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The BEAD MethodTM of Fretboard Mastery
By Robert Luther Dietz Edited by Rod Williams


Published by Robert Luther Dietz ISBN 1-4116-5789-6

Copyright © 2005 by Robert Luther Dietz All rights are reserved. This book may not be reproduced or transmitted by any form or means, or stored in any form of electronic media without the explicit permission of the author except for brief quotations in a standard review. Any reproduction other than fair use for personal reasons is a violation of the United States copyright laws. BEAD Guitar™ BEAD Method™ BEAD Analysis™ BEAD Guitar, BEAD Method and BEAD Analysis are the legal trademarks of Robert Luther Dietz.

Dedicated to my family….


I remember my first electric guitar. It was designed to look like Paul McCartney’s bass and had a scroll like a violin for a headstock. It was obvious my parents knew nothing about guitars when they bought it. I was only six years old and it, along with the cheesy amplifier, made me a self-proclaimed rock star. Problem was, I knew nothing. Humbly, after years of training and study I realize there will always be more to learn. Unlike many musical instruments the guitar represents a problem in that its layout can be an enigma to most of us. The piano’s consecutive keys make patterns easy to see and understand. My first year of piano in college made me aware of this. I started to look for patterns in the guitar that might help me make sense of my six-string wonder. The pages that follow are the result of my years of exploration. I believe they will help you master the layout of your guitar and understand its logic. There are many guitar instructors, instructional books and tools for you to obtain. Most present their material in a like fashion. This book promises to present the guitar in a completely new light. As far as I know the approach is totally unique. Where some books promise to teach you the guitar in a few easy lessons, this book will make you work. You thought mastering the guitar would be easy? With very few exceptions, no guitarist has climbed the ladder of success without understanding at least the most foundational aspects of what I will be presenting to you. While all guitarists aspire to be virtuosos, very few achieve this status. With the information you will find here in this book you will be leveraging your guitar in ways you never thought possible. This book is not intended to teach you how to read music. Written music as well as tablature will both be used to convey the concepts in this book. This method will help you read better in that you will be able to quickly find notes on your guitar neck. I will not assume you know much if anything about playing the guitar. You might find the first chapters of this book a bit elementary. If so, I suggest that you at least scan the information to ensure that you do not miss an important point in understanding the BEAD Method. You will be required to perform feats of mental gymnastics with this method. I will provide you with the tools to accomplish this and of course plenty of practice exercises. I suggest many short practice sessions instead of a few long ones. Studies show that people retain information better when it’s presented in short spans of concentration instead of longer ones. I also suggest that you play your scales in front of your favorite television show or while watching movies. This will help you to call on the scales from your subconscious while playing. If you wish to be a classical musician, learn the classical method. If you wish to be a chump, learn canned chord progressions and leads. If you want to play guitar well, learn the BEAD Method.


Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – The Big Guitar Picture
1.1 Beginning Things 1.2 The ABCs of Music 1.3 Exercise

1 2 5

Chapter 2 – The BEAD Method™
2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 The Circle of Fourths When It All Makes Sense What Have We Learned? Exercise

7 8 10 11

Chapter 3 – Counting BEADs
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 The Most Basic of Scales Naming Notes What Have We Learned? Exercise

14 14 19 19

Chapter 4 – Major Scales
4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Five Basic Scale Patterns Intervals BEAD Scale Patterns What Have We Learned? Exercise

20 21 25 26 26

Chapter 5 – Minor Scales
5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Natural Minor Scale Harmonic Minor Scale Harmonic Minor Scale Playing Minor Scales Minor BEAD Scale Patterns What Have We Learned? Exercise

27 28 28 29 30 31 31

Chapter 6 – Pentatonic Scales
6.1 The Major Pentatonic Scale 6.2 The Minor Pentatonic Scale 6.3 BEAD Pentatonic Scales 6.4 What Have We Learned? 6.5 Exercise

