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Know Your Notes

The Basics

Notes are named after the first seven letters in the alphabet. In order, they are:


Between any two notes, except B - C and E - F, we also have a sharp and/or
flat note.

These are the symbols that are used to denote sharp and flat:

= sharp

= flat

If we list the notes, again, and include the sharps and flats, we get:

A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab - A

One important thing to notice is that X#/Xb is one note that has two names
(The term used to describe this is ENHARMONIC). For example, A# is the
exact same note as Bb. Sometimes, one name will be used, and sometimes the
other name will be used. We will cover this in much greater detail in a later
lesson. For now, it's only important that you know the names of the notes.
Another thing to notice is that after G#/Ab We arrive at A again. This second A
vibrates exactly twice as fast as the first A, and therefore, the ear tends to hear
it as another version of the same note. The second A is called the OCTAVE of
the first A. If we continue after the second A, we get A#/Bb an OCTAVE
higher than the first, B an OCTAVE higher, C an OCTAVE higher etc., etc.,
until we get to A again. This A is two OCTAVES higher than the first A. If we
keep going, the whole pattern just repeats over and over until we can't get any
higher on the instrument. (If you didn't run out of notes, you could keep right
on going until the notes were so high that only a dog could hear them!) The
same is true if you travel in the opposite direction. The pattern repeats until you
run out of notes, or the neighbors call the cops (whichever comes first).

Here's something to help you remember the sharps and flats. If you sharpen a
pencil, you raise a point on it. Therefore, if you play A and then play the next
higher note, you would call the second note A#. If you flatten a pop can, you
mash it down. Likewise, if you play B and then play the next lower note, you
would call the second note Bb. Remember that A# and Bb are the exact same

This may be a bit confusing but, you'el get used to it.

All you have to remember is A through G of the alphabet and a #/b note in
between every two notes except B - C and E - F (There's no such note as B# or
Cb, likewise, E# or Fb. There is an exception to this but, that's way down the

The Fingerboard

Here's what the notes look like covering the fingerboard:

I've left the sharps and flats off to make the chart easier to read, but that doesn't
mean that you should ignore sharps and flats.

Now, let's take a closer look at how the notes are organized:

1. The open strings and the 12th fret are identical:

2. The low E-string and the high E-string are identical:

3. Octaves:
4. Adjacent notes: