Learning your guitar’s fretboard is, in my opinion, the most important step to become a better musician.
Unfortunately, most guitar players don’t even know why they need to learn their fretboard in the first place.
They just do what they are told without questioning it. And that’s a shame!
In this article I will present you 5 facts every guitar player should know on fretboard memorization, and how it can help you become a better musician.
It will also help you understand why it is so important to actually learn your fretboard instead of just playing scales and chords all day long.
In the video I mention 5 facts that every guitarist should know about memorizing the guitar fretboard.
There are many ways to memorize the fretboard. In this blog I’m going to share with you 5 facts about fretboard memorization that every guitar player should know about.
Fact 1: The human brain is extremely good at visualizing things in 3D space.
The human brain has evolved from millions of years ago as a 3D visualizing tool. For example, we can visualize a cube or a sphere in our mind’s eye, and we can imagine how they look like when they rotate even though we have never seen them rotate before in our lifetime.
Fact 2: There is a natural pattern on the guitar fingerboard that your brain can easily visualize and remember.
Despite the countless number of frets on the fingerboard, there are only 12 notes that repeat themselves along the guitar neck. This means that there is actually a very simple and mathematically beautiful pattern on the guitar fretboard that you can use to memorize the fretboard easily.
Fact 3: Memorizing the guitar fretboard using patterns is actually more efficient than memorizing each note name for each string one at a time.
Most people learn to memorize the notes on the fingerboard by learning what each note name is for each string one at a time from left to right
We’re about to look at 5 tried and true tips for helping you memorize the fretboard. These tips have been tried and tested by thousands of guitarists. And through their success, we’ve seen that these strategies are quick, effective, and fun ways to memorize the guitar fretboard.
We recommend that you try each strategy in the order of our list below. The first tip is a great way to get started memorizing the fretboard on guitar. And subsequent tips will continue to build on your knowledge until you’ve successfully mastered the entire fretboard on guitar!
Let’s get started!
1. Fretboard memorization is not difficult but it can be time-consuming.
To memorize the fretboard, you must remember the name of each note on the 6 strings and their position on the fretboard. This is a lot of information to remember! You can do it in a day but I wouldn’t recommend it. The more notes you can remember at one time, the faster you will learn them all. I suggest learning 5 or 6 notes per session, taking 15-20 minutes for each session. It’s a good idea to spread out your learning over several weeks so that you can fully integrate everything into your long term memory.
2. Fretboard memorization starts with recognizing the open strings by ear and note names.
Before you even pick up your guitar, try to identify each string by ear and then by note name (E, A, D, G, B, E). The next step is to identify each string as you play each individual fret of that string. This first step is critical because it gives you a solid foundation for working outwards in both directions from the open string which are the frets above and below it on that string.
3. Fretboard memorization is learning multiple things at once:
1. Memorizing the fretboard is more of a muscle memory thing than anything else.
2. There are only 12 notes on the guitar, and you can memorize them in their order by using the 12-bar blues system, which I will explain below.
3. Memorizing the note names that are associated with each string is necessary.
4. You don’t need to memorize all 24 frets, just rely on your muscle memory to be able to find any note on any string, anywhere on the neck of your guitar… and also use your gut feeling for where you’d expect a note to be (i.e., if you’re playing a C chord, expect there to be an E & G somewhere around there.)
5. There are patterns that repeat themselves once every 12 frets (i.e., once you get past fret 12 it’s exactly like fret 1 again.) These patterns are what make memorizing the notes easy.
1. Memorize the notes on the first 5 frets:
The most important thing to know about your guitar is where all of the notes go (for now, we’ll just focus on the fretboard). If you know the notes, you can easily do so much more than just play scales. You will be able to learn chords faster and easier and you could even figure out songs by ear.
The way I learned it was by memorizing the notes on each string individually, until I reached 12th fret. After that, things start repeating themselves. So from this point, you’re going to want to start by memorizing the notes on the first five frets of your guitar. Remember that the note names are E-A-D-G-B-E on your low E string and then A-D-G-B-E on your A string.
2. The musical alphabet goes A-G only:
Another thing that’s very important to know is that there are only 7 unique note names in Western music. The musical alphabet consists of only A through G, with no sharps or flats in between (i.e., no Bb or F