32 34 34 36 36


Chapter 7 – Chord Mechanics
7.1 The Nature of Sounds 7.2 Diads - Two Note Chords 7.3 Triads – Three Note Chords 7.4 Major Triad Patterns 7.5 Minor Triad Patterns 7.6 Diminished Triad Patterns 7.7 Finding Chords in Key 7.8 What Have We Learned? 7.9 Exercise

37 37 38 42 44 45 46 52 52

Chapter 8 – Mastering Modes
8.1 Origins of Modes 8.2 Naming Modes 8.3 Mode Construction – Ionian Forms 8.4 Dorian Forms 8.5 Phrygian Forms 8.6 Lydian Forms 8.7 Mixolydian Forms 8.8 Aeolian Forms 8.9 Locrian Forms 8.10 What Have We Learned? 8.11 Exercise

54 54 55 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 64

Chapter 9 – Advanced Chords
9.1 Bar Chords 9.2 Harmonized Chords 9.3 Altered Chords 9.4 What Have We Learned? 9.5 Exercise

65 68 72 74 75

Chapter 10 – Advanced Scales
10.1 Symmetrical Scales 10.2 Orienting Symmetrical Scales 10.3 BEAD and Symmetrical Scales 10.4 Mode Mastery with Symmetrical Scales 10.5 Derivative Modes 10.6 Parallel Modes 10.7 What Have We Learned? 10.8 Exercise

76 78 79 80 82 83 87 87 89 92

Glossary of Terms Template



Chapter 1 – The Big Guitar Picture
1.1 Beginning Things
What always annoyed me about learning guitar was the piece-meal fashion of my instruction (This note, that note and so on). At first it was exciting because I could see myself being fully proficient in this new language. By the third week of lessons, I was bored of learning lame little songs. It dawned on me that I would have to memorize all the notes on the guitar to play more advanced music. Many would be guitarists quit by this time. Some venture out by learning to play without reading sheet music. This book is geared toward those who are self taught. However, it can be used in any instructional environment. I should make it perfectly clear that if you want to be a professional musician you should learn to read music. The material in this book should make that goal a bit more obtainable and less threatening. This book will not teach you to read sheet music. It will, however, provide you a logical framework for understanding your guitar neck and how to put the rudimentary elements of scales, modes and chords into a context that makes sense. Many people need a “big picture” in order to understand things. They understand information better when they can see how it fits into some whole. The BEAD Method allows you to put the fretboard elements into a context that makes sense. We won’t have to sacrifice the detail in order to see the “big picture.” Before I continue let’s examine some of the conventions used in this book. Below you will see two rows of information. The top contains standard sheet music notation. The bottom half is the same musical concept presented in tableture.

Tableture notation will be useful to you if you have no experience reading sheet music. Each line in the “TAB” represents a string on your guitar. The bottom string represents the big “E” string on your guitar and the top one the small “E” string. So the “0” represents your playing the open “E” note and the “1” represents your placing your finger on the first fret of the “E” string. The “3” represents placing your finger on the third fret and so on. For more information on reading tableture music you can usually find a description at the end of your favorite guitar magazine or one of the many tableture books available. We will not spend much time, if any, dealing with tempo. Nor will we spend any time on technique. These subjects are outside the scope of this book. Aside from providing suggested finger placements, we will leave the implementation up to you or your guitar instructor. There are many good guitar books that cover sight reading and technique and we will leave those subjects up to them as well. We are primarily concerned with where things are on your guitar fretboard. This is the goal of this book. Eventually we get to delve into chord theory since it will be necessary to understand how chords are created. The fretboard diagrams presented here will display information in a number of ways. White circles with the letters in them contain the notes in the scale. Fingering will be depicted by black circles with the finger number in reverse white.

2 When you see these circles on the fretboard use the following fingers… 0 – No finger 1 – Index finger 2 – Middle finger 3 – Ring finger 4 – Pinkie finger A square represents a root note.

Whenever you see the fretboard with white circles and Roman numerals, the numerals depict the position of the notes in the scale. This won’t be important to you until later. These numerals correspond to notes which are given alphabetic representations. If you notice, there are seven numbers on the fretboard. In this case we are looking at the Major “C” scale. The Major “C” scale is usually taught to beginning students because it is a “natural” scale with no flat or sharp notes. The seven musical notes are “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, “E”, “F” and “G”.

