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Lesson #17: Learning the Fretboard

by Tyler de Witt posted on 1999-10-17
Topic: Fretboard Subtopic: General
Level: Intermediate Number of Readers: 73561

Learning the Fretboard

This lesson won't actually give you any methods for learning the fret board. The next lessons will. The are many ways to learn the fretboard. Some are hard, some are fun, but none of them are quick. You won't learn the fretboard over night. It will take practice.

This brings up a discussion. What does 'knowing the fretboard' really mean? It doesn't mean being able to figure out which note a fret corresponds to by some systematic method(example: counting up notes from the first fret of that string, until you reach the target and say 'there! it's a D#! I just figured it out). No, this is only the first step in learning the fretboard, and this step CAN be learned over night.

I consider 'knowing' the fretboard is being able to know what note a fret corresponds to in a split second. The two(fret and note name) should be joined together inseparably. When looking at the third fret, fifth string, 'C' should automatically pop into your head. Another aspect of 'knowing the fretboard' is being able to visualize the notes around a certain fret, so that you can see it as a whole. Knowing exactly what notes surround a certain note is very important because most of the time, we will be playing more than one note in succession. Also, if you're playing notes at the same time, as in chords, you're going to have to be able to visualize a group of notes, and know their names.

It's my dream to be able to visualize the entire fretboard as a whole: a perfect, crystal picture in my mind of where all the notes are, and the relation between any combination of them. That's my dream. When I accomplish that, I'll be satisfied.

Well, I've been putting off the actual learning of the fretboard for quite some time now. The next lessons will deal with methods of learning the fretboard.

Things to remember from this lesson:

1. Learning the fretboard takes effort and practice.
2. Learning the fretboard is a huge step, and well worth the effort.
3. 'Knowing' the fretboard means being able to know what note name corresponds to any fret you touch, instantly. It is also being able to visualize groups of notes as a whole, and being able to see the relationship between them.

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