Notes – Theory

FriendlySanj – Find Out More

Download the App


Android app on Google Play

Introduction

The purpose of this app is for you to learn the names of the notes on the guitar fretboard.

This article provides the guitar theory you need to know in order to
use – “FriendlySanj Notes” – my app for Android mobiles and tablets.

Read the full instructions for the app here.

Learning the Notes

If you don’t yet know any of the notes on the guitar fretboard, you’re gonna
need to start by learning at least one note on each string to use as a starting point.

Let’s start with the learning the open (unfretted) strings on a standard tuned
guitar.

String No. Fret No. Note Name String Name String Pitch
1 0 E Top Highest
2 0 B
3 0 G
4 0 D
5 0 A
6 0 E Bottom Lowest

Looking down at a guitar when you’ve got it strapped on you, the bottom string is the string which is closest to you – bottom indicating that the string is lowest in pitch, not physically at the bottom of the guitar.

The top string is the one furthest from you – the highest in pitch.

The bottom string is the 6th string, the top string is the 1st string.

Going from bottom to top, the open string notes are E, A, D, G, B, E.

Say this many times, think of an acronym, or just remember it.. Whichever way works best for you, get the names of the open strings firmly fixed in your head.

The table above summarises this information.

Note Names

There are 12 notes in western music. These are named as follows:

1 A
2 A# / Bb
3 B
4 C
5 C# / Db
6 D
7 D# / Eb
8 E
9 F
10 F# / Gb
11 G
12 G# / Ab

The symbol – ‘#’ – is called a sharp.

The symbol – ‘b’ – is called a flat.

Notice that:

  • Every note has a sharp except B and E
  • Every note has a flat except C and F

These 12 notes comprise what is called an octave.

Once you get up to G# / Ab, the next note is A again. However, this A is higher in pitch than the previous A – it is one octave (12 notes) above the previous A.

If you’re going downwards, when you get down to A, the note below is G# / Ab. This A is lower in pitch and is one octave (12 notes) below the previous A.

Each note is one semi-tone above/below the previous note.

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard

On a guitar fretboard, one fret corresponds to one semi-tone.

As there are only 12 notes, when you get up to the 12th fret on the fretboard, the notes are repeated again.

ie. The notes on frets 13 – 24 are the same as the notes from frets 0 – 12.

Working out the Notes

Armed with the above information, you now have enough information to work out
any note on the fretboard.

Let’s look at some examples to give you the idea.

The table below shows the names of the notes on the first 6 frets of a standard
tuned 6 string guitar:

Open String
Fret Fret Fret Fret Fret Fret
0
1 2 3 4 5 6
E
F F# / Gb G G# / Ab A A# / Bb
B
C C# D D# E F
G
G# / Ab A A# / Bb B C C# / Db
D
D# / Eb E F F# / Gb G G# / Ab
A
A# / Bb B C C# / Db D D# / Eb
E
F F# / Gb G G# / Ab A A# / Bb

Example 1: If asked what the note of the 2nd fret on the 2nd string is:

  1. Look at the first table above which tells us that the open string name of the 2nd string is B
  2. We want the 2nd fret = 2 semi-tones above B and we know that each semi-tone accounts for 1 fret
  3. Look at the note names above and go 2 notes up from B. There’s no sharp / flat between B and C so we see that the note we’re after is a C#

Easy – right?

Example 2: If asked what the note of the 5th fret on the bottom E string is:

  1. The first table above which tells us that the 6th string is the bottom E string
  2. We want the 5th fret = 5 semi-tones above E and we know that each semi-tone accounts for 1 fret
  3. Look at the note names above and go 5 notes up from B. There’s no sharp / flat between E and F so we see that the note we’re after is an A

Example 3: Thinking outside the diagram, if asked what the
note of the 10th fret on the G string, it’s gonna be quicker to start at the
12th fret (which you know is also a G) and work downwards to D

Which Note Name

When naming notes, it is acceptable to use either of the note names given above – eg. in example 1, C# could have been referred to as Db.

When to use each name goes beyond the scope of this article but if you’d like
to know more, please check out my book here.

Outro

You now have enough information to start using the first app in my series – Notes.

FriendlySanj – Find Out More

Download the App


Android app on Google Play
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s