Ok, this article is the reason you’re here. We’re going to dive into beginning guitar notes in the open position. In guitar-speak, the open position is the first three frets of each of the six strings. If you follow the system I’ll give you at the end of this article, you’ll be able to learn all the beginning guitar notes in the open position in 20 minutes.
This is a neck chart of the open position notes:
Think of this graph as a picture of the fretboard if you’re looking at it straight on. The line farthest to the right is your first string, high E. That’s the thinnest one. The line farthest to the right is your sixth string, low E. That’s the thickest one.
The letters above the graph are the names of the open string notes. And obviously the letters on the fretboard are the names of the notes at those frets.
Don’t try and memorize these all just yet. At the end of this article I’m going to give you some foolproof ways to learn these without a lot of hassle. But we need to add one more thing into the mix. You need to also know what these notes look like on a staff.
You see, there are four parts to a note: What it’s called, where it goes on the guitar neck, what it looks like on the page, and what it sounds like. If any of the first three of those are missing, you’ll run into trouble later when trying to learn new songs and communicating with other musicians.
Here’s what the open position notes look like on the staff:
Remember our “FACE” technique of how to read guitar notes? That bottom space F is the 3rd fret on your fourth string. As you go up the scale, you’ll go forward in the alphabet. Down the scale is backwards in the alphabet.
Action Step: Now that you’ve got all the information, we need to make sure it’s organized correctly in your brain. Here’s the system for learning these notes really easily.
Take just one string at a time. You can start from either the top or bottom, but I would suggest the top (last measure) since those notes are easier to read at first. Follow these steps:
1. Say the names of the notes out loud while looking at them on the staff (the notes, not the tabs)
2. Play the notes, while saying the names out loud and looking at them on the staff.
3. Do this going up and down. (ie. E F G and G F E)
It’s important that you be looking at the notes as you’re saying and playing them. That connects all four aspects of the note in your brain easily. You may feel like you need to look at your guitar, but try doing it without. You’ll make a few mistakes, but that’s totally ok. After a couple tries you’ll have it.
4. After doing steps 1-3 with each individual string, repeat the steps using groups of 2 strings. (ie. 1st and 2nd strings)
5. Repeat again with groups of 3 strings.
6. Repeat one last time doing all six strings.
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