Memorize Guitar Fretboard Notes in 7 Days


  • Published March 10, 2014

memorize fretboard notes
Against many of my students wishes, the first things I have them work on is memorize guitar fretboard notes.

Not only does it make learning chords, scales and songs easier down the road- it makes you a much better musician to jam with.

Imagine a guitarist telling you he is going to play a rhythm in G, and you don’t know where the G’s are on your guitar!

This lesson will teach how to memorize the fretboard in less than a week.

I was taught the notes on the guitar by using patterns. This method worked very well for me and is how I teach my students now. Visualize these patterns as scale diagrams. These exercises should be added to the beginning of your current practice routine.

NOTE: Though not required, I recommend reading my lesson on Understanding Ear Training for Guitar. This lesson breaks down the musical alphabet, intervals, etc. making this lesson a bit easier to follow.

Memorize the Guitar Fretboard Notes

Day 1: The Open Strings & Pattern 1

Notice the order of the open strings: E-A-D-G-B-e. These patterns are designed to keep the notes in that order.

For example the note order of Pattern 2 is: A-D-G-B-E-A. Same note order, but starts on A.

Let’s begin..

Open Strings

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Pattern 1

memorize note names

 

 

 

e:|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|-E-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Play this pattern in the first position. (Index plays the 1st fret, middle finger 2nd fret, etc.) Play each note on the guitar as you speak the name. Go up and down, reversing the order and jumbling it up.

Spend at least 10 minutes on this pattern. This will seam brutally boring at first, but I promise it will pay off.

Day 2: Pattern 2

memorize note names

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|-E-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Pattern 2 is based around the 5th fret. I like to play the 4th fret with my index, 2nd with my middle finger, etc. Again, get these notes down first. Once you remember them pretty well mix up the order you play them again.

Practice this for at least 5-10 minutes. Then, start jumping between the two patterns. Play pattern 2, then pattern 1, then pattern 2 again, etc..

Challenge yourself, see how fast you can accurately play and speak each note.

Day 3: Pattern 3

memorize note names

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|–|-A-|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-E-|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|

Based around the 7th fret, again I like to use my middle finger for that fret. Remember, your hand should not be moving left-to-right at all while playing these exercises.

Again, don’t forget to review the previous patterns you’ve learned. Spend 5 or so minutes getting this pattern down. Then spend the next 5 minutes playing this pattern and pattern 2, then spend 5 minutes challenging yourself.

Day 4: Pattern 4

memorize note names

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-E-|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|

Though most of this pattern is on the 10th fret, I like to think of it as based around the 9th fret. Your middle finger should play the 9th fret, ring finger 10th fret, etc.

Get this one down, then review the last 3. Guess what? You know 90% of the natural notes on the guitar fretboard.

The 12th fret is the octave, the notes are the same as the open strings.

Patterns

Day 5: C’s and F’s

If you read the Understanding Ear Training post, this will be review. There is only a half step from B to C, and E to F. Every other note is separated by a whole step interval, or 2 frets.

Your task for today? Add the C’s and F’s to each pattern and practice them as you’ve been doing all week.

Pattern 1

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|-E-|-F-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|-B-|-C-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Pattern 2

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|-E-|-F-|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|-B-|-C-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Pattern 3

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|-C-|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|–|-A-|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-E-|-F-|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|-C-|—|—|—|

Pattern 4

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-E-|-F-|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|-C-|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|

Now if you’ve got all the patterns memorized and the notes along with them, you’re golden! You now know all the natural notes on the guitar fretboard. Once you hit the 12th fret, everything just repeats.

memorize fretboard notes
Natural Fretboard Notes Image Courtesy of ShredMentor.com

 

Day 6: Octaves

Now it’s time for the real test. If I asked you to find all of the D notes on the fretboard, could you?

Today’s topic focuses on just that. You know the patterns and notes. Now it’s time to be able to recall note names without going through the patterns.

Today I want you to put a special focus on practicing these octaves. Feel free to practice the patterns too, to get your brain going.

Octave: A

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|
G:|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|-A-|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Octave: B

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|
A:|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-B-|—|—|—|—|

Octave: C

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-C-|—|—|—|
B:|-C-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|-C-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-C-|—|
A:|—|—|-C-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-C-|—|—|—|

Octave: D

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|
B:|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-D-|—|

Octave: E

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|-E-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-E-|—|—|
D:|—|-E-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|-E-|—|—|—|—|
E:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Octave: F

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|-F-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|-F-|—|—|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-F-|—|
D:|—|—|-F-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-F-|—|—|—|
E:|-F-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|

Octave: G

memorize fretboard notes

 

 

 

e:|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
B:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|
G:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|
D:|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|
A:|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|-G-|—|
E:|—|—|-G-|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|

More on Octaves from GuitarHabits.com

Day 7: Exam Day!

Now that you’ve memorized the patterns and octaves, it’s time to put what you have learned to the test. Take 5 minutes or so to review everything. Go over all the patterns a couple times, as well as the octaves.

Now.. Put all other resources away, set a timer on your phone or computer for 1:00 minute. Now see if you can find all of the D notes on the fretboard in under a minutes… Now try the G notes.. Keep going until you have drilled yourself on every natural note. How did you do?

If you couldn’t do it, don’t worry. While this lesson is designed to help you memorize fretboard notes in a week, it takes many of us longer. Just stick to it and you should have it in another week no problem.

Valuable Resources:

GuitarHabits Lesson on Memorizing the Fretboard

JamPlay Fretboard Memorization Tool

EarMaster Ear Training Software

Metal Method Learn Guitar Note Names (The great minds who taught me this stuff!)

Guitar.About Lesson on Learning the Fretboard

GuitarLessonWorld Lesson on Learning the Fretboard

Conclusion

I hope you found this lesson helpful. If there is anything you are still confused on, please leave any questions or comments in the box below. I’ll get back to you in 24 hours, typically much faster.

posted March 10, 2014

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  1. I don´t understand…. in the first pattern, the strings played are in the 2th and the 3th fret but you said “Index plays the 1st fret, middle finger 2nd fret, etc.”….also, i don´t understand what finger plays what string in wich fret…..

  2. Sorry men but i don’t understand how is your metod, i don’t get it from the beggining.
    Can you explain it to me please?

    1. The beggining is memorizing the open strings’s names. There is a pattern in this open string shape. Take your guitar like you would play a song, and play the high E string, the string that is further away from your eyes. It is a vertical pattern, so high E string is bellow B string, The B String is below G string, G string is below D string, D string is below A String, and A string is below E string. You can (and should) memorize it in a reversed way, from the low E string to the high E string, When it’s done, you go to the next step, that is memorizing the other patterns through the fretboard. Fix me if I am wrong, teacher!

  3. Great stuff man! I wish I knew this when I starting picking up guitar. I want to check out that memorization tool you recommended too. Sounds like something I would need. Lol.

    1. Thank you Brad! While it’s great to learn this material as a beginning guitar player, it’s never too late to learn. I’d say you landed on this lesson at the perfect time! Also, yes the JamPlay memorization tool is an EXCELLENT learning aid! Thanks again for the comment!

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