1.2 The ABCs of Music
All music is created with these seven basic notes. This is good news for you. You only have seven building blocks that you need to work with. I don’t want to over-simplify your task and give you false hopes. On the guitar these seven notes organize into a complex web of patterns. On the piano these patterns are much easier to see. On the keyboard the notes follow consecutively and repeat every eight notes. Every time you strike a note on the keyboard a hammer hits a string within the piano that begins to vibrate and creates sound. If we examine the “E” string on the your guitar we can liken it to notes on the keyboard. Playing the string without holding down the string with your fingers is called the “Open” position. In this case this is the “E” note. The different sections on the neck are known as “Frets”. The next note on the string is the “F” note and it is found on the first fret of the guitar neck on the “E” string. We see the next note, “G”, on the third fret and so on...

The pattern is the same as the on the keyboard. The guitar has six strings so this is like having to play on six keyboards at once. Regardless of what musical instrument you play, the Major scale will follow the same pattern. Examine this pattern below:



Let us look at the “C” scale starting on the eighth fret. Notice that the “B” and “C” notes are next to each other as are the “E” and “F “ notes. Each pair represents a half step. The other notes skip a fret and represent a whole step. The dots on the neck are used as visual markers to help you find where you are on the guitar neck. One thing you might notice is that the “E” string begins to repeat itself on the twelfth fret. There is a special marker here to help you find this fret. This means that the scales and chords that you learn to play between the open string and the eleventh fret may also be played at the twelfth fret and beyond. So, in reality if you master half of the guitar neck you have mastered it all. From the “C” note to the next “C” note on the scale is known as an octave. From the first “C” note to the next is exactly eight notes. Just as with the keyboard the scale continues again and repeats itself. You may be wondering about the black frets. This is just a graphic representation to show the similarity to the keyboard. I doubt your guitar will have black and white frets. On the keyboard the black keys represent the “Sharp” and “Flat” notes. Remember that the “C” scale has no sharp or flat notes. Other scales will have sharp or flat notes. We will be showing you how to determine which flat and sharp notes exist in a scale in the following chapter.

If we move the pattern down one note we will have to move some notes in order to keep in cadence with our step pattern. The resulting scale in this case is the “D” scale. We have to move the “F” and “C” notes up one fret. Compared to the “C” scale these notes are now sharp. The other direction would be flat. The key of “D” has two sharp notes. All the major scales are built in this way. Sharp notes are indicated with the sharp symbol “#” and flat notes with the flat symbol “b”. From the neck diagrams on the following page you can see the impact of changing the step pattern on the entire neck. The result of our one small change has created a new challenge for us in that the arrangement of the notes have changed. So it is with all the different keys. The challenge will be learning how to find these notes and to know if they should be sharp or flat for the key we have chosen. While this is a formidable challenge, the BEAD Method will provide you with the tools to get over this mental hurdle and allow you to get onto what you really want to do, play music. You will be learning these tools throughout the course of this book. Like all craftsman you will be continually honing your skills with these new tools. Perhaps you might improve on them and make them more useful. I have never heard of (correct me if I’m wrong) a guitarist who was born with a guitar clutched in hand at birth. There is no such thing as a natural born musician. You will need to practice as often as you can to master the information contained in this book. Realize now that you will always be learning. If you come to the conclusion there is nothing more to learn, you will hit a wall. If you continually search for understanding, you will find it.

4 Key of C Key of D Your first step in mastering the guitar neck is to master it’s alphabet. You have only seven letters in this alphabet to be concerned with. Don’t be concerned with the sharps and flats at this time.

