Beginner Primer Guitar course
Fretboard visualization

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Horizontal note mapping on guitar

In this lesson we are going to look at how we can learn the fretboard better, we will map the notes on the guitar horizontally and also see how that helps us identify notes faster on the guitar neck.

Contents on the lesson Horizontal note mapping on guitar Note identification Activities Reference
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Horizontal note mapping on guitar

Memorising the fretboard will take some time. An easy way to start is to recognise repeating patterns and first learn some notes to use a reference. For example, when you know that the lowest string on the fifth fret is A, you could find another A note two strings up and to frets to the right. The same method can be used for the fifth and third strings. For example, when you know that the second lowest string on the fifth fret is D you could find another D note two strings up and to frets to the right. Keep looking at the note locations and you will find more patterns. A note is present on many locations, or positions. On the first 12 frets you could find all of the notes on six positions, one for each string.
Horizontal lines represent the strings, tuning pegs to the left, body of the guitar to the right. The number of each fret is indicated above, the fretboard markers are below. Trust those fretboard markers, they're the same on all guitars. Notes repeat beyond the 12th fret, in other words 13 is the same as 1, 14 as 2, etc., but one octave higher. Learn the natural notes first, shown here in red. The sharp/flat notes fit between.

Note identification

To be able to identify notes on the neck of the guitar on all the six strings we will need to start slow and steady by taking one note C and identifying it on all the six strings till the 12th fret, this might take some time for you to get used to identifying the notes quickly, so to achieve that we will try to play all C’s with a metronome and also try to listen how the octave of the note is being displaced as you move to different strings. The word octave here defines that you are hearing the same note but in different pitches. In music we generally refer to this as low C, middle C , high C. Any C that you may find on the sixth and fifth string till the 12th fret would be a low C. Any C that you find on your third and fourth note string would be the middle c and the high C would be on the second and last string.
The image below will help you navigate through finding the note C on all strings, similarly now you have to spend time to do the same activity with all the notes. You can start with the natural notes and then go for the accidentals. Remember slow and steady is the key. Notice that everything we have is till the 12th fret, why so? Because after we cross the 12th fret pattern of the notes start repeating and is a copy of the note patterns that you would be studying.


Now once we have a decent idea about the placement of the notes on all the strings, you can start off with the activities given below. These activities will give you a better understanding of the notes and how they are spread out all over the neck and will build your pattern recognition capabilities to identify the notes.
Activity 1
If you have studied C all over the neck this activity will be a piece of cake. Here we are going to try to play octaves of the note C, for this again you can refer to the same image above for this. An octave in music means a note that is 8 notes apart in this case if you play the C on 5th and 3rd strings together what you will hear is an octave two notes with an interval distance of 8. Once you start getting used to the shapes on different strings try to play them with the metronome in different tempos. Also do the same with all the other notes. For example :
Figure out D , E , F octaves at 40 - 60 Bpm.
Figure out G ,A, B octaves at 50 - 70 Bpm.
Figure out F#, D#, A# octaves 40 - 80 Bpm.

Activity 2
In this activity you will now try to find something called a half step and a whole step on your guitar. Simply put if you play a note and go one fret up you will hear a half step for example C to C#. And when you add two half steps together you will have something call a whole step for example C to D , in this can you have C to C# a half step and C# to D, another half step if you add both you will get a whole step on the fretboard. Once you do this with C try to translate the same idea to the other notes that you have been studying till now and identify the shift on all strings.
The image below will help you understand this concept better.

Activity 3 - Mapping 4th and 5th intervals
In this activity we are going to take it up a notch and try to identify some more specific intervals, first we are going to start with the 4th interval, which in theory is 2 whole tones and a semitone apart from where you start. On the guitar you can find a 4th on the same string 2 whole tones and a semitone apart which is 6 frets apart and you can also find the same note just below the root ( starting note ) on the next string. The image below will help you understand the concept better, once you get a hang of it try to do it with other notes.
Screen Shot 2022-01-05 at 9.31.37 PM.png
Figure out the perfect 5th and 4th note names from each of these roots . C , F , D , A , E
Try to go up the major scale using 4ths for each note.
Go up the major scale using 5th for each note.

Activity 4
In this activity we are going to try to play small melodies on one string then move the same notes in different octaves on all the strings. Try to play the same melody in the other string, see how the octaves change but the melody remains the same throughout.
Try to say the names of the notes in this melody.
Play it with a metronome 60 bpm
Listen for the symmetry in the melodies

Activity 5
Try to find the octaves for this melody by yourself.
Play with the metronome once you get comfortable with the notes staring at 70 Bpm

Activity 6
In this activity we will give you a melody but only the notes, now all you have to do is figure out how you can play those notes on all the strings one by one. Once you get used to this try to come up with your own melody and find them in different strings.
DD G F# E F# A D


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