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Thread: Charting The Fretboard

  1. #1
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Charting The Fretboard

    Geez, I seem to be the most frequent thread starter on this part of the site. And, given it's been so quiet here lately, I thought I toss out this little bit of fluff and see if I can get some response.

    After almost exactly one year of taking guitar lessons, my teacher is calling it quits. That doesn't mean I don't want to continue to learn; I do. Learning is a lifelong pursuit, in my opinion.

    So, the year of my "getting back to the basics" has been very informative and productive. Even though I "know" a lot about playing guitar, and I have a good knowledge of music theory and can read music, my lessons did a lot to tie them all together.

    But the one thing I have NEVER mastered is knowing all the notes on the fretboard. My lessons, aided by the terrific William Leavitt "A Modern Method for Guitar" (Berklee Press) have given me a much greater familiarity with the fretboard over the first five frets, but my instructor has had me playing chord inversions all over the neck (which I have thoroughly enjoyed).

    Since I will be on my own now, what I'd like to do is gain better familiarity with the notes on the rest of the fingerboard. My thought was to write a diagram of frets 5-10 with the natural notes listed, post it where I can see it daily, and memorize it.

    Sound like a good idea?

  2. #2
    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    It's a little faded because it was made back in '77 or '78 but I've had this on my wall above my headboard nearly every place I ever lived. Why limit yourself to just 5 frets? You want to learn the fretboard, learn the whole thing, it really isn't that much and it repeats. That's the beauty of it.

    Be creative. Use various media. The muscle memory of writing it all out and the work to make it legible can do wonders for getting it in your brain. Carve it out of soap. use rhinestones on a striped beach towel. engrave it in scrimshaw. paint it on the side of a barn or garage.

    "Live and learn and flip the burns"

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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    I caused MANY guitar teachers to quit over the years...

    Hell, I think Mel Bay requested people burn his books after he heard me.

    That diagram looks like a good tattoo to get. I'm thinkin' 'goin full facial' on this one!

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    Quote Originally Posted by renderit View Post
    I caused MANY guitar teachers to quit over the years...

    Hell, I think Mel Bay requested people burn his books after he heard me.

    That diagram looks like a good tattoo to get. I'm thinkin' 'goin full facial' on this one!
    LOL!

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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    OS, there isn't as much work there as you may believe, and you can sort of do it without a lot of memorization.

    First, pretty much anybody who can play simple barre chords already knows the notes on the E and A strings since they are the root notes of the two most common chord forms. So, that's three strings you know already.

    For the D and G strings you can rely on the fact that 2+2 ( two strings plus 2 frets) up gives you an octave, so since you know the E and A strings you k\now know the D and G. That's 5 strings already with no work involved.

    Finally, once you know the three note major chords on the G, B and high E strings (D chord form) you realise that the B string is the root of that chord.

    So there you have it, all the notes on the fretboard are instantly recognizable with little to no work.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
    OS, there isn't as much work there as you may believe, and you can sort of do it without a lot of memorization.

    First, pretty much anybody who can play simple barre chords already knows the notes on the E and A strings since they are the root notes of the two most common chord forms. So, that's three strings you know already.

    For the D and G strings you can rely on the fact that 2+2 ( two strings plus 2 frets) up gives you an octave, so since you know the E and A strings you know know the D and G. That's 5 strings already with no work involved.

    Finally, once you know the three note major chords on the G, B and high E strings (D chord form) you realise that the B string is the root of that chord.

    So there you have it, all the notes on the fretboard are instantly recognizable with little to no work.

    Chuck
    I'm actually familiar with this concept. I know that the three basic open chord shapes (E, A and D) form the basis of pretty much every movable shape on the fretboard. I know that in each, the root of the chord is the middle string. From there, it's just a matter of remembering that the V and III notes sit on each side of the root. So, basically, what I have to learn is the notes on the 2-3-4 strings, and from there I can work out the relative notes to the root.

  7. #7
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    OS, try learning the E and A strings inside and out. Again easy since at the 5th fret you should already know the notes A an D fall under your fingers from the E and A barre chord forms. Think of these as roots for major scales. There will be 4 silly-easy major scales under you fingers at each fret, as will be the pentatonic scale, the blues scale and the be-bop scale and others.

    Armed with these learn the relative minors and you're off to the races. There will be very little popular music that you can't play doing the above.

    Players don't compose hard stuff on purpose. If the part requires you to make nasty stretches or impossible grips chances are you're in the wrong position. If it doesn't feel natural when you play it that's a huge sign that you need to make an adjustment.

    Hopefully what this will show is how applied theory greatly simplifies the act of playing guitar and makes it a lot more fun and easier.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    I know the fretboard fairly well, but I still have to think about certain notes on the D (4th string), G (3rd string), and B (2nd string) strings. That annoys me. So tonight I was noodling around and discovered a little exercise that really started cementing those missing notes into my recall. This is what I did.

    1. Start with the D string. Find the note C for that that string (10th fret). Using that C note as your starting point, start playing melodies in the key of C (all natural notes--no sharps or flats) only on that D string. Go in whatever direction you want. Always start and end your melodies on C. You will be playing melodies in the major scale.
    2. Start with the D string again, but this time find the note A (the relative minor of C, same natural notes) on the 7th fret. This is your new melody start point. Always begin and end your single string melodies on A. You will be playing melodies in the minor scale.
    3. Focus on finding those natural notes along the string.
    4. Rinse and repeat this exercise on whatever strings you need to brush up your fretboard knowledge on.

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    Re: Charting The Fretboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
    OS, try learning the E and A strings inside and out. Again easy since at the 5th fret you should already know the notes A an D fall under your fingers from the E and A barre chord forms. Think of these as roots for major scales. There will be 4 silly-easy major scales under you fingers at each fret, as will be the pentatonic scale, the blues scale and the be-bop scale and others.

    Armed with these learn the relative minors and you're off to the races. There will be very little popular music that you can't play doing the above.

    Players don't compose hard stuff on purpose. If the part requires you to make nasty stretches or impossible grips chances are you're in the wrong position. If it doesn't feel natural when you play it that's a huge sign that you need to make an adjustment.

    Hopefully what this will show is how applied theory greatly simplifies the act of playing guitar and makes it a lot more fun and easier.
    I probably should have read the whole thread first. Well, it looks like great minds think alike.

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