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Thread: One Way To Learn The Fretboard

  1. #1
    Registered User adverse youth's Avatar
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    Lightbulb One Way To Learn The Fretboard

    "One Way To Learn The Fretboard"

    OK. So here's the way I learned the note locations on the fretboard, and I thought I would share.

    Let me first say that this is a relative approach, meaning that you learn where the notes are by their relative location to other notes.

    Here goes...

    FIRST:

    Memorize the location of C on each string. Do this only for the first half of the guitar (frets 0 - 11). So that would be: 8, 3, 10, 5, 1, 8 starting from the Low E string.

    SECOND:

    Now that you know where all the C's are, you should now know where three other notes are automatically. They are B, E, and F. 'B&C' are right over 'E&F'. These four notes form a square, and you should know where these squares are because you previously memorized all the C locations.

    -- Keep In Mind --

    - The b&c notes on the G string are not directly above e&f, because the bottom two strings are shifted one fret to the right from the other four strings.

    - And also, there is no e&f under the b&c on the High E string because duh, there is no string below it.

    THIRD:

    This next part takes a little knowledge about intervals. So if you don't know about them i suggest you read this article by Gunharth Randolf.
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/31

    Anyways, Put the 'BCEF Squares' on hold for now, and take this in...

    No matter what note you play, its perfect 4th is always on the fret below it. And two frets to the right of it's perfect 4th is its perfect 5th.

    ex> So if you were to play a C, right under it would be its perfect 4th 'F'. And two frets to the right of F would be it's perfect 5th 'G'.

    Expanding on that, its perfect 5th is also always on the fret above it. So right under its perfect 5th is again C (an octave up). See the pattern .

    Here's a rough visual aid:

    -------|-c-|
    |-f-|- -|-g-|
    |-c-|

    This Pattern Just Repeats:

    ----------------|-c-|
    --------|-f-|- -|-g-|
    --------|-c-|
    |-f-|- -|-g-|
    |-c-|

    Another Example:

    -------------|-note-|
    |--p4--|-- --|--p5--|
    |-note-|

    "you get the idea"

    There is an exception though. The two bottom strings (the B and E strings) are shifted 1 fret to the right relative to the other 4 strings. as stated earlier, so you got to take that into account when making this pattern.

    Now that that's in your mind, put it on hold and let's get back to the squares.

    FOURTH:

    Now the 'BCEF Squares" you should be able to spot almost immediately. Because let's face it , you only need to know where the C note is on each string and automatically you will know where the other 3 notes are. So that's 4 natural notes down and 3 to go. (As you can see we're trying to get a grasp on the natural notes first, you know.. "the white keys on a piano")

    Now lets work on D. You know where C is, so D is always a whole step (2 frets) to the right of it. Got it. And what's the next natural note after D you might ask. Well it's good old E (which is of course part of the 'BCEF Square'). Basically D is the link between two 'BCEF Squares'. So remeber that D is a whole step in front of C, and a whole step behind E.

    Here's a rough visual aid:

    |-e-|-f-|
    |-b-|-c-|- -|-d-|- -|-e-|-f-|
    --------------------|-b-|-c-|

    Practice finding these notes and get it down.

    FIFTH:

    Now for the Notes G and A...

    Remember what I was talking about in the 'THIRD' section. you know how the P4 is directly under a note, and 2 frets to the right of the P4 is the P5 of that note, and that the P5 is also above that note.

    ex>
    -------------|-note-|
    |--p4--|-- --|--p5--|
    |-note-|

    Well this is how you'll find the other two notes G and A.

    By now you should know how to find D. So find it and use this pattern to find G and A. Because G is D's perfect 4th, and A is D's perfect 5th.

    ex>
    --------|-d-|
    |-g-|- -|-a-|
    |-d-|

    - practice finding the G's and A's.

    SIXTH:

    Now we need to figure out how to knit the guitar fretboard quilt together even more (so to speak).

    Let's start where we left off.

    So far you were finding G and A by working off D.

    ex>
    --------|-d-|
    |-g-|- -|-a-|
    |-d-|

    But as you know D's perfect 4th 'G' is also C's Perfect 5th.
    And D's perfect 5th 'A' is also E's perfect 4th.

    ex>
    ---------------|-d-|
    |- -|- -|-g-|- -|-a-|
    |-c-|- -|-d-|- -|-e-|

    So you could find it by starting from another note as well.

    I hope you can see how the guitar fretboard is woven together now. You should know how to find all the natural notes on the fretboard easy with some practice using these methods.

    SEVENTH:

    Last things to keep in mind:

    - You should also know a notes left natural note and right natural note.

    ex1>
    The Note to the left of C is B
    The Note to the Right of C is D

    B - C - D

    ex2>
    The Note to the left of A is G
    The Note to the Right of A is B

    G - A - B

    - Another good thing to know is that the 5th fret and 10th fret contain only natural notes.

    ex> 5th fret - A, D, G, C, E, A

    ex> 10th fret - D, G, C, F, A, D

    - Remember to take into account the fact that the bottom 2 strings are shifted one fret to the right.

    - Use the 'BCEF Squares' as sort of your NORTH STAR for navigating around the fretboard to find other notes. Remeber you only need to know where C is and you will automatically find the other four notes.

    EIGHTH:

    As for the accidental notes (#'s, and b's), they should be easy as cake to find once you get good at finding the natural notes.

    After you get good with finding notes in the top half of the fretboard (0-11) you can just move to the lower part of the guitar (12 and up) and translate what you know from the top half, and there you go.

    Alot of this was a bit repetitive but i believe the best way to learn is through repetition.

    ..well i guess that's about it.
    Last edited by adverse youth; 03-31-2006 at 06:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    109
    Nice stuff there. I thought I might add to that a little with scales. Another way to learn your scales on the fretboard is to learn them through shapes. ie: the Major scale has the chords Maj-min-min-Maj-Maj-min-Dim. Now you just connect those shapes up together, because in any particular key, the diatonic chords notes are all in the scale, thus the chords are the scales and the scale is the chords, depends whether you look at it vertically or horizontally.

    so, the Major shape on six strings is

    1-2-3-4
    *------
    *------
    *-*----
    *---*--
    *---*--
    *------


    and minor


    1-2-3-4
    *------
    *------
    *------
    *---*--
    *---*--
    *------


    so lets look at this


    0-1-2-3-4-5
    *-*---*---*
    *-*---*---*
    *---*---*-*
    *---*-*---*
    *---*-*---*
    *-*---*---*
    E F G A


    Its the first few frets of the Major scale, and I colour coded the chords in the scale, just to show how the chords interlock to form the scale, this kind of pattern happens all the way through the scale and every other scale. I think its useful to look at scales in this way too, and learn your intervals! Hope this helps. I havent heard anyone mention this before, so I thought I would. Peace out
    Last edited by Black-Mantra; 03-31-2006 at 10:11 PM.

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