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Note Recognition on the Guitar
Guest teacher series
Chris Morano

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Note Recognition
by Chris Morano

Hello, my name is Chris, and I'll be your musical drill instructor for as long as it takes you to become a lean, mean musical machine. These lessons are derived from 12 years of teaching all levels and types of students. Whether you're a Jazz cat, Headbanger, Freddy Fusion, Blues Man or Classical type, this column will provide you with the tools to become whatever you want to be musically.

All right, here we are at Basic Training . . . Now, I've had players who have come to me for lessons who really were great players already, but didn't have the musical fundamentals under their belts. Thus, they were limited in how they communicated with others, how they wrote tunes and how they actually understood their instrument. We're going to unravel some of music's deepest mysteries while we learn and have fun, too.

We have one short-term goal for the next month or so. Even if ya think you know this stuff or do know this stuff, it's always good to review, so follow along . . .

The goal is to learn every note on your fretboard. You'd be surprised how many players out there don't. This is a must if you want to "become a contender". I have devised a way to make this very easy using octave shapes as a way to find, for example, all D flats on the fretboard.

Diagram #1 shows every note of your guitar. From the 12th fret up, the notes repeat. Diagram 1a shows the notes named with sharps (#), and 1b shows the notes named with flats (b). F# and Gb are just different ways of naming the same sounding note.

Diagram #1

1a - Sharps

Frets - 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13
1: E-||-F-|-F#|-G-|-G#|-A-|-A#|-B-|-C-|-C#|-D-|-D#|-E-|-F-
2: B-||-C-|-C#|-D-|-D#|-E-|-F-|-F#|-G-|-G#|-A-|-A#|-B-|-C-
3: G-||-G#|-A-|-A#|-B-|-C-|-C#|-D-|-D#|-E-|-F-|-F#|-G-|-G#
4: D-||-D#|-E-|-F-|-F#|-G-|-G#|-A-|-A#|-B-|-C-|-C#|-D-|-D#
5: A-||-A#|-B-|-C-|-C#|-D-|-D#|-E-|-F-|-F#|-G-|-G#|-A-|-A#
6: E-||-F-|-F#|-G-|-G#|-A-|-A#|-B-|-C-|-C#|-D-|-D#|-E-|-F-

1b - Flats

Frets - 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12  13
1: E-||-F-|-Gb|-G-|-Ab|-A-|-Bb|-B-|-C-|-Db|-D-|-Eb|-E-|-F-
2: B-||-C-|-Db|-D-|-Eb|-E-|-F-|-Gb|-G-|-Ab|-A-|-Bb|-B-|-C-
3: G-||-Ab|-A-|-Bb|-B-|-C-|-Db|-D-|-Eb|-E-|-F-|-Gb|-G-|-Ab
4: D-||-Eb|-E-|-F-|-Gb|-G-|-Ab|-A-|-Bb|-B-|-C-|-Db|-D-|-Eb
5: A-||-Bb|-B-|-C-|-Db|-D-|-Eb|-E-|-F-|-Gb|-G-|-Ab|-A-|-Bb
6: E-||-F-|-Gb|-G-|-Ab|-A-|-Bb|-B-|-C-|-Db|-D-|-Eb|-E-|-F-


(The next diagrams are from a vertical perspective.)

Diagram #2 shows the different octave shapes that are available on the guitar (using the note G as an example).

Diagram #3 shows an example of finding all of the C notes on the guitar.

Diagram #2
(G notes)

octave shape #1

III Position


octave shape #2

V Position


octave shape #3

VIII Position


octave shape #4

X Position


octave shape #5

XII Position

Diagram #3
(C notes)

octave shape #3

I Position


octave shape #4

III Position


octave shape #5

V Position


octave shape #1


VIII Position


octave shape #2

X Position

* Hint: Place 1st finger where your 3rd or 4th finger was in each previous shape.

* Repeat these steps from the 13th fret up as far up as you can go. Remember to go back down also.

What I'd like you to do is find every note using these octave shapes. Always start at lowest position to high, up the fretboard, then down the fretboard. The notes you're going to find are: C,G,D,A,E,B,F#/Gb,C#/Db,Ab,Eb,Bb and F. Once you've found all of these notes, I want you to go up and down the fretboard again, this time using your trusty metronome and finding the notes in time. Start very slowly and write down the settings you use so you can improve upon them. We will discuss using the metronome for practicing more in the upcoming lessons.

Get used to this order of practicing notes, which is known as the Circle Of Fifths. F#/Gb and C#/Db are known as enharmonic notes (1 note, 2 names for the same note).

I know that just by doing this, you'll have a better understanding of where all the notes are. In future lessons, we will continue to learn the fretboard and the notes on it. 'Till then, practice, practice, practice . . .


Chris Morano has been performing music throughout the United States for nearly 20 years and is currently writing music for The Brothers of Intention.

© 2003 Chris Morano - used by permission



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