Learning the Fretboard

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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corius
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Learning the Fretboard

Post by corius » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:45 pm

Can anyone recommend a good strategy for learning the fretboard please?

I've been playing for some years and only really know up to fret 5. I'd like to be able to navigate the whole 12 frets with confidence. I've tried a few smartphone/iPad apps without any great success and I'd love to be able to find fingerings without laboriously counting up or back from the few notes I do know.

Briant
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by Briant » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:54 pm

A big breakthrough for me was when i started working on Carcassi op 60. Study no 1 is a good introduction to higher position playing.
Also take a one octave C major scale. Find the C on each string and work out the scale saying out loud the notes as you play them.

davekear
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by davekear » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:15 pm

Another good trick is use guide fingers. For example if you know all the notes on the low E, then you're half way there. Lets try a low A note with your first finger on the 5th fret, 6th string. Then, leave your first finger there and put your 2nd finger on the 7th fret of the D string; you'll notice you have octaves. Now add the 3rd octave with your 4th finger on the 10th fret of the B string. Now you have an A note in 3 octaves. memorize their position. Now you can do this with any note on the low E string and instantly know where all of the other octaves are. Do this with the low A string too. In the future when you place just one finger on either the low E or A, you'll be able to visualize all of the octaves on the other strings in that pattern, and vice versa. Learn the fret board in no time.
Last edited by davekear on Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by Erik Zurcher » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:22 pm

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=79606

Print these out, stick them to the wall and memorize a few every day.
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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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:40 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:22 pm
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=79606

Print these out, stick them to the wall and memorize a few every day.
:merci: Erik for these! They'll be very helpful for me! :)

ddray
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by ddray » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:56 pm

corius wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:45 pm
Can anyone recommend a good strategy for learning the fretboard please?

I've been playing for some years and only really know up to fret 5. I'd like to be able to navigate the whole 12 frets with confidence. I've tried a few smartphone/iPad apps without any great success and I'd love to be able to find fingerings without laboriously counting up or back from the few notes I do know.
The only "strategy" I've been following is simply to play. And slowly but surely it's falling into place. One of my problems was wanting to know everything at once. I tried memorizing charts but they just didn't work for me.

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bear
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by bear » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:12 pm

corius wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:45 pm
Can anyone recommend a good strategy for learning the fretboard please?

I've been playing for some years and only really know up to fret 5. I'd like to be able to navigate the whole 12 frets with confidence. I've tried a few smartphone/iPad apps without any great success and I'd love to be able to find fingerings without laboriously counting up or back from the few notes I do know.
I like mnemonics;
open- Elephants And Donkeys Get Big Ears
5th- All Dobermans Get Cropped Ears A
7th- BEAD F# B (Bead is also the order of placement for flats)
10- Dead Girls Can't Find Any Dolls
2013 Jeff Medlin '37 Hauser 640mm sp
2006 Michele Della Guistina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

dtoh
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by dtoh » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:18 am

IMHO, it's just practice. There's a lot of advice in this thread for techniques for memorizing the fretboard, but I think those are higher level intellectual processes that are not really that helpful for playing. What you want to develop is an almost instinctual connection between the note on the page (or the sound) and the position of your finger on the fretboard. I'd guess that's already the way you navigate the first five frets. You do it naturally without thinking.

The problem is that there is very little material that is suitable for getting started in the higher positions. You need something graduated so that every single note is not a huge exercise in finding the note on the keyboard. I ended up writing my own simple non-musical scores in order to learn the higher positions. That got me familiar enough with the upper reaches of the fretboard that it became relatively easy to practice playing simple pieces and begin learning diads, triads, etc. in different positions.

Smudger5150
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by Smudger5150 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:46 am

Chris Davis at his .org site has a 'Learn every note on the fretboard' article on his Free Stuff section that's quite good.
Seems similar to davekear's ideas. Plus having Erik's chart is useful too.

Plus using the CAGED chord/scale ideas might be useful too. Good for improvisation as well (although I'm sure others more knowledgeable will point out more uses).
Or just work out how to play some easier pieces in other positions.

Also, I'm finding that I'm learning the fretboard as I work on more advanced pieces i.e gradually learn new notes higher up as I progress 'through the grades'.
But I haven't learnt many pieces by heart and tend to use the sheet music as my guide for new and old pieces so I 'think' I'm working on my fretboard knowledge and reading abilities gradually all the time. Well I hope so.
"Music washes away the dust of every day life." Art Blakey

"If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it." Louis Armstrong

ddray
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by ddray » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:51 am

dtoh wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:18 am

The problem is that there is very little material that is suitable for getting started in the higher positions. You need something graduated so that every single note is not a huge exercise in finding the note on the keyboard. I ended up writing my own simple non-musical scores in order to learn the higher positions. That got me familiar enough with the upper reaches of the fretboard that it became relatively easy to practice playing simple pieces and begin learning diads, triads, etc. in different positions.
One good starting point I've found is an arrangement of the Allemande from Bach's sixth cello suite. It's not insanely difficult, the music is beautiful, and while it doesn't cover the entire fretboard it gets you thinking beyond the 5th fret. The arrangement I'm using is by Vesa Kuokkanen, who I think is a member of this forum.
Also as you mentioned practicing things like real triadic arpeggios helps.
Smudger5150 wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:46 am
Also, I'm finding that I'm learning the fretboard as I work on more advanced pieces i.e gradually learn new notes higher up as I progress 'through the grades'.
But I haven't learnt many pieces by heart and tend to use the sheet music as my guide for new and old pieces so I 'think' I'm working on my fretboard knowledge and reading abilities gradually all the time. Well I hope so.
Exactly, same here.

