Notes On The Electric Guitar: Everything You Need To Know

Exploring the intricacies of notes on the electric guitar offers an extraordinary journey of self-expression & boundless creativity. Learning this iconic instrument not only opens the gateway to a world of sonic possibilities but also brings a plethora of benefits that will leave you inspired & fulfilled.

And here’s the exciting part: mastering the electric guitar is easier than you might think! With dedication, practice, and the abundant array of online resources & tutorials at your disposal, you’ll be effortlessly strumming your way to musical bliss. So lets take a first step towards unleashing your inner rock star!

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What Are The 7 & 12 Guitar Notes

On the guitar neck of a typical 22 fret guitar like a Fender Stratocaster, there are 22 frets & 6 strings, which equal 132 individual guitar notes (138 if you count the open strings). This can be mind boggling but I’m here to tell you that there’s actually only 12 notes total & they simply repeat the same way several times over.

7 Natural Notes

In music, we have something called the musical alphabet, just like the regular alphabet we use for reading & writing. The musical alphabet has seven main letters called the natural notes:

A, B, C, D, E, F, and G

These notes represent different sounds that we can hear & play on musical instruments. Each note has its own unique character and gives music its special flavor. When we put these notes together in different orders and patterns, we can create melodies and harmonies that make up the songs we love to listen to.

Understanding & practicing these seven natural notes is like having a key to unlock the world of music, where you can explore and create your own musical adventures.

12 Musical Pitches

In the vast world of music, we have a special set of twelve musical pitches known as the chromatic scale. This scale includes all the natural notes (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G) and their sharps (#) and flats (♭).

The twelve musical pitches are

A, A#/B♭, B, C, C#/D♭, D, D#/E♭, E, F, F#/G♭, G, and G#/A♭.

Think of these pitches as the different colors on an artist’s palette. Just like mixing colors creates new shades, combining these pitches allows musicians to create an incredible variety of sounds & emotions. The chromatic scale provides us with the tools to play in different keys, create unique melodies, and harmonize beautifully.

Naturals, Sharps, & Flats

When learning guitar notes, it’s important to grasp the concepts of naturals, sharps, and flats. Naturals are the basic, unaltered notes represented by the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. These are the foundational notes from which music is built.

Sharps & flats modify the pitch of a natural note. A sharp (#) raises a note by a half step, while a flat (♭) lowers it by a half step. For instance, if you start with an A note and add a sharp, it becomes A#. Similarly, adding a flat to A transforms it into Ab.

It’s worth noting that notes can be both flat & sharp at the same time, depending on the musical context. For instance, the note A# can also be represented as Bb (B flat) depending on the key & musical context.

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Understanding Octaves

The last thing to break down the fretboard & tie together the concept of notes on a guitar, are octaves. An octave represents a specific musical interval between two notes that share the same name but differ in pitch. When you play a note on the guitar and then play the same note on a higher or lower string, you’re playing the note’s octave.

For example, playing an open E string and then playing the 12th fret of that same string produces the E note in a higher octave.

Octaves not only occur within a single string but also repeat across different strings. This means that playing a note on one string and moving up or down to the next string, you’ll find the same note in a different octave.

For instance, playing the 7th fret of the A string gives you the same note as the open D string.

A standard electric guitar typically has about four to five octaves available across its strings, depending on the number of frets. This means that you can play a wide range of notes spanning multiple octaves on the guitar. The 12th fret holds a special significance because it marks the halfway point of the guitar’s playable range, where notes repeat in higher octaves.

So essentially, there are 138 notes on six strings of a 22 fret guitar, and these can be broken down into 12 pitches. Finally, these pitches repeat across the board as octaves. An octave being the same pitch but 12 semitones apart.

Diagram of All The Notes On A Guitar

Below are all the notes from frets 1-12 with the natural notes on the low E string shown. Remember that after fret 12, the same pattern simply repeats itself. Finally, any note between the naturals can either be a sharp or flat note such as “A#/Bb” which is the note between A & B

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How To Remember Guitar String Notes

The best & simplest way to remember all the notes on a guitar is through consistent practice and familiarization with the instrument. Here are some techniques that can help you memorize the guitar string notes:

Learn the natural notes

Start by memorizing the natural notes (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and their positions on the fretboard. This forms the foundation for understanding the other notes.

Use A “Mnemonic”

Mnemonic devices or memory aids can be helpful. For example, you can create a phrase like “Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie” to remember the open string notes from low to high (E, A, D, G, B, E).

Visualize patterns

Recognize patterns on the fretboard, such as the repeating octaves & the relationship between adjacent strings. This allows you to transfer knowledge from one string to another.

Utilize reference points

Identify reference points on the fretboard, such as the 12th fret, which represents the same note as the standard open string tuning, but an octave higher. Use these reference points as landmarks to navigate and locate other notes.

Practice with exercises

Dedicate time to practicing note recognition exercises. This can involve playing scales, naming the notes as you play them.

Play songs and melodies

Learn songs & melodies you enjoy, paying attention to the notes you play. This helps reinforce your knowledge of the fretboard and the relationship between different notes.

Remember, learning the notes on a guitar takes time & consistent effort. Practice regularly, break it down into manageable chunks, and gradually expand your knowledge. Over time, you’ll become more familiar with the guitar’s fretboard, and gain confidence in finding and playing any note on the guitar.

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Guitar Notes vs Guitar Chords

Guitar notes & guitar chords are different elements of music that are related but serve distinct purposes.

Guitar notes refer to individual pitches produced by plucking or fretting a specific string on the guitar. Each note has a specific name, such as A, B, C, and so on. Notes can be played one at a time, creating melodies or single-note lines, or they can be played simultaneously in combination with other notes to form chords.

On the other hand, guitar chords consist of multiple notes played together. Chords are formed by combining specific notes that harmonize with each other, creating a rich, harmonic sound. Chords are the backbone of rhythm guitar playing and are used to accompany melodies or vocals. Common chord types include major chords, minor chords, seventh chords, and more, each having a distinct sound and emotional quality.

While guitar notes allow for melodies and solos, guitar chords provide the harmonic foundation and rhythm in music. Both are equally important to music!

Should You Learn Chords or Notes First?

When it comes to learning guitar, whether you should start with chords or notes first largely depends on your musical goals and personal preferences. Here are a few considerations to help you make a decision:

Playing Style

If you are interested in playing rhythm guitar and accompanying yourself or others, learning chords first can be beneficial. Chords provide a solid foundation for strumming patterns and playing in a band or jamming with others.

Musical Context

If you aspire to play specific songs or genres that heavily rely on chords, it may be helpful to start with chords. This way, you can learn to play songs you enjoy early on and gain a sense of accomplishment.

Fundamental Understanding

On the other hand, starting with notes can provide a strong foundation in basic music theory. Learning notes allows you to play melodies, understand scales, and improvise solos. This can be particularly valuable if you have an interest in lead guitar playing or a desire to delve deeper into music theory.

In reality, chords and notes go hand in hand, and both are important aspects of playing the guitar. It’s often beneficial to learn both simultaneously as they complement each other. As you progress, you’ll find that understanding chords and notes together helps you grasp the guitar fretboard better.

Ultimately, the choice between learning chords or notes first is a personal one. Consider your musical preferences, goals, and the style of music you want to play. Many guitarists find it helpful to strike a balance between chords and notes, gradually expanding their knowledge & skills in both areas as they progress.

Guitar String Notes (Standard Tuning)

In standard tuning, the guitar string names, starting from the thickest string (lowest pitch) to the thinnest string (highest pitch), are as follows. These notes represent the open strings of a guitar, meaning they are played without pressing down any frets. The sequence of string notes provides a foundation for chord shapes, scales, and melodies on the guitar, and understanding their arrangement is crucial for learning to tune your guitar.

E String (Low)
A String
D String
G String
B String
E String (High)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 12 keys in guitar?

In guitar, the 12 keys refer to the 12 different musical keys or tonalities in which music can be played. Each key has its own unique set of notes and chords that create a distinct tonal center. The 12 keys are:

  • C Major / A minor
  • C#/Db Major / A#/Bb minor
  • D Major / B minor
  • D#/Eb Major / C minor
  • E Major / C#/Db minor
  • F Major / D minor
  • F#/Gb Major / D#/Eb minor
  • G Major / E minor
  • G#/Ab Major / F minor
  • A Major / F#/Gb minor
  • A#/Bb Major / G minor
  • B Major / G#/Ab minor

How long does it take to learn guitar?

The time it takes to learn guitar varies greatly depending on individual factors such as natural aptitude, previous musical experience, practice consistency, and the level of proficiency you aim to achieve. Developing solid guitar skills can take as little as a couple of months of dedicated practice, to a year or more.

Discipline & dedication are essential in progressing as a guitarist. Regular practice sessions, focused effort, and a commitment to learning and improvement are crucial for developing technique, building musical knowledge, and achieving mastery of the instrument.

Embracing a mindset of patience and persistence will help you navigate the ups and downs of the learning process and lead to long-term growth as a guitarist (as well as in any other endeavor!) .

What is the fastest way to learn electric guitar?

First & foremost, you need consistent practice to build muscle memory & technique. You also need to set clear goals & break them down in manageable milestones.

If you want to learn on your own, be sure to seek out resources tailored for beginners. There’s a ton of lessons available everywhere online including here!

If you want to learn alongside someone else, seek out guidance from an experienced guitar teacher.

Finally, focus on fundamentals like scales, chords, and techniques regularly. But most importantly, be sure to learn songs you enjoy to keep yourself motivated!

Remember, there are no shortcuts to mastering the guitar, but these strategies can help you make the most of your practice and learning journey.

Related: How Many Guitar Chords Are There?

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