1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Best way to learn the notes of the fingerboard?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by WilliamSandoval, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. My friend has decided to play the bass!:hyper:

    He asked me how to learn notes the fastest. I told him I didn't really know, and that I just kinda learned them after a while.

    Would learning the notes of each fret be easier than leaning the notes of each string. For example, would learning the notes on E String "E F F# G G#..." be easier than learning the the notes on the first fret "F A# D# G#", then the second fret and so on?

    This probably makes no sense.

    Would learning the notes across the strings be easier than learning the notes on each individual string?
  2. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Don't know ...

    But I learned each note of the first five frets on each string with reading. Then after learning how a major or minor scale is made I explored the whole fingerboard.
  3. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    nope, best way to learn the fingerboard is scales and arpeggios. Sounds boring I know, but its the best way to do it. This will help you think of music in a more organized way. It will be easier when you know what scale, chord and key the tune is in. That way by just finding the C on your bass you will know where C,D,E,F,G,A and B are in the fingerboard. Then if you find the Db you will know what Db,Eb,F,Gb,Ab,Bb and C, this means you know where the 12 notes are. And all you had to do is learn two scales.

    BUT if you still want to go with either one of your methods then I would think that learning each strings notes first is better (horizontal way). By the time you learn every note on the horizontal way then all you do to learn the vertical way is go up 4ths. However, if you learn the scale way you would be able to spell out the 4ths way faster.
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Whichever one of the above ^^^ methods you choose, make sure to say or sing the notes out loud. This helps in the learning process.
  5. snowplow


    Jan 4, 2012
    Two ways helped me, old fashion and new for when I am away from my bass. Drawing out fretboard in a note book and marking the note and then its chord notes over and over etc... I have a notebook full of them. The new way Fretboard LE app for the iPhone.
  6. RedLeg

    RedLeg Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Kaiserslautern, Germany
    Nov Shmoz Ka Pop?
    "play and say" method, pick start then play and say the notes of the scales and arpeggios.
    "random note" drill, play and say the number of times the note occurs on your board as fast as you can.

    Playing, saying and visualizing helped me out the most. The random note thing is pretty cool too when you think you have 7 E's and you actually find an 8th!
  7. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    my sense is you want to learn useful patterns, so arps. if you know a root and can find the 3, 5 and 8 and say the notes the rest of the scale/mode should fill in

    so just starting with some f blues and transposing to different keys and root positions is a decent start
  8. If you are going to be reading standard notation and playing from that the following will not help, however, if you are going to use patterns and play from that - keep reading.

    I'm a pattern guy, i.e. I know the fifth scale degree - from the root - is always up a string and over two frets or just below the root. The third scale degree is up a string and back one fret. Things like that govern how I play. So I memorized the notes on the 3rd and 4th string so I could place the root note and then let the box put the correct notes under my fingers. This does take you down a R-3-5-8 road instead of a C-E-G-C road, i.e. I think in scale degrees. Here is the box should you care to go that way:

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Place the R on the root note of your scale or chord and
    then let the box along with the following scale and chord
    degree formula find the correct notes for you. 
    Put those patterns into muscle memory. See a Maj7 chord coming up and your fingers already know what will work.

    Have fun.
  9. Bass Mentor

    Bass Mentor

    Apr 30, 2012
    Nashville Tennessee
    endorsing artist: Lava Cable, E&O Mari, Rupert Neve Designs
    I teach all my students to play the triads ( 1, 3, 5 of the major scale derived from your starting note) and move thru the cycle ( i.e. fourths)
    for ex... G, C, F, Bb etc....say the chords out loud as you play -- this helps your ear as most tunes and progressions move in fourths-- very good basic practice and good for short daily periods routine.....warms up the fingers, mind, and ears.....and that combination is what helps you in building musicianship....
  10. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    +1 to the Play it and say it method, but while you're at it,

    look at it on a staff and you'll learn to read at the same time. This will promote muscle memory, without having to look at your fingers.

    I learned to read at age 12 via Carol Kaye method books and a good teacher. I am now 53, a decent player (not a monster), but some of the gigs I get are because I can read charts. (although I can play without them too).

    Writing out the layout of the fingerboard is a helpful leaning tool, but the connection between the brain and fingerboard must be made without that step.
  11. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I got started learning the fingerboard by memorizing the notes at the 'dotted' frets (fret 3,5,7,9,12)
    Assuming you have basic grasp of the order of notes and accidentals , it's pretty easy to find any note form it nearest 'dotted' neighbor. Eventually this became automatic. But that only teaches the geography of the locations, not the music.

    For learning the fingerboard in a more musically useful and thorough manner, I recommend:
  12. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
  13. recreate.me


    Apr 2, 2010
    One of the things that has really helped me so far is playing with my tuner on. Whenever i was just messing around i would hit the tuner on bypass and watch the note names come by.

    If I found something liked, i would normally play it through many times anyway, at least this way i could memorize the note names and it would also help me to know why some phrases sounded a bit 'off' (ie - out of key) I could then move the notes around accordingly!

    Other then that i just did what you proposed in the OP, went down each string and memorized the notes. But really when you think about you, once you know the 12 notes your going to encounter it becomes as easy and quick as counting to 12.

    After memorizing the order, just start randomizing. Decide to play all of the 'As' then find them as and play them as fast as possible, then D's then G sharps etc... do this for a couple days and i'll be you will have that fret board memorized pretty well. At least to the point where you can be play along in a jam and when someone says the chords they are playing you can at least find the roots right away. If you have your Keys memorized then at least you will know the roots, and what key you're in!

Share This Page