Mastering the fretboard is one of the most Important elements to becoming a great guitarist. It has multiple benefits which maximize your musical journey. However, it can take years to properly learn the fretboard and understand how it actually works.
In order to understand how to master the fretboard in 5 minutes, we need to be aware of a key element of music theory. Intervals. Specifically, octaves as this will be the interval we’ll be using to navigate our way around the entire fretboard.
An Interval, in its simplest form is the distance between two notes. For example, the distance between C – G is known as a ‘Perfect Fifth’ as these notes are five whole tones apart. Luckily I’ve made this fretboard system very simple, and it only features the use of one interval – Octave. Octave means eight notes apart, so essentially the same note is being played at a higher or lower pitch.
To understand how these octaves allow us effortless fretboard mastery, we need to be familiar with two things prior to diving in. The notes on the Low E and A string. Below is a diagram which demonstrates the key fret markers and notes you should learn on these strings. These frets are as follows; 3rd | 5th | 7th | 8th | 10th | 12th. The reason we don’t need to know the other fret markers, is because these frets are the natural notes (as shown below) and this allows us to be able to locate sharps and flats by simply moving up or down a fret.
Once you’re happy with the notes on the E and A string, we can proceed to discover the entire fretboard using our magical Octaves! Here’s how it works. Take the note G, 3rd fret of the Low E string. Now move down two strings vertically and you land at the 3rd fret of the D String. Now move along two frets and you’ve located your octave. Play this new G octave with the previous G, root on the Low E string. You should now have two notes that sound exactly the same, but one is higher in pitch, and one is lower.
Get used to this shape as it is transferable for all the notes on the Low E and A strings. Just remember 2x2 (two down and two along). So now we’ve covered four strings, just by applying the knowledge of two strings and the added use of octaves. But what about the B and high E string? To Locate the final piece of the puzzle we now take the same octave procedure, but we do so from the second octave we discovered using the 2x2 method. Now the octave system changes to 2x3 (two strings down and three frets along).
- Learn the notes on the 3rd | 5th | 7th | 8th | 10th| 12th of the Low E and A String
- Apply the 2x2 Octave method starting root on the E and A to locate the D + G notes
- Apply the 2x3 Octave method starting root on the D and G to locate the B + E notes
- So there you have it, a super simple way to breakdown the entire fretboard in just five minutes.