The guitar notes on each string is one of the most important foundational skills every beginner guitar player should take the time to learn. Because all chords and scales are made up of a mix of notes this skill helps you become a better guitar player in a shorter period of time.
This post is going to explain the difference between half and whole steps between notes and how to measure these on the guitar neck, the varying space between each of the seven musical notes and finally how you can find different notes on each string of the guitar.
There’s a short video at the end of this post that will help explain these concepts. Since some people enjoy learning by watching more so then by reading be sure to take a few minutes to watch the video and then grab your own guitar to give these new skills a try.
The Spacing Between Notes
There are seven different musical notes in question, A through G. There are sharps and flats in between but to keep it simple we’ll start with just the major notes. The concept of a half or whole step is used to describe the space between each note. This concept is originally taken from the piano, but since we don’t have keys on our guitar we have to understand it in terms of frets.
Each fret on the guitar is considered one half step, and two frets one whole step. Using these concepts we can look at how much space is between each note A through G. Of the seven different notes five of them have one full step between them and two have a half step. The spacing in terms of steps and frets for each note is listed below.
A to B = Full Step or Two Frets
B to C = Half step or One Fret
C to D = Full Step or Two Frets
D to E = Full Step or Two Frets
E to F = Half Step or One Fret
F to G = Full Step or Two Frets
Starting with the String Names
When you’re first starting out the easiest method to learn the different notes on each string is to start with the open string names. A quick refresher on the notes of each string starting at the top is E, A, D, G, B and E. When we play any one of those strings open (without pressing on any frets) we are playing the note denoted by the string name.
So let’s do a quick example using the open A string and the information listed above.
Knowing when we pluck this string open we get an A note what comes next? That’s a B, so the spacing between an A and a B note is one full step, or two frets, so we move up two half steps to the 2nd fret. So the 2nd fret on the A string is a B.
What comes after B? It’s a C note. Remember B to C was one of the exceptions above where there is only one half step separating the notes so this time instead of moving ahead two frets we’ll only move one. So one half step from the 2nd fret brings us to the 3rd fret on the A string which is a C.
Let’s go one more note. After the C comes D and the spacing as per our list above is one full step. So we move from the 3rd fret on the A string to the 5th fret on the A string to play a D note.
This same method can be used starting with any string on the guitar. I suggest you work through each string one at a time learning and memorizing the different notes as they appear.
Take a few minutes to watch this video below where the same concept is explained and an example given for the top 3 strings. After watching the video grab your guitar and give this exercise a try. It takes a little time to memorize the notes on each string but remember practice makes perfect!
Interested in more beginner guitar concepts like the notes on each string? Why not use a guitar lessons dvd to take lessons at home? Using lesson videos offers you the same great content of a private teacher with the benefit of learning at your own pace and from your own home.
Today’s Guest Author: Ian Frasier@firstname.lastname@example.org