You need to memorize this alphabet forward and backwards. I found by using the mnemonic “C-BAG FED” one can easily remember the scale backwards. Try following this alphabet on one of the necks on this page. Start with “C” , CDEFGAB, and then follow it backwards using CBAG FED. Then start the musical alphabet with “D”, DEFGABC. Again use C-BAG FED but change its order to start with D: D CBAG FE. Next start using “E” as your starting note. Complete this process using each note as the starting note. You can easily perform this exercise on a piece of paper. When you find yourself with a pencil and a piece of paper, instead of doodling, practice going through the musical alphabet in this way. It might seem elementary but mastering these building blocks in this manner will pay dividends for you far into the future. You might want to try practicing this on your guitar. Practice this over and over changing the starting note until you have gone through the entire musical alphabet. Try mixing things up by randomly selecting a starting note. When you feel you are familiar performing this exercise, move on to the next chapter.


1.3 Exercise
1. Here is a simple exercise to help you learn how to use your new building blocks. Complete the following exercises before going on to the next chapter. Complete the patterns by filling out the forms below. Reverse the order using the C-BAG FED Acronym:

1. C D E F G A B C-B A G F E D 2. D E F G A B C D C-B A G F E 3. E _ E _ 4. F F _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

5. G _ G _ 6. A _ A _ 7. B _ B _


2. This exercise is provided to show you how using C-BAG FED will help you easily identify the relative minor of any given note. The relative minor has a special relationship to the major scale and can be found by playing the same scale up one and one half steps or two notes back in the scale. In reality these notes could be either sharp or flat. We’ll cover sharps and flats in the next chapter. Complete the following exercises before going on to the next chapter. Complete the patterns by filling out the forms below. I’ll perform the first one for you.

1. C 1 2 3 4 C B A G F 2. G 1 G _ 3. B 1 B _ 4. D 1 D _ 5. A 1 A _ 6. F F 1 _ 2 _ 2 _ 2 _ 2 _ 2 _ 2 _ 3 _ 3 _ 3 _ 3 _ 3 _ 3 _ 4 _ 4 _ 4 _ 4 _ 4 _ 4 _

5 6 Relative Minor E D 5 _ 5 _ 5 _ 5 _ 5 _ 5 _ 6 _ 6 _ 6 _ 6 _ 6 _ 6 _ Relative Minor



Relative Minor


Relative Minor


Relative Minor


Relative Minor


7. E 1 E _

Relative Minor



Chapter 2 – The Bead Method
2.1 The Circle of Fourths
The most valuable tool in your arsenal of mental guitar tricks is the “Circle of Fifths.” It is created by placing the fifth note in each scale consecutively on a clockwise circle. If we go counterclockwise on the circle we will find the fourth note in each scale. To build the circle of fifths we take the “C” note and place at the top of the circle.

If we take the Major “C” scale: C I D II E III F IV G V A B


The fifth note in the scale is “G”. We place the “G” note to the right of the “C” note. Now we take the “G” scale and we find the fifth note from it. We place this note, the “D” note, on the circle. G I A II B III C IV D V E F#


You do the same thing with the “D” note and so on until you come back to the “C” at the top of the circle. By creating a circle of fifths we have inadvertently created a circle of fourths as well. If you go clockwise you will find the fifth of each scale and if you go counterclockwise you will find the fourth of each scale. I have called this section “The Circle of Fourths” to emphasize just how important this is in our understanding. We will take full advantage of it in leveraging our knowledge of the guitar. You see that on the first outer circle, I have placed a number with the sharp symbol next to each note. This indicates how many sharps are attributed to the scale that the note represents. Remember earlier in chapter one how changing the step – half step pattern resulted in two sharp notes for the “D” scale? On the other side you will notice that on the next ring I have placed the number of flat notes with their corresponding keys. So, on the left hand we have all the flat keys and on the right side we have all the sharp keys. Very convenient this is! I have placed the relative minor of each scale on the inner circle. You should have no problem finding the relative minor of each scale if you remember to use the C-BAG FED method. Just count backward two notes in the scale. On the following pages I will show you how easy it is to determine the flats and sharps in each scale using this tool. One question I should answer before continuing on to the next page. What’s the deal with the two note combinations at the bottom? These notes are said to be enharmonically equivalent. That basically means they are the same note. If you flat a “D” or sharp a “C” note you are effectively playing the same note. However there is a distinction when we use the circle to determine the sharps and flats.


