Depends if you plan on reading notation or not.
It will definitely help with your theory in relation to scales and stuff. I didnt learn the notes for about 3 years because I didnt care too much about scales or composing music, now i know them better its much easier to compose, easier to figure out scales and stuff.
Up to you really, if you plan on doing theory it is definitely a good idea.
Yes, because it will make playing with others much easier if you know the notes anywhere on the fretboard. Plus it would just make sense to know what you're actually doing with your instrument musically. It's just part of knowing the guitar as opposed to playing it.
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I say yes if you really want to play well. I don't know them all, working on it. I've been playing for a few years now and I would definitely say that not knowing all the notes on the fretboard has hindered my development greatly. As I've gotten more interested in being able to improvise I've found it to be the single most glaring hole in my knowledge base.
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It's as important as knowing the alphabet is when you're learning to read. It's got nothing to do with whether or not you're going to read notation or not, simple fact of the matter is you need to know the notes on the fretboard if you ever want to be more than the musical equivalent of a talking parrot.
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i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.

Yeah you need to know them. Pretty much just that simple. You don't have to learn them all at once but if you want to play with other people, compose your own music, or just get to the level of your own mastery of guitar you have to know the notes on the fretboard. Luckily it really isn't that difficult since there is a very distinct pattern to the notes and after the 12th fret they are just repeated. Learn them, you'll thank yourself for it later. All of us concentrate so much on learning chord shapes and playing songs that we sometimes forget that our instrument of choice actually has notes at frets and when the tough stuff comes, like playing a song in a certain key and not deviating, this weakness comes through.

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It's not all that much to memorize, considering the repetition among strings & the whole thing repeats at fret 12 anyway.
Yes it is important. Its not as hard to remember as you think and if you remember where the octaves are of notes then you can easily figure out where all other notes are in respective to those notes. Keep at it and it shall sink in.

Adding further to cringer above about not much to memorise, If you remember the notes on the 6th string (E) then you are already a third of the way to knowing the notes on all strings =D
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If you're fine with just being a guitar player, then you don't need to know the notes on the fretboard. If you want to be a guitarist/musician, you definitely should learn the notes and a bit of theory to go with it.
If it wasn't important, than musical notes wouldn't have names to begin with.
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if yes, why?

You're on stage. A request is made but you don't know the song.
As the drummer is counting off, the bass player yells over to you that it's a I-VI-II-V in Bb.

What you gonna do then?

It's your instrument man, learn it. Don't ask why
Like others have said, it depends on exactly what kind of guitarist you want to be. However, I'll throw in my two cents to maybe help you out.

When I first started learning, it was by chord charts first. Then I learned to read tabs. I read tabs for roughly a decade, and though I was getting to the point that it was getting easier to play songs by other bands, I was never really able to write anything of substance or improvise all that well. When I did, it was always essentially copying something I'd heard at some point.

Then I went to college, where I was forced to learn to read standard notation and learn the positions on the fretboard. Now that I've done so, I can safely say I wish I had started out this way. It would have made things so much easier as I started getting into advanced material.

As a final example, let's say you're trying to play a rather difficult solo. The way the original guitarist does it is simply impossible for you without a month or so of speed training, but maybe because you know your fretboard, you notice an alternative position that makes it easier based on your skillset. That's where it can help (and believe me, that exact situation has happened multiple times for me). I guess some purists would call it blasphemous to play in a different position than the original artist, but hey, if that's the way you can get it to work, who cares? You can always work on the "right" way later; at least you'll be able to play it your way for now. All because you knew your fretboard and knew a different spot to play that same combination of notes.

And that is my two cents.
If you're interested in reading sheet music, improvising, or composing music - yes.

If you play for enjoyment, probably not.

It's still pretty important.
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I disagree - i think it's important but it's not absolutely necessary. I played for several years without bothering to learn the notes - my technique was good, i wrote decent music and was able to improvise with scale 'shapes' rather than knowing the actual notes.

But, like The Seagull said, if you ever want to be anything other than a talking parrot you need to know them - there's no way around it.
dwex - I been playing a long time and play professionally. There are things I really regret blowing off in my early years (mainly technical aspects) and things I'm really happy I learned early on... like theory, how to apply theory, and learning my fret board.

Those are the main reasons I can get work with other musicians today, who are very well-schooled and/or went to college for music etc... Not because I can play super fast (I cannot actually) Comes a time when people are not even slightly impressed with speed or flash...... But if you can't speak their language, or pick up new material on the spot and improvise any progression / any key... they will quickly become un-impressed with you.

But maybe you're absolutely nothing like me - I dunno.
If you don't want to memorize it then don't.
You know open strings are eadgbe, know learn what it is at the third fret, then the fith, then the 7th then the 9th.

You'll know all the notes then, as long as you know the order that notes go in and I'm assuming you do

Eventually you'll forget that you're even using this method, and the notes will just be committed to memory.

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If you've been playin less than a year it's not really crucial. But yah, if you still don't know em after 3-4 years that's just sad and there's no excuse

I learned my fretboard after about 3 months, if you want to really call it that. Like if you asked me to play a note I would have to run through a scale to find it, would take me a good 3-4 seconds. Still that's better than someone asking you to play a note and you just sit there with a dumb look on your face.
Last edited by Deaddog at Aug 15, 2010,