Hey guys,

I started playing about 3 weeks ago. My practice routine now is mainly strumming with a metronome while trying to alternate between about 8 of the open chords I memorized. Getting better with that everyday, and my fingers are hardening up (w/ steel string acoustic - though plan to learn elec too).

I think I have started on an unusual footing, though, because the first thing I did before I even learned a single chord was memorize the notes on the entire fretboard until I knew them cold. To give you an idea, I can point to any string/fret combination on the guitar and tell you it's name in less than a second (and find a specific note in first 12 frets on a given string a bit slower). That took about 7 days of obsessive studying initially and about 10 min a day of review to maintain it. I actually had figured this was the first thing I should do, but later I started to realize that many people don't usually really learn this until much later, or at all.

I have a strong background in learning languages, so I was thinking that learning all the notes would be like learning an alphabet of a language with non-roman characters that beginners always put off, only to create a huge plateau later. I also remembered playing sax as a kid, reading sheet music while I played and memorizing the notes was very important there.

However as I look more into it, it seems that learning the notes isn't quite the same with guitar. Now I have run into this huge amount of chords and scales to memorize which seems completely orthogonal to what i have learned. It seems as if learning the notes on the fretboard was not actually useful, unless I want to be the lonely guitarist playing straight from standard notation sheet music. Everything is tabbed (which is totally useful as I am still learning ideal finger positions and stuff)

But I can't help but feel it would be a waste to forget or not use this information. Is there any thing that would be advisable to learn earlier in my case that will allow me to apply/ leverage this knowledge sooner? Maybe I should print out standard notation sheet music and play scales from it?

Sorry for the long post!
It's never too early to learn the notes of the fretboard. A lot of people don't simply because they're too lazy. What you should do now is start learning music theory. Learn scales as a series of notes and intervals, and learn chord construction. Don't just memorize chord shapes and positions. That's useless since there are simply too many to memorize. Once you learn the notes of scales and how chords are built from them, knowing the notes of the fretboard will be a huge asset. Chords aren't limited to certain positions. Anywhere that you find the notes of a certain chord, you can play that chord.
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Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
Started typing this a few hours ago and forgot about it... :/

People learn to identify the notes late not because it's better to do so, but because they're lazy bastards who wanted quick gratification from playing the guitar by diving headfirst into learning songs and solos.

I think it's a great thing you learned it early. You may not see the point of it now, but when (...if?) you know a bit more about music theory and things like chord construction, you will see why you made an excellent choice in doing what you did.

I have a feeling you're seeing the chords and scales as just shapes. Learn chord construction and understand the scales as more than just patterns.
Learning the notes is exactly the same on guitar - it's a musical instrument, the "language" of music is universal regardless of the instrument. The main quirks of the guitar compared to many other instruments are the fact that the arrangement of strings means you can play multiple notes simultaneously, a quirk it shares with the piano and other keyed instruments, and that you'll find the same note in multiple places, a quirk it shares with other multiple-stringed instruments. Neither of those things are possible on an instrument like the saxophone which is why I think your getting confused.

Sheet music doesn't exist to physically tell you what to do with your hands. Its purpose is to tell you what sounds to play, and it just so happens that on a saxophone there's only one way to play each note, on the guitar you have several options.

Chords and scales are just arrangements of notes, notes that you can play on any instrument. The relationships between those notes is what defines them - NOT the shapes or patterns.

If you know how to play a chord then I'm assuming you can identify the notes it contains, and if you can identify other places those notes occur then you can likewise find other places to play that chord.
Actually called Mark!

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Learning the notes on the fretboard isnt a waste of time but a valuable skill.But learning the notes on the fretboard doesnt mean you know the fretboard it just means you are off to a good start.If i were you i would do the following things:
1Learn the octave shape of the notes on the fretboard

2Learn about intervals and how they appear on the fretboard

3 with the previous knowledge its easy to construct every major triad family on the fretboard and that is :major ,minor, augmented and diminished triads and all their inversions

4After the previous steps you can easily create every chord and arpeggio you want basically as well as study scales since everything is about intervals.In this step you start to harmonize the major scale and put a lot of things together.....

You can do many more but if you actually do these steps you ll REALLY know the fretboard cold.You made a good start by learning the notes.Dont give up.
Thanks for the help everyone. It seems like there is a consensus that it was a good thing to learn the notes even though I don't directly play them from sheet music like a saxophone.

Agreed I don't "know" the fretboard yet, but I'm glad that people think I'm off to good start which is all I was hoping for at this point. ( I also noticed the interval/octave patterns while memorizing notes, but internalizing and learning to apply them should really help find equivalent notes even more quickly)

So I'll try to put more focus on the chord construction theory above so that when my basic physical ability/ dexterity improves it sounds like I should be able to advance into more intermediate skills more smoothly than if I had not bothered to learn the notes on the board.
Yeah everyone is pretty much on the money! The initiative you've shown is going to really help you later down the line when it comes to more advanced things - composing picking runs, sweeping shapes, finding more creative ways to play chords, learning the notes the way you have completely blows open the guitar!

So definitely review it from time to time to keep on top of where those notes are