How to Find and Memorize Fretboard Notes Fast

Easy approaches helps you to find and memorize notes places efficiently fast.

Ultimate Guitar
Here are some easy approaches helps you to find and memorize notes places efficiently fast. Let us make a deal, stop calling frets numbers, whenever you hit a note or telling someone what you plays, call notes by their names, and know what notes are you playing.

Fretboard Notes

             *         *        *        *             ** 
1) Half step: is the distance between two consecutive frets. (Semitone) is half the distance between two consecutive notes. 2) Whole step: are two half steps. For example, {A} note [5th fret of E string], the next fret [6th] would be a half step (Semitone) which is {A#}, sharper than [A], and lower than [B]. 3) Only two exceptions if you noticed, a Half step is the distance between [B and C], [E and F]. 4) BTW, a half step is the distance between an open string and the 1st fret. SO THAT, you can find notes easily by counting them, start your count with:
  • The open string name if you are in some place close to it.
  • Any note you memorized on the same string.
  • 12th fret has the same notes of the open strings, if you near it, use it; and count in a descending order.

    B E A D Approach

    Before that there's something, it will be an exception you will need to always remember, B and High E strings exceptions, consider these two strings placed a half step forward, like this:
    I know this might be confusing, let's go back to B E A D and it will clear it. It's simple, there is always an [E] on the fret just below [B], and there's an [A] below that [E] and a [D] below the [A], check it:
                       *         *         *         *              ** 
      G  :|----|{-A-}|----|{B}-|----|----|-D--|----|-E--|----|----|---|
      D  :|----|{-E-}|----|----|----|----|-A--|----|-B--|----|----|-D-|
    SO THAT, you can find three extra notes, once you detect one of the B E A D.


    Root - minor 2 - 2nd - m3 - 3 - 4 - m5 - 5 - m6 - 6 - m7 - 7   oct.
    A    -   A#    - B   - C  - C#- D - D# - E - F  - F# - G - G# - A  
    B    -   C     - C#  - D  - D#- E - F  - F#- G  - G# - A - A# - B  
    What are all notes according to root? [B] is the 2nd interval of [A], [C] is the minor 3rd and etc. But how is this useful? Let's take (m7) of [A] as an example, the [G] note, it's that note just before my root, means, to find it from the [A] you can always move two frets backwards! And etc, intervals places are always constant like this:
    e|    |    |    |    |          |          |          |          |    |
    B|    |    |    |    |          |          |          |          |    |
    G|    |    |    |    |          |          |          |          |    |
    D|    |    |    |    | m7    [G]|          | oct  [A] |          |    |
    A|    |    |    |    | 4th   [D]|          | 5th  [E] |          |    |
    E|    |    |    |    | Root  [A]| m2   [A#]| 2nd  [B] | m3  [C]  |    |
    NOTICE we consider the B and E string exception:
    e|    |    |    |    |          | m7  [G]  |          | oct  [A] |    |
    B|    |    |    |    |          | 4th [D]  |          | 5th  [E] |    |
    G|    |    |    |    | Root  [A]| m2  [A#] |2nd   [B] | m3   [C] |    |
    D|    |    |    |    |          |          |          |          |    |
    A|    |    |    |    |          |          |          |          |    |
    E|    |    |    |    |          |          |          |          |    |
    Thinking this way to find intervals will improve your skills to find and memorize notes place very fast. And btw, these are not the only place for each interval, explore and learn.

    Chord Formula

    What notes are needed to create a specific chord? You need:
  • Root, and the chord will be named after it.
  • Specific intervals to create a specific type of chord. For example:
    Chord                  Intervals                 Example       
    minor Triad         Root + m3 + 5              A  + C  + E     
    Major Triad         Root + 3  + 5              A  + C# + E     
    minor 7             Root + m3 + 5  + m7        A  + C  + E + G 
    Major 7             Root + 3  + 5  + 7th       A  + C# + E + G#
    Try to find these notes and create chords, explore more formulas and types of chords, "It's basic chemistry Yo." (Jesse Pinkman) NOTICE intervals places will usually be the same, only [B and E] strings exception will be considered.

