Need Encouragement - I'm struggling finding notes on the neck

I’ve been working on learning the notes on the neck for about a month and a half. 5 mins. a day, 5 days a week. I’m learning in the order of circle of fourths. Am I ever going to get there???!!!

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Here is the best exercise for learning the fretboard I know.

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My favorite is the find a note exercise Justin does here.


This is interesting. It is like the one Justin has finding a note on each string, but more advanced applying the notes in a key. :thinking:

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I am using Justin’s method. I’m just going in order of the 4ths. All the C’s, F’s, Bb’s etc.

Doing these triad lessons in the music theory classes is helping me big time with the G, B, and E strings. I still flailing away at it tho. But it really has started to click this last month finally.

Keep working at it, it seems impossible but suddenly you will be saying the notes out loud to yourself in your head. I had small successes. First was the couple of power chord shaped root notes. Once I had them, I used my circle to remember the 5th. Then I had a good number of E, A, and D. And knowing the circle is the A string.

Like I said with the theory doing the triads you can be well on your way. Thats how i went about it. But time and practice. Uhg. Sorry. Rambling, good luck

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Well, I have a different take. By your accounting, you have spent a total of 2.5 hours learning to sight read all the notes on the guitar neck. How long is it supposed to take?


I would not recommend that order.
The Circle of Fourths is an inversion of the Circle of Fifths.
C → F → Bb → Eb etc.
You are investigating all of the flat notes - beloved of brass instruments but not guitar players.
Change direction and follow the Circle of Fifths.
C, G, D, A, E, B, F


Only do one note per session not multiple notes.

A couple of minutes on C several times per week as part of a practice session.
A couple of minutes on G several times per week as part of a practice session.
A couple of minutes on D several times per week as part of a practice session.
A couple of minutes on C and G and D several times per week as part of a practice session.

You only play fretted notes not open strings.
You do not go fast but go accurately with certainty of the note you fret.


The way i see it, as with everything related to guitar learning; it’s a marathon, not a sprint…
You’re going to need time. Don’t mind how fast or slow others are learning the fretboard. Keep focus on your own learning and progress.
Something that helped me a lot, is Justin’s Mind bending note finding game. Fun part is that you can do this almost everywhere, without needing a guitar.
And guess what, it really helps. Not in a fast way, (the trick is to visualize the fretboard) but in a slow, persistent way.
I used to make mnemonics for what i call the “key parts” of the fretboard.
Key parts are the G, A, B, C# and E. (3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th fret).
From thick to thin you’ll have something like:
3rd fret: G,C,D,A#,FC (there’s a truck manufacturer there)
5th fret: A,D,E,C,G,A (there’s an electrocardiogram in there)
7th fret: B,E,F,D,A,B (there’s the fda in there)
9th fret: C#,F#,B,E,G#,C# (there’s beg in there).

And remembering these, i had a way to figure out the rest of the notes on the remaining frets.
Playing the mbnfg enough helped me. And playing the guitar ofcourse, and looking at the fretboard, telling myself where the notes where, helped too.

Hopefully, this will help you a bit in your guitarjourney.


I’d say tackle first the so-called 6 Essential notes at frets 3, 5 and 7 on the E and A strings. These notes are G, A, B, C, D and E. All of these are natural notes, i.e. neither sharps not flats. You can add fret 8 as well which has the notes C and F to complete the notes of the C major scale. Try to make up a mnemonic if you need it, e.g. 3 Grinning Cats, 5 Amnesic Doctors, 7 Bumbling Entomologists, 8 Cunning Fellows.

If you have already learned octave shapes, you can easily find where the other natural notes are on the fretboard. Then you will automatically know where the accidentals (sharps/flats) are.

And of course the whole pattern repeats after the 12th fret.



Thanks to All for your encouragement and suggestions!

I know this has been talked about before but IMO start here

Thick E string main frets/notes - these are the root notes for scales and E shape barre chords.

Once you know those… you know them on the thin e too!

And down 2 over 2 gets you to the same note which is the root for the D shape barre. this works for the E and A strings

For the rest its down 2 up 3

A string you already know the A (open) the B (b chord root) and the C (root for C chord). A string is a funky one for A barre chord root notes and C barre’s

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Hey Joy

I feel your impatience with wanting to “know” all the notes on the neck. I have been doing exercises towards learning the fretboard since last spring (on and off). Some thoughts on this for you as (hopefully) encouragement. . .

