The Guitar Fretboard Chart
a fresh approach
In order to fully understand the guitar fretboard chart, you need to grasp three things first:
In the beginning...Teachers
When I first decided I wanted to learn to play guitar, I had no idea what I was getting into. I started taking lessons: classical, jazz, you name it. The years went by, but one thing remained constant: not one of my teachers many of them top-notch, world-renowned guitar players was able to give me a method for memorizing notes on the fretboard, other than saying:
"Well, play every note, fret by fret,
No mention of trying to understand what the heck was going on! This is what spurred me to begin my own quest to understand the fretboard…
So then I went to the books
Here's what I found out: most guitar methods out there have a guitar fretboard diagram that looks pretty much like this:
Fretboard Chart 1:
This shows fret by fret note correlation for each string:
The whole thing repeats, one octave up, after fret 12
Or you might find a guitar fretboard chart that looks like this (exact same thing, but with less information, since it says nothing of specific pitch height):
Fretboard Chart 2:
Same thing, replacing the staves for note names
This is not new. You can find many versions of this guitar fretboard chart on the web, even software that will help you learn where each note is again by rote. This information has been available since the early 1800s. Talk about novelty and innovation!
Well, not quite... let's put it this way: if you don't understand all the underlying relationships within that fretboard diagram, you're not likely to have learned much, if anything at all (at a practical level- what you really need) from it.
There is a guitar method that suggests exploring the guitar string by string, learning scale patterns on each string and improvising on them as a good starting point to get to know the guitar.
This is actually a great idea. But that still hasn't really explained the fretboard from within: it is as if you had learned to play each string as an independent instrument. What we guitarists are badly in the need of is a way of looking at the guitar that will let us understand and grasp it visually, much like we do with the piano: guitar theory!
Let's get down to business...
A good way to start is to take only natural notes (no accidentals, i.e. sharps or flats) into account. You can visualize the fretboard like this:
Fretboard Chart 4:
Same for bass guitar...Click here for an explanation of the Bass Fretboard.
This last guitar fretboard chart, and bass guitar fretboard diagram are far easier to grasp, or digest in one "eyeful". And if you're are super-smart, you might start spotting patterns... (For in-depth explanations of fretboard patterns, check out Fretboard Essentials).
So what's next?!
The next step is to link it all up. To get a complete view of the guitar fretboard map, so you can move freely all over the fretboard...
GTiD TIP: Even if you don't play bass guitar, it's a really good idea to study the bass guitar fretboard chart. Since this is exactly the same as strings 3 to 6 on a guitar, and all patterns you can find there retain their symmetry perfectly on all string combinations, playing everything only on those four strings is a great starting point.
Guitar Fretboard Articles:1. Guitar Fretboard in Depth: Back from Guitar Fretboard Chart to section overview
2.Guitar Notes: A view along the Fretboard, and other important points
3. Guitar Fretboard Diagram- string by string: still looking along the fretboard, scales and modes this time
4. Guitar Tuning and the Fretboard: a view across the guitar fretboard
5. The Guitar Fretboard Chart explained afresh also for Bass players
6. Fretboard Map: connect the dots!
7. 24 Frets: The full diagram