Learning the fretboard

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Learning the fretboard

Post by powis55 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:56 am

Hi all,

I have been studying the classical guitar now for a little over a year, and am wondering if anyone has sage advice as to the best way to tackle learning the upper reaches of the fret board (I'm thinking of Position V and up from there), as I am finding my ignorance of the upper reaches is detracting from my progress. Any help appreciated.
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Adrian Allan
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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:43 am

The best advice is play all the simple single melody-line folksongs you probably learned in the first position in the fifth position, and keep at it each day.

When you can do that, then move up the seventh position.
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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by PeteJ » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:11 pm

I find writing is good way of learning. Try writing some very simple pieces in higher positions. Also chords are useful. Learning chords in 3 or 4 positions helps to relate the different areas of the fretboard. Mainly I think it's just a question of steady hard work.

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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Erik Zurcher » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:51 pm

Reedition Domingo Esteso by Conde Hermanos 2004; Kenny Hill, model Barcelona 2001
"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by powis55 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:51 pm

Thank you all for your replies. I'll certainly put your advice into practice.
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Mike Atkinson
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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Mike Atkinson » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:43 pm

When I was a much, much younger person ... I learned the E pentatonic scale in first position on my acoustic guitar. My friend Chris and I were jammin' one day, and I went crazy and grabbed a note up high on the neck; position 7 or 9 ... and it was in tune... WOW! I was then able to figure out the Pentatonic scale in that higher position, and then the other positions in between. I was a rock star. I could play the in tune patterns all the way up and down the neck.

So, from this, my suggestion is to take a melody or phrase you know well in position 1, and play it in position 5 or position 10.

You too , can be a rock star.
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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Rick Beauregard » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:32 pm

My nemisis. Right now I am trying the Sakari method. Google it. There's no shortcuts, but he concentrates on learning only the notes that have the highest probability of being used on the guitar. "Throw out" all those guitar fretboard charts. Then it's just repetition and mind numbing exercises. I'll let you know how it works.
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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Chantysboy7 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:29 pm

Go to this site.

Find the "Fretboard Note Indentification"

Go to the settings and set it to the 5th fret. Once you get that fret memorized/mastered add the 6th fret and so on. Don't add the next fret until you can do 25 note indentifications in less than a minute. If you do this several times a day you'll have the fretboard memorized in less than two weeks.

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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by hoppy » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:02 pm

Mel Bay's position studies book is good for moving through the different keys and positions (mostly single note and not classical music) as are the Leavitt sight reading books. Second the recommendation to play easier music in different positions - particularly because most songs that move past the fifth fret are more advanced overall making it harder to just learn the notes, which one can do relatively easily in first position with basic single note melodies.

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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Steve D » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:27 pm

Sorry to be boring, but a highly effective way to learn the fret board is focused visualization and labeling while playing scales. While playing scale patterns in different positions, picture the fret location and say the note. It is tempting to simply play scales to practice the technique, but if you force yourself to say the note it will lock in. It is also very effective to read the scale, playing no faster than your mind can follow the music and say/sing the note in your mind or aloud. Good luck.

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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by powis55 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:33 pm

Thank you all for your suggestions. I'll report back in a month or so and report my progress.
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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Kent » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:38 pm

Not to sound repetitious, take advantage of the free Segreras studies here. If you work everyday with this series, you will be exploring the fretboard with surprising results.

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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by dory » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:02 pm

How did you learn the notes in first position? You played pieces in that position. I have not found scales to be helpful in learning the upper positions. The reason is that scales become a series of automatic movements and it is difficult to focus on individual notes as you are playing them. What I have found helpful is finding pieces to play, withthe help of my teacher, that have a lot of sections in the upper range of the fretboard. A lot of the ach two part inventions have long sections in the upper part of the fretboard. They are good if you can find someone to play duets with but are fun as simple melodies even if you don't and at this point you want to concentrate on learning notes-- not on playing complex chords or counterpoint. At first you will have to think consciously about each note, and you may end up checking some notes against the same note lower down on the fingerboard. That is fine, because gradually the notes become automatic. I am sure there are other ways to learn the fretboard, but for me the easiest and most natural was playing on all parts of it. The one area I still don't know instinctively is up on the body of the guitar-- especially below the first two strings, and I don't know a lot of pieces to play to get there.

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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by doug » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:15 pm

Take about five minutes a day, and slowly play.....and say out loud.....every note on the fretboard. As you're doing it, work on getting the best tone possible, on exact placement of your left hand fingers, and you can even work on right hand finger alternation.
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Re: Learning the fretboard

Post by Jussi » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:38 pm

I've always found visualisation and mental familiarity is incredibly important. I tend to think in chords, but learn many ways of playing each collection of notes so that I'm actually thinking in terms of the chords, not just the shape my fingers make. Pick any chord and play a harmonised scale all the way up the neck. Or inversions of the same chord up the neck. Figuring out as many different chord voicings and fingerings as you're physically able to reach breeds familiarity pretty rapidly! I can also practice this away from the instrument which I find really cements the mental connections and it soon becomes second nature. I also find it really useful to pick a key and just improvise some counterpoint, keeping the chords and intervals in mind as I go (and the note names / the degree in relation to the key / whatever you want to focus on). It's easier than you might think and lots of fun!

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