Why Even Learn The NOTES On The Guitar If You Can't READ MUSIC?

Why Learn The NOTES On The Guitar If You Can't Even READ MUSIC?

Tommaso Zillio

FREE Music Theory Map
Map of Music Theory
Download the FREE Map of Music Theory that will tell you what is the next topic you need to study

Captcha code:
By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc. who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

notes guitar music

Should you bother learning the notes on your guitar fretboard? Is that even useful?

Or like a commenter on YouTube asked me: "what's the use of learning the notes if you can't read music?"

Woe to me. That's an absolute checkmate. This guy absolutely nailed the only possible reason to learn the notes on the fretboard.

After all, it’s already so convenient to just say (...deep breath...)

“4th string 3rd fret—no no, not 3rd string 4th fret—no, not that str—no, 4th string from the bottom, not from the to—yes... I realize that’s counterintuitive, but it's how the strings are named, I don’t make the rules... Okay, now go one fret back, yes, now stay there but go one string down, no one string down, not up, ok you’re back to where you started, so go down one more, yep, yes. There it is!”...

...instead of just saying “play F.”

So, since time isn’t an issue - because clearly, these two explanations have no difference in how long they take to get across - what else is there?

It can’t be communicating with literally any other musician besides guitar players! If you were to tell a saxophone player to play the 3rd fret of their 4th string, they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about, due to “string-and-fret” notation being the universal standard in music that all musicians must abide by.

(...oh, wait. Someone must have put an extra dose of sarcasm in my morning coffee today. There can't be any other explanation...)

And, of course, memorizing a sequence of frets and strings is way easier than remembering notes or scale degrees, and much easier to transcribe to other keys or scales; so, what gives? What reason is there to learn the notes on your fretboard?

Well, there may just be a couple of things that learning the notes will help you with, so check out the link below, and let me show you what I mean, you might be surprised!

NEED HELP IN LEARNING THE NOTES ON YOUR FRETBOARD? Get this FREE eBook + Video: How To Learn The Notes On Your Guitar Fretboard

Once you have a great understanding of the notes on your fretboard, you might be looking for something to try out with this newfound knowledge.

My recommendation is to check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course, with great knowledge of the notes on your fretboard, vsualizing chords will be much easier, and you will understand your fretboard like never before!

Video Transcription

Hello internet; so nice to see you! I have a great question that I want to answer.

“How does this help if you can't read music?”

We are talking about learning the notes on the fretboard, and I think it's a totally legit question, why does learning the notes on the fretboard help you if you don't know how to read music? Before we answer that, let me start from the end. I think that learning the notes on the fretboard is one of the most important things you can do to get better at understanding the guitar and music theory.

And I think on the other hand that reading music can be useful in some stuff in some situations, but totally not compulsory for everybody. A lot of great musicians have no idea how to read music and are not interested in it. They're not using it. A lot of them are great at reading music. So, you need to see if reading music does what you want.

Why learn the notes on the fretboard? I think that's pretty much standard. Everybody should know the notes on the fretboard, they open up so many avenues and so many new ways to think about music. And honestly, it's so easy to do once you do the exercises in the original video that I link on the top right, that I mean, everybody should do it.

But the question is why it should be useful to know what are the notes on your fretboard? I mean, why should it make any difference if I know that this one is A, If I never actually read music, or I don't know how to read music? I mean, I know how to read music. But what if you don't? Because you don't need to read music to understand music theory. Let's say that at a certain point, somebody tells you that in the C major chord, you have the notes C, E and G.

Let's say they tell you this sentence is in the C major chord. We have the notes C, E and G. Every time I play a C major chord. You can play the notes C, E and G and they will sound good, those are not the only notes that will sound good. But those three notes definitely will sound good every time. Okay, now, you haven't read anything on a score. You just listened to me talking, I didn't show you any score in this video.

But now if you know what are the notes on your fretboard, you know about C, E and G and if I'm playing a C major chord, you can play any one of those notes. And they will sound good when you improvise or play a melody over the C major chord or somebody can play a C major chord. And you can pick two or three of those notes and a B, D, C and D E. And you can play a second rhythmic part while somebody plays easy play these.

Okay, and it works together because you're playing the same notes or or or you can see think the C major chord is never the no C, E and G in how many positions I can play this notes I can play the C and G. They can also play them here. But I can also play them with a I can make it I can also play them here. But I can also put them here. But I can also play them here. But they can also they can go on and then and then against them you can go on and on and on and on and find more and more position.

