How To MEMORIZE Your Guitar FRETBOARD: The No-Nonsense Exercise That Actually Works

Tommaso Zillio

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guitar fretboard notes

The exercise is in the first video below! Scroll down and click on the video.

My first guitar teacher was positively great at destroying my motivation to practice.

That was not an easy task. I was young and playing guitar was such a new thing for me and I was brimming with enthusiasm and I was putting together my first few simple songs…

… but every time he mentioned one specific thing… my spirits went underground, and I didn’t even want to see my guitar.

What was sinking my heart at the mere mention of it? What sapped my motivation more than anything else?

This simple sentence:

“You need to memorise all the notes on your fretboard!”

“S-word that, I’d rather learn another song” I thought to myself every time. (But I never said it out loud. The guy was big and scary. He was also a hell of a player.)

See, there are two things you need to know about me…

  1. I have a horrible memory. It’s like a seashore: every few seconds a wave hits and deletes everything. Or as my wife says: I have a Teflon brain. Nothing sticks to it ;-) So memorising notes on the fretboard is precisely the ‘worst case guitar scenario’ for me.

  2. I can be incredibly stubborn. (I-grew-my-beard-because-a-former-girlfriend-told-me-to-shave stubborn)

So I spent year after years and years refusing to learn the notes. Just to make a point.

I did not want my teacher to “win” that conversation! I’d find another way! I’d show him!

So I put my time and energy into inventing all possible workarounds to not learn the notes of the fretboard…

(most of these workarounds were frankly ridiculous)

… until I finally had to bite the bullet. Not knowing the notes was holding me back, hard.

Now, I wish I could tell you that my teacher gave me some magic exercises or some transcendental wisdom to learn the fretboard in minutes…

He didn’t.

So I had to find them out for myself.

I spare you the long trial-end-error story and cut to the chase:

  • Learning the notes on the fretboard is one of the most useful things you can practice

  • With the right exercises, it’s not even hard. Literally 5 minutes a day for a few weeks to learn them permanently. And when I say ‘learn’ I mean ‘effortless recall’. You just know there they are without thinking, period.

  • If I had any kind of business sense I would have packaged these exercises in a nice and tidy “guitar fretboard for dummies” course and sold it to you. Instead, you are going to get them for free in this video. And you are going to like them!

Here’s the video:

Note 1: This is not another “learn your notes in 3 minutes” or “that’s the magic pattern that will help you learn the notes”. There is no magic pattern - I know because I tried them all. My method may not be not as sexy as some of the videos out there that promise you eternal fame and fortune through note learning, but has one feature that beats all other methods to I’ve seen so far: it actually works.

Note 2: Yes, I already had a video on my channel about learning the notes… but in the years I perfected the method. So this is the updated, expanded, “director’s cut” version.

But if you want to see the previous video too there are more examples of the exercises in action:

After that, you can reinforce your learning with this other exercise that will help you learning and playing all the arpeggios on your guitar:

If you like these kind of exercises, and you like learning your fretboard in a PRACTICAL way taht actually works and makes you play more music (as opposed to stare at a scale diagram, hoping to learn it just by sheer exhaustion) then you will absolutely LOVE the Complete Chord Mastery guitar course

In Complete Chord Mastery we learn everything there is to know about chords and harmony on guitar… and we do it in a practical way. By doing the exercises in it, you will start writing new music from the very first session.

If the idea to finally learn the fretboard in a practical way fills you with enthusiasm… then go check it: Complete Chord Mastery guitar course


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