Learning the Fretboard


aliasmaximus
Hippie at Heart
Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249

Please Note: I discovered an error in my explanation of this technique and have slightly modified the original post. Also, Christopher Schlegel has provided a link to the "Fretboard Learning" lessons belonging to his own (discontinued) Guitar Fundamentals course, one that is sadly no longer a part of the core curriculum. Find that link in his response to this post. TBH, that particular set of lessons didn't help me learn the fretboard any better than the current GF courses, but maybe what and how Chris teaches will click for you. If not, try this method. You have nothing to lose :)

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Beginners hear it incessantly - gotta learn the fretboard, gotta learn the fretboard. Accomplishing that has become my white whale. Unfortunately, none of the Guitar Fundamentals courses taught by Lisa, Anders and Chris have been helpful to me in that one regard. So, I experimented with some alternative methods on my own and this one hit home for me.

By now I have the string names down pat - EADGBE, which allows me to immediately identify all the notes on the first fret. It's just the string names sharped (remembering that E sharped is F and B sharped is C). Knowing the string names means that I also know the 12th fret, which is an octave up and therefore identical to the string names: EADGBE. I also know that moving one fret up the neck (toward the body) sharps a note and moving one fret down the neck (toward the headstock) flats a note. Knowing that, it's easy to quickly identify all the notes on the 11th and 13th strings as well. Which means I already know all the open strings and the notes on 4 frets, without having memorized anything new.

Now just pick either the 3rd and 7th frets or the 5th and 9th frets, and memorize the notes on those 2 frets. Because there are 2 identically named strings on the guitar, you really only need to memorize a total of 10 notes to learn those 2 frets. Once memorized, you should be able to quickly identify all the notes on the adjacent frets (on either side of the 2 frets that you memorized) by simply sharping or flatting the memorized notes.

So, memorize just 10 notes on 2 frets and you will be able to quickly identify all the notes on 10 whole frets. That leaves just 3 frets (or 15 notes) to learn in whatever manner works best for you. After memorizing just 10 notes, my times for completing the Fretboard Trainer exercise (in the GT Toolbox) improved profoundly. I went from over 5 minutes to less than 60 seconds. 10 notes.

Ultimately, my goal (and yours) is to memorize all the notes on the fretboard unassisted (without the need for using "anchor" notes as navigational guides). Although the aforementioned method cannot (on it's own) achieve that goal, it does allow for very quick identification of individual notes that you will then have to memorize. In other words, this method eliminates the need for always having to start at the nut and count up the neck sequentially, note by note, until you reach your destination. It's a way to save a whole lot of time while completing the task of memorizing all the notes on the fretboard; nothing more and nothing less.

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 1
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,785
Originally Posted by: aliasmaximusBut I've not come across a method that's practical for beginners.[/quote]

Covered that in my GF1.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=11078

[quote=aliasmaximus]By now I at least have the strings down cold - EADGBE. Which has allowed me to immediately identify all the notes on the first fret.

Good deal!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 2
aliasmaximus
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Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249

Awesome, thanks Chris!

How is it that your GF 1 & 2 aren't part of the core curriculum?

To anyone who was confused by my explanation of my "method" of memorizing the fretboard, please note that I made a couple of corrections pertaining to the faulty explanation. Oops! Anyways, it should make sense now. Sorry about that.

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 3
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,785
Originally Posted by: aliasmaximus

Awesome, thanks Chris!

How is it that your GF 1 & 2 aren't part of the core curriculum?

You're welcome! They were, but the current ones are newer. This has happened several times over the years. Same thing for older style courses. And for some of my tutorials. GT is continually working on updating content.

My courses are still available! You can use them if you want. :) Enjoy!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 4
aliasmaximus
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Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249
Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Covered that in my GF1.

