What is the best way to learn the notes on the fretboard. Are there any good tips on how to do this?

9 Answers 9


Begin by learning the open strings. Then picture the relation of each string to the next string (ie "-5" frets and "-4" between G and B). Picture an octave on two adjacent strings ("+7" frets or "+8" between G and B), and then on two strings a string apart (ie "+2" frets "+1" string except, you guessed it, where G and B are involved). Then learn fret 9 or fret 3 on every string, and from time to time stop your practice and try to name what you were playing or about to play.

Once you feel at least a little bit comfortable, there's a Satriani exercise which has helped me a great deal : take a metronome, pick a (slow) tempo (slower than 60), then pick a note and on each beat, play it in a new position until you can't find a new location (you can include harmonics if you want). Then pick another note. You can cycle notes any way you like, but I recommend using something common, like the circle of fifths or fourths.

Keep going at it regularly, without obsessing about it, and you'll be surprised.

  • 5
    this -> "Keep going at it regularly, without obsessing about it, and you'll be surprised."
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 23:29

Pick a note - start with E. Play it on an open string. Now try to find an E on each of the other strings. Keep trying until you can do that without thinking.

Next day try A.

Repeat with one new note a day until you know all the notes.


I can offer a few beginner's tips:

Begin on learning all of the note's names in this order:

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#

Learning power chords, and where they are on the fretboard can help you learn notes of the frets on the lower strings. For example, the root note of an E power chord is E, and because the lowest note of the E power chord is played on the 7th fret of the A string, the 7th fret 5th string must be A. You will pick these up pretty quickly.

Charts like this one will be invaluable.

Hope this helps.

  • Don't forget to learn them backwards as well.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 7:07
  • Don't forget about the fact that some of those #'s might be 'b's as well (flats). Depends on the key.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 7:19


This is a really cool iPhone app that calls out random notes for you to play. The theory goes if you stick to one string at a time, and keep playing the random notes on that string, the associations are drilled into your head through random repetition. Do that 5x for the E, B, G, D and A stings and in a very short time, you'll quickly learn where all the notes are on the fretboard. GuitarDrills is definitely the way to go!!



The most important thing is repetition and time. Keep at it and, like with flash cards and multiplication tables in elementary school, you will get it.

I learn by seeing and doing. I found a great theory site and it has a page that explains notes. The page has a link to a page with a few blank fretboard pictures. I use these to write the notes down on paper over and over again.

Here is the page explaining notes, Here is the page with the fretboard diagrams.


To me, the most important aspect of learning the fretboard is to start using the actual note/chord names as soon as possible. I stuck to reading tabs for way too long and regretted it afterwards.

Also, playing scales and calling (even if only in your head) the note name is quite helpful. Finding a note at other places of the fretboard or constructing different chord voicings, can also do you good.


The whole concept of learning the neck will fall into place if you realize the relationship between the different Modal Scales - a simple way to say it would be: Play a C Major Chord and an A minor scale will sound good, as will a G7 scale. The Greeks gave them names: Phrygian;Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian, Ionian, Dorian. Each scale starting point corresponds to a note in a Key that you are playing in and has sound/feel attached to it: Think Spanish, Hear Phrygian....Practice each scale and realize that every note you are playing will sound good in that Key. If you practice the scales in order and think of key you are playing in, eventually you will be able to visualize the notes apart from the scales in any key that you are in - there is no short-cut, ya' need to practice. This was a very simple way to describe a method employed by people such as, DiMeola, Mclaughlin, Holdsworth....Here is a .jpg:



The most important thing to do is learn the universal note pattern. The pattern that all notes follow. Once you know it, it will make learning all the notes easy.

Here's a video I made to show you the pattern.



To provide a different approach to the above technical answers:


- Practice these maps and call the notes out loud
- Find visual cues to assist your memory

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