, or lower down the neck on a higher string the higher string will tend to sound thinner than the lower string and you can use this to either add extra edge to something you're playing sul pont, or extra warmth to something you're playing dolce.

In the great guitar music -vs- tab debate there's also the matter of communicating with musicians who aren't guitarists (and no, I don't mean drummers*). Plonk some guitar tab in front of an oboe player and ask them to transpose the music to their instrument and they'll have the devil's own job doing it if they don't already play guitar. Give them guitar music in standard notation and they'll be able to do rather more easily.

People can sight-read standard notation cold - you're required to do that for your examinations. You'll probably make quite a few fluffs depending on your ability and the difficulty of the piece but on the whole you should be able to get through it. And the ability to sight-read like that is pretty-much taken for granted in orchestral musicians. My old teacher was of the opinion that - on the whole - guitarists are ****ing terrible sight-readers because they don't tend to play with musicians who aren't guitarists.

Quote by HotspurJr
Tab is a tool for beginners whose ear isn't well trained enough to play things they hear yet. Notation is a system for recording music on paper.


I'd question that. Both are systems for recording music on paper and there are numerous examples of different kinds of tablature - lute, harp, harmonica to name a handful. What tablature requires is that you know something about the instrument in order to be able to translate the written music into sound. Standard notation, OTOH, can be read by anyone who has learned it without having had to learn anything about the instrument the piece was written for. I have literally no idea how to play a flugelhorn, for example, but I can still read flugelhorn music written in standard notation and sing the tune to myself.

As for the 'where do I put my fingers when I'm reading music' debate: Initially you learn to put your fingers in the easiest places on the guitar (towards the nut end of the guitar); later you learn that some of those notes occur on other strings and that you have a choice about where to put your fingers. This can cause some confusion initially, especially when sight-reading, but when it comes to interpreting a piece and making it your own it gives you choices over timbre that are not possible on, for example, keyboard instruments.

* and no, I don't mean "drummers aren't musicians" either.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
diddyman99
Registered User
Join date: May 2011
158 IQ
#27
Quote by Vlasco
I usually teach students in this order:

The musical alphabet
Where the half-steps occur
Notes without sharps/flats that can be reached from the open position
5th fret is the equivalent of the next open string with the B being the exception (4th fret on G)
The 7th fret is an octave above the previous open string
We then move up to the 7th fret on the A string where the same layout of notes repeats (mind the B string!) The 12th fret becomes the new "5th fret" of this position
Everything past the 12th fret repeats so we have now covered the entire fingerboard with one overarching visualization (0-5 first, 7-12 second, above 12 repeats)
I then add in the sharps and flats as we play, if an F# is present they simply move the F up one half step.

Everything after that is just drills for note recognition speed.


Thats a great way of doing it! ^
Sleepy__Head
A cornucopia of trivia
Join date: Jul 2011
54 IQ
#29
If it's any consolation my guitar teacher told me 'learn the fretboard' for 7 years. Now I don't have a teacher I've spent a good 6 months learning the fretboard. How stupid do I feel.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
limescout
David Glanzman
Join date: Jun 2008
312 IQ
#30
I don't think I ever intentionally set out to memorize note locations on the fretboard, it just came to me from playing experience. If you spend a lot of time sight-reading music, it will become automatic pretty quickly.

One thing that got me going when I first started was using distance away from notes I knew to figure out notes I didn't know yet. Like, if there was a piece where I had to play a D followed by an F#, and I already had my finger on the 5th fret A string, I would think, "Ok, f# is a major third up from D" and I would play the major third up, 4th fret D string. When I came across those notes enough, the next time I saw the F#, I wouldn't have to think of it a 3rd away, it had become muscle memory
"Balance not just for karate, balance for whole life."
bondmorkret
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2012
168 IQ
#31
A mixture of lots of different approaches really. Started with octaves and such, then memorised the notes, then applied different scale patterns across the neck, then consolidated the whole thing!
D..W..
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2012
21 IQ
#32
One thing that always helped me is to, when you come up with a riff, figure out the notes in that riff. For me memorizing in a scale is just tedious, so I used things that I would remember. This helped with ear training too (because then I knew that the third note in that riff was E. I knew the note and knew and what it sounded like in context, thus I could come closer to naming or singing the note when needed) I liked to write it out in sheet music afterwards but that's not really as important, was just kind of an exercise. I used a lot of refference points to figure out what the notes were- for example 7th fret on the A string is E (on any string except the B string the 7th fret is the octave of the string before it), thus two frets up would be F#. Eventually you don't even have to think about it.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#33
i never said tablature is better, but 99% of guitar music won't have notation available, so if you want to have a way to learn it, you'd have to transcribe it yourself - and at that point, you already know it by ear, so you can hardly say you learned it by way of notation.

but that being said it's always better to transcribe anyway.
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Hail killed MT

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sweetdude3000
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2012
1,172 IQ
#34
Your brain learns in isolation and repetition. The fretboard makes sense when you can dissect the patterns.

1.Learning the whole notes only helps because you can fill in the gaps with the sharps/flats.
2.Learn just the first two strings 5 and 6. Do it musically with punk songs for fun.
3.Then 6 and 1 are the same.
4.Chunk your grouping of notes, FGA, B, and then CDE on a string, 6th for instance.
5.Octaves will help you see how the 6 and 4 strings relate.
etc

Drill these. You'll find it will only take a year or so if you are persistent instead of 10+ or so by trial and rote.