Fretboard Memorization

For guitars of the straight waisted variety (or reverse offset).
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hetouchedabee
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Fretboard Memorization

Post by hetouchedabee » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:51 pm

How's it going fellas? It's been a while since I posted.

Say, how do YOU memorize the notes on the fretboard?

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by timtam » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:27 pm

I've been trying to improve my knowledge of the whole board too. So I've been thinking about this a lot. Like most people I mainly know the low E, A, and high E strings, between frets 1 and 12, from barre chords (and I know lots of other stuff by shapes rather than by note name). Getting beyond that is still a work in progress. I agree with teachers that complete fretboard note knowledge is a useful skill, although sometimes maybe over-emphasized (one of the beauties of the guitar is that you can play really interesting music with minimal theory knowledge ... or extremely dreary music with complete theory knowledge ... sometimes I think there is indeed an inverse relationship !). Some thoughts ..

TL;DR .. If you want to learn the whole fretboard, there ought to be better ways of doing so.

1. Most teaching resources for fretboard memorization are not very useful. There is one youtube channel that shows ~20 ways to figure out the notes when you are learning unfamiliar regions of the board. That complexity just creates ambiguity - "What note is this ? OK, which of those 20 ways should I use to figure it out ? What about this one ? No .. maybe this one is easier ?" etc etc. Other resources are not quite that confusing, but still tend to describe as many strategies as they can. Teachers who learnt complex topics many years ago (and may not remember what was hard for them) are not always best placed to advise novices on how best to do so. There is no standardized strategy. Ambiguity is the enemy of efficient learning.

2. The simplest approach probably involves the octave and unison patterns. But there are 5 different octave patterns, and 2 different unison patterns. So there is still ambiguity there. But if you can train you brain to jump to the right one quickly when learning, maybe that's OK. You obviously want to get to the point where you are no longer needing to use any 'strategy' ... you just know the notes automatically. But if you want a straightforward strategy for the 'hard' D, G and B strings, I think maybe that involves a single octave strategy for each string - see below. That also involves translating a single pattern from a 'known' string (E/A) to a 'lesser known' string (D/G/B), rather than note-by-note. Because your existing knowledge of the low E and A is probably encoded in your brain as a whole-string pattern, more so than note-by-note. So just try to think in terms if translating the whole low E and A string pattern to the D, G, and B strings ...
Image

3. The several phone apps for note learning are not very helpful - they are too removed from the real fretboard and actual playing contexts.

4. I haven't found other 'note learning exercises' - eg learning a single note all over the fretboard every day - very useful either. I think you have to be applying your increasing fretboard knowledge to real playing situations. Like if you're learning all your CAGED triad shapes and inversions (or already know them but only as shapes), then practice naming the 1-3-5 notes in each. Or the note names in your pentatonic scale patterns. Or note names in a solo you're learning. So when you're learning something new, always incorporate note naming into it. So you're learning multiple pieces of useful contextual information at once.

Interested to hear others' thoughts on this too.

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by BoringPostcards » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:59 pm

Start with any note on the low E and then find every other fret on the neck that is the same note and just drill it until you remember them all and their relation to each other.

One day, it will just click and you won't forget which is which in standard tuning.
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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by windmill » Fri Jun 19, 2020 3:47 pm

Its a 12 letter alphabet'.

Learn the major scale starting on C

CDEFGAB and back to C

The steps between the Notes on a guitar are two frets Except that it is one fret between B and C and the E and F.

The ones inbetween are the sharps or flats.

So start on an open string and work up to the 12th fret using that pattern.

Repeat on each string until the pattern is ingrained.

Like l;earning anything, repeating for 15 minutes a day and it wont be long before you have learnt it.

I did it when I was watching TV.

An analogy is like learning to talk and read. You did it so long ago that it is just natural to look at a letter and know what it is and to see a group of letters and recognise a word.

If you put the same effort and amount of time into to music, you would have the same result.

HTH
:)

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by Beltone » Sat Jun 20, 2020 12:31 am

I haven't memorized the fretboard yet, so maybe I'm the wrong person to comment.

The only thing that has worked for me so far is transferring my knowledge of power chords to naming notes on the the 5th and 6th strings.

Two things I've tried that didn't really click. 1) Taking a song I memorized note for note and playing it all over the fretboard while naming the notes. I got really good at identifying the notes while playing that song, but it didn't click when looking at the fretboard and asking myself what a random note was. 2) Memorizing scale patterns. I can play way more now, but the note names aren't sticking.

I've taken a break from memorization work, but a recent article in Guitar Player has stuck with me. Check out the diagrams of the note root templates. They remind me of star constellations. I'm going to try this approach next time I'm ready to get back to work on memorization.

https://www.guitarplayer.com/lessons/10 ... rd-mastery

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by hetouchedabee » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:29 am

I couldn't have put it better myself. Too often do I find all these techniques like the CAGE system, yet even practicing
consistently, didn't seem to stick to my head, rather, monotonous excercises. It only got me so far before it hit a ceiling.
Hell, probably remembering chords and the notes that comes with it is far more effective and practical.
It's the incopration of note naming when you're playing actual music that makes the brain go "This is what I've been
trying to learn". I suppose if we learn at least a little bit of how the human brain works when it comes to memorization
and practicing in general, we could one up our practicing sessions.

