Lesson 2 - Memorizing the Fretboard

Memorizing the Guitar Fretboard can seem like a daunting task. The trick is to take the task in gradual steps. Just a little practice every day, and you can easily memorize the fretboard. Before we get into Training Exercises/Drills, please look at the following Diagram:

  1. Look at the notes on the twelfth fret, they are the same as the open notes. This is because the notes on the twelfth fret are and octave higher than the open notes. The notes on the 24th fret (if your guitar goes that high), would be 2 octaves higher than the open notes.
  2. The 2 E strings are identical. That means the lowest string, and the highest string, have the exact same note placement. If you know one of them, you know both of them!

Seeing patterns will help in memorizing the fretboard. Here :

Placement of A's and E's on the Fretboard

Placement of A's and E's on the Fretboard

Using the placements of A's and E's can help by being a placeholder for finding other notes. And if you memorize the note placements of A's and E's, then you will have 2/8 of the notes you need, already memorized!

Now Some Memorization Tips and Exercises

    Click on this link, and print out some sheets. Each set of 6 lines represents a fretboard. Now simply fill out the blank fretboard with different notes. For each fretboard, start a different note, on a different string, at a different fret. Do this atleast once a day, or when you're waiting in line for something. It is an invaluable method in learning the notes.

     Close your eyes, and randomly play a note. Open your eyes, and figure out what note you just played. Now, try to find all other placements of that same note, and play it. When doing this, it helps to focus on one note per day. *If the note you land on is a flat or a sharp, simply move up to the nearest real note. Make sure you're doing a different note everyday! This is by far the simplest and best way to remember your notes.

     Look at the following image:   This is tablature of all of the positions of the note E. This will help in placing the notes. (If you can't read tablature, look at the learning supplements at the end of the lesson) There is no need to work on frets 12-24, because they are identical to 0-12
E Note Fretboard Placement
E Note Placements

F Note Fretboard Placement
F Note Placements

      A Note Fretboard Placement
      A Note Placements

        B Note Fretboard Placement
        B Note Placements

          G Note Fretboard Placement
          C Note Placements

            D Note Fretboard Placement
            D Note Placements

            • When playing notes, try saying the notes you are playing out loud. This will greatly aid in memorization.

            Now, I have gathered many resources in the lesson supplements section, to aid in memorizing the fretboard.

            Please, if this lesson is missing anything, or if you have suggestions to make it better, leave them in the comments and I will work on them.

            Supplemental Resources

            If you don't know how to read tabs, I found a quick guide for beginners. Click Here to access it.

            Resources for this lesson include a webpage, flash games, computer software, and video. Remember, they are great for learning, but can't replace learning the placement of notes on an actual guitar! Note: I own none of these games, softwares, or videos. These are simply links to invaluable resources, created by other hardworking guitarists!

            Fretboard Master - This is a great flash game for learning the fretboard, and will really test if you know you stuff. If you think you have your fretboard memorized, use this game to test your knowledge.

            Fretboard Warrior - This free software is similar to Fretboard Master, but also includes sound of the notes, which helps in ear training.

            Fretboard Game - Another Flash Game like Fretboard Master, except much simpler and easier to use.

            Cirqueduguitar video lesson. Below are embed three lessons by Cirqueduguitar, which I find  are good, effective, lessons.

            Paid Supplemental Resources

            If the free resources above are not enough for you, or if you do not have the time to make the most out of them, you can buy these effective resources listed below. The only benefit to the paid resources is that they will save you time that you may not be able to spare learning things yourself.

             Guitar Fretboard and Chord Chart Instructional Poster - Simply put, this is a poster of the guitar fretboard and some basic chords. Personally, when starting out, I made something like this myself and stuck it onto a wall, near of where I play guitar. If you aren't good with making posters or don't have the time, buy this.

            Guitar Theory Poster: 22 inch. x 34 inch.This theory poster is like the above, except you get more value for your dollar. It provides reference to future music theory that you will learn, and will be useful for many years.

            Guitar Fretboard Workbook - Navigate the guitar neck better than ever before with this easy-to-use book! Designed from Musicians Institute core curriculum programs, it covers essential concepts for players of every level, acoustic or electric. A hands-on guide to theory, it will help you learn to build any scale or chord on your own and unleash creativity. No music reading is required.

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