Henny
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by Henny » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:24 am

my suggestion would be to use the CAGED system and identify the root note, the 3th and the 5th. from there you can develop your knowledge further and at the same time identify the triad.
it is simple and effective

kmurdick
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by kmurdick » Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:16 pm

This is a short essay I wrote years ago. I'm not sure if the page numbers fit the modified Aaron Shearer book.

Probably the best way to learn the fingerboard is the way other string
players do it. I assume that you can already read well in the first position.
Aaron Shearer's Classic Guitar Technique Vol 2 ( Alfred Pub, this is the old green book) devotes the
second half the book to this topic. The exercises mentioned below, for the
most part, can be found there. Page numbers refer to this book.

1) Learn the first string by reading single string exercises in various
positions. Visualize them first. Page 103-104

2) Play scales on the first string in many keys. Visualize them before
playing by naming finger and note names. When you shift, think from the
last finger put down so that the largest shift is only two frets. Example, an
F scale on the first string. f1, g3, (2 fret shift) a1, Bb2, c4 (2 fret
shift) d1, e3, f4, (and then back down). Page 110,111

3) Play a few pieces that use the the upper positions on the first string. Page 112-114.

4) Repeat proceedure 1-3 on the next string, except practice position studies
combining the first and second string in all positions (positions 3-9 is
usually adequate). Always name finger numbers (visualize) before playing.
(Position studies begin on page 117 and contine thorough rest of the book)

5) When you have learned all six strings using the above proceedure, turn
your attention to playing position studies on all six strings in all
positions. These may be found in Shearer's huge scale book (Alfred).
Always visualize the page first. Another good book is the 2nd (I think)
Berkley Jazz Guitar series book.

Here's visualization exercise for when you have learned all six strings. Take
a position (we'll use 5th position), and name the notes you would play with
fingers 1 and 2, skipping strings. You would name A, D#, G, C#, E, A#, and
back down get the ones you missed A, F, C, G#, D, A#. Now do it with fingers
1 and 3. A, E, G, D, E, B and back down A, F#, C, A, D, B. Do this with 1
and 4 as well. A, F, G etc. Learn to do this exercize rapidly with all
fingers, in all positions, using both sharps and flats. Do this OFF THE
GUITAR!

Whatever you do, don't waste your time on some chart method or other such
trick. Remember how difficult it was to learn the first position? It's 10
times more difficult to learn the rest of the guitar fingerboard. You must
learn learn it in a methodical manner just the way the first position was
learned. Combined with an effective repertoire, it can be a rewarding
experience.

Kent

corius
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by corius » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:50 pm

Thanks for the help everyone, some really great ideas to try out. I really appreciate the effort to which you've all gone.

I woke up this morning reciting position mnemonics and fingering octaves on my pillow. My wife is growing increasingly concerned!

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Guitar Slim Jr.
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by Guitar Slim Jr. » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:43 pm

corius wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:45 pm
Can anyone recommend a good strategy for learning the fretboard please?
For most readers, it's not difficult to find the high ledger-line notes. There aren't that many, and they're usually played on the 1st string. It's finding the notes lower on the staff in the higher positions that needs work.

So try this: find a bunch of simple, one-note melodies that can be easily read in the first position. Only, don't read them in the 1st position, read them in 5th or 7th position instead. I like to use fiddle tunes -- there are literally thousands of them, all in guitar-friendly keys, and all in the public domain.

Playing 1st position tunes in higher positions should help you learn to navigate the fretboard on all six strings, and also improve your understanding of scales and keys, and their relationship to the various positions on the guitar.

Also, I agree with those who recommend you improve your reading via repertoire. Reading is something best learned by doing. I've always felt that fretboard charts, exercise routines, and mental tricks only go so far. If you want to learn to read in upper positions, then you've just got to keep reading in upper positions. So definitely look into some of the repertoire recommended above.

Finally, remember, if you play it more than twice, it's no longer sight reading. Vary your materials and you'll learn faster.

dtoh
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Re: Learning the Fretboard

Post by dtoh » Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:49 am

I first attempted to learn the fretboard by playing simple pieces in the upper positions. The problem is that it is not the easiest way to start. Even with simple pieces, finding each note is difficult. And even with repeated run-throughs it's hard to remember. Then after you've played a piece a few times, your brain memorizes the physical motion rather than the mapping between the note and location on the fretboard.

If you recall the first exercises you did when starting the guitar, they were typically adjacent notes on a single string, then on two strings, etc. That's what you need to most easily learn the higher positions on the fretboard. You could go back to the earliest exercises, but typically these are optimized for the first position and don't necessarily map well to a single string in the higher positions.

Unfortunately there are not really any good exercises out there so I found it was easiest to just write my own graduated exercises. After you get the notes somewhat ingrained you can then go on and practice with simple pieces in different positions to get the note/fretboard location mapping fully hardwired into your brain.

Not to say the other methods won't work, but I'm basically old and lazy and prefer easy to hard. I'm sure it's not intentional but I kind of feel like advanced players regard learning the fretboard as a rite of passage or hazing ritual that needs to be kept as difficult as possible. :D

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