Do I know my way around the guitar fretboard?

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Ask yourself this question.”Do I know my way around my guitar fretboard?”

Do you feel confused, or don’t know how to get around the guitar? Does your guitar neck just look a bunch of wood, wires and metal with no meaning? Sometimes we don’t know what it is we have to know to improve an area of guitar or how to practice it to make it better.

There are certain things we have to know, the basics to begin to understand the guitar. There are systems in place, it is not a mystery. You can learn these systems. I’ll be discussing some basics today and letting you know some of the more advanced systems. These are the systems used by all the greats.

First of all, you have to know the names of the 6 strings on your guitar. And know which one is 6 and which one is 1.Just remember the string closest to the floor is string 1. It’s kind of counter intuitive because we want to think the string closest to my head would be string 1. Don’t confuse which is 1 and which is 6.

Next I would recommend knowing the Note names on the 6th string. From the open string to the 12th fret to start, learn all the natural notes. The musical alphabet is 7 notes. That’s the natural notes, which means no sharps and flat signs next to it. The musical alphabet is A, B C,D,E,F,G.

Once you learn the layout of the Natural notes you can find your sharps and flats easily. So the order is the same for the musical alphabet but the string starts on a different note each time. The 6th string is E so you would and I recommend saying them out loud as you move up the string, E,F,G,A,B,C,D,E. So on the 6th string it starts on E and ends on E. Then any other string will be a snap. So if you start on the 5th string A the order would be A,B,C,D,E,F,G. There is a shape to each string for natural notes.

Here’s something we have to memorize or it can get confusing. Between B and C and E and F is one fret apart, no sharps or flats. Every other note is 2 frets away, that simple. The sharps and flats lay in between the natural notes. If you go up one fret from a natural note it’s a sharp and if you go down one fret from a natural note it’s a flat (except for our rule-B and C no, same thing with E and F). sharp or flat in between.

At the 12th fret you get a repeat or octave of the open note you started with and then the pattern starts over in the exact order.

Can you find all he C’s along the whole neck, or all the A’s or any note? Learn the Octave Shapes, there is a systematic layout.

It’s a pattern. I teach this all in detail and lay it out with a systematic way to practice these systems so that students “get it” in no time. I also apply it to improvisation so you can know what you are playing against the chords of a song. Believe me, Stevie Ray knew where all these notes were.

These are just a few of the systems to get started. You’ll also want to look into Triads, Arpeggio’s, and the CAGED system for chords. These systems will help dramatically understand the neck of the guitar better. You will play with more confidence and others will see and hear the difference.

Don’t just play songs or even if you can play some lead guitar, it really helps to to understand what you are doing and you’ll play with a lot more confidence. Get the 6the string down in a week or two so you can play it forward, backward or go to any random natural note on the string.


To get to a higher level on guitar it’s about learning systems to understand what you are doing and physically being able to perform it. This is a lot of information so I would read this article a few times to get the big picture and the do the first idea. Step 1, play the notes forward. Step 2 play the notes backwards. Step 3, play the notes in random order. Then move to the 5th string and do the same process.

It’s a long term project and will not happen overnight but you immediately improve right now and what a year from now with these goals in mind, you will so much closer to a goal we all have whether we even know it or not, that is, to unlock the mystery of the fingerboard!