Learning The Fretboard


  1. Learn how strings are numbered.
  2. Learn standard tuning.
  3. Learn how frets are numbered.
  4. Learn how to move around the fretboard (horizontally and vertically).
  5. Learn the notes on each string.

String Numbering and Standard Tuning

Strings are numbered from the thinnest string (1st string) to the thickest (6th string). The tuning is given from the 6th string to the 1st string: E-A-D-G-B-E. This tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) is called standard tuning.

String Numbering and Standard Tuning
Notes are named using the first seven letters of the alphabet, however there are more than seven pitches, or notes, produced on the guitar. The note names, or letters, repeat themselves. For example: the note name after G is A: ... E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C ...

Fret Numbering

Frets are numbered from the headstock toward the body starting with 1. Sometimes the number 0 or letter O is used to denote an open string, or one that is played without fretting a note.

Fretting a note is executed by pressing the string down behind a fret (on the headstock side of the fret).
Fret Numbering

Fretboard Movement

Guitarists can move horizontally up or down the fretboard, or vertically across the fretboard. These are common terms used to communicate how to shift your hands when playing the guitar.

Fretboard Movement
Fretboard Movement

Fretboard Note Locations

This section will show you where each note on the guitar can be played. The notation is given for completeness. Reading notation will be explained in the reading lessons.

1st String Notes (High E String)

First String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
First String Notes (Frets 1-12)

2nd String Notes (B String)

Second String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
Second String Notes (Frets 1-12)

3rd String Notes (G String)

Third String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
Third String Notes (Frets 1-12)

4th String Notes (D String)

Fourth String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
Fourth String Notes (Frets 1-12)

5th String (A String)

Fifth String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
Fifth String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
Fifth String Notes (Frets 1-12)

6th String (E String)

Sixth String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
Sixth String Notes on the Fretboard (Frets 1 - 12)
Sixth String Notes (Frets 1-12)

All Notes

The following tablature shows the full range of the guitar in standard tuning. Notice how some notes can only be played on 1 location while others can be played in up to 5 locations. It is important to remember that learning the fretboard is complicated. On a piano, each note has exactly one location. On a guitar you can play it in up to 5 locations with any of your four fretting fingers. That is up to 20 possibilities for one note. Regardless, I find the following chart very useful when I need a cheat sheet on the notes. All the notes of the guitar - tablature
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