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The guitar is an instrument with a lot of visual appeals. Fortunately, just looking at someone’s hands-on the fretboard while they’re playing might be enough to tell us what they’re up to. Many other instruments cannot make the same claim.
There’s also tablature, a fantastic system that employs numbers to indicate which frets we should play without the need to learn traditional notation.
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All of this is fantastic, but is it the most effective way to study and perfect the instrument?
Isn’t it more practical to be able to call every note by its name on the spot? Isn’t that what you’d expect from a skilled musician?
What is Fretboard Memory and Why Do I Need It?
Every musician, regardless of their skill level, should endeavor to be familiar with all of the notes on their instrument’s fretboard. As a result of thinking about everything from a new and enhanced perspective, you’ll open up various new paths.
You’ll enhance your: if you take the time to memorize the fretboard in its entirety.
- The ability to learn new chords on the fretboard and adjust the ones you already know;
- Ability to communicate with other musicians;
- Possibility of playing the same chords in more appealing and intriguing ways;
- The ability to improvise over the fretboard;
- Other concepts such as intervals and the relationship between scales and chord forms are also useful.
Don’t be discouraged by the prospect of learning so many notes — it’s not that difficult! You’re good to go once you’ve cemented this knowledge, and owing to muscle memory, you won’t lose it easily.
Gazing at a fretboard on a guitar is similar to looking at a computer keyboard without the keys printed on it at first. You can learn the placements of all the notes and play them without looking at your keyboard, just as you can learn to type without looking at your keyboard.
Consistency, like everything else, is essential.
One thing to keep in mind is that this ability does not develop immediately. Don’t assume you don’t understand the principles because you haven’t mastered them in two days; this is unrealistic.
Instead, break down your learning into tiny bits so that you can integrate it gradually while still having time to work on other abilities.
Gain a better understanding of your own instrument’s operation
You can stop looking at the guitar from a perspective that is almost entirely dependent on shapes, patterns, and numbers once you know which note corresponds to which fret.
Things will begin to make more sense, and your awareness will improve over time.
It’s simpler to comprehend why some things seem particularly interesting in specific circumstances when you understand the notes and their relationships.
This will allow you to easily transpose ideas to different keys or fretboard regions.
This is particularly vital if you want to collaborate with other musicians.
If you want to interact with people who play different instruments, you must know the notes on the fretboard.
Expect a pianist who has never played guitar to have trouble understanding phrases like “next note is the one on the 5th fret of the 6th string.” Tell him to play an A, and he’ll oblige.
The number system is almost exclusively used by guitarists.
Improve your ability to build chords and scales and make changes to them.
When you rely just on forms, graphs, and patterns, you’re constrained because you only know which notes “fit in,” not their names or functions in a particular context.
It’s impossible to add to what you already know because of this. The first and most critical step in changing this is to memorize the notes.
As an example, consider the A minor scale. The notes are A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G
How can you play the A Dorian scale without knowing where F is if someone tells you that all you have to do is change F into an F#?
If you just use diagrams, you’ll need to create fresh ones for the A Dorian scale in every fretboard location. Doesn’t appear to be the most efficient method, does it?
Chords work on the same premise.
This means you won’t have to rely on chord diagrams or other methods to learn them.
While competing, broaden your options.
Knowing the notes and being able to see them clearly on the fretboard prevents you from repeating the same chord voicings, which can quickly become tedious.
You’ll be able to locate voicings that are more suited to the musical situation.
Diagram and Basic Knowledge of the Fretboard
The fretboard diagram will serve as your personal “cheat sheet” for the duration of your adventure. You should not require it towards the end. You can pretty much envision it in your mind if you understand how it works.
You can use it while studying to double-check that you’re correctly identifying the notes, but you can also rely on your hearing in some circumstances.
If you’re trying to locate the same note on all of your strings, for example, playing one of them a semi-tone above or below the goal should set off a minor warning in your ears — something isn’t quite right!
If this is your first time viewing this type of diagram, or if you haven’t given it much thought, it’s understandable that memorizing it seems impossibly tough.
But don’t worry; we’ll show you how to speed up the process by several orders of magnitude. You should definitely keep your guitar nearby if you want to test out some of these ideas.
It’s totally acceptable to keep the diagram next to you and study while gazing at it. You shouldn’t feel bad about it, though it’s similar to using training wheels on a bicycle — they’re wonderful for learning, but you don’t want to keep them on forever!
Just keep in mind that the most important aspect is that your hands are doing the work on the guitar; only then will you begin to see results.
- Know the order of the seven musical notes (C D E F G A B; or Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti);
- Recognize sharps (#), flats (), and harmonics (notes with the same pitch but different names, as C# and D).
- Except for E and F, as well as B and C (which are just one semitone apart), each note is separated by one whole tone (two semitones).
- Understand the notes of each open string on the guitar (eBGDAE);
- Recognize that traveling up a fret on the neck corresponds to a semi-tone change.
These are the essentials, however, understanding your intervals is also beneficial because it can help you learn some notes faster by linking them with notes you have already mastered.