Learn basic guitar notes in just 20 minutes!
Learning the beginner guitar notes in the open position is very easy. In guitar jargon, the open position is the first three frets on each string. Using my proven system you can learn them all in 20 minutes. Let’s get started!
This is what the open position guitar notes look like on the fretboard.
Think of a neck chart like this as a picture of the fretboard if you’re looking at it from the front of the guitar, with the headstock pointed up. The letters on top are the note names of the open strings, with the E on the right being your 1st string (thinnest) and the E on the left being your 6th string (thickest). The letters on the frets are the names of the notes at those frets.
DO NOT try to memorize this all yet. That’s the hard way and I’m going to give you an easy way at the end of the article. But first, you also need to know what these notes look like on a music staff.
In practical use, there are four parts to a note: the letter name, where it goes on the fretboard, how it’s written on the page, and what it sounds like. Having the first three down is really important to avoid troubles later when teaching yourself new songs or trying to communicate with other musicians.
Here’s what the open position notes look like on the staff:
Remember our “FACE” technique for reading note names? The bottom space F is right there in the middle on the fourth string at the third fret. Going up the scale, you’ll go forward in the alphabet. Going down the scale is backward in the alphabet.
Action Step: Let’s make sure all this good information is organized correctly and efficiently in your brain. Do these steps and you’ll have them all down in 20 minutes. Do just one string at a time. I suggest starting with the top string (the last measure above), but starting with the bottom is ok too.
Follow these steps:
1. Speak the names of the notes while looking at them on the staff. Make sure to say them out loud and look at the actual notes, not the tablature.
2. Now play the notes, saying the names out loud and keeping your eyes on the notation. By doing this you’re setting up those four parts of the note in your head simultaneously.
3. Do step two in both directions, up and down. (E F G and G F E)
Do your best to not look at your guitar while doing this. You’re creating a little memory trigger by watching the notes on the page as you play and say the notes. You’ll make mistakes. That’s ok. Every mistake gets you closer to doing it right.
4. Once you’ve gone through each individual string, repeat steps 1-3 with pairs of strings. 1st and 2nd. Then 2nd and 3rd, etc.
5. Repeat them again doing groups of three strings.
6. Do them one last time with all six strings.
Repetitive? Absolutely. But that’s the easiest way to really cement the notes in your head. By using this simple system I know you’ll have all the open position beginner guitar notes totally nailed in 20 minutes or less. Then you can apply them to songs!