Electric Guitar Notes

If you want to learn electric guitar notes, it's important first of all to recognize that there is no difference in the notes on the fretboard on an acoustic, electric, or classical guitar (assuming are all using standard tuning). Also, if you don't have a music background or need a refresher, it's also important to have some basic knowledge the "musical alphabet."

The Musical Alphabet

The basic musical notes (what are called "natural notes") consist of the following: 

A - B - C - D - E - F - G. 

You should know that when you reach the "end" of the musical alphabet, it simply repeats itself.

Before we move on, it's good to understand the distance between these notes and how they relate to the guitar. 

Whole Steps and Half Steps

In music, we often speak of "whole steps" and "half steps." These refer to the distances between adjacent notes. It's really easy to explain using a guitar because a whole step is the distance between notes that have an empty fret between them. So from the 3rd fret to the 5th fret you have a whole step, whereas the distance from the 3rd to the 4th fret is a half step. Every time you move one fret up or down, you're moving in a half step. 

Make sense?

Sharps and Flats

So addition to these 7 notes, you can raise or lower these notes as well by a half step. When you raise a note by a half step, you're "sharpening" the note. When you lower a note by a half step, you're flattening it.

At this point, let's look again at the basic musical alphabet: 

A - B - C - D - E - F - G.

With these natural notes, there is a half-step difference between B and C as well as between E and F. So on a guitar fretboard, B and C are right next to each other. Same goes for E and F. The other notes are a whole step apart, so it's easy to see how they can be "sharpened" or "flattened."

For example, if you lower an E note by one half step, you're flattening it, and you get the note "Eb." Similarly, if you raise, say, the note G, you're sharpening it, and you get the note G#.

Enharmonic Notes

Here's where things get a bit tricky. A flattened note can sound the same as another note that's sharpened. For example, Ab and G# are the exact same pitch. You just call one Ab and G# depending on what's called the key or pitch center of the tune you're playing (don't worry about that right now - I'll explain in another lesson).

So if you're going to speak in terms of flats, all the notes would look like this:

Ab - A - Bb - B - C - Db - D - Eb - E - F - Gb - G

Remember that there's a half step between B/C and E/F so those notes stay the same.

And if we're speaking in terms of sharps, you get

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

The following notes sound exactly the same. They're called "enharmonic notes" and the pitches are identical.






I'll explain in another lesson why and how you decide to call something sharp or flat. But for now, it's important to understand that electric guitar notes move in a series of half steps and that notes can be "sharpened" or "flattened" depending.

Electric Guitar Notes on the Fretboard - the Big Picture

So with that in mind, here are the electric guitar notes on the fretboard using flats. FYI, the colors have no significance other than to show you how the different note names are repeated on the fretboard. IN this diagram, the top row of notes is the high "E" string and the bottom row are the low "E" string. From low to high the notes of the open strings are E - A - D - G - B -E.

And here are the electric guitar notes using sharps. Remember, a sharped note (e.g. A#) has another name that will use flats to name it (Bb), but they will sound the same.

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