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Learning the Notes on the Fretboard: Tones & Semitones

Learning the string names on your guitar is an absolute must; there’s no two ways about it. Understanding tones and semitones allows you to figure out what any note on your guitar is. This video hopefully will help clarify these things for you.

Download the Empty Fretboard PDF

The string names on your guitar are E-A-D-G-B-E.

Some fun acronyms you can use to remember this are:

Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie
Eat All Day Get Big Easy
Eat A Dog, Get Big Ears

Personally I just remember the letter names as is, there aren’t really that many of them.

As I said in the video, download the empty fretboard diagram above, and fill it out completely. Practice doing this once per day until you know it. I’m sure it won’t take you more than a few days before you start getting the hang of it!

As you become more familiar with the fretboard, start looking for patterns. For example, circle all the times ‘A’ appears, and see if you can see the pattern. Starting on the sixth string, you simply go up two strings and two frets, and you’ll see the octave. That pattern holds true all across the fretboard, except on the B string. What other patterns can you find?

Comments or questions are welcome – just leave one below!


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  1. I LIKE THE EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE GOOD BY EDDIE;BETTER THAN WHAT I CAME UP WITH,I GOING TO HAVE TO USE THAT ONE. ABOUT THE FRET BOARD I AM NOT SURE WHAT NOTES GO WHERE.I NEED A CHEAT SHEET OR SOMETHING, THANKS, DON

    Reply

    1. This is the place, especially the theory. Jonathan does an outstanding job of visually showing you the relationships.
      You DO need those concepts, whether you think you do or not.
      You CAN sail a ship without a compass, but you won’t get far!

      Reply

  2. donation on the way dude … you seem to enjoy helping others and i would like to see you continue doing so . so come on people help me out and lets keep the j man doing his thing by helping us out !!!! keep it up brother..!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  3. hi Johnatan my nmae is kirk your videl are very help full i know my strings name and my major hords and my e-a barr chords i just cant seam to put it all together and do licks and riffs and stuff i just hasnt clicked yet lolo maybe you can help me put it togeher thanks your friend kirk

    Reply

  4. Thank you Johnathan , awsome to have a guitar , and enjoy learning , truely a helper in these further along steps ..rifs fun to play on the whole neck, other than penatonic .I am haveing fun learning.Thank you for the help.

    Reply

  5. Hi, Jonathan thanks for everything you do for all of us.

    Here is how I remember

    Every
    Able
    Dude
    Gets
    Better
    Everyday

    My teacher taught me that, it is a positive thought and it stuck!
    there you go thats my .02$

    Reply

  6. Hi Johathan:

    Thank you soooo much for the empty fret board chart. It is so much better than the one I made up on Excel. I have printed out 10 copies and plan on filling one in every day until I learn at least the first five frets. Then, if I still don’t know them, I’ll just print out more.

    Thanks again,

    Donna

    Reply

  7. Hi John,

    I appreciate your sincerity in helping us with your novel ideas. I will take print-outs of the charts and start practising jotting down the names of the keys on the Fret-Board and get back to you after doing it successfully.

    Regards
    Madhusudhan
    India

    Reply

  8. I remember string names from 6th to 1st with the following sentence. Every Average Dude Gets Better Eventually”. Which I hoe is true in my case. I am barely average and wast to be great! That’s why I look forward to you tips, they really help a lot. Thanks

    Reply

  9. God lesson, I guess I started out with a really good instructor as he made me memorize Eddie ate dinamite, good bye eddid the first lesson. It was four years pluss ago, and I do not know how many times it got me our of trouble when talking to someone about my guitar. Keep up the good work. I have also been looking for a blank fretboard that is the size you are using. I have plenty of them but not one that is this large, and I do not draw well, even with drawing aids. Think I may have line dislexia or something when trying to draw a straight line. Gene

    Reply

  10. hey Jonathan,thanks for the strings, frets & scale info. I am a little slow on it but your clips have helped alot, being able to replay your lessons are great. Many thanks Joanne

    Reply

  11. You don’t have to remember them all. Just remember the four letters in the middle and the other two are e. AD GB – do these letters look familer? A date designation(i.e. 350 AD) and Great Britian as seen on many bumper stickers as GB).

    My orignal memonic was: Eat A Dog Grow Big Ears

    It is simpler to just remember and be able to visualize the middle four letters.

    Reply

  12. I didnt see this one …it was the first one I learned. If you like the Blues this is for you, Im sure you know these guys!!
    Eric
    And
    Duane
    Got the
    Blues
    Early

    Reply

  13. Making your own visual chart helps. I made a wall chart on 14X17 drawing paper for my Ibanez 7 string years ago: However, I moved many times since, haven’t practiced for several years, and never thought about putting it back on a wall. Your video jogged my memory and I’ll put it back in sight.

    Reply

  14. You really do have a great nack for teaching the guitar. It says that you love what you play.It truly is important to know the fret board if you want to be a good player of this great instrument.

    Reply

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