The notes on the guitar fretboard: Some basic theory

Recently I looked at the layout of the notes on the guitar fretboard, and described a useful notation for showing the absolute pitch of each note, Helmholtz pitch notation, shown here:

Fretboard with note names

Perhaps one of the more puzzling things for a newcomer to music theory is the apparently uneven distribution of “natural” notes: why are they next to each other in some places like E and F, and not in others like F and G?

To understand this, we need to take a step back and look at some basic music theory.

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The notes on the guitar fretboard: An introduction

While you can get by playing chords and patterns on the guitar without knowing individual notes by name, at some point you probably want to learn the note names across the fretboard—perhaps in order to help remember what you’ve played, read and write music, and communicate with other musicians.

What follows is a basic introduction to the notes on the guitar fretboard, also known as the fingerboard. Later posts will cover some rudimentary music theory and visualization tools to help you to understand how the notes are arranged.

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