    Scale Formula

    Same thing, specific intervals are needed to create different types of scales, read about scale formulas since you know now what to do with it. And here are two examples:
    Scale                Intervals                             Example        
    minor Pentatonic     Root + m3 + 4   + 5   + m7          A  C  D  E   G   
    minor Blues scale    Root + m3 + 4   + m5  + 5   + m7    A  C  D  D#  E  G
    Same thing; Don't forget that [B and E] strings exception will be the reason when intervals places will change one fret forward. Building scales and runs will boost your mental and muscular memory about notes places on your fret-board. And more on that later, see you next time. Slz.
  • 33 comments sorted by best / new / date

      steven seagull
      I think the first point you raise is arguably the most important one, yet the one people forget about. You're right, you have to USE the note names, that's the you'll remember them properly. Absolutely no spending time trying to remember them if you keep going back to referring to them by frets and numbers. It does take time and you'll struggle a bit at first but you have to make the effort.
      The BEAD method is perfect for learning across strings. Another method I combine with BEAD method to learn along strings is to locate the D notes along any string. Locating the D notes equals locating 5 notes AT ONCE along the same string. Simply if you move a step higher you will find the EF notes and if you go down a whole step down you will find the BC notes. From there you can use intervals or BEAD method to find your way. Singing note names along with playing them is very rewarding in many ways that should be interesting engough to explore. Thnks for the post.
      thats a good idea, i also find D a good 'central' note to use as an anchor for finding other notes
      yes this is good , thanks i've also noticed that there are always G C F after B E A D , i am gonna call the BEADGCF from now on.
      ^ yeah exactly what you said, i have been struggling to remember for a long time now, and i'm sort of beginning to think that i don't want to learn anymore sometimes...and this is one of the reasons, i just can't approach the practice, and trust me i have gone through many lessons...any suggestions? if this is the right place...
      Apply what you know to make music, whatever genre you play, specific types of scales and chords are needed to deliver the idea, so you can focus on Intervals notes to create what you need to make your music, fluency, the ability to control melodies , or creating an inspiring rhythm. Success in different places and keys would boost your memory, You will figure out chords shapes and scales finger patterns, memorizing notes would be easier when your mind is not already busy working on running a scale or creating a progression, and btw remembering their sounds are much more important their names! , what I am trying to say is the best way to master a language is to practice it.
      Dave's not here
      great information for those starting out or old guys like me who tend to forget the M3's and M7's.
      About D standard tuning : everything is a whole step forward B E A D G C F theory will still work [B&E] strings exception also Any note you memorized you can consider it a root and find it's intervals, this is constant as well. it won't be a re learn and i can't say it doesn't need a little bit of effort. About other tunings not all of that will be working, i think understanding how many frets should i move forward or backward because of my different tuning is the key to memorize notes and understand switches i did.
      Yes, I said the same, basically. The BEAD approach won't work that well unless you come up with a new pattern in your head. For example, here is the DADGAD example I mentioned above using the same format as slz.mtarek/: D:|----|{-E-}|----|----|----|----|-A--|----|-B --|----|----|-D-| A:|----|{-B-}|----|----|{D}-|----|-E--|--- -|----|----|----|-A-| G:|----|{-A-}|----|{B}-|----|----|-D-- |----|-E--|----|----|---| D:|----|{-E-}|----|----|----|----| -A--|----|-B--|----|----|-D-| A:|----|{-B-}|----|----|{D}-|- ---|-E--|----|----|----|----|-A-| D:|----|{-E-}|----|----|-- --|----|-A--|----|-B--|----|----|-D-| The 3rd, 4th, and 5th strings are identical, but the 1st, 2nd, and 6th are changed. That said, they are changed to notes that exist on the original tuning that the player should already know, so this one might actually be easier to memorize. The pattern sort of exists, however, but separated. You can see groups of BEA and groups of EAD, but never the complete BEAD due to the change of strings. But all this is just an example. DADGAD is a tuning that not everyone uses, and therefore might not even need to be memorized.