Yes, you did... using a methodology that is effectively similar to that of other GT instructors, which is to teach all the strings horizontally, fret by fret. You have a couple of diagrams in the first lesson but never explain what they mean or how that's supposed to help one learn the entire fretboard. You typically knock every lesson out of the park, Chris - but not this time.

It's a great introduction to note names and fretboard layout. It also introduces a methodical and laborious process for identifying individual notes. But it doesn't provide a strategy for quickly identifying those same notes when they are presented in random order, such as the fretboard challenge in the GT Toolbox.

I realize that what I'm proposing is anything but a silver bullet for memorizing the fretboard. One still needs to put in the time and repetitions in order to eventually be able to immediately identify specific notes on sight (even by ear), the way you and every other instructor here can.

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,785
Originally Posted by: aliasmaximusYes, you did... in the same manner as every other GT instructor, which is to teach all the strings horizontally, fret by fret. You have a couple of diagrams in the first lesson but never explain what they mean or how that's supposed to help one learn the entire fretboard. You typically knock every lesson out of the park, Chris - but not this time.[/quote]

The link I sent was to the first lesson of an entire chapter on learning the note names & their structure. I do it 2 strings sets at a time, while concretizing it with melodies. Then I explain the overall structure & incorporate accidentals.

[quote=aliasmaximus]

It's a great introduction to note names, fretboard layout, and introduces a methodical process for identifying individual notes. But it doesn't provide a strategy for quickly identifying those same notes when they are presented in random order, such as the fretboard challenge in the toolbox.

[p]Yes, that's beyond the scope of the beginner level fundamentals. Most of what a beginner learns happens in the lower fretboard; open strings through first 5 frets.

If you want a system for the entire fretboard, then I suggest the octave method I cover in my music theory tutorial.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=11526&s_id=495

Hope that helps!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 6
aliasmaximus
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Posts: 249

Yes Chris, it did help me! Both times that I have previously completed that entire course; a course which finally tied together all the disparate pieces of musical theory that I had floating around my head like a can of alphabet soup bouncing down a dirt road. I so appreciate and admire your GF1 & 2 courses that I even posted to (and emailed) Admin to suggest that your course be reintroduced into the core curruculum, at least as a supplement. I believe that doing so would probably be the single most useful thing Admin could do to give beginners a leg up.

But for all the praise I can lavish upon what amounts to a very small piece of your entire lesson catalog, I still hold fast to my assertion that no GF course on GT comes close to elucidating a method for tackling the entire fretboard in a manner that allows for quick identification of individual notes by a beginner. And that's probably because instructors collectively underestimate a lot of beginners by assuming that (as you yourself stated) the process of learning the entire fretboard is unquestionably "beyond the scope of a beginner". You can't make such a statement and at the same time claim that you did in fact provide a practical framework for memorizing the fretboard in your GF courses. That would be illogical, and you're anything but illogical.

As much as I like to joke about you being one of GT's Marvel-like music-oriented superheros, you do realize that nobody here honestly expects perfection from you... other than you yourself it seems. You can't do [u]everything[/u] for [u]everybody[/u] [u]all the time[/u]. And that's all right by me :)

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 7
Tinpan
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Joined: 03/31/20
Posts: 361

This might be of interest?

I think it's one of those things you just have to search for until you find a way that clicks for your particular grey matter.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nXN7hYNMfhA


# 8
aliasmaximus
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Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249

Thanks, Tinpan! All those bits and bobs of knowledge in a fun singsongy Liverpool accent.

Circle of fourths applied sequentially ([u]except[/u] where it's nonsequential) to a rectangular fretboard, wherein you simply apply the letters straight across the neck, [u]except[/u] where it sometimes bends and goes up the neck.... well, actually, kind of at an angle - up and across, [u]except[/u] when you get to the high E string where it instead goes around and down the neck following the mnemonic precisely, [u]except[/u] for the places where Charles' Father doesn't fall Down because the Battle never got underway in the first place and....

