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Lesson #20: Learning the Fretboard Method 2

by Tyler de Witt posted on 1999-10-17
Topic: Fretboard Subtopic: General
Level: Intermediate Number of Readers: 73777

Learning the Fretboard Method 2

Here is another method for learning the notes on the fretboard.

1. Start at the 6th string, 1st fret. Play the note.
2. Say the note name of the fret.
3. Move up one fret, and play it.
4. Say the note name of this fret.
5. Keep doing this until you've reached the highest fret on the string, then go to the next string.
6. Repeat this for all the strings.

This method seems pretty straightforward.

The problem with this method is the fact that if you know the order of the notenames really well, you'll have a hard time getting your brain to associate the actual note names with places on the fretboard. What you'll end up doing mostly is just reciting the order of the note names as you move up the strings, without actually paying attention to which note name corresponds with each fret. You'll have to make an extra effort to do this.

Once you know the fretboard fairly well, there's a variation on this exercise that you can do. Instead of going in order up the strings, just pick random places from the fretboard and see if the note name pops into your head as soon as you play the note. The only problem with this method is that sometimes it gets hard to pick 'random' locations, and you end up picking a lot of the same ones over again. Also, you're never really sure if you've learned all the frets, because you haven't been relying on any system.

What else you can do is to pick certain patterns on the fretboard and name the note names in those patterns. For example, you could name all the notes that are on the first frets of each string, and then move onto the second fret and so on. This way, you won't just be reciting the easily remembered pattern of the semitones as you move up a string. Also, it doesn't have the fallback of the 'random note' method, because you'll be sure when you get to the top that you've gone through all the notes on the fretboard.

Try using a variety of the methods presented so far, and eventually you'll start to look at the fretboard in a totally different way. One day, you'll be practicing and you'll be like 'Wow. I actually know what notes I'm playing', and when this happens you'll be very happy.

Things to remember from this lesson:

1. Go over the method presented, and try it out.
2. Remember that the problem with the method is that you'll be tempted just to remember the pattern on the semitones as you move up the strings, and you won't actually end up associates notes with frets.
3. Variations of this exercise include the random note method, and the pattern method.
4. Remember to use a variety of ways, no one method is perfect.

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