Many guitar players begin learning to play guitar by learning to read guitar tabs (tablature). Tabs are excellent for players of all levels to quickly figure out where on the guitar’s fretboard to place your fingers. However being able to only read tabs can limit you as a guitarist.
The next step towards being a better player and musician is to learn the names of the notes on the fretboard.
Having this knowledge can unlock tremendous applications. For example you’ll be able to come up with your own chord shapes, without relying on a chord chart, by simply knowing the notes in a chord and the notes on the fretboard. You’ll also be able to play arpeggios and scales without needing to look up the tabs! As long as you know the fretboard notes and the notes of a scale or arpeggio, you’ll be able to identify and play those notes on the guitar.
Here is the guitar fretboard notes chart:
It’s a daunting task to memorize all of these. But trust me, if you work at it you’ll soon be able to identify all of these notes on your guitar! I suggest you take things one step (string) at a time.
Step 1: Memorize the notes of the open strings
First, memorize the names of the notes of the six open strings.
From thickest to thinnest string (bottom to top), the string names are: E (6th), A (5th), D (4th), G (3rd), B (2nd), E (1st)
Note the numbering as it’s often used interchangeably with the string name. So when you hear “3rd string” you’ll know that it is the G string.
By learning the name of each string, you already know all the notes on the fretboard!
Each note on the fretboard increases the previous note by a half-step. So for example, the first fret on the A (5th) string, will be the note A# (or B-flat).
Let’s take a look at each string.
Step 2: Memorize the low E string (6th)
Here are the notes mapped out for the low E string (6th string).
Step 3: Memorize the A string (5th)
Here are the notes mapped out for the A string (5th string).
Step 4: Memorize the D string (4th)
Here are the notes mapped out for the D string (4th string).
Step 5: Memorize the G string (3rd)
Here are the notes mapped out for the G string (3rd string).
Step 6: Memorize the B string (2nd)
Here are the notes mapped out for the B string (2nd string).
Step 7: Memorize the high E string (1st)
Here are the notes mapped out for the high E string (1st). If you already memorized the low E string, you already have this one covered as it’s the same notes.
In this post we covered the names of all the notes on the guitar fretboard. Memorizing these notes will be of great benefit to you as a player. Pace yourself! If you memorize one string a week you’ll need just over a month to have it all memorized. Good luck!