      "It's basic chemistry yo" ...i always sucked at chemistry. i would say keep your emphasis on the order of roots and minor notes on a certain string just to memorize and actually call out the sequence in which they are set. After that, begin to memorize the order of notes on your root frets on the board and the rest will be easy as pie. Stay positive, baby steps is what it's all about.
      I think a more effective way to learn the fretboard is to actually learn it instead of trying to find tricks to memorize it. Learn how to figure it out. I mean its the alphabet, just learn how to build it up across all string.
      Hey, great lesson. I'm currently trying to memorise the fretboard notes in drop c as that's the tuning my band uses. Happy to transpose it to E if necessary in the future. With you saying that its better to use the note names instead of the fret number, would it be wise to start using the staff, instead of tabs? I can't read music so don't want to overload myself but would it help me learn the fretboard notes faster?
      There is a faster way but it's not public yet see elegant fretboard on youtube
      Just noticed you were missing a D on the low E 10th fret. I've been stuck on my guitar playing for some years now. Playing chords just by moving my fingers without even knowing the notes (eg Minor chords- move the lowest finger a step lower). Just thought that i should learn the notes by now. Quite helpful
      fantastic lesson my friend, i play classical guitar and i still struggle finding the notes, i used to memorise octaves, the notes on the seventh fret and the notes on the fifth and work from there, i never noticed the bead rule. has anyone noticed that this is also the rule for the order of flats in scales when writing musical notes. B E A D G C F
      ive played for a while now but never really cared to learn notes or anything, tried out my moms old learning books awhile back but they did nothing for me when it came to memorizing it, than i saw this so i copied everything down into a notebook(writing things helps me remember it) and it really opened up my eyes to it, learned alot from this thank you
      There's a new fretboard book "Fretboard Secret Handbook" have an efficient way to memorize notes on guitar, it uses "Image Memory Method", and I feel it is very useful. Maybe check it on Amazon if you want to know what it is.
      Good point about using the note names rather than fret numbers. I started learning the notes about a year ago, and I find I have trouble referring to the fret numbers now. I have to think about it to tell people what I mean when I say something like, "play Bm7 with a 5th string root."
      Why would we need numbers when we can express through formulas we memorized faster already? i think this speed gap is an advantage not a trouble, Fret-board Dots are the reference when it comes to memorizing numbers and finding roots.
      Is it bad that I've memorized the fretboard in D-standard tuning? Although I have guitars in many other tunings, it remains my favorite to write in, the pitch of the open strings just sounds perfect to me. Should I actively make an effort to re-learn them as E-standard notes?
      My guess would be that it wouldn't be necessary if you can transcribe your approach to remembering them up a couple of semi-tones. If you can easily round off the notes in D standard then it shouldn't be much of a stretch to just start two notes up and continue the pattern as per E standard. In a way you've already learnt the E standard tuned notes you're just starting in a different position in the pattern.
      Yeah, I agree with that. Even if you have the guitar in a completely off tuning like DADGAD I think it doesn't matter much. By learning all the note names you are actually learning the intervals as well, so as long as your mind can adjust to the open string note (which it will), it should be no problem at all.
      i guess the best way to memorize notes is that when you play every note , say it out loud, it is a cool way, and its better to do it when you are practicing alone cz its a little bit disturbing and soon enough your brain will memorize it.
      Thank you. I have been looking for an easy explanation of this. This was great.
      GUITAR NOTE FINDER is another resource to memorise the note names on the fretboard and associate them to a pitch on the music staff. Book excerpts at