Hi all, I've been playing guitar for about a year now and last September I somehow passed an audition to go to a guitar school!

Its great seeing as you learn a whole spectrum of different things to do with music from recording to playing live and general theory. The only problem is, I have my guitar tuition lesson once a week and I am terrible at theory. I know the pentatonic scale and and little more here and there but rather than learning everything by shape and generally not knowing what i'm playing I feel I really need to know what I'm actually playing and why, like what notes there are and not having to count back from the 12th fret etc.


I told my tutor this and he basicly told me to learn arpeggio shapes Maj7, m7, m7b5, and play them slowly in order of which key they are in e.g. CMaj7,Dm7,Em7,FMaj7,GMaj7,Am7,Bm7b5 whilst naming each note out loud that is in the arpeggio that I am playing (so with the CMaj7 I would say C E G B) and continue with each different arpeggio in that key then move on to another key using the circle of fifths.

He said that doing this will be like killing three birds with one stone as I am learning arpeggio paterns , notes on the fretboard and notes that belong to certain key signatures.

I thought this would be the best place to ask if this would be an effective way of learning the basics etc. Or maybe if there is another better way?

Hope this makes some sense haha and
thanks for your time!
Learn the A minor or the C major scale all over the fretboard. You now know where all the natural notes are, and the rest are flats and sharps.


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Quote by billymyers
Or maybe if there is another better way?

Sight read melodies in different positions. Ask your teacher to provide you with some simple melodies and exercises for reading. Or buy a good book.
It does sound effective. It's important to know which notes construct each chord and which scale certain chord can be built upon. If you haven't done this kind of stuff earlier, it most likely will feel really hard at first, but it should be very helpful once you master it.
visualise shapes on the fretboard. For example with F.

F | | | | F
| | | | | |
| | F | | |

If my attempted diagram makes sense, you will be able to see a triangle can be made with the F notes shown. This can be applied to them all.

Now jumping to fret 5

| | | | | | 5th fret
| | | | F |
| | | | | |
| F | | | |
| | | | | |
| | | F | |
| | | | | | 11th fret

A triangle can be seen

I suggest that, with the aid of these triangles, you pick a note each day, put on a metronome, and play the note in a different place on each click. After each time you get it perfect, move the speed up a bit. This lessens your thinking time and puts pressure on you to find the note by instinct.

I also found it helped me if I said the notes name every time I picked it.
This is how I learned the fretboard:

First, you have to know the musical alphabet - A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab. Know the notes forward and backwards. You have to know this.

Next, learn the notes on your 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets (the dots/fret markers), on the low E string, and the A string. Most of the chords have roots on these two strings, so you can apply it right away. If you know the notes on the dots, and you know your alphabet, then it should be easy to figure out what notes are between the dots. If you know the low E, you'll already know the high E. So, now you've got 3 strings learned.

Next, learn to visualize octave shapes. If you can do that, you'll be able to see the notes on the D, G, and B strings.

Soon, you'll be able to see the notes instantaneously.
I'd like to help, but not as much as I'd like not to.

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Wow thanks a lot for all of the answers!

I feel that maybe practicing some of these different routines as well as maybe what I have already been given to do by my teacher could be a good idea.

Thanks again for the detailed and clear responses . Especially jkielq91 and maker's marked for breaking it down so well!
Quote by mdc
Sight read melodies in different positions. Ask your teacher to provide you with some simple melodies and exercises for reading. Or buy a good book.

I've never really seen the point in knowing the notes so well just so that you can answer quick fire questions on notes of the fretboard.
Reading music will help you learn the notes, plus you'll become able to read music - something quite rare amongst rock guitarists.

When reading simple melodies, try to play them in many positions along the instrument. If you only practice reading in first position you will soon hit a brick wall!

Also make sure you practice in various keys!
I spent quite a while wondering how best to learn stuff like the cycle of fourths (a theory term you may not be familiar with, dont panic) and key signatures, without ever seriously trying. My desk is now covered with A4 bits of paper with the cycle of fourths written out hundreds of times and manuscript paper with each key signature written out in a random order several times - I can now type out CFBbEbAbDbGbBEAD without hesitation have learned how to read key signatures. I made infinitely more progress in the past two or three nights just getting my head down and studying than I had in the previous year of procrastination and trying to find the most painless way of memorising/learning something.

I've found that just sitting down with a pen and paper (and perhaps guitar) and writing, repeating and thinking can be more productive than sitting at my computer - the internet is too much of a distraction for me sometimes. Having said that, this site has some very useful tools for practicing theory. I believe it has a fretboard note recognition tool which you might find useful.

This is not neccesarily advice that will relate to you, but I can tell you that I find it far too easy to procrastinate and just think about learning something, rather than actually putting the work into learning it. Its not always easy, but the results are surely worth the effort.

TL;DR - Your teachers method and the ideas that others here have suggested are probably great, but the key is not having a method, the key is following a method, methodically (sounds super obvious I know, but my lazy ass has found it to be easier said than done).
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Feb 18, 2012,