Guitar Notes

Introduction: Learning the guitar notes is an essential step of your journey with the guitar! You really want to know all the notes up and down the fretboard. Sadly, many players skip this step or fail to complete the learning process. By this, I mean that they learn one or two positions and then move on to something else. Take time to learn all the notes right here.

image of all notes on guitar fretboard

Step 1: Learn All The Open Strings

The first thing you should do, especially if you are just picking up a guitar for the first time, is to learn the open-string number names followed by their letter names. An open string is one that is played without any fretting done with the left hand. In other words, pluck the string with the right hand and allow it to ring out. Now assuming you are holding your guitar in a playing position, the strings are numbered 1-6 starting from the bottom (skinniest) string, all the way up to the sixth(fattest) string.

guitar fingerboard with string numbers

Now that you know the string numbers, their letter names are as follows in the diagram below.

blank guitar fretboard with string letter names

This is a must-learn step! This step, combined with the knowledge you will gain from step two, will provide you with a solid foundation for learning all notes all across the fretboard.

Step 2: Learning Notes By Whole And Half-Steps

The small steel bars across the fretboard of a guitar are called frets. Each fret on a guitar represents a half-step. A half-step is the smallest distance or space between two notes in Western music. Now, two frets equal one whole step. 

When it comes to giving a note a letter name, only the first seven letters of the alphabet are used. That is letters A through G. All the letters get a whole-step between them except for between B and C, and between E and F. Between B and C is a half-step. Between E and F is a half-step. 

Study the following diagram to visualize the whole and half-step pattern.

fretboard with whole and half step

W = whole-step. H = half-step.

Learning All Notes Per String

Now, we can take this Knowledge a step forward by applying it to each string across the length of the fretboard.