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How To Learn The Notes On The Guitar

Learning the name of every note on the guitar can seem confusing or even overwhelming without a good explanation. When you look at this chart of the guitar neck, the notes will seem like they’re randomly placed on the fretboard.

The first thing to do is to memorize the note of each open string (E A D G B E). This is the note that each string should be tuned to on a guitar tuner, also known as standard tuning. Each individual string follows the musical alphabet (A B C D E F G). Each string starts on a different letter in the musical alphabet except for strings one and six which both start on E. The notes on these two strings will be identical all the way up the guitar neck.

When looking at this chart try to memorize each string individually going up the neck. If you try to memorize the notes on the guitar neck going across each fret it will seem almost impossible.

The seven letters of the musical alphabet are a whole step apart from each other (2 frets) except for E & F and B & C that are a half step apart from each other (1 fret).

The notes in between the letters of the alphabet are the sharps♯and flats♭. Sharps are ½ step higher from the natural note and flats are ½ step lower from the natural note. Sharp notes and flat notes can have two different names. You can see on this chart that F♯ and G♭ are at the same note. A♯and B♭are also the same note.

Each string starts over again at the 12th fret. You can see on this chart that the notes at the 12th fret of the guitar are the same as the open strings. This means that the notes at the 13th fret are the same as the notes at the 1st fret etc… The ending note on each string depends upon how many frets your guitar has. Some guitars have 24 frets. The 24th fret will be exactly the same as the open strings and the 12th fret (E A D G B E).

If you want to learn the names of the notes on other fretted instruments – bass guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin etc… the musical alphabet and the spacing between the notes works exactly the same way. You will first half to memorize the names of the open strings for the instrument you want to learn and follow the alphabet with the whole steps and half steps.

When you’re first learning how to play the guitar it isn’t necessary to memorize every note on the fretboard. Most beginning songs involve learning how to change between chords and strum with the right hand. You can also learn simple riffs by memorizing tabs without ever knowing the names of the notes.

If you want become more of an intermediate to advanced guitarist you will need to learn the notes on the guitar neck. You can start by learning the name of each open string (E A D G B E) and understand how the whole and half steps work. With practice you will eventually be able to look anywhere on the fretboard and instantly know the name of the note!

I hope this helps you in quest to learn all of the notes on the guitar!

Please feel free to email us any of your questions at howto@learnguitaronline.com

 Thanks for reading!

Andrew Morrison,
Learnguitaronline.com  (co-founder)