Familiarizing yourself with the notes on the guitar is an important part of guitar playing. I know it isn’t the most exciting part, but if you take time during your practice routines to learn them, you will be a better musician because of it.
Instead of just popping up a chart with all of the notes on it, I am going to explain how you can find all of the notes on your own. It is more interesting this way and will actually help you burn the notes into your memory better.
First let us talk about the basics. There are 12 notes and they are represented by the first seven letters of the alphabet with the addition of certain symbols that denote a flat or sharp note:
As you can see from the image above, the notes start to repeat themselves after the G#/Ab, back to the A again. The distance between the first A and the last A is called an octave. The notes A B C D E F G are called natural notes. The rest of the notes that have the # or b symbol are called flats and sharps or accidentals.
On the guitar, the notes are played by either striking a string or pressing down on a fret. The diagram below illustrates the notes of the strings of your guitar:
The distance between any two notes is called an Interval. There are various kinds of intervals in music, but lets keep things simple and talk about the most widely discussed intervals for beginner guitarists called Half Steps and Whole Steps.
Let’s take a look at the notes again:
If we start at A and want to find the note that is a half step away, it would be A#/Bb. To find the note that is a whole step away from A, we would jump two spots up to the B.
Let’s take this same concept and apply it to the frets of the guitar. Grab your guitar and hold it like you are getting ready to play. Let’s start at the Low E String. That is the thickest string on your guitar. When you play that string without pressing down on any frets, you are playing an E note.
Now to go a half step up on your guitar to the F note, we would press down on the first fret of the low E string. Now press down on the second fret of the low E string (a half step from F) and you are playing an F#/Gb. To go a whole step from F to G on your guitar, you would go up two frets and press down on the third fret of the Low E String. So, a half step on your guitar is one fret, while a whole step on your guitar is two frets.
Let’s do another example on the A string and then I am leaving the rest for you to do.
The next string down from the Low E String is the A string. This means when you strum this string without pressing down on any frets, you are playing an A note. Now to go a half step up on your guitar to the A#/Bb note, we would press down on the first fret of the A string. Now press down on the second fret of the A string ( a half step up from A#/Bb) and you are playing a B note.
Is this making sense yet? Hopefully I have explained this well enough. You should now be able to name every note on your guitar using the exact same process for all of the strings. Do this at least once a day during your practice session and you will memorize every note on the guitar before you know it.
Enjoy and Happy Guitar Playing!