The Complete Fretboard Diagram: 24 Frets
People have been asking for a full, 24 fret diagram. After fret 12, starting on fret 13, all notes recur. So you don't actually have to learn anything new. Once you've learned the fingerboard up to the 12th fret, you're done. You've learned the whole thing. Still, here it is:
The diagram above shows note names in the anglo-saxon system without reference to the specific octave of the notes. As given, each string is subdivided into a chromatic scale, a scale composed only of half-steps. After 12 pitches, the scale repeats itself, an octave higher.
But there's too much information. When it comes to visualizing the whole thing, we need to simplify. So let's take a look at the fretboard with only "white notes" on it. This means we've gone from 12 to 7 notes only. This makes it much easier to take in.
To the right is a fretboard diagram with only the 7 tones that make up the major scale, C D E F G A B.
But in order to get started and really make sense of the fretboard, you'll probably need to make it even easier for yourself. By getting rid of strings 1 and 2, you will notice that strings 3-6 of the guitar diagram are identical to the bass diagram.
This is instantly easier on the eye.
The reason is that bass note layout is completely symmetrical, and it is a subset of guitar note layout, so it's a great starting point. You'll find it much easier to make music there starting out.
So put scales, chords and and any other fingering patterns only on the 4 lowest strings of the guitar until that makes sense to you. This will ease some of the confusion caused by seeming lack of symmetry you get when using all 6 strings.
This gives you the additional advantage that if you ever have to play bass, you'll instantly know what to do with it!
Tips for memorizing the fretboard?
"I'm stuck in an absolute rut with the fretboard. I've been playing guitar for 3 years now but it doesn't matter how I practice it or learn it: I can't remember where any of the notes are no matter how hard I try.
People want tips and tricks to learn guitar notes. Then they get this:
Ridiculous. No wonder it all remains out of reach:
"I always felt overwhelmed with the task of memorizing the notes' positions on the fretboard. For me it is some sort of demon magic."
This is real 'advice', folks, and real life frustrations taken from our years of research. Most of the 'tips' people get are some variant of rote, memorization and patterns, whether directly on the fretboard, or using flash cards or apps to train memory.
"I can calculate what any note is by finding the closest octave on the E or A strings. But I would like to look at any fret and immediately say "that's a C". The problem is, drilling myself with some app or just memorizing is painfully boring. I'd like to have some drill on the guitar that works both some skill but also learning the notes so that it doesn't feel quite so much like a chore."
Memory experts agree that memory works best when there is correlation, association and understanding:
"Many think of memory as rote learning, a linear stuffing of the brain with facts, where understanding is irrelevant. Done properly, with imagination and association, understanding becomes a part of it." -Tony Buzan
Ask yourself what you really mean when you say you want to learn the fretboard. The real question, of course, is:
How do I use the fretboard in a meaningful way to make the music I want to make? What do I need in order to sound like myself?
Just as our friend above suggests, you need guitar drills, on the guitar, that work skills and note relationships at the same time, the stuff music is made of. Try it out, seven weeks, for free. It takes one minute a day. Seriously.
The next step is to understand scales and modes, so you can move freely all over the fretboard...
If you haven't done so already, I recommend that you read the whole series: it takes you step-by-step through all the important things that you absolutely must know about the guitar or the bass fingerboard layout. The articles are arranged in sequence, so I recommend, especially for beginners, to take it one morsel at a time until you have the basics pegged:
Guitar Fretboard Series:
1. Guitar Fingerboard in Depth: overview
Articles about the fingerboard for beginners:
More on the bass fingerboard
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