How To Read Frets On A Guitar

Wondering how to read frets on a guitar? You might think that a great deal of music theory knowledge is necessary to read frets on a guitar, and although some sort of music background is helpful, it is definitely not a necessity. It's useful to know the names of the notes themselves: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and all of the sharps and flats, but aside from that learning how to read frets on a guitar is just about memory and practice. The great thing about learning how to read frets is that you can use the skill on any type of guitar you might find. Acoustic, electric, bass guitars, and even many other fretted instruments can all be figured out using the exact same knowledge of how to read frets on a guitar.

  1. Identify the string's "open" pitch. Before you begin learning all about the fretboard, it's important to know what each string's "open" pitch is. That is, what note will you hear when you pluck the string without pressing it down on the guitar neck. For a typical guitar in standard tuning, the pitches of the six strings are E, A, D, G, B, and E again, starting from the top string and going to the string closest to the ground.
  2. Count the number of frets. Each fret represents a half step change in pitch. So the first fret of the sixth string on a guitar (it's open pitch is E) is F. The second fret of the sixth string is F#. The third fret is G. This continues all the way up the string. The sixth string becomes E again at the twelfth fret, so twelve frets represents one octave.
  3. Repeat for all strings. No matter what string you choose, each fret represents a change of one half step. The second string of a guitar has an open pitch of B. It's first fret is a C, the second is a C# and the third is a D.
  4. Memorize and practice. Find a diagram that will help you learn how to read frets on the guitar, and memorize where each note is. Practice your memorization of this diagram for a small amount of time every day, and before you know it, you'll be able to point out any string at any fret, and instantly know what note will play. Now you truly know how to read frets on a guitar.

Guitar Neck Diagram

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