A few days ago I saw a video of how this person encourages his students to practice in different enviroments so that
the brain doesn't become fully accustom to this one set enviroment and in turn, strengthens the learning process. He
mentions that it could be simple as turning yourself around and see the other side of the room.

I could fully attest this when playing the piano. I notice that I sometimes forget certain notes when I'm playing at a
friend's or family's house but instantly remember them when I come back home and playing the same song.

Another talking point is the concept of contextual learning, something I've been tested for all my college classes. The
idea is that one way we could learn better and fast is by associating it with something we're familiar with. For example,
we could visualize an apple for the low E string and ask yourself, "What are the notes from open to 12 for this apple?" and
then for A we could visualize a car and ask yourself "What are the notes from open to 12 for this car?" and the pattern
continues.

With that being said, perhaps is not always the technique itself we should be screaming at, but rather how we practice
with, well, any technique for anything. For instance, maybe if I play the CAGE system with a metronome I would have
remembered notes better instead of simply playing the CAGE system, despite finding this technique rather mundane.
Better yet, mix it up every once in a while.

In the end, it's all about experimentation, and knowing what feels right to you to get the most out of practice.

BoringPostcards, very much like contextual learning, is a great example because you're using the low E
string as a relation point.

Windmill, I love the simplistic approach, going between open to 12 fret and imagining the white and black keys on the piano, one
string at a time. This is sort of the laymen term for all the "complex" techniques we see often around the internet.
Consistence and dedication certainly is key!

Beltone, your input is just as valuable. It proves how practicing effectively and practically requires experimentation. For example, taking a song your memorized note for note and playing it throughout the fretboard while naming them could be seen as a two way street. Since you got so good at memorizing those notes whenever playing that song, your brain had been accustomed to memorize them only whenever that song is played. Maybe instead, you can work backwards by going through the fretboard in chronological order like a piano, slowly and mindfully, recognizing if that note is involved in the song that you know very well.

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by fuzzjunkie » Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:31 am

I did it this way: Everyone knows their ABCs. I learned where ‘A’ was on every string, and that it was -whole step- half-step - whole step - etc. for the B-C-D, and so forth, as you go up a string. Then you can go down the string in the opposite direction, A-G-F-E, etc. The 5th string is obviously the easiest place to start with this method.

I am mostly self taught, so I have no idea if this would work for anyone else, but I had a guitar book called “Skating around the fretboard” or something like that had a couple of sections on the single string approach after all the scales and modes discussion. It was oriented towards classical guitar(?) and probably not something most rock guitarists would come across? Anyway, this author thought single string soloing was a more intermediate to advanced skill than playing scales across the strings.

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by windmill » Sun Jun 21, 2020 2:58 pm

another approach is to say the name of each note as you play it.

Over time it will sink in.

HTH
:)

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by jvin248 » Sun Jun 21, 2020 4:14 pm

.

+1 ... all the notes are two frets apart except BC and EF are only one fret apart.
E and e strings repeat.
12th fret and higher all repeats.

So now you are down to memorizing five strings and eleven frets with a consistent pattern along them.

Then go for a week locating 'all the As', the next week 'all the Bs', and so on.

Two other useful tools:
- A tuner (tunes the ear as well as the guitar)
- A looper pedal (Kokko/Ammoon mini looper I have is a $35 clone of the Ditto mini), that way you get your timing down twice, once for the backing track and once for the lead noodling you play over it.

.

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by stevejamsecono » Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:32 pm

I honestly used to just draw the fretboard in the margins of my notebooks with all the notes up to the 12th fret over and over again until stuff started to stick. I'm still not flawless, but it did help.
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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by windmill » Tue Jun 23, 2020 4:54 pm

One more thing

Play the major scale up and down the fretboard, in all 12 keys

Playing scales has an important secondary purpose of learning where the notes are in relation to each other on the fret board, as someone ponted out to me recently as I have been working on my sight reading,

You can then make up melodies from the scales and move them around the fretboard to help with remembering the note positions.

It is always a bit sad to think that people will learn patterns or methods when for the same amount of effort they could have the keys to unlock the treasury of all music by learning the major and minor scale.

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Re: Fretboard Memorization

Post by somanytoys » Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:16 pm

I never took lessons. When I was just starting to play at 12, I was taught a few simple songs on bass by guitarists my age that wanted a bass player, and being kind of lost and frustrated with that, I soon learned to figure songs out on my own by ear, playing almost anything with records, tv, radio, whatever, just to figure out notes and try to cop different feels of different styles.

One thing that really made me learn things a lot better was that being young and with bass strings being so expensive, sometimes I’d break a string and couldn’t afford a new set for a week or so.

So I’d still play songs along with records, but to play them without an A string or a D string or whatever broke, I had to improvise and hit those notes on another string up or down, and farther up or down the neck from where i was usually playing.

It made me think faster and differently, but I also got more intuitive with it. I think it helped me approach things differently, realizing that I wasn’t so physically limited to think about & try different approaches, and being able to figure out more efficient finger placements from one note/part to the next, it kind of broke me out of a structured mindset.

It also helped with moving around the neck quickly and more accurately, to be able to hit those notes and it not sound like shit.

I don’t necessarily recommend that method, it’s a real pain in the ass, especially when you’re trying to play complicated shit like Rush or Yes with a missing string.

But it was sure as shit effective.
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