Obviously the string letters correspond to a space where a note goes in standard notation, but that's only for open notes. Is there a pattern to remember which frets represent which notes at any tuning, or do I have to learn them each individually?


You will have to learn each note's location for each separate tuning. That's all there is to it, unless you're simply tuning everything up or down by the same number of semitones.

Seems like you're a beginner, so go for standard tuning, and bear in mind that there are (eventually for you!) many different places to find exactly the same note on a guitar. It doesn't need to concern you for now.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks. Trying to learn standard notation, notes, and chords is really daunting right now. I really don't even know where to begin. I'm starting to learn standard notation but once it gets to chords I completely fall flat again and am lost. – コナーゲティ Jul 13 '18 at 8:01
  • 2
    Right now, don't try to read chords note by note. Just know that a chord name needs this or that shape. That alone has kept 1000s of guitarists going for most of their lives. – Tim Jul 13 '18 at 8:04
  • how so? like every chord has a distinctive shape in standard notation? just memorize the shape? sorry if these are dumb questions – コナーゲティ Jul 13 '18 at 8:06
  • Simple as...... – Tim Jul 13 '18 at 8:07
  • Keep in mind that there is more than one place to play each note. More than one string+fret combo, and that is not referring to octaves. There is a systematic approach to SMN for guitarists that started in the open position then moves to other positions. You have a lot to master. – ggcg Jul 13 '18 at 11:11

I learned the positions of notes on the fretboard with four mutually supporting approaches:

Absolute position: I used flashcards to drill myself on the positions of each note on the fretboard. This enabled me to move up and down the strings.

Relative position in scale patterns: I learned which scales corresponded to which key signatures and then I mapped each note in the scale of the tune to the scale degree (the number of the note in the scale from 1 to 7). Then I could play tunes by moving from string to string in the scale pattern. In order for this to work you need to know where the root note is in the scale pattern.

Relative position in intervals: I learned the relationship of each interval between the strings on a given fret. For example, the open strings on the guitar are EADGBE which means that the intervals are in fourths up to the GB strings which are a third. I learned just the chord tone intervals of major and minor thirds, fifths and octaves and thanks to the scale pattern work, could fill in the rest of the notes.

Sight reading: Finally, I just started sight-reading. Painfully slowly until I got the tune right and then gradually increasing the speed. This is the hard part and takes the longest. If you know your scale patterns you will find that most tunes have a sweet spot on the guitar where you can grab all the notes with minimal shifting up and down the fretboard.

Good luck!

| improve this answer | |

I recommend you finding a good instructor. Depending on where you live, i might suggest someone. The difficulty lies in the fact that you are learning two different aspects of music, the theory(intervals, harmony) and playing guitar, which is essentially an endeavour of practical nature(part of which is knowing the location of notes on the fretboard). Both aspects feed of each other and it might take a while(months) but you'll get it all! Its very hard figuring it all out on your own, and it might take too long. So look for a good teacher!

Good luck


| improve this answer | |

I enjoy studying music, so for me it isn't work. I read a lot, memorize and experiment, and research things I don't yet understand until I get enough information so that I can understand. This forum can help immensely. I've been studying for a few years now and I find that there's up-hill climbs and plateaus for me in the development process, sometimes I can comprehend and sometimes I can't quite. But that's the way my life goes in general so I just keep working on it till it makes some sense. That said, the first thing I'd say for you to do, would be to memorize the note locations on each string from the first fret to the twelfth fret, take it one string at a time and take a little time to get used to using this new information. And hopefully you'll enjoy the learning process and feel inspired to continue. Simple as that.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I think he'll die of boredom before he's learned all 85 note names/positions/ frets/ strings. And if he did learn them, they'll only be useful several at a time. Far, far better to learn the 'key' notes - say, those on fret markers, or the natural name notes. The in-betweenies can easily be calculated when needed. – Tim Jul 15 '18 at 16:34
  • @ Tim- You could be right on that point, I understand each one of us has our own best way, but I think the sooner he learns his way around the fretboard, the better he'll be positioned to move forward from there. I also don't feel shortcuts are advantageous because often they eliminate information that helps skill development later on. Admittedly, I'm not inclined to hurry up and get this whole process over with, I'm enjoying it . I'm expressing my own perspective, others can take it for what it might be worth. – skinny peacock Jul 15 '18 at 16:57
  • I just feel that when someone learns music, it's a two-pronged attack. There's finding the way round the instrument itself, and there's the musical aspect of it. And the two are, to a degree, tenuously linked. Adding the totally academic side of which bit makes which note really muddies the waters. From 50+ yrs teaching, I find that making the instrument make some good(ish) sounds is paramount for most... Instant success means eventually, they might just want to find out the 'why'. But in the meantime, at least we got 'em... And while everyone's different, the theory guys often don't play from – Tim Jul 15 '18 at 17:07
  • ....the heart!! – Tim Jul 15 '18 at 17:10
  • @Tim- I think your point has validity, it's how I was initially taught and now I'm obviously hooked, but holes that were left in my education caused a lot of frustration for me when I wished to develop further later on and I had this bag of tricks I had learned but my understanding of how things actually fit together was some what skewed. In my instance, I wish I had just learned where all the notes on the neck were in the first place and how they were connected to the notes on the page. I'm pretty sure my skills would have actually developed at a more rapid pace later on. At any – skinny peacock Jul 16 '18 at 15:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.