Sorry, dude - I don't have enough gray matter left for that system ; )

But, I think you're absolutely correct. In order to memorize the fretboard, every guitarist eventually has to find something that clicks for them. And that particular video is likely to click for some.

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 9
Tinpan
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Ha! yep, pretty much was my conclusion too but I can see how it may visually work for some who are desperate to find a mantra that helps. I don't think there is a substitute for just going over and over it based on octaves and counting back from the 12th once past half way.

I finally got it by finding one note at a time across each string to beat 1 (give yourself 3 beats to find the next one). If you say it out loud as you go and work your way up and then back down. All the A's, all the Bs and so on then it will suddenly get quicker.

My biggest problem wasn't finding a how, it was committing time to it. OK...I'm going to do all the...hang on...Red House licks!!!...look a squirrel.


# 10
aliasmaximus
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Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249

Very cool idea, Tinpan. My method of finding a note in reference to some other note is effective, but certainly no substitute for straight up memorizing notes on sight, the way you're doing. I think I'll give your method a go : )

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 11
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,785
Originally Posted by: aliasmaximus

I still hold fast to my assertion that no GF course on GT comes close to elucidating a method for tackling the entire fretboard in a manner that allows for quick identification of individual notes by a beginner.[/quote][p]Hopefully you've found a method that works for you! And once you've done the work & memorized the pattern & locations you've got knowledge you can use for as long as you play guitar.

[quote=aliasmaximus] You can't make such a statement and at the same time claim that you did in fact provide a practical framework for memorizing the fretboard in your GF courses.

I apologize if I misunderstood your original post. I thought you were looking for a lesson to help beginners learn & understand the musical alphabet notes on the fretboard. So, that's why I posted the link to my lesson starting the chapter on covering that topic in a musical manner.

Hope that helps!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 12
aliasmaximus
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Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249

No, Chris - I'm the one who should apologize. The last thing I wanted was to put you in a position where you felt that you needed to apologize. Posting my half-baked "method" of learning the fretboard was clearly a mistake. It's at best merely a gimmick for quickly [u]identifying[/u] notes on the fretboard (e.g. what note is on this string & fret) rather than [u]finding[/u] notes (e.g. find all the E flats on the fretboard). The latter requires learning/memorization. The former involves little learning or memorization, and would likely prove itselft to be an inefficient and largely ineffective means of further memorizing all the notes on the fretboard.

Using this gimmick to get markedly better times on the GT Fretboard Trainer proves only that I found a working backdoor for this challenge. In other words, it constitutes a means of cheating the test, nothing more.

So, once again, my bad. I seem to be saying that a lot these days : (

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 13
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,785

No worries. As long as you have a method for locating the notes on the fretboard it will help your guitar learning & playing. That's my sole concern here!

Originally Posted by: aliasmaximus

Using this gimmick to get markedly better times on the GT Fretboard Trainer proves only that I found a working backdoor for this challenge. In other words, it constitutes a means of cheating the test, nothing more.

We had a discussion about the trainer a while back. The short version is that it's an interesting game, but of limited value. The more you use it, the better you get at the game. But not at playing music on the guitar. :)[br][br]Here's the thread with a few of my observations.

https://www.guitartricks.com/forum/thread.php?f=10&t=56377&pg=1

Hope that helps!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 14
aliasmaximus
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Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249

It does help... in more ways than one. Thanks for being so consistently patient with me.

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 15
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,785
Originally Posted by: aliasmaximus

It does help... in more ways than one. Thanks for being so consistently patient with me.

Good deal! Keep practicing. :)


Christopher Schlegel
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# 16
Tinpan
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Agree fretboard trainer appears like a good tool at first but suddenly you realise there's not a guitar in my hand.


# 17
aliasmaximus
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Joined: 02/22/22
Posts: 249

No guitar in your hand? You, Tinpan? Given how much you seem to love playing that thing, I've always assumed that you sleep with your guitar in your hand ; )

Nicolai


"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

# 18