Finding the Notes on the Fretboard Part 2

In Part 2 we begin applying every thing that we have learned so far to the guitar neck.


The Names of the Strings

Each of the strings has a letter name from our musical alphabet. Starting from the thickest string and moving to the thinnest string the names of the strings are: E A D G B and E. A useful mnemonic for remembering this is Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears.

Lets start by learning the notes on the thin ‘e’ string.

Each fret is one step in the musical alphabet. Looking at the alphabet we can see that the note immediately after ‘E’ is ‘F’.

A, A♯/B♭, B, C, C♯/D♭, D, D♯/E♭, E, F, F♯/G♭, G, G♯/A♭

This means that the first fret must be the note ‘F’, because it is one fret higher than the open ‘E’ string.

We can find the note in the second fret using the same method. Since we know that the note in the first fret is ‘F’ and each fret is one step in the musical alphabet, the note in the second fret must be the note ‘F♯’ or ‘G♭’ (remember ‘F♯’ and ‘G♭’ are enharmonically equivalent, which means that there is two names for the one note).

A, A♯/B♭, B, C, C♯/D♭, D, D♯/E♭, E, F, F♯/G♭, G, G♯/A♭

What about the note in the third fret? Well, since the note in the second fret is the note ‘F♯’ or ‘G♭’ we can look at the alphabet again and see that the next note will be a ‘G’

A, A♯/B♭, B, C, C♯/D♭, D, D♯/E𘁓, E, F, F♯/G♭, G, G♯/A♭

But, if you wanted to know the note on the tenth fret, it could become tedious working out every single note along the fretboard. Instead, you can just think that the tenth fret must be ten steps higher than the open ‘E’ string. Then you can quickly work out that the note at the tenth fret is the letter ‘D’.

C, C♯/D♭, D, D♯/E♭, E, F, F♯/G♭, G, G♯/A♭, A, A♯/B♭, B, C, C♯/D♭, D D♯/E♭, E, F, F♯/G♭,

Here is a diagram of the fretboard with the entire ‘e’ string worked out.

Notes on High E String

The Notes on the Thick ‘E’ String

Since the thick ‘E’ string and the thin ‘e’ string have the same letter name they share the same notes (just in different octaves). So we can just copy those notes over onto the low ‘E’ string.

Notes on High and Low E String

The Rest of the Notes

This pdf is a simple cheat sheet, which shows the note name of every fret on every string. Of course, if you can resist using the cheat sheet, and work out all of the notes by yourself, you’ll learn the fretboard more thoroughly. But for the lazy folks out there I’ve included the cheat sheet anyway :)

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