Learn the Notes, Conquer Your Shame

How ad why to learn the notes on guitar.

Ultimate Guitar
Things are going good, you've got yourself a guitar, learned a bunch of chords, you're sweep picking diminished 7 arpeggios and you've ceased to be invisible to the opposite sex. But with this newfound attention, someone asks "Hey what's that note you just played there?"

You break into a nervous sweat.

"Oh that one? Yeah that's the 6th fret on the D string."

"Yeah I see that but what is the name of that note?"

(buying time) "This note right here?"

(becoming impatient) "Yeah, that note right there."

(guessing)"Um... It's a cool note, it's called... Uh... F minor?"


You blew it and now you revel in shame. All those hours spent practicing, and the names of the very notes you've mastered have eluded you once more. NEVER AGAIN!

Regardless of what instrument you play, there are only 12 notes in all of music, and they repeat at higher or lower pitches. They are as follows:

A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab

As long as you know that order, you can count off from any open string to find the name of any note on your guitar. Now, that may seem daunting as most guitars have upwards of 120 different places to play those 12 notes. Never fear! It's not necessary to memorize every single fret on the neck, in fact, you only need to learn a couple and then find out how to use different tricks to spot that same note elsewhere up and down the fretboard.

Watch the video to learn how.

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8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    "A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#-Ab" WTF - is this an english/german-thing or why is there no D# and why are G# and Ab separated?
    There aren't only 12 notes in all of music; but if you're meddling with microtonal/xenharmonic or exotic tunings chances are you're gonna be busy dealing more with the jerks claiming you're "merely playing a badly-intonated guitar" or throwing clip-on tuners at you. (Which won't even be useful!)
    Great lesson for beginners to understand how to use and apply notes. As for the other comments.., no need to be critical, as this is a simple and easy lesson. Article intro is a bit cheesy.
    Very helpful!! Thank you. I had a few a-ha moments from your explanation and demonstration. I am officially less shameful now.