Tips For Learning Notes On The Guitar Fretboard

There are likely several ways of learning the notes on the fretboard, there is no best way, everyone has their own preferred way of learning things, so just do whatever works for you.

As I taught myself I'll tell you how I went about it, using a method I devised, although it's probably not unique, and thought suited me, just because it seemed logical at the time.

It looks complicated written down, but it really isn't if you take the time to read it.

Obviously the first thing any beginner will learn are the open string notes, EADGBE, noting of course the first and second strings are the same, both being an E note, (assuming standard tuning).

Diagram of Guitar Fretboard Notes fret 0 -12 390 x 700 px image

After looking at pictures of fretboards and practicing scales and things, I realized why the frets were dotted at 3,5,7,9, 12
These are popular starting notes! So I learned these first in the following order.

See the image on this page? I actually went to the trouble of drawing out a 24-fret fretboard diagram on paper and then got a packet of small colored sticky labels and created more or less what you see here on this page, it took me ages, but I found it really useful, especially when learning to play solos, so I have created the same for you using a graphics program.

I learnt fret 7 first as it seemed this is the easiest to memorize, because it spells the word BEAD then you just have to remember the F#/Gb followed by another B

Fret 5 came next because there are no sharp or flat notes ADG CEA

then Fret 10 which has half another real word... DGC FAD

Fret 3 came next GCF, A# DG

After which came Fret 9, remembering first the middle (3rd and 4th strings) were B and E, and all the others were sharps so C# F# B E G# C#

Fret 9 gave me a reference for Fret 8 because it was the opposite of fret 9, i.e. A# D# on the middle strings, thus CF A#D# GC

Fret 11 is easy to remember as it all sharps, and all the notes are a sharp above Fret 10

and following on from that theory Fret 4 is a sharp above Fret 3 and all notes are sharp EXCEPT the fourth string which is a B note.

Conversely Fret 6 is a sharp above Fret 5 except the 5th string which is an F

I sort of learnt Fret 2 by remembering the F# notes on the outside and BEA following the Low F# and then the C# following the BEA.

Eventually after a lot of practice, I could name each note without thinking about it, I just 'knew' what it was, that is the place you want to be at with the fretboard.
It also becomes easier to remember the sharp/flat notes once you know where the whole notes are.

To avoid overload when learning the fretboard one other thing I did was to only remember the sharp/flat notes as the sharp note, and eventually remembered by repetition the enharmonic sharp/flat combinations, this was probably the wrong way to do it but it worked fine for me.

Another quick way of learning notes is to use sticky labels on the fret board under the string, but they likely wont stay on long, because fretboards are usually made from Rosewood which is naturally very oily, but it's an idea for what it's worth.

If you want to be more scientific you could think up some personal acronyms across the frets, these can be helpful as they stick in the memory well, as long as you can remember them :-)