First, no matter the exercise I have chosen, each and every one has become monotonous after awhile. I have used four to five different approaches to learning the fretboard: one note per string (I.e. playing all the C notes on each string in succession, then the G notes, etc.); using the notes 6th and 5th as “guide” notes and finding the octaves (two strings down and two frets “up” the neck), straight memorization of the notes in the first five frets across all strings (by playing the chromatic scale on each string from open to 5th fret); etc. . . . To name just three. . I have used others as well but won’t bore you with them. So, has my ability to name the notes on the neck improved??

Yes, definitely. I have noted a great deal of improvement in my ability to name the notes and recognize where one note is in relationship to another and my recall is pretty good. So that’s great.

BUT I still can’t play a smokin’ solo. What I have learned is that “knowing” the notes via “memorization” is fretboard knowledge but doesn’t equate to fretboard “fluidity” or “fluency”. Will this fretboard knowledge help me further along on my journey? I believe it will. Does it help me play a great solo? No. Not yet anyway.

This foundational knowledge of the notes on the fretboard is great background info, but at some point every player has to get into making music with instrument and trusting that the fretboard knowledge coupled with and understanding/knowledge of note “function” within a given scale will help to ease the path towards greater fluency on the instrument.

So, I continue on my fretboard knowledge journey doing these exercises in rotation, knowing that (at least for me) the notes are not the music and the music will come from practicing making music. The fretboard and note function knowledge still may help me play in context with others and ease the path towards being able to play single note lines/ licks/phrases all over the neck . . . some day. . .

I hope this helps to motivate/encourage you, while giving you another perspective on the endeavor of learning the instrument. . .everything you do with the instrument adds to your ability to play it. Some things are just more effective than others at manifesting obvious improvement in playing ability.

Best of luck on your journey Joy, and . . . enjoy the ride!


I totally agree with this statement. The guitar is a pattern based instrument and it more important to know these patterns and how to manipulate them to make music than it is to know their names.

Every one should know the E and A string notes from playing Barre and Power chords. The thin e is the same as the thick E. So everyone should know 3 of the 6 strings.
That just leave 3 to learn and learning triad with D G B string root notes is the quickest way I’ve found to learn these note names and knowing your triad is the quickest way to learn to solo over the chord changes.

Kill two bird with one stone.


@Player27 what @stitch says here about triads is a great way to approach the thinnest strings on the neck. As soon as I get back my guitar I am going to continue my major triads journey along those strings

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I think the previous comments by Jeremy and Rick are really valuable. Just to add a little bit - I’m sure I started learning in a similar manner to everyone else. However, memorizing open and barre full six string chords didn’t teach me very much about what I was actually playing or why.

More recently, I started daily practice harmonizing triads up and down the neck. At first, just 1,3,5 and 1,b3,5 and the one Dim chord. I made myself do this with the root on each of three adjacent three string groups, eg D,G and B strings. Harmonizing whatever key you happen to pick makes it sound musical as well. Getting interested in jazz, this then opened up a whole universe of exploration. Now, I practice the same way, but incorporate various 7th chords, eg Maj7,Dom7,etc. with or without the roots. This sounds really good when harmonizing, but more importantly it has taught me that the key tonal notes are due to the 3 and the 7. I never would have learned this only playing big six string chords.

I’m not recommending this to anyone else. I’m just reporting that I have learned more about the fretboard in the last six weeks than in all my playing time previously. I am now seeing patterns, note functions and relationships all over the neck that I had no comprehension about before. One way of explaining it is that I am now starting to see numbers on the neck instead of letters (not frets, but notes). It’s not only faster, but it allows me to build chord construction anywhere on the fretboard.

I wish someone had pointed me in this direction when I started.


Hey Dennis,

Great story of discovery.

Yep, triads are the bomb. Playing-wise, and learning-wise, they are pretty much the most important thing I’ve learnt on the guitar in my 4 years, next to rhythm.

They really opened up my playing and my fretboard competency.

People would do well to pay some considerable attention to them.

Cheers, Shane


Interesting! But I don’t understand what you mean by “harmonizing”.

Could you explain further, or give us a link?

Oh, crap! Rhythm! I forgot about that…D’oh!:man_facepalming:t3: