Here’s the Guitar Fretboard EXPLAINED. Learn The Notes On The Electric Guitar!
Discover Every Note On the Guitar Fretboard (Unlock the grid)
Notes on the Fretboard
Here’s PART II: Guitar Fretboard EXPLAINED | Learn The Notes On The Electric Guitar!
Discover Every Note On the Guitar Fretboard (Unlock the grid)
Notes on the Fretboard
This is a big chapter. We’re going to unlock your fretboard. You’re going to be able to play the same major and minor chords in up to 3 different ways…without even thinking about it! Of course that last bit will take some practice… but I hope you find the idea of this to be motivating and exciting!
So, I’m going to show you how to find every single note on the guitar. We know the names of the strings (E, A, D, G, B, e), and these are the notes when the strings are played open. Say if you play the first fret of the E string – it’s not longer an “E” note. We’ve just changed the pitch. That note now sounds different and altered. So, let’s get into this easy-to-remember formula and unlock the mysterious guitar grid!
There are only 2 sets of notes that you need to remember:
*E to F
*B to C
This is important because they don’t have a sharp (#) or a flat (b) between them. Every other note does.
In general musician terms, when you sharpen (#) a note it means you raise the pitch. Conversely, when you flatten (b) the note you’re going to lower the pitch.
Let’s talk about semitones and whole tones for a second. Getting a grip on this concept will deepen your knowledge for what we’re about to get into.
On the guitar you can grab any ol’ fret on any ol’ string. Go ahead – grab any note. When you play a fret above that note, we just sharpened it (#), or “raised the pitch”. Another way of saying it is we just “raised the pitch by a semitone”. Now, if we are to go back to that original note we started on and play 1-fret lower, we just made it flat (b). We could also say that we just lowered the pitch by a semitone.
So 1 fret = 1 semitone. Got it?
Whole tones get the same treatment and breakdown, but whole tones are always 2 frets on the guitar.
1 whole tone = 2 frets. Ok?
Let’s talk about the 1st fret of the E string again. Starting with your low E string and sharpening the pitch by one fret/semitone, you would play the 1st fret of the E string. Now we can reference the sets of notes above. The first one, (E to F) is exactly what is happening here. We just went from E to F! As you know, there is no sharp or flat between them. The next note up on your low E string is an F.
That bares repeating. The next note up on your low E string is an F.
Got it? Where do we go from here?
Now you’re on the F, raise that pitch one more time and you’ll be on the second fret of the low E string. Referencing the sets of notes again it seems as though we should now use a sharp or flat… but which one?
We’re talking about raising the pitch of that 1st fret to the 2nd fret… so we’re taking a F note and making it sharp. We end up with a F# – That’s the note on the 2nd fret of the low E-string!
Again – the 2nd fret on the low E-string is a F#. Got it!
Ok, so It’s a F#, but could it be something else too? Could the same note have 2 different names? Yes, check out this term called Enharmonics:
Enharmonics: “a note, interval, or key signature that is equivalent to some other note, interval, or key signature but “spelled”, or named differently.”
So let’s just forget about enharmonics for a second and get back on the 2nd fret of the low E-string – the F#, right? What’s the note 1 fret above that?
You want to ask yourself – “What’s the letter after F in the alphabet?”
A, B, C, D, E, F, G!
Going up one more fret, you’ll find a G.
Ok awesome, and hey, your G chord actually starts from that 3rd fret of the low E-string, doesn’t it? Yup, no coincidence there!
Now that you’re on your G – let’s talk about lowering the pitch of the G. Like, if we were to make it “flat”. What direction would we go?
That’s right, if we were to make the Gb, we’d just go ahead and go down 1-fret, back to the 2nd fret on the low E-string…wait a second… That note was F#, wasn’t it?
F sharp (#) can also be called G flat (b). They are enharmonically the same note. Yup, F# = Gb
Moving on, what is one note higher than the G? G, raising the pitch will give you G#. What’s one note higher than that? A. Ok, what about if we were to make A flat? Take A and lower it one fret. Same idea – G# = Ab which is the 4th fret of the low E-string.
Going up your strings, follow this same concept and fill out this blank fretboard diagram that you’ll see here in this book. Grab a marker, pencil or pen and start filling this thing out!
Some Important Notes About This New Skill Of Yours:
THE KEY: You’ll notice that the blank fretboard diagram has the notes at the 12th fret written in. This is designed so that you cannot fail when filling this chord chart out. You’ll notice that the notes at the 12th fret are E,A,D,G,B,e – just like your open strings. So this is where the notes repeat. As long as you fill our your chart and they line up at the 12th fret, you’ll know you’ve filled out the chart correctly.
- The musical alphabet goes A-G (A,B,C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C,D, etc…) but has sharps and flats between most of the notes.
- B-C and E-F don’t have a sharp or flat between them.
- Music only has 12 notes!
(*This Picture must be located adjacent to previous page.)
Here’s Part I: How To Play Bar Chords On Acoustic Guitar For Beginners and barre chords explained.
Master 2 “E-String” Bare Chord ShapeS
2 Barre Chord shapes on your E-string
Let’s talk about the most common barre chord shape. You can play this anywhere, but let’s use this diagram to help us play this chord on the first fret. To play this, you’d use your first finger to lay flat and hold down all the strings on one fret. It’s like you’ve moved all of the notes of an E chord up a semitone! Check out this diagram. Can you see the 1st finger barre, plus your E major chord? Bonus points if you can see a power chord inside of this shape too!
Holding that barre with your first finger is going to allow you to play all the strings and all of your chords, ALL over the neck.
Take a look at the chord chart in the picture:
- The thick bar on the top and no other markings tells us we’re starting with the first finger on the first fret.
- The bracket stretched between the “1’s” says tells us to hold down all of the strings on the first fret.
- It continues to read as normal with the second finger on the second fret and the third and fourth finger tucked up next to each other on the third fret.
- This is essentially an E major chord moved up 1 fret – can you see the E major chord inside of the chord diagram?
- There is a power chord inside of this barre chord – can you see that this barre chord is essentially an extension of a power chord?
Well, What Chord Is It?
This is your F major barre chord. “F” because that is the note you’re playing on the first fret of the low E string. This is called your “root note”. It is the lowest sounding note compared to all the other notes on the other strings.
The chord is major because of its positive/happy sound when played. We’re essentially just moving an E Major chord up 1 fret. Playing this chord shape on any fret will continue to give you that major sound.
How to play ANY major chord using this shape
*Refer back to your notes on the fretboard chart if you need a refresher.
Continuing on, try to move that same shape up again to the 5th fret and you now have a A major barre chord!
You might be wondering…
I already know what a G Major and A Major chord are! We learned those already! Well, here’s special thing about barre chords, you’re now able to take a chord and choose how you want it to sound.
Yes, a 5th fret major barre chord from the E-string is an A Major chord – this is true. An A Major chord can also be played in the open position like we’ve discovered in earlier chapters. So they are technically same, but as I’m sure you’d agree, they sound very different. What you may not know is that they can have different applications. We’re going to get into this exciting new way of playing very soon… let’s get back to that barre chord.
Let’s Talk About Those Minor Chords
Here on the left is your F minor barre chord. In comparison to the major shape, it may seem easy to just remove your second finger, but be careful, if your first finger barre isn’t holding down all those strings, it won’t sound like a minor chord at all!
*The note that makes this barre chord minor is on that G string, so make sure it’s sounding out.
Can you see the similarities with the E major and E minor chord structures? Barre chords just move this formation up one fret. The barre that the nut of the guitar provided when you play your open E is now replaced with your finger.
To Sum Up Barre Chords On The E-String
- Just like power chords, you can use these same formations all over the neck
- Within a bar chord, there is a power chord
- When looking at the diagram you should be able to see 2 things inside your E-string barre chords – #1 – Barre chords are just extensions of power chords and #2 They are just E major or E minor chords moved up
Here’s some Barre Chord Shapes – The A-string rooted Bar Chords Explained.
Master 2 “A-String” Barre Chord ShapeS
Barre Chords pt.2
We’re going to blast through this chapter. These next 2 barre chords share the exact same concepts and approach. However, we will be using 2 fresh finger shapes, both of which are rooted from the A-string.
Quite simply, we’re going to play what you know already – an A Major and A Minor chord in their ‘open positions’ and just move them up 1 fret. Boom! Same chordal structure, that gets a different finger shape and therefore, providing us with a new chord.
So, by playing your A major and your A minor chordal shapes up 1 fret with these new fingerings, you’ll simply be playing an A# major chord and an A# Minor chord. This is because our root note is now on the 1st fret of the A string instead of our ‘open A’.
*because of those “enharmonics” that you learned about in the previous chapter on “notes on the fretboard”, these could also be called Bb major chord and a Bb Minor chord .
These charts below show the major and minor barre chord shapes that are played when starting on the A string. Just like the major and minor shapes for the E string, these are simply a way to give the same chord, a different sound.
Don’t worry if your high E string doesn’t ring clear on
this major shape. 4 notes is sufficient for this chordal shape!
Very soon (if not already!), you’ll be able to play any major and any minor chord starting from your A string using these shapes and your knowledge of the notes on the fretboard. See if you can find a D Major barre chord starting from your A-string and compare it to your D major open position chord. And hey, while you’re at it – why not find a D major chord starting from your E-string major barre chord position!
- Play the A major barre chord shape from the 5th fret of the A string to get a D major.
- Play the E-major barre chord shape from the 10th fret of the low E-string to get a D major.
- Play the ‘open position D major chord, you’d use that shape we’ve played a lot like in songs like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – (They are all the same chord!)
To Sum Up Barre Chords On The A-String
- On these A string rooted barre chords, you do not play the low E string.
- On the major shape, it’s nearly impossible to let the high e-string ring with the 3rd finger barre – so honestly, don’t worry about it! Just get 4 strings to ring clearly (the A, D, G, B strings). Additionally, you don’t have to barre your first finger – only your 3rd finger barres.
- Some people find it best to mute the low E-string by touching it with the tip of their first finger while playing these A-string rooted barre chord shapes.
- There is a power chord inside of each barre chord shape. You can think of any of the 4 barre chord shapes as “extensions of power chords”.
- You will find your A Major and A Minor chordal shapes inside of these A-string rooted barre chords.
- Barre just means using one finger to hold down strings.
Radiohead Creep Guitar Chords + Barre Chords Explained. This is a great barre chord song to practice all your barre chord shapes on.
Barre Chords Mastery Song Lesson “Creep”
Barre Chords “Creep”
This is your barre chord graduation! We are going to be using barre chords, to learn Radiohead’s “Creep” in two different ways. This song will help us explore how powerful this concept of playing the same chords in different voicings can really be!
Radiohead were attempting to record their debut album “Pablo Honey” but things didn’t go well. They ended up releasing one song, recorded in one take, that wasn’t really on the list. “Creep” was added to the album when it was released, one year later in 1993. The song was a huge hit for the band and they struggled to accept it’s success. Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s singer used the chord progression and a little bit of melody from the song “The Air That I Breathe” that was recorded by a band called “The Hollies” in 1973. It is yet another song that continues to get attention and has been covered by many famous artists around the world.
Reference the song or the video to get familiar with the progression. This song uses the same classic strum pattern as paradise city so you can really focus on gripping these barre chords.
First, we’re going to learn the version of “Creep” that incorporates barre chords with their root note on the low E string. Start working on the chord charts below.
*Because we’re using full barre chords and starting on the low E string, try to get all of your strings sounding clear and ringing out, all the way up to your high e string.
We can play this same chord progression in a very different way. The alternate version of this song has all the same chords, but they will be in the form of barre chords that start on the A string. This will make them sound different, and a big part of that is to do with the fact that we don’t use our low E string at all.
Your Barre Chord Mastery CHALLENGE:
The next page will go through the alternate version. Before you go there, your challenge is to find all of these chords and play the exact same song from the A string. Do it without looking and you will be on your way to easily playing these barre chords all over the neck!
Follow these steps:
- Find the G, B, and C root notes on the A string. Go back and reference the lesson “Notes on the Fretboard” if you need a refresher on how to find these notes
- Play the chord from the A string in the appropriate major or minor barre chord. Think about your A major or A minor chord shape moved up.
- Lock this new progression in memory and add the strum pattern to complete the song.
Thanks for checking out the video and article of Barre Chords Explained: Guitar Fretboard & Bar Chords Made Easy – Module 6 5 min gtr chapters 30-35
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