Memorizing the Fretboard: 4 Tips to Do it Right

Learning how to play the guitar is a wonderful—if challenging—journey. Every guitarist starts from scratch, not knowing their notes or their chords, before putting in the work to become a skilled player.

One thing you can do to make things easy for yourself is to memorize the fretboard. This will familiarize you with your guitar and help you play it more comfortably. Many people say that memorizing the notes on a fretboard is difficult, but don’t let that scare you into taking shortcuts.

Below, we discuss what you need to do:

The Basics of Fretboard Memorization

Before we get to the memorization tips, here are a few basic things you need to remember:

  • Guitar makers want you to learn the fretboard. They make the process easier with inlays that can help you determine where you’re playing.
  • Notes ‘reset,’ so to speak, at the 12th fret. Once you reach the 12th fret, you’ll know that you’ve returned to the note you started from, but this time an octave higher.
  • Essentially, you can find any note you play on your guitar again by simply moving up 12 frets.

How to Memorize Your Fretboard Notes

1. Begin with the Natural Notes

Natural notes—all notes except for sharps and flats—are easier to learn for beginners. Learn them, and practice them until you know them perfectly.

2. Move to the Accidentals

Sharps and flats are collectively known as accidentals. When you’ve perfected your natural notes, you can start learning the accidentals by following a simple rule: sharps are one step higher than naturals, and flats are one step lower.

3. Get to Know the Neck

The notes you can play on a guitar repeat themselves across the neck of your fretboard. Start by playing a single note on all its frets. Pay attention to how your hand moves across the fretboard and the positions it takes. When you’ve learned one note’s positions, move to another one. You’re familiarizing yourself with the patterns in which a note appears on the fretboard.

4. Start at the Bottom

When you start memorizing the notes on a string, begin with the 6th string before you move to the 5th. As you play each note, say its name out loud. This will enable you to memorize them more efficiently.

To Sum It Up

When you begin memorizing the fretboard, remember to go as slow as you need to and be realistic about your goals. Don’t get too frustrated if you think you do not see progress right away.

It’s not possible to commit the fretboard to memory overnight, but consistent practice will help you get there.

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