Guitar String Notes
Is it important to learn each of the guitar string notes through the entire fretboard?
The answer is a resounding YES!
Actually, you only need to learn all of the guitar string notes from the “open note string” to the “12th fret”.
Why? Because the notes start all over again at the 12th fret, exactly as they started from the open note. This makes sense because the 12th fret is one full octave.
This helps to wrap your mind around the fact that each and every one of the guitar string notes you learn from the open string to the 12th fret is exactly the same as the 12th fret up to the 24th fret. (2 full octaves).
Yes, many guitars only have 22 frets, but the same principle applies.
As a guitar instructor for more than 25 years, I’ve heard some interesting logic for “not needing” to learn all the guitar string notes. That type of mindset couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, it will actually limit your ability in the long run.
I remember (bassist extraordinaire) Billy Sheehan saying, (as he laid his bass flat across his lap)
Billy said… “It’s taken me over thirty years to learn what I know from here to here”.
His reference form here to here, was his left hand on the “Nut” and his right hand on the “12th fret”. It’s so true! When you focus on only that area, you’ve already learned the rest of the neck simply because it repeats itself.
One of the big problems I’ve noticed from teaching over the years, is many of my students viewed the neck as one long fretboard with all these notes to remember. When you get that thought out of your mind and focus on the open string to the 12th fret, all the sudden everything comes into perspective.
If I had a nickel for every time one of my students had an “Ah Ha’ moment over that simple frame of mind, I would have quite a few nickels!
The best part of that is that it gives you motivation to and inspiration to actually memorize all the guitar string notes.
There are several ways for a guitarist to memorize the notes on the fretboard, some of which are too complicated and over-thought. If you are one that has a difficult time with memorizing all your notes, (and more importantly locking in the memory) remember that it’s not just you!
Many guitarists go down this same path, and is why your mind starts to tell you that you don’t really need to know ALL the notes. You tend to memorize the basic areas and stay within a comfort zone, and that tends to get the job done.
Remember this, you’re robbing yourself of unlocking your full potential. I know this sounds harsh but it’s true.
Let’s look at some ways that will get your mind thinking differently when it comes to memorizing notes on the fretboard.
I’m going to show you an easy to understand method of mastering your Guitar String Notes fast and easy, once and for all. There’s just two shapes you need to remember and rest will fall into place once you begin practicing this method.
The best part of this method is that you’ll learn all the octave locations across the neck at the same time, as well as the individual notes. This makes it much easier to see the entire neck for each and every key, on demand.
Method (1) – “6th String Triangle Shape”
- Figure #1.
As you can see, the starting point is on the sixth string, third fret. From there you’ll diagonally cross over to the fourth string, fifth fret. Finally, all the way down to the first string, third fret.
These three “G” notes create the triangle you see in the diagram. The starting point on the sixth string will always represent the key signature that you’re in.
As you move this shape up or down the neck, the triangle stays exactly the same, and the starting note on the sixth string will always be the key your are in. This is the best way to view your octaves from the sixth string perspective. You’ll want to practice this triangle shape all the way up the neck and all the way back down the neck, calling out each key that you’re in as you practice them in sequence.
Once you get the hang of moving this shape around and calling out the keys, you’ll start seeing all these octave notes easier than ever before. You’ll wonder why you didn’t catch on to this simple method sooner.
Method (2) – “5th String Triangle Shape”
- Figure #2.
This one is slightly different, in that it starts on the fifth string, third fret. From there you’ll diagonally cross over to the third string fifth fret. Finally, down to the second string, first fret.
These three “C” notes create the triangle you see in figure 2. The starting point on the fifth string will always represent the key signature that you’re in.
As you you move this shape up and down the neck, the triangle stays exactly the same, and the starting note on the fifth string will always represent the key you’re in. Again, this is the best way to view your octaves from the fifth string perspective. You’ll want to practice this triangle shape all the way up the neck and all the way back down the neck, calling out each key as you’re practicing them in sequence.
Once you get the hang of moving this shape around and calling out the keys, you’ll start seeing all these octave notes super easy.
These Two Simple Triangle Shapes Will Unlock All Of The Guitar String Notes.
What you’ll start noticing when you practice this method, is that you’re able to simply look at the guitar fretboard without playing anything, and actually see all of the notes by name, simply by viewing the guitar fretboard.
As you continue working on these shapes, something really cool starts to happen in a subconscious way. Test this out for yourself after you’ve practiced this method for a while.
Close your eyes and vividly visualize the neck, you’ll still see all the notes, and be able to call them out by name. This is exactly where you want to be in terms of mindset and focus.
If you practice these shapes daily, you’ll find that within a week the neck will have a whole new look to it. You won’t see the neck the way you did before, as just frets and dots… You’ll begin to clearly see all the notes by name and will be much more comfortable playing in different keys. You’ll also notice a major improvement with improvising.
When you finally begin to unlock the guitar string notes your creativity goes way up, and the quality of your music improves as well. It’s only natural that it would, because you’ll now have complete control over the notes on the fretboard.
Of course, mastering the notes is the beginning of unlocking your full potential and skyrocket your musical vocabulary and musical phrasing etc…
These things all start to fall in place once the foundation is set correctly.
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This is Robert Lee Molton.
Thank you for being here and I hope you have an excellent day!