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The Whole Fretboard
This is the second most important investment
you will have to make in your process of mastering the guitar (the most
important one being the effort to practise
with a relaxed attitude). Many people feel that this imperative to
learn the whole fretboard is somewhat excessive, seeing that such an ambitious
project can put some talented people off. Don't fret. It's easier than
it seems, and the benefits outweigh any hardships by a factor of hundred!
What does it mean to learn the entire
fretboard on the guitar? It simply means knowing the name of any note up
and down the fretboard. It is useful to divide this project into two phases
-- the first phase would be to learn all the notes on the first five frets,
and following that, the next phase would be to learn all the notes on the
remaining frets (whose number vary depending on the type of your guitar).
Let's focus on learning all the notes on the first five frets.
To begin with, you must know the names
of the open strings (from the first, thinnest string, to the sixth, thickest
string: E, B, G, D, A and E). Once this is accomplished, you must learn
the names of the notes on the first five frets for each string. Staring
from the sixth string (low E), you must memorize thus:
1st fret -- F
2nd fret -- F# (or Gb)
3rd fret -- G
4th fret -- G# (or Ab)
5th fret -- A
Once we reach the 5th fret, we have played
the note A, which is the same as the open fifth string. Now we switch to
the fifth string:
1st fret -- A# (or Bb)
2nd fret -- B
3rd fret -- C
4th fret -- C# (or Db)
5th fret -- D
Now we exercise the notes on the fourth
string (D). And so on.
When we finish covering the first five
frets for all six strings, we'll know the position of about thirty five
notes on the guitar. It is important to cover this ground thoroughly, before
moving on to the higher frets. The goal is to recognize visually the name
of the note as soon as we place a finger on any of the first five frets
on any string. It would be a very good exercise to ask a friend to "drop
a finger on one of the first five frets" and to ask you to identify the
Next thing you may try to master is the
five higher frets (from the sixth to the ninth fret) on all six strings.
Apply the same approach as we have illustrated for the first position.
Finally, you can try and cover the remaining
three frets (from the tenth to the twelfth fret) in a similar manner.
Once this is accomplished, you will have
the knowledge of the position of the 78 notes on the guitar. Needless to
say, this will unlock the tremendous potential for you.
Pointers: Some things to focus on when learning
the notes; first of all, identify the positions of the same notes. For
instance, note E on the second string fifth fret is the same as the open
first string. Also, it is the same as the note on the ninth fret, third
string, as well as the note on the fourteenth fret, fourth string.
The other milestones to memorize are:
the B note on the third string, fourth fret
is the same as the note on the fourth string, ninth fret, or the note on
the fifth string, fourteenth fret
the G note on the fourth string, fifth fret,
is the same as the G note on the fifth string, tenth fret, or the note
on the sixth string, fifteenth fret.
the D note on the fifth string, fifth fret
is the same as the note on the sixth string, tenth fret
When we have covered the various positions
that sound the same as the open strings, we can go on from there. For example,
if we wish to find all the F notes (that we know we can play on the first
string, first fret), we can simply go one higher on all the other strings
-- we can play F on the second string, sixth fret (one higher than the
fifth fret), and also on the third string, tenth fret.
Once you master these apparently complex
positionings, you will obtain great insight into various chord voicings
and melodic patterns on the guitar. It is worth your every effort to really
cover the entire fretboard.