I've been trying to memorize the fretboard for years now and I don't know why its so difficult for me. I've memorized both e strings pretty easily because that's where the root note of all the scales and stuff I play usually starts. I've also memorized all the A's on the fretboard from improving in A minor all the time. But since I've branched out to other modes and scales it seems like its made it more difficult if anything. I know my root shapes but...I still feel like there is too much thinking involved when I'm trying to figure out what a note is. Shouldn't it be automatic?
Can you recite the chromatic scale? Do you know it by heart?

Knowing the names of all of the notes, and knowing your intervals are the key to fretboard memorization. What do you know about these concepts?
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Eventually it will be automatic.

If you think about it, you have 4 strings to learn. Forget sharps and flats. And you already know all the As. You know the open string notes, so you also know the 12th fret notes.
That leaves just 5 notes on each string to learn (because everything repeats after fret 12). 20 notes in all. How hard can that be?

What will help is learning more chord shapes and what notes are in the chords. Eg, every C chord shape has the notes C E G. How many shapes do you know for a C chord? (There are 5 between frets 0-12.)

The natural notes formula will also help: 2 frets between every pair of notes, except B-C and E-F which are 1 fret apart.
Last edited by jongtr at Apr 15, 2016,
Simple aide-memoire: For our 7 natural notes (A,B,C,D,E,F,G), remember that

B and C are adjacent (no fret gap between them on SAME string).
E and F are adjacent ( """)

All the others have a one fret gap on SAME string.

So, on 5th string (A), we have

A: fret 0 (open string). A -> B has a gap, so B is at fret 2. B -> C no gap, so C is fret 3; C -> D has gap, so D is fret 5; D -> E has gap, so E is fret 7; E->F no gap, so F at fret 8; F->G gap, so G at fret 10. G->A gap, so A is at fret 12. Starts all over again.

B->C, E->F ... NO GAP.

Also, learn the octave pattern.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Apr 16, 2016,
The only way to actually know the fretboard is to just play a lot. Knowing all the note names and all that of course helps, but you also need muscle memory. And you can only achieve muscle memory by playing a lot.

Maybe learning to read music could also help (if you want to learn all the note names on the fretboard).

How did you memorize all the As on the fretboard? Why not use the same method for other notes?
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Playing scales helped me learn the fretboard. Playing through them slowly, naming the notes as you play them. Eventually you find where the notes repeat on different strings. This is also very useful for finding chords in different positions over the neck.
I had a revealing and insightful ah-ha moment when I discovered something that I wish someone had pointed out to me years earlier!

The open E Major chord and open A Major chord formats, and the respective Barre Chords using those formats ascending the neck (using the index finger to play Barre Chords) correlate to the fretboard notes on three strings up the neck!

For instance, the open E Chord format played w/ index finger as a Barre Chord at the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th frets are: F, G, A, and B chords. Those are also the fretboard notes at those frets on, both, the low and high E-Strings (different only by octaves)! Similarly, the open A Chord format played with index finger as a Barre Chord in the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th frets are B-flat, C, D and E Chords, as are the fretboard notes on the A-String at those positions.

With this, it was a cinch to easily remember the: "2+2" tip. Two Plus Two Equals The Same Note (an octave higher). Two Frets Up (higher), and Two Strings Over (higher). Relative to any note on the low E-string and on the A-string, the same note - an octave higher - is always 2+2! Thus, a G note at the 3rd fret on the low E-string, has an octave higher G note at the 5th fret on the D-string. And, the C note at the 3rd fret on the A-String has an octave higher C note on the 5th fret on the G-string. Just remember 2 Frets Up, 2 strings Over!

With that in mind, expanding the memory tip to "2+2+3" gets you to the next same note another octave higher. However, here the "+3" refers to the number of Frets Up while still moving Two Strings Over (higher). Thus, continuing with the above examples, a G note is also at the 8th Fret on the B-string: 3 Frets up and 2 strings over from the G note at the 5th Fret of D-string! And, similarly, there's a C note at the 8th Fret on the high E-string: 3 Frets up and 2 Strings over from the C note at the 3rd Fret of the A-string!

I also realized that these created easy to visualize diagonal patterns on the fretboard, and these helped me better find my way around.

Hope this helps you out!
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Last edited by MusicLaw at Apr 16, 2016,
Quote by ryane24
I've been trying to memorize the fretboard for years now and I don't know why its so difficult for me. I've memorized both e strings pretty easily because that's where the root note of all the scales and stuff I play usually starts. I've also memorized all the A's on the fretboard from improving in A minor all the time. But since I've branched out to other modes and scales it seems like its made it more difficult if anything. I know my root shapes but...I still feel like there is too much thinking involved when I'm trying to figure out what a note is. Shouldn't it be automatic?

Do you know the names of every note on the neck?

If I said find Eb on the second string, how fast does it take you? Try it.

I'm not sure if I'd recommend modes at all for you at this point. I'd have to learn more about where you are at to get a better feel about what might be your next best step.

