Guitar Lesson 2 – Notes On The Guitar Fretboard

Hello, friends! Today is the second day of the learn guitar basics course. We will quickly run true next topic that is essential after tuning guitar. Today we’ll cover how to learn notes on the guitar. This is essential part in guitar playing because knowing notes on the instrument is the same as knowing ABC.

We’ll take a brief look how the guitar fretboard looks like. We’ll learn how we can find those notes, what is the formula and why this is important. From my opinion, learning notes is the first thing that needs to be known because you’ll be able to build chords easily, see them right away and master your playing quickly. Why I said quickly? That’s because you’ll learn to find them from theoretical point of view. But finding them quickly from first sight takes some time. I’ll teach you how to do it much quicker.

Here I’m not talking about sheet music. It’s up to you to learn them or not. This lesson is dedicated to how to find notes on the guitar only.

Ok, let’s go!

As in Physics, Math or Chemistry, there are basic formulas how to find the necessary amount. There’s also magic formula in music. It’s quite simple and it must be known.

The formula starts from C note and ends also on C.

Here it is:

Tone > Tone > Semitone > Tone >Tone > Tone > Semitone

Take a look at this diagram below. To easily understand the formula you need to find C note on the B string (second string).

Got it? Ok, after the C is the D one.

guitar fretboard notes

D is 2 frets away from the C.

The tone = 2 frets

Next after D comes E (which is tone away from D note).

After E comes F which is one fret away. This is semitone:

The Semitone = 1 fret

Ok, let’s review what we get here:

C (tone) > D (tone) > E (semitone) > F (tone) > G (tone) > A (tone) > B (semitone) > C

Remember that:

  • tone is distance of 2 frets
  • semitone is distance of 1 fret

If you think that this is complicated then you can look at the formula from other way. More easily to learn it is to understand that formula consists of 5 tones and 2 semitones. And once again you can repeat:

Tone > Tone > Semitone > Tone >Tone > Tone > Semitone

If you know or have noticed then this is the major scale formula. Yes, learning the guitar fretboard is hard. It is built on major scale formula basis. It’s seen on every string.

A while ago I didn’t believe my teacher when he said that this is built on major scale basis. So, I tried to prove it. I couldn’t do that. If you want to make sure about it, then test yourself. Remember from the first lesson about the standard tune? Here how notes are built:

  • 1. String – high E
  • 2. String – high B
  • 3. String – middle G
  • 4. String – middle D
  • 5. String – low A
  • 6. String – low E

Try to build notes from every string (from low E, from low A and so on…) by using major formula. Doing this you’ll get good training and your skills will grow. I’ve done this some time ago and I quite liked it.

From the beginning of the article I have mentioned that it takes some time to learn seeing notes from the first sight. This is the first step how to do it. For me it was quite complicated to name every, for example 8th fret on G string, 10th the fret on D string and so on. To learn it you must do it every day while practicing. You don’t have to do it for hour or even more. No! It can be done easier than that.

While playing chords, name notes of which they consist. For example play C major chord, look at the notes and name them. Name – C; E; G. Play another chord and do the same. I practiced just like that. I played for about 5 to 6 chords and named spelled them. Yes, it is taught. But like good old guitarist Mr. Frank Gambale said:


It doesn’t matter what kind of chords you play. You play simple minor or major chords, Cm7 or C7, or B dim (diminished) chord. Name notes!

Ok, here’s the guitar fretboard picture with all notes on the guitar. First picture (above) showed strong ones with no sharps and flats. Here’s is the full “map” of the fretboard. It shows all notes on all 24 frets on every string. Colored notes are strong or stable and grey ones are flats or sharps (♭ ; #)


For the conclusion of today’s lesson, let’s overview what we have learned here and what we need to know from this:

  • Knowing guitar notes on fretboard is essential;
  • There’s simple musical formula;
  • Formula is based on major scale basis;
  • One fret is semitone;
  • Two frets build a tone;
  • Guitar notes end on 12th fret (after they all repeat)!

One thing that I’ve almost forgot to say is that notes end on 12th fret (on every string) and they repeat – start all over again. Keep that in mind. Don’t waste your time learning all other from 12th to 22nd fret (or 24th) because they start all over again.

My personal suggestion to all level musicians – learn finding notes on the fretboard, if don’t know how to it or think that this is a rush. It’s not right way to learn the guitar.

Ok, I hope that this was informative to you my friend.

Next time, we’ll cover lesson about what are guitar intervals and how to learn them.

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