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Learning the Notes on the Guitar Fretboard

By Brian Prunka from

Learning the neck of the guitar is very important.  It is limiting to play the guitar without knowing what notes you are playing.  Most other instrumentalists ALWAYS know what note they are playing.  However, many guitarists, even some experienced ones, avoid learning the notes on the fretboard, maybe because it is difficult to visualize the notes.  This limits their musicianship.  There is a difference between someone who is good at guitar gymnastics/pyrotechnics and a musician who happens to play the guitar.  It’s much better to be a musician.

The above diagram from helps you visualize the neck of the guitar as if it were a piano, in terms of white (natural) versus black notes (flats and sharps).  Learn to visualize the white notes and the fretboard and the black notes will take care of themselves.  In the above article (an excellent read, by the way) from Brian’s website, we learn that you can tackle the fretboard by taking 5 minutes a day for 5 weeks to learn the notes on 5 strings (one string per week.)  Once you learn an E string, you have taken care of two strings.  That’s why you only need to concentrate on 5 of the 6 strings.

I have expanded Brian’s diagram to include the names of the white notes:

Spend a few minutes a day studying these diagrams, learning to visualize the notes.  This will be an immense help to you as a guitarist.

For a pdf handout of this article with larger diagrams, visit the following link:

Learning the Notes on the Guitar Fretboard

To learn 20 Basic Jazz Chords on the Guitar, visit this link:

Camden Hughes
Camden is a working jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator currently living near Boise, ID. He teaches music at the Idaho Arts Charter School, and is the jazz adjunct professor at Northwest Nazarene University. Check out his music at



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