And all of all of those are C major chords. And so every time somebody tells me, there's some here as a C major chord, whether I can read music or not. Maybe I can just read the letters on top. Okay, so the chords on top, I know that I have all these possibilities, it become possible to not know how to read music, though again, if you find yourself reading a score pretty often, maybe you should.

But if you do not know how to read music and the score on top as the chords if you knew enough positions for those chords, you can hold your own at a jam session or after rehearsal without knowing to know without knowing how to read all the actual notes. Again, I'm not recommending these, I'm just saying even if you don't know how to read music, you can still do something. Okay.

And honestly, for us guitar players playing chords, and all those things, it's way more common than actually reading music and playing melody, okay, there. There are only so many reading gigs out there a few but in many situation, they're just giving you a chord chart and then you have to figure out where to play it.

Okay, and literally the the entirety of figuring this out, at least in principle is that you know your notes on your fret board, you know the note in every chord and you play the note that are in the chord, whenever the chord appears. Of course that's simplifying it a lot because then in practice, you need to know those chords by heart and know the shape by heart in order to connect them.

But if you need help go into these honestly, I suggest you guys give a look at my course complete chord mastery link in the top right. And we take care of everything of Out of these, and you see that it's super easy once you get the idea to play any kind of chord progression, and then it kind of in any kind of style all over the fretboard without even thinking too much, okay, without having to read a single note on the score.

Okay, knowing all those notes in your in your fretboard again opens up all those possibilities, it also opens up the possibility of playing things in a more comfortable way. Sometimes you go I don't know on ultimate guitar or the website and you find the tablature of the transcription of a song you like so maybe the transcribing the solo and sometimes transcribing it perfectly right.

And sometimes they're not transcribing it, right because what's the problem with these is that the same note can be played in more than one position on the guitar, see could be here on the first fret on the second string, but it also could be at the fifth fret, fifth string, it also could be at the 10th fret on the fourth string, it also could be at the 15th fret of the fifth string, and it could also be here which is the 20th fret of the 16th whenever somebody is playing a C note, you could choose anyone in this position whenever I have to note that you have a lot more positions for one note than than the other.

So sometimes when people transcribe the solos are those leaders, those melodies or those parts, they put them in a position that is comfortable for them, but maybe not comfortable for you because our hands are not all the same, maybe they get it or maybe they just simply got the wrong. So it's useful to know where the notes are because whenever somebody plays a chord or aura or a scale, you can find the other positions for the scale, I can play my scale this way.

I can also play these and I can also play this way. I can also play Okay, and there are all those different positions and depending on how I arranged those notes around I can use different slides so different bands, or different other elements of phrasing, okay?

I'm arounds pull off etc in different positions. And so it becomes important for us guitar player to know how to play the exact same melody using different strings and different positions because in any one of those position, we have different opportunities for different techniques.

Okay, so make sure LDS comes from knowing your fretboard and the once you know your fretboard it becomes second nature really fast. Okay, playing the same thing in a different position so that you can find the most comfortable and the most musical way of playing these on your instrument. And again, this has nothing to do with reading music, then if you know how to read music, but then you have to learn a note on your fretboard okay.

It's not that you first learn to read music and then you learn on your fretboard. You have to learn enough on your fretboard and then to learn learn how to read music think about it. What good does it do to you? If you learn to read music first? You look at the score. You see that note and you think that's a C? And then what do you do? You don't know where the C's on your fretboard so you're stuck.

So first learning north on your fretboard. Once you have the notes on your fretboard then learning to read music is much much easier because whenever you're gonna read a C, you know where all the C's are without even think makes sense. And so these becomes even more useful to do before you learn to read music. If you liked this video, smash that like button don't forget to subscribe if you know people who are stuck in learning how to read music or that are not enough on the fretboard.

Send them these videos that maybe they can get unstuck and move forward in their progress. If you like these channels, subscribe and click on notification. If you have anything to say about that. Write it down on the comments. I love reading from you guys and I love answering your questions like the question answer today. This is Tommaso Zillio of MusicTheoryForGuitar.com. And until next time, enjoy.

FREE Music Theory Map
Map of Music Theory
Download the FREE Map of Music Theory that will tell you what is the next topic you need to study

Captcha code:
By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc. who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.
© 2011-2024 Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc.