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how to learn the notes on the guitar

The guitar is a strange instrument really; bit of wood with some strings on. Looking at other instruments such as an acoustic piano it’s relatively simple in it’s design. With many of the early stringed instruments their design was not particularly user-friendly but the sound was inspiring enough for people to persevere with it. As keyboard instruments because more widespread people were able to create music they wanted to on it as the design was much easier to get to grips with. Looking at a piano keyboard it’s instantly easier to play notes quickly and to play a tune fairly quickly. Another advantage that a keyboard instrument has over a stringed instrument is that the notes can be learned very quickly. The visual and physical pattern of white and black notes makes learning the note names very easy and piano students can learn these very quickly.

But, what about us guitar players? The guitar neck is a difficult thing to navigate at the best of times, however it’s not impossible. A good starting point is to know the names of the open strings in standard tuning. 

These notes can give you a starting point for learning the notes further up the neck. What is so advantageous on a keyboard is that you can see the order of the notes straight away and the relationships between the white notes (natural notes) and the black notes (sharps/flats/). It is worth becoming familiar with the chromatic scale which contains all the notes, however don’t be put off by it. I’ll show you a quick way to learn this in a bit.

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A

The ‘#s’ are sharpened notes and represent the black keys on a piano keyboard. These could easily be represented by a flat (b) as shown below.

A Bb C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A

Next we will go straight to the A string (5th string up) and play through the following scale. You will see that it contains just the natural notes.