Fretting Notes

Now it's time to talk about these vertical lines on the neck of the guitar called frets. When we navigate the fretboard we refer to the string name (Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie) and the fret number. To find the fret number we count from the nut then move toward the bridge, then upward: 1st fret, 2nd fret, 3rd fret, etc.

Most guitars we have some markings on the fretboard to help us not have to count all the way up every time. Usually there's a marking in the 5th fret. Often in the 7th fret too and almost always in the 12th fret. You don't need to memorize any of this right now. That'll happen naturally along the way!

Let's try this in action. If I told you to play the 1st fret of the low E-string you would first find the string using our story of Eddie. the the other coordinate is the 1st fret.

To play a note, or to fret a note as we often say, use the very tip of your finger and press down on the left side of the fret. Get right up against the fret. Not on top of it, not in the middle, but right behind it where it takes the least amount of force to produce a nice sounding note.

As much as possible you want your finger tip to come in at a straight angle. Behind the neck I'm applying gentle pressure with my thumb, but you shouldn't need a lot of force.

Try picking the note with your right hand. You can use your thumb or your index finger, or maybe you're already holding a pick. Either way works!

It's completely normal that your fingers hurt a bit, when you first start fretting notes, because most fingers have never tried anything like this before, and they don't yet have the calluses to protect them. You may even see an imprint of the string on your fingertip, but please don't be alarmed. Your fingers will toughen up sooner than you think, and in the meantime just make sure to take lots of little breaks and shake out your hands.

Anders Mouridsen
Instructor Anders Mouridsen
Any Style
Fretting Notes song notation