I am a guitar teacher and I was curious if any other teachers would like to weigh in on this topic: How would you rate your students' ability to identify the notes on the guitar neck on all strings up to the 12th fret? I have an idea how my students are ( roughly 5 out of 10 overall). Also, as a teacher how important do you think knowing the notes on the fretboard is? I look forward to hearing your feedback. Thanks,

t.k. gardner
I'm not a teacher but I'll tell you anyway.

I don't have them memorized yet but by learning scales I know where they are. I intend on memorizing all of them.

As a player I find that it is important. When learning to play guitar, both theory and physical techniques and skills should be taught.
LTD EC-500 - 18v mod
Roland Cube 30
DigiTech RP-7 Valve Guitar Preamp/Multi-Effects Processor
I'm not a teacher either, but some guitar players don't care about those kind of things due to pure ignorance. You often see many amateur guitarists who play very well, but when it comes to basic theory or just simply knowing the notes on the fretboard they don't know a bit! If I were a teacher, I would make my students learn the fretboard if I knew they were dedicated enough to do so. If the student is just interested in playing a couple chords for the rest of his life along with a few strum patterns, I wouldn't bother because he/she obviously doesn't have the true passion to really get into the guitar.
Well I've recently began teaching, and I only teach kids from about 7-15, but, i have yet to quiz them the note names of frets up to 12. Im sure I can think of a few that could do it, but younger kids seem to not take in the names, and just ignore it. Its tough to try and get things to sink with them. I think knowing them yourself(or atleast knowing enough to count your way up) is crucial, because how can you teach someone it if you aren't sure yourself.

Also, weirdly enough, my music teacher in my highschools name is Mr.Gardner. Strange.
Okay, I guess it would be good to know how people who aren't teachers feel about it too. Do people who do not know the fingerboard feel compelled to learn it someday or is it just too much hassle?

(the teacher thing was just a way to try to get a biiger sample, but what the heck... I am just really curious...)
Last edited by t.k. gardner at Mar 28, 2009,
By know the fingerboard, do you mean by memory like being able to play frets with their eyes closed, or say looking at a fret and being able to say which one it is, OR being able to say the note...OR! being able to play the note by reading music with ease (such as a note on the 12th fret which has a lot of ledger lines)
Also, as a teacher how important do you think knowing the notes on the fretboard is?

I feel that it is important to "know" the fingerboard, that is, instantly know what notes you are playing, not just be able to figure them out. Also yes I think it is important to instantly know what the note looks like on the musical staff, and be able to read just about anything written for the guitar. My question was trying to get a sense from the guitar world how many other people (guitarists) feel that way, and how many actually have that facility. I am not being judgemental, just curious. I am well aware that there are some very famous guitarists who may not posess this information or skill. I just wanted to know from the rank and file what the general standards are, in normal guitar players' opinions.
Yeah, it's pretty important.

I know my fretboard, but the pass from violin to guitar made it a bit more confusing. I'm fine now. The easiest way is to have someone to map it out for you, show you little tricks with octaves etc. If they know a bit of theory, teach them where the intervals are from the note they're playing. It's just as important to know which interval you want to play as well as which note.
I know where the notes on the fretboard are, but I think of it in intervals.

Say if I'm soloing in F Major, and I hit a Bb note, I don't think of it as hitting a Bb note, but rather as hitting the '4'.
i would say its really important, but still of varying degrees depending on the genre you like to play.
lol i say this knowing full well that i still havent gotten around to memorizing all of them.

i personally know all of the notes on the 6th string really well, and some of the 5th kinda well. the rest it takes me time but i do know how to extrapolate.
for alot of chord work and moving scales the 6th and 5th are probably the most commonly learned by music noobs like me.
I'd say it's important to know as it lets you know more than just the basic scale shapes, lets you extend the notes to different strings for a different kind of warmth or whatever.
Definitely helps out, and helps you know what notes you can use further up the neck and stuff.