Learning Guitar String Notes – First Step to a Solid Beginner Foundation

December 20th, 2009

A lot of beginner guitar players like to jump in and learn to play chords. While that can be fun it doesn’t always provide you with the foundation needed to grow as a more advanced guitar player. I feel it’s important that beginners learn to play the notes on each string first before they begin chords. After all everything, chords and scales, are made up of notes.

This post is going to cover how you can find the notes on each string following an easy to understand pattern. We’ll first discuss the concept of half and whole steps and how this translates to the guitar neck, then we’ll talk about the spacing between each of the 7 musical notes and finally I’ll show you how to find those notes on the guitar neck.

After you read this post I suggest you watch the short video at the end. It explains this post in more detail and gives you a solid example you can follow and try on your own.

Whole and Half Steps

The idea of whole or half steps comes from the piano, unfortunately we’re playing the guitar so we need to understand what that means in terms of a guitar neck. Thankfully it’s quite easy. The guitar neck is divided up in frets. Each fret denotes one half step, so a whole step would be two frets.

Understanding this is the first step to finding the guitar string notes. The second step is understanding how many steps are between each note A through G.

Space Between Notes

We’re only going to worry about the spacing between the 7 major notes A through G. There are sharps and flats in between there but that’s for a more advanced lesson ;) . The spacing between most notes is one step, or two frets with a couple of exceptions. The spacing between B and C is only one half step as well as between E and F. Below is a listing of the space between notes both in steps and frets.

A to B = Full Step or Two Frets
B to C = Half step or One Fret
C to D = Full Step or Two Frets
D to E = Full Step or Two Frets
E to F = Half Step or One Fret
F to G = Full Step or Two Frets

Now that you understand the spacing between notes we can look at some examples on the guitar neck.

Starting with Open String Names and Notes

A quick refresher on the string names, starting from the top Low E we have, E, A, D, G, B and E. The names of the strings also denotes the note when played when you strike that string in the open position (no frets pressed down).

So a quick example on the lo E string.

Starting open we have an E, so if we refer to the listing I gave above what comes next?

That’s right an F note, and the spacing between an E and an F is?

That’s right, only one half step it’s one of the exceptions. So we go from open up one half step to the first fret and that’s an F note.

The next note is a G note, and the spacing between an F and a G is one full step so this time we go up two frets, or to the 3rd fret.

Let’s do one more.

We go from the G back around to an A. What’s the spacing? One full step, so we slid up two more frets to the 5th fret on the low E string and that’s an A note.

Hopefully you can see where I was getting these spacings from, don’t worry if it’s still a little unclear, the video below will explain in more detail. Take a few minutes to watch the video below it will explain all of this in more detail. After watching I urge you to grab your own guitar and give this exercise a try.

Like to learn more great beginner lessons like the notes on each string? Why not try a self study course to learn at home? You can learn more about a program designed to be used at home here in this Learn and Master guitar review. It’s a 25 disc set designed to help you learn from home on your own time and terms.

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