2.2 When It All Makes Sense
I know it looks very technical. Hang in there and by the end of this chapter I guarantee the lights will be coming on. It looks harder than it really is. I call this the BEAD Method because if you examine the circle you will notice that it spells out the word “BEAD”. The notes that follow G, C and F can be remembered by the pneumonic “From BEAD Get Chords” or in shorter terms just remember “F-BEAD-GC”. You can remember it backwards by remembering the pneumonic, “G Doesn’t Always End BeFore C.“ Of course there will be more exercises!

When you are finished with this book, using the BEAD Method you will be able to: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Identify the notes, scales and chords on any fret. Determine what chords work together and why. Fully master scales and modes. Understand what scales to play against what chords. Easily identify key signatures from memory. Easily identify all the sharp and flat notes in a scale from memory.

Well I don’t know about you but if this method only fulfilled half of those tasks it would be well worth it. OK, enough of the hype. Let’s get to it!

2.3 How To Determine The Sharps or Flats In A Scale
Remember that the flat keys are on the left side of the circle and the sharp keys are on the right. For now we can ignore the “C” note on the top because it has neither sharps or flat notes. The pattern on the left flat side looks easy enough.

“From BEAD Get Chords”

Now what of the right sharp side? “G Doesn’t Always End BeFore C.“


9 The matrix below will help you understand how to determine the sharps in a given key. On the left side of the matrix we have placed the key note and to the right we have placed the number of sharps in that key. The sharp notes between them are the actual notes in that key. You should understand that the matrix is just for explanation. You will not need to draw this out every time you need to determine the sharps in any given key. The whole purpose of the circle is to be able to find what you need quickly from memory. First you should realize that the sharp keys begin going clockwise on the circle after the key of “C”. Remember, the key of “C” has no sharps or flats. Now in your mind, using “G Doesn’t Always End BeFore C,“ you see that the first key after “C” is the key of “G”. “G” only has one sharp. So, if you see a piece of sheet music and there is one sharp next to the key signature, you know the piece is in the key of “G”. Let us say there are four sharps in your piece of music. In your mind, think, “OK, G Doesn’t Always End BeFore C“. Now “G” has one sharp and “Doesn‘t” comes after “G”. “D” has two sharps. OK, now the “A” in “Always” has three sharps and “E” in “End” has four sharps. The key signature is in “E!” You see how easy it is to determine the key when given a key signature? In time you won’t even have to lean on the mnemonics to perform this mental feat. Now to our next task… What are the sharp notes in that key? It’s really very simple. Examine the following matrix. Notice that the sharp notes stack upon each other. The sharp note(s) from the previous key will be included in the next key. How do we determine what the new sharp note is? It’s always the letter before the key note we are trying to determine. Look at the key of “G” notice that the “F” sharp is the sharp attributed to that key. “F” also happens to be the letter before “G”. All other notes in the key are natural, having no sharps or flats. To determine the sharps in the key of “D” we do the same thing. We know that it has the “F” sharp from the key of “G” and now we add the letter before it “C” or “C” sharp. We do the same thing with each key till we find that in the keys of “F” sharp and “C” sharp the root note itself is in fact already sharp and that all notes are sharp in the key of “C” sharp. Going counter-clockwise we determine the flat scales and their signatures in a similar manner. Instead of finding the flats by determining the note before the root as we did in the sharp scales, the note following the root note in the F-BEAD-GC order will be selected as the new flat. The note following the “F” is “B”. “B” flat is attributed to all the keys. The letter following “B” is “E” so we attribute “E” flat to the key of “B” and all the keys to follow. We continue until we have finished with the key of “C” flat where all notes are flat. With a little practice you’ll be an old pro and perform this without having to write things down. One thing of significance that will help you is that for each of the directions the notes added are in reverse order … Flat scales add notes in order :

Sharp scales add notes in order:



2.3 What Have We Learned?
1. Music is represented by seven letters, “A, B, C, D, E, F and G” which are organized to create scales. 2. You can memorize these notes in reverse by learning the mnemonic C-BAG FED. 3. The minor of any note can be determined by counting two notes using C-BAG FED starting at the root note. 4. The major scale is created by the pattern: STEP – STEP – HALF STEP – STEP – STEP – STEP – HALF STEP 5. The placement of this pattern will determine the sharp and flat notes in the respective scale. 6. The Key of “C” is the only key without any sharps or flats. 7. The Circle of Fifths is an invaluable tool in mastering the guitar. 8. The Flat scales on the Circle of Fifths can be remembered utilizing the mnemonic “From BEAD Get Chords.” 9. You can determine the key of a flat scale by counting the notes in the “F-BEAD-GC” pattern. 10. You can determine the flat notes in a flat scale by selecting the next note in the “F-BEAD-GC” pattern and add it as a flat note to the scale of the selected root scale. You then stack the notes until you reach the target root note. All other notes are natural, not being flat or sharp. 11. The Sharp scales on the Circle of Fifths can be remembered utilizing the mnemonic “G Doesn’t Always End BeFore C” 12. You can determine the key of a sharp scale by counting the notes in the “GDAEBFC” pattern. 13. You can determine the sharp notes in a sharp scale by selecting the previous letter in the alphabet to the given root note, identify it as a sharp note to the scale of the selected root scale. You then stack the notes until you reach the target root note. All other notes are natural, not being flat or sharp. 14. I never like to end a list on 13.


2.4 Exercise

1. You’ve been introduced to the Circle of Fifths. Complete the diagram below indicating the number of sharps and flats. Take attention to the flat pattern “From BEAD Get Chords.” and it’s sharp counterpart “G Doesn’t Always End BeFore C.”


It might be beneficial to make copies of this page and do this several times until you have committed it to memory.


2. Complete the following matrix for the flat side of the circle of fifths.

Complete the following matrix for the sharp side of the circle of fifths.

It might be beneficial to make copies of this page and do this several times until you have committed it to memory.


3. This exercise should be a little more challenging for you. Using C-BAG-FED and the knowledge you gained in making the matrixes, identify the minor to the following keys, indicating the proper sharps and flats. The relative minor will fall within the key of the root note.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.


_ _ _ _ _ _

4. This exercise will help you count the notes of the BEAD pattern. Using the following notes, follow the circle of fifths counter-clockwise using the note as the starting point. Count exactly six notes. Say each note out loud.

D, Bb, A, Eb, E, Ab, B, Db, F, Bb, C, Cb


Chapter 3 – Counting Beads
3.1 The Most Basic of Scales
In Medieval times Catholicism, primarily advanced music. Early on monks would tie knots or use beads on pieces of rope or cloth to depict the rise and fall of pitch as they sang. This method would soon be replaced by written representations on paper. This resulted in the eventual development of the two staff musical notation we know today. Up to this point the BEAD Method has taught you how to count notes. Now you will see how to use it to get a definite understanding of your fretboard. In its simplest form the notes following on a single string represent a scale. In this case the notes C, D, E, F, G and A make up the notes in the C major scale. Notice the STEP – STEP – HALF STEP – STEP – STEP – HALF STEP pattern. This is characteristic of all major scales and is called the diatonic pattern.

Using C-BAG-FED you can move forward and backwards mentally through this progression. However there are other strings and playing on one string alone would not take full advantage of the guitar’s design. Notice in the diagram to the left that the notes can also be played across all six strings. This is one of five basic major scale patterns. There are many types of scales but most scales are a modification of the major scale. From this scale we can find the natural minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor and pentatonic scales. There are other more exotic scales but in western music these four are the most common. By using these building blocks you will have a framework for building chords and leads. Imagine that scales are like the frame of a house. The four corners make up the frame for a wall. All the framework and the walls make a house. Scales are used to form chords and combined they make music. Learning the notes on the guitar neck would not be so hard if this was the only scale pattern. There are five basic scale patterns and the pattern of notes is different for each. To make things more complicated there are minor scales, pentatonic scales and modes that we will have to learn. We need a way to find the notes on the fretboard and a way to determine where we are in correlation to what we are playing. This has always been the challenge. The BEAD Method provides a roadmap for you. If you know the Cicle of Fifths you can master everything you need to know to orientate yourself to the fretboard. To start you must memorize the notes and their location on the 6th or big “E” string, Examine the fretboard above. Remember that the notes repeat themselves after the twelfth fret.

3.2 Naming Notes
As I promised you, I will be teaching you how to find any note on the guitar quickly. Using the Circle of Fifths, we can go across each fret and name the notes on that fret. Now, starting with the 6th (big “E”) string moving toward the 1st (smaller “E”) string we find that every note on the fret is exactly four notes away on the scale. We call this a fourth interval away. Later we will discuss the importance of intervals. The second (“B”) string creates a problem for us in that it has been tuned up one tone. So you have to move up one fret to find the next note. The note on the first (“E”) string is a fourth interval away from this note on the “B” string. Examine the following diagrams. If we follow the notes counterclockwise on the circle of fifths we can name the notes horozontally across each fret.


Open String – E A D G C F

If you examine this fretboard you may notice part of the BEAD pattern when looking at the notes on the open strings. If it had started with “B” we would see the entire pattern. Notice that the note on the second string drops down one fret.

1st Fret – F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb

Once you know the note starting on the fret of the sixth (Big “E”) string you can count the notes across each fret using the FBEAD-GC pattern you learned earlier. You need only follow this pattern around the circle of fifths to name the note on the fret you are on.

2nd Fret – Gb B E A D G


3rd Fret – G C F Bb Eb Ab

Some musicians will tune their guitar to fourths across all six strings. While this might make the notes more symmetrical you would not be able to play many of your favorite songs that rely on standard tuning.

4th Fret – Ab Db Gb B E A

I am providing illustrations up the eleventh fret. You should have no problem doing this from memory without using these diagrams.

5th Fret – A D G C F Bb


6th Fret – Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B

7th Fret – B E A D G C

8th Fret – C F Bb Eb Ab Db


9th Fret – Db Gb B E A D

10th Fret – D G C F Bb Eb

11th Fret – Eb Ab Db Gb B E

The notes will repeat themselves starting on the 12th fret. Once you memorize the notes on the sixth string up to the eleventh fret they repeat themselves starting on the twelfth fret.


You might have noticed that on the enharmonic notes, I transposed them to a flat note whenever possible. See how easy it is to find the notes on the guitar now that you know the BEAD Method! This is only one of the mysteries it can unfold for you. You might be saying, “What about the sharp notes?” I am only trying to make things simple for you. If you think about it a “B” flat is also an “A” sharp. So if you want an “A” sharp simply play a “B” flat. It’s really that simple. You should practice naming the notes across each fret as often as you can. At first you might have to use the Circle of Fifths but soon you should be able to follow it by memory. Remember to drop down a half-step on the second string. At random, change to a different fret and name the notes across it. Practice playing the fret notes backwards using “G Doesn’t Always End BeFore C”. Start from the first string and move toward the sixth string. Remember to move up one half-step on the third string. Play with it and revel in your new skill.

3.3 What Have We Learned?
1. You can find any note on any fret if you only know the first note on the sixth string. 2. If you follow the notes on the Circle of Fifths in a counter-clockwise direction you can name the notes on each string of any fret. 3. Follow the Circle of Fifths in a counter-clockwise direction to find fret notes. If the note is enharmonic use the flat note.

3.4 Exercise
Here’s a little bit of fun. 1. Take a piece of paper and tear it into 12 equal pieces. 2. Print one of the following notes on each piece: (Ab – A – Bb – B – C – Db – D – Eb – E – F – Gb – G) 3. Place them in a hat and mix them up. 3. Dump them on a table and place the pieces of paper face up randomly in a row. 4. Now sequentially from left to right find the note from the piece of paper on the sixth string. 5. Play the notes across the fret naming each note out loud as you go using the BEAD Method. 6. Try playing them from right to left. 7. Mix up the letters and start over.

Practice playing the notes across the frets until you feel you have a good grip on the concept. You might not get it down completely the first time. Keep practicing until you feel you are comfortable with the method. Move on to scales only when you think you are ready. Don’t rush it. Chapter four will always be there.