Time to Learn the Musical Alphabet!

Musical alphabet
No matter what your goals are as a guitarist, knowing the notes on the guitar will be a huge help in your journey. This roadmap will show you where you can find each note, so you can take your playing to the next level!

Musical Alphabet

Are you familiar with the musical alphabet? At some point along your guitar journey, you’ve probably wondered, “What are the notes on the guitar?” Whether you want to learn how to improvise rock solos or play perfect classical etudes, knowing the notes on the guitar will be a huge help in your journey!

This roadmap will show you where you can find each note, so you can take your playing to the next level. No matter what your goals are as a guitarist, knowing which notes you’re playing will help you communicate musical ideas and learn new techniques in a more efficient way.


Musical Alphabet

The musical alphabet goes from A to G (there is no “H, I, J” etc.)

Half-steps / Whole-steps

A half-step is the distance between one fret and the next on the guitar
A whole-step is equal to two half-steps or two frets distance

Sharp (#) / Flat (b)

A sharp(#) is when we raise a pitch by a half step
A flat(b) is when we lower a pitch by a half step

Every note from A to G has a sharp, except for B and E:

musical alphabet
Wheel, representing the notes going up (sharp) and down (flat)

So the musical alphabet reads like this:

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#

Together, these 12 notes form the chromatic scale. A scale is a sequence of notes in which no note is repeated and all notes are played in ascending order from lowest to highest.

Seven of the notes – C, D, E, F, G, A, B – have unique letter names. These notes are called natural notes. Five of the notes do not have unique names, but are instead named for where they fall in relationship to these seven. Notes like C♯ (C sharp) or G♭ (G flat) are called accidentals.


Open Strings

The 6 open strings on your guitar for standard tuning are E, B, G, D, A, E (from high to low)

Memorize the sentence “Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears” or “Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good-Bye Eddie”. This will help you remember the order of the open strings in standard tuning!

So now that you know which each note each string starts, you can look at the musical alphabet in the wheel above and find all the ones notes!

These are all the notes that you have on the fretboard:

notes freatboard musical alphabet

On the 12th fret, you’ll go back to the same letter/ note that you played with the string open, but now you’ll be playing an octave higher.

You can try to learn what the notes on the guitar are in a fun way. Try a game of guitar note hide-and-seek! This game is simple: Pick a note and try to find where it is on every string. Then, see if you can play them one after another in rhythm! It may sound easy at first, but it takes some practice.


Major Scale

Major Scale: W W H W W W H

(W= whole-step / H= half-step)

Scale Steps

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 (or 1)

Have you heard the vocal exercise “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do”? Those are the musical steps for the major scale…or “Do Re Mi” by Julie Andrews in “Sound of Music”? That is a song based on the Major Scale steps. It is VERY important to learn the major scale if you want a good foundation for learning everything else on the guitar. It is the basis of music theory which is the field of study that deals with the mechanics of music and how music works.


Basic Definitions

Interval

An interval is the distance between two notes.

The interval from a low “C” to a higher “C” is an octave. The octave is the basic source of pitch, with all other pitches created by dividing it into smaller pieces, called steps

Chord

A chord is formed when 3 or more notes played together

Arpeggio

An arpeggio is a broken chord, or notes from a chord played apart from each other

Major Chord / Minor Chord

Major Chord: 1st, 3rd and 5th scale steps / notes from the Major Scale 1,3,5 (sound is happier)
Minor Chord: 1st, b3rd and 5th scale steps / notes from the Major Scale 1,b3,5 (sound is sadder)


For many beginning guitarists, learning the notes on the fretboard is not a priority. While many other musicians learn the note names for their instruments from the very start, new guitarists can rock out basic chords without ever learning what the notes on the guitar are.

While this is fine in the beginning, you’ll eventually want to get a grip on the note locations and when you do, this post is here to help!


You can learn more about the guitar notes in this video

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

Guitar Anatomy, Let’s Discover It!

guitar anatomy post
If you’re about to start learning how to play the guitar, it really helps to know the anatomy of the guitar! It is pretty simple: head, neck, and body, like the human body. Find out what’s what now!

What are the parts of a guitar?

Now that you’ve bought a guitar and been getting ready to start your first lesson. What’s next? Learn about guitar anatomy!

If you don’t have the proper vocabulary, it would be hard to know where to place your hands or talk to your fellow guitarists about anything. Therefore, one of the first things you need to learn is the names of different parts of the guitar, so you can learn more easily and accurately.

Here are the main parts:

guitar anatomy

1. Guitar Anatomy: Head

The first section of the guitar is called a head or headstock, on which you will find the tuning pegs. The tuning pegs allow you to tune the guitar by tightening or loosening the strings.


2. Guitar Anatomy: Neck

The middle, narrow section of the guitar is called the neck. The nut is the white strip closest to the headstock. The front side of the neck is called the fretboard. And the metal wires on the fretboard are called the frets, which help your fingers find the right spots.


3. Guitar Anatomy: Body

The biggest part of the guitar is called the body.

Acoustic Guitars:

Acoustic guitars have a hole in the middle of the body called the soundhole, a pickguard to protect the guitar’s finish from being scratched by the guitar pick, and a bridge that holds the strings in place.

Electric Guitars:

Electric guitars have pickups on the body that capture the string vibrations and convert sounds through amps. The potentiometers control volume and tone: this means that it either brightens or darkens the sound (jazz players like the darker sound and rock players like the brighter sound).

The pickup selector switch chooses the pickups and therefore determines the sound: In my Epiphone Les Paul Special II, for example, if it’s set to rhythm, you’ll only be using the neck pickup, i.e. the little black oval thing with little metal dots in it as soon as the neck ends: if you select treble, you’ll use the bridge position (the one next to the saddle); if it’s in the middle, it uses both pickups. The input jack is where you plug in your guitar to your amp.


Now that you know all this, it’s time to pick up your guitar and check these things! You can also find more information about guitar anatomy online if you get curious.

If you haven’t bought a guitar and you want to learn some tips before buying one, read this post.

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog