Learning Guitar Notes
As you probably have noticed by now, your guitar has only six strings. You must be wondering how one can produce all the different sounds you hear when your favorite musician is wailing away on his guitar. As the Basic Guitar Lessons have shown you, pressing down on the guitar frets allows you to create more sounds than just the six strings.
But what are those sounds called? Music has seven notes which are:
A B C D E F G after which it repeats A B C D E F G at a higher pitch (the higher pitch sound difference is called an Octave).
The spacing between each note is called a Whole Step (think DO RE MI FA SO LA TI), a distinct sound difference in the tone of each musical note. Halfway between music notes there are Half Steps:
A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# the # symbol is called a Sharp.
Note that half steps are also called Flats:
Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G the b symbol is called a Flat.
You will notice that between the B and C, and between the E and F there are no half steps, these two exceptions are only a half step apart in their normal form. The sharp and flat names can mean the same thing, for example after the A note the half step can be called either A# (A sharp) or Bb (B flat). If the half step FOLLOWS a note, it is sharp - if it comes BEFORE a note it is flat:
A (A# or Bb) B C (C# or Db) D (D# or Eb) E F (F# or Gb) G (G# or Ab)
On your guitar, each fret provides a Half Step between each note - remember that the two exceptions B-C and E-F are actually a half step apart (there are no sharps/flats between these notes). The six strings on your guitar are normally tuned to the following notes in their "open" (or un-fretted) form:
1st String (closest to the ground, thinnest string) - E the Low E
2nd String - B
3th String - G
4th String - D
5th String - A
6th String (closest your face, fattest string) - E the High E
At the 12th fret, the notes repeat at a higher octave. Your guitar may have helpful "dots" or markers on certain frets, both on the fretboard and/or on the edge of the neck facing you. They are usually at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets (which has two dots). This makes it easier to find a particular fret without having to count them from the headstock onwards.
Start the fretting exercises from the Basic Guitar Lessons and say the notes aloud as you play them.
Sixth string (closest to your face):
OPEN (no frets pressed) - E
1st fret - F
2nd fret - F#
3rd fret - G
4th fret - G#
now as you go in reverse (starting by lifting your pinkie finger off the fretboard):
3rd fret - G
2nd fret - Gb
1st fret - F
OPEN - E
Note how the 2nd fret is both F# when it follows the F; and Gb when it precedes the G. Both F# and Gb are the same, they indicate the half step between F and G. Look at the illustration above for the notes on each string (print this page for reference). Repeat this exercise on all six strings, and as you move to next fret and start the fretting exercises from the 2nd fret say each note aloud each time as you pick them. This helps you remember their positions.
While practice seems boring - it is absolutely essential that you get sufficient practice in these simple exercises. Both your hands, right for the picking/strumming and left for the fretting - must be trained with repetitive actions so they will respond automatically when your brain thinks of a note. When you start formal guitar lessons, this will save you a lot of time (and money, since you would probably be paying by the hour) - if you already have your the rudimentary playing skills programmed into your hands and fingers.
The next section teaches Basic Guitar Chords. Chords are sounds created by combining notes simultaneously and are the basis for both rhythm and much of lead guitar. But your hands and fingers must be sufficiently trained, and you must know the individual string notes, before you can play guitar chords - so keep practicing!
To read the next page, click the link marked Next>>> below.