Does anybody have any tips to help me memorize the fretboard? Please Help!!!

Mariler Ferrer

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Hey đź‘‹,

I feel so jealous when I see guitarists improvising, finding the right chords that work with the scales they're using, knowing the notes on the fretboard!!

That's why I decided to set this new goal and made a point of learning the fretboard, which I've been actually postponing since I started learning guitar, but I guess at this point it's something I need to learn that'll help me keep making progress.

I would like to know, how do you guys work on it? Does anybody have some tips, magic solutions or whatever?...Ok, I know there's no magic solutions, but only just a lot of personal work...but I'd like to find a way to turn this learning into something fun...do you guys have any kind of original ideas that work for you? Please, let me know if somebody does.

Enlighten me, please!!
 

Ids Schiere

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The first thing to realize is that CAGED system is effectively navigating the fretboard. If you look at CAGED it is basically this note(or set of notes) can be found here but also can be found here. Make you sure you know this all over the neck.

Kinda tying into that is when you maybe thinking of caged in terms of shapes and positions, stop doing that. Think of it in terms of notes, music is notes not shapes or positions.

Lastly there is the part where you want to know which notes sound good over the chord. You can use scales for that but what works better is knowing which notes make up the chord allowing you to use chord tones and knowing all the intervals(both major and minor) of the chord and where you can find them.

It's quite a long process getting a hang of this but it's definitely worth it!
 

Filip Tomiša

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You can also just memorize the sixth string and then you will already know 2 strings because 1st and 6th are the same and then if you go to the 4th string and move two frets higher (for example 5th fret on 6th string and 7th fret on 4th string) the pattern will be the same. Same thing with the 5th and 3rd string. Just memorize the 5th string and then move two frets higher on the 3rd string and you'll know the notes. And lastly for the 2nd string the notes are 3 frets higher than the 4th string. It might sound complicated but it isn't.
 

Calvin Phillips

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Find your octaves. Thats the biggest start I had was. Figure out what scale or note you're gonna work imon and find the root on the fretboard. Once you got that down you'll have easier paths to where you wanna go. You'll see how small the fretboard really is and how much of it is a copy of another part. Theres a certain area where you can find 3 or 4 octaves in a small range of frets. For me when I play g minor theres 3 or 4 gs I can reach in the 7 to 12 fret range. Once you know that part filling in the blanks is easy. I started with caged myself like ids said but I think you could do it with normal scales too but I think caged gets you playing more vertical and is more beneficial in the long run.
 
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Brian Haner Sr.

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Lesson 42 (Intermediate techniques) has a great exercise for learning the fretboard.
A couple of things are important here. First you need to know the chromatic scale. Which notes have no sharps and flats in between. Where the sharps and flats are, etc.
Next. Learn the notes on the E string. (both are the same) Learn the dots (fret markers) 3rd fret is a G. 5th fret is an A. 7th fret B, 9th fret C# (Db), 12th fret E again.
Once you know the dots it's easy to figure out the in between notes. For instance: the note between the 1st dot and 2nd dot (3rd fret G & 5th fret A) is a G# or Ab.

Another quick fix is 2 up and 2 over. If you know the names of the notes on the low E string - go up 2 frets and over (up) 2 strings. That will give you the octave.
In other words - 5th fret on the low E string is an A note. So "up and over" would give you 7th fret on the D string - also an A note.
You can reverse this and do it on the high E string by going down 3 and over 2 strings. So 5th fret on the high E string is an A note. 2nd fret G string is also an A note.
Since both E strings are the same - this is a great way to learn the notes on the D & G strings respectively.

The bad news here is that it's like learning your times tables. There are tricks like the octave thing - but ultimately you have to put in the work to memorize the fret board. It's really not that hard. It just takes time and effort. You have to spend 10 minutes a day JUST on that. It's not fun. It's math. But once you get it - you'll have it forever. You won't have to learn it twice. And it will never change.
Good luck - and please share any tips or tricks you find along the way. I have found that everyone has a little different way that works for them. Would love to hear yours.
Go to work!
Cheers!
PG
 

Mariler Ferrer

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The first thing to realize is that CAGED system is effectively navigating the fretboard. If you look at CAGED it is basically this note(or set of notes) can be found here but also can be found here. Make you sure you know this all over the neck.