Best,

Sean
Quote by Sean0913
Do you know the names of every note on the neck?

If I said find Eb on the second string, how fast does it take you? Try it.

I'm not sure if I'd recommend modes at all for you at this point. I'd have to learn more about where you are at to get a better feel about what might be your next best step.

Best,

Sean

4th fret, took me about 4 seconds. I happen to know that the 5th fret on the B string is E. Something I did somewhere along the line caused me to memorize that note on the 7th B string, but again I was probably playing a power chord on the 7 string or something like that. I mean I know the fretboard to some extent its just very incomplete. Like I said I could probably play every A on the fretboard in less than ten seconds but putting it all together is whats difficult. If you asked me the same thing with the D, G, or A string I would most likely have to step through the frets to find where the note is. And with the B string I just happened to know where E was, I don't know the rest of the string as well.
my early studies of scales in every position-in every key-and the chords produced by them in all inversions was priceless..the study of sight reading and intervals also helped a great deal..

because the guitar is "irrational" in its configuration and chord structures "seeing" a common sense approach to learn it is often not an easy task..just memorizing note locations will not be the final answer..that knowledge has to be ingrained in your being to the point you don't have to "think" .. and when you see a chord like EbMA7/G you know several positions where that can be played..it does take a good amount of time and dedication to achieve but with determination and practice..
play well

wolf
Work out all 12 major scales up and down the neck, and all the major/minor triads.

That, along with learning real music, will get your fretboard knowledge in shape pretty quickly. If you have the cojones, learn to read from the staff, as well, as it forces you to know the notes in terms more meaningful than their physical positions.
Quote by ryane24
4th fret, took me about 4 seconds. I happen to know that the 5th fret on the B string is E. Something I did somewhere along the line caused me to memorize that note on the 7th B string, but again I was probably playing a power chord on the 7 string or something like that. I mean I know the fretboard to some extent its just very incomplete. Like I said I could probably play every A on the fretboard in less than ten seconds but putting it all together is whats difficult. If you asked me the same thing with the D, G, or A string I would most likely have to step through the frets to find where the note is. And with the B string I just happened to know where E was, I don't know the rest of the string as well.

I feel you.

That's the problem with traditional means to understand and memorize the fretboard. Takes ages.

How long have you been trying to learn the fretboard?

Best,

Sean
Quote by Sean0913
I feel you.

That's the problem with traditional means to understand and memorize the fretboard. Takes ages.

How long have you been trying to learn the fretboard?

Best,

Sean

I've been playing for about 12 yeara. I would say it was probably as early as the first year or two that I learned how to find and name the notes but it wasn't until 3 or so years ago that I decided I wanted to do more than just learn covers. This is when I started really trying to learn the fretboad. But I admit that kind of stuff is kind of boring so I usually end up getting bored and spending the rest of my practice time working on technique and stuff. So it's not like I've been trying hours a day to memorize the fretboard.
What worked for me was doing a lot of work on single strings. Starting out and just playing all the major scales around the cycle of fourths or fifths (so adding one flat or one sharp) on each string from the lowest available note to the highest and then back again. Then going for arpeggios (starting with triads), or working on finding a single pitch everywhere on the fretboard (and then eventually expanding that concept to 3 and 4 note cells) going one string at a time (so say, playing every available Db on the low E string, then the A string then the D etc). But the point is to continually challenge yourself, and to set up little drills that are not technically demanding but that require you to be actively thinking about the fretboard, not just letting your hands play scale patterns.
all the best.
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Quote by ryane24
I've been playing for about 12 yeara. I would say it was probably as early as the first year or two that I learned how to find and name the notes but it wasn't until 3 or so years ago that I decided I wanted to do more than just learn covers. This is when I started really trying to learn the fretboad. But I admit that kind of stuff is kind of boring so I usually end up getting bored and spending the rest of my practice time working on technique and stuff. So it's not like I've been trying hours a day to memorize the fretboard.

12 years is a nice chunk of life. I think I was about 10 years into it, when I started feeling those growing pains, that wanted to be more than someone playing covers.

I think that's why most people never memorize it. If they do its conseuential to something else they've done, and they get it via osmosis of that thing. For example sightreading scales and moving through the circle of 5ths, something that had no benefit to me until I started studying Jazz with Jimmy Bruno. Then all the temporary tonications, or keychanges, made that skill set a must have and I used those like crazy.

I laugh at the big headed shredders (not shredders that are humble and accomplished...but the one trick pony kind that think they are superior all of a sudden...the arrogant ones) - because usually they play in one key. Don't need circle of 5ths in one key. I'll put the jam track on for Satin Doll ( 4 key changes in the first verse) and say "have at it, play your caged and pentatonics to that fella...I'm listening"

*sound of trainwreck*

Many people learn like captain posted. Contextually. My approach really focuses upon being able to learn it quickly, use it in real time and be done with it once and for all. Because like you said...the way it is out there, it's boring and takes ages. I'd prefer to be done with it and have it used in real time, and move on.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Apr 19, 2016,