The Fretboard Master

Published: 23rd October 2005
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Having been a guitar player for over 20 years, I am often amazed at the number of guitarists that have never taken the time to learn the notes on their fretboard. I have met guitar players that gig on a regular basis, and yet are unable to find a C# on the 3rd string, an A natural on the 4th string or an F natural on any string! Little do they know that by learning this one simple thing, their playing and enjoyment of the instrument will increase ten fold!

It was while studying at the Guitar Institute in London that I first realised that many players do not develop this part of their playing. This realisation prompted me to want to find a way that guitar players could learn this simple thing with the minimum of effort. Some of them could play every guitar solo Jimi Hendrix recorded, yet couldn't name one single note!

My feeling was that most guitar players just didn't want to spend time on something that they felt wouldn't benefit them that much. Unless their practice time resulted in them learning a flash guitar lick they just didn't want to know. Always one for a challenge, I decided it was my duty to show them the light. The trouble was I going to do it?

I decided to use my good friend, Paul, as a guinea pig. Although he played quite well, he, like countless others, hadn't learnt his fretboard. I asked him why. His reply went something like this: "Why would I want to spend time learning the notes on the fretboard when I could be working on a Jimi Hendrix solo? No, it's not for me, it just seems like so much effort for nothing. I'd rather learn a new chord shape or a hot guitar lick. I honestly don't see the point."

Paul's response was pretty much the same as the other people I asked. "Waste of time," one said. "I'll probably get round to it one day," chirped another. Little did any of these people know, familiarising themselves with their fretboard would not only improve their guitar playing it would DRAMATICALLY improve their musicianship!! I set to work on Paul.
I wrote out a diagram of the fretboard with 12 frets and 6 strings. I then wrote in all the notes and handed it to Paul. "What do you want me to do with this?" he asked. "I want you to learn it," I replied. "Take it home, study it, and then let me give you a test." He wasn't overly keen on doing this, but I managed to persuade him. I gave him two weeks to learn it all. He placed the sheet into his guitar case and took it away with him.

It was actually three weeks later that I next saw Paul. "How did you get on with the fretboard study,?" I asked him. "Ok," he replied. "Right, let me test you." Paul took out his guitar and placed it on his knee. "Ok, an easy one to start. Show me an A on the 6th string." Paul thought for approx 15 to 20 seconds and then successfully placed his finger on the 5th fret. I congratulated him, "Well done" Let's try another. Show me where to find an E flat on the 3rd string." Paul's face sank. He thought about it, and then he thought some more, and then, he played me......F sharp! I was disappointed. "Wrong! Let's try another one. How about D on the 2nd string?" This is quite an easy one, but once again, after some thought, Paul failed to find D. "Ok, a C natural on the 3rd sring." Once again Paul couldn't do it. I asked him why. "Well, I did try, but it is just too mind numbingly boring. It'll take ages for me to learn the whole neck," Paul complained. Now I couldn't let this go. It wasn't a light hearted challenge any more. Paul was going to learn the fretboard whether he liked it or not.

I set to work on an instructional booklet that would make learning the fretboard easy and fun. I also knew that I had to make it motivational and inspiring. I worked hard typing up the study. In 5 days I had a rough copy. I printed it off and took it round to Paul's house. "Not again," muttered Paul when I handed him the booklet. "Just humour me, and give it one more go," I pleaded. He reluctantly agreed. I didn't want to push my luck too much, so I quickly left and wished him well.
Four days later there was a loud knock on my front door. "Ok, ok," I yelled as I rushed to answer it. As I pulled open the door, I found an extremely excited Paul with his guitar case in hand. "Test me again," he demanded. He pushed past me to the living room and opened up his case. "Go on, ask me any note on any string." I sat down and called out G flat on the 3rd string. The words had no sooner left my lips when Paul was on the 11th fret playing me the requested note. "And another," my friend requested confidently. "Ok, C sharp same string." Paul played the C sharp. I then asked for a D on the 1st string, an F sharp on the 2nd, a C on the 4th. Paul played each one without any hesitation. "What do you think about that?" he asked smugly. Oh no, I thought, I had created a monster!!!!

Paul then went on to play notes all over the neck, calling them out as they sounded. I couldn't believe it, I knew my fretboard study was good but I didn't expect these results. Paul was delighted. He thanked me for the study, and also for encouraging him to master his fretboard. He said he now knew what I had meant when I told him how much this knowledge would improve his playing. "That study is dynamite," he told me. Maybe he had a point.

Now, a few years down the line, I realise just how true Paul's words were. The study IS dynamite. I have used it with many of my students and they have all reported results that are equally as impressive as Paul's. After much encouragement from my students and friends, I have now decided to make it available worldwide. For the small price of 5.00 (five pounds), you too can experience what Paul did all those years ago, and also what countless other people are experiencing today. If you are serious about being a guitar player you really need to know your fretboard. Visit our website at for your copy of this great ebook. You will not be disappointed.
Improve today - Grab the Fretboard Master!

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