Kinda tying into that is when you maybe thinking of caged in terms of shapes and positions, stop doing that. Think of it in terms of notes, music is notes not shapes or positions.

Lastly there is the part where you want to know which notes sound good over the chord. You can use scales for that but what works better is knowing which notes make up the chord allowing you to use chord tones and knowing all the intervals(both major and minor) of the chord and where you can find them.

It's quite a long process getting a hang of this but it's definitely worth it!
I started the CAGED lessons some weeks ago and it's making a lot of sense, it's a great tool to work on the knowledge of the fretboard, connecting chords, arpeggios and scale positions. Just love it.

But my problem I think is exactly what you say about thinking of it in terms of shapes and positions. I can easily remember the shapes because it's a visual learning, very convenient on guitar actually, but I don't really make the effort of naming or singing those notes as I play to really interiorize their position on the guitar neck.
 
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Mariler Ferrer

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You can also just memorize the sixth string and then you will already know 2 strings because 1st and 6th are the same and then if you go to the 4th string and move two frets higher (for example 5th fret on 6th string and 7th fret on 4th string) the pattern will be the same. Same thing with the 5th and 3rd string. Just memorize the 5th string and then move two frets higher on the 3rd string and you'll know the notes. And lastly for the 2nd string the notes are 3 frets higher than the 4th string. It might sound complicated but it isn't.
it's very visual, might work.
A lot of work though, isn't it? but it's worth the effort I guess
 
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Mariler Ferrer

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Find your octaves. Thats the biggest start I had was. Figure out what scale or note you're gonna work imon and find the root on the fretboard. Once you got that down you'll have easier paths to where you wanna go. You'll see how small the fretboard really is and how much of it is a copy of another part. Theres a certain area where you can find 3 or 4 octaves in a small range of frets. For me when I play g minor theres 3 or 4 gs I can reach in the 7 to 12 fret range. Once you know that part filling in the blanks is easy. I started with caged myself like ids said but I think you could do it with normal scales too but I think caged gets you playing more vertical and is more beneficial in the long run.
Can't wait to feel that feeling that the fretboard is really small!! :) It's gonna be my target in the long term.
 
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Mariler Ferrer

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Lesson 42 (Intermediate techniques) has a great exercise for learning the fretboard.
A couple of things are important here. First you need to know the chromatic scale. Which notes have no sharps and flats in between. Where the sharps and flats are, etc.
Next. Learn the notes on the E string. (both are the same) Learn the dots (fret markers) 3rd fret is a G. 5th fret is an A. 7th fret B, 9th fret C# (Db), 12th fret E again.
Once you know the dots it's easy to figure out the in between notes. For instance: the note between the 1st dot and 2nd dot (3rd fret G & 5th fret A) is a G# or Ab.

Another quick fix is 2 up and 2 over. If you know the names of the notes on the low E string - go up 2 frets and over (up) 2 strings. That will give you the octave.
In other words - 5th fret on the low E string is an A note. So "up and over" would give you 7th fret on the D string - also an A note.
You can reverse this and do it on the high E string by going down 3 and over 2 strings. So 5th fret on the high E string is an A note. 2nd fret G string is also an A note.
Since both E strings are the same - this is a great way to learn the notes on the D & G strings respectively.

The bad news here is that it's like learning your times tables. There are tricks like the octave thing - but ultimately you have to put in the work to memorize the fret board. It's really not that hard. It just takes time and effort. You have to spend 10 minutes a day JUST on that. It's not fun. It's math. But once you get it - you'll have it forever. You won't have to learn it twice. And it will never change.
Good luck - and please share any tips or tricks you find along the way. I have found that everyone has a little different way that works for them. Would love to hear yours.
Go to work!
Cheers!
PG
Definitely those 10 minutes a day are the key. No shortcuts...so I'm putting my rusty brain to work from today.

Thank you!
 
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Kim La

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Mariler, I just have the same as what you said in starting topic. I see so much progress and I think, how do they do it?? I am missing a big part of theory/understanding about that. Its so big i dont know where to start and then just start doing scales again (but not understanding like what notes there are in it). So i am gonna read all the advice that is given here, and see if it is usefull for me too.

Good luck with it!
 
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chris_is_cool

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This is really something I need to start putting my time into, just rote learning the notes. I think I have a solid understanding of at least the fundamentals of music theory (also due to my background in playing orchestral trumpet), and I've been getting better at navigating the fretboard, but the instant recognition of notes is still something to work on.

If I point to a random note on the fretboard I will probably need 3-5 seconds to know which one it is. It's a bit quicker the other way around, choosing a note and finding it on a specific string, but it should be instant, just like the time tables. So that's definitely something for me to work on.
 
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Mariler Ferrer

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Mariler, I just have the same as what you said in starting topic. I see so much progress and I think, how do they do it?? I am missing a big part of theory/understanding about that. Its so big i dont know where to start and then just start doing scales again (but not understanding like what notes there are in it). So i am gonna read all the advice that is given here, and see if it is usefull for me too.

Good luck with it!
There’s a lot of great tips they have given here!
Theory is really overwhelming at the beginning. I started learning guitar like 2 years and a half ago but so far I never felt the need of digging deeper into theory. I didn’t even feel that I was able to understand. Everything is too difficult at the beginning, there’s too much going on.

When I started CAGED some weeks ago, many things started to make sense to me and I feeling it is now when I am ready to take a step forward.

I hope you find useful too the advice in this thread. 🍀
 
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Kim La

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Nov 11, 2019
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There’s a lot of great tips they have given here!
Theory is really overwhelming at the beginning. I started learning guitar like 2 years and a half ago but so far I never felt the need of digging deeper into theory. I didn’t even feel that I was able to understand. Everything is too difficult at the beginning, there’s too much going on.

When I started CAGED some weeks ago, many things started to make sense to me and I feeling it is now when I am ready to take a step forward.

I hope you find useful too the advice in this thread. 🍀

I started little shorter than 2 years ago.

Thanks to point me where to start , I will start with the caged system and focus more on theory and understanding of it.
 
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Chris Johnston

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Hey Mariler!

A quick and easy way to memorize the notes on the fretboard functionally is remembering that the notes B&C and E&F are always right next to eachother. - Everything else has a sharp/flat in between:

A a# BC c# D d# EF f# G g# - I've used all sharps here but an A# can also be called a Bb (i.e an A that's been sharpened or a B that's been flattened both exist on the same fret and sound exactly the same - this goes for all the other sharps aswell)

So for example if you're learning all the 'natural' notes (not sharpenned or flattened) on the Low E string:

You have, open low E, then 1st fret is F because they are next door neighbors. Now that you're on F you would go 2 frets up to G, then 2 frets up to A, then 2 frets up to B.

B and C are next door neighbors so it's 1 fret up to C, then 2 frets up to D, 2 frets up to E - E and F are next door neighbors so 1 fret up to F - and you're done!

Each string on your guitar is just this same pattern repeating from a different point (as not every string will start from open E etc) and if you know where every natural note is then if you need say a D# instead of an D you just need to remember that D# is 1 fret higher than D (Db would be one fret lower etc)

A good exercise at first is seeing how well/quick you can go through all the natural notes on every string, then once you're good at that, pick any note and see how quick you can find that one note on every string. There's a random note name app for android that I use with my students to practice this! It stops you picking ones you're too comfortable with :LOL:

It's one of those things that just takes time to learn and memorize but it eventually clicks. I attached a picture that I use to help my guys.
Hope this helps!
 

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