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Fretboard Knowledge

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Von Fett, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Von Fett

    Von Fett

    Sep 1, 2011
    Dear bassists,

    How long did you all play before you really became comfortable with every note on the fretboard? Were there any particularly helpful exercises that assisted your learning?

    Von Fett
  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Best one is to say the notes aloud as you play scale and chord studies. Do it for five minutes at a time, then put the bass down and then write them out as you visualise them, after a few days it becomes easier to see and relate to the neck....even without a bass in view.
  3. RoboChrist

    RoboChrist Guest

    Jul 8, 2009
    I took a pic of my bass neck and added text with MS Paint:

    Attached Files:

  4. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Draw a picture of the fretboard.
    Try to label each fret and string with it's corresponding note by memory.
    Cheat if you have too.
    This helps you to know and remember where every note is located.
  5. 1fretbass


    Jan 2, 2012
    what I did about 6 months into playing was made a fingerboard diagram with notes and strings as well as a chart for sight readings. after this it took me about a year to feel fully comfertable with playing perfectly
  6. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    this subject always intrigues me; it was never hard for me even when i was starting out to learn the fretboard. i cannot understand why a lot of people struggle. YMMV
  7. Von Fett

    Von Fett

    Sep 1, 2011
    Seems like everyone has a different method/experience.

    I wouldn't say I struggle with learning the fretboard, but it is a slow going process. To each their own I suppose.
  8. Bassemand


    Jan 8, 2012
    I guess it depends on what you mean exactly by 'familiar'. I sometimes sing along with my lines when practicing, and I like to think it gives me a better feeling with the line. It's not the kind of familiarity that'll help you much reading tabs or sheet music, but I think it helps when improvising. It gives some feeling for how different sequences of notes sound and after a while, if you can hum a bass line, you will also be able to play it almost immediately.
  9. southpaw76


    Feb 20, 2007
    Charlotte, NC
    The way I got comfortable was by playing in all the positions of the same root. Whether it was scales, chords or songs. So if a riff started the first E of the D string (2nd fret), I would then play it on the A string (7th fret) and then on the E string (12th fret).

    Humming the notes and calling them while I am humming them also helped me associate the note name with the sound it makes.

    Visualizing it while I am not playing it has also helped me a lot.

  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    It all depends on your foundation of musical knowledge, but one constant in them all is the point about writing them down in some way to reinforce the information.
    I mean just on the basics I could say that if we understand the basics of a bass being set out in semitones and fourths, then to play it chromatically, so we cover all the twelve notes, then the fact we have four fingers to use of we start to fret any series of four chromatic notes, rather than move the hand forward and continue of the last played note, we simply move back one fret and go up a fourth. And then repeat this over the four strings.

    So on say an A string going A to A would be A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A so we play four notes then move up and play four more using one finger per fret, then move up and play four more and we arrive at the A an octave above.
    Or we just play four notes on the E string, the go back one fret and up to the A string, play four notes, them back one fret and up to the D string and play four notes (or just play five notes on the D string ) then back one fret and up to the G string and play one note. Either way we have gone chromatically from A to A. So looking at it rather than a straight series of following notes, it is a diagonal series of following notes. See how each new note on each new sting is diagonal, the opposite happens on the way back down in as much as rather that going back one fret we go forward one fret.....and down to the next string and so on.

    This is of course just one of the many ways to travel the fretboard using four fingers and using the tuning of the bass in fourths. And when you understand this, it really is not a big deal to play and read music as well as make bass lines that use a much more balanced use of the hands and the instrument.
  11. NeroJazz


    May 2, 2011
    The method that worked for me was to write down the notes of a scale and then play the scale starting from the lowest string to the highest in random positions.

    This forced me to remember where the notes where in order to play the scale. When I had said scale down, I'd pick a new one.

    It takes time and patience, but is well worth the effort.
  12. Bassguy87564


    Jul 5, 2006
    I use to think I learned the finger board by thinking then name or saying it and go up chromatically but I have come to realize it was really reading music. Read as much music as you can on you bass and get that solid they try to sightread to work on quickness of recalling note names and where they are. I wouldn't recommend tabs cause you are just relating numbers and this isn't me hating on tabs cause it is important to know how to do just doesn't help with knowing where the notes are. It probably took me about a year before I really knew where everything was but i am not to sure it was so long ago.
  13. odin70


    Dec 26, 2007
    Learn to read. Thats the best way imo
  14. tgriley62


    Jan 25, 2011
    S.E. Mo
    One thing that helped me was to learn each note on the Open stings and the 3rd, 5th & 7th fret and give each note a name to help remember them. For example on the 5th fret from the E to the G sting is I use the phrase All Dogs Go Crazy to remember A,D,G,C and on the 7th its Because Every Animal Does for B, E, A, D
  15. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    Gary Willis' "Fingerboard Harmony" is about as good a book as any I've seen for this. Combined with site reading at all positions on the neck, one should be ready for anything.
  16. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    For me it was a combination of practicing every scale on one strings then across the strings with two or three octaves ( when it is possible ) all that plus reading.

    At one point you will read music and you will see where is the best place to play what you read or the best place to shift position etc.

    Also reading in all three clef is a big plus.
  17. Dazey


    Dec 20, 2011
    St. Louis
    I'm not 100% comfortable with my whole fretboard but i'm pretty confident in my ability to find a note quickly. I started by trying to learn all the notes before the third fret. Then before the 5th fret. Then i tried finding every possible place to play E on the fretboard. Then A. And i just started piecing it together till it all clicked. I still have trouble with notes on the g and d string after the 5th fret but using octaves i can figure them out rather quickly.
  18. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    As I call it the classic "mistake" in learning is to "find a note quickly"
    The reason it is a classic mistake is because we never ever have to find a note quickly in the sense it is being practised. If you are choosing the note, then you already have an intuitive idea where it will be, if some else is calling the note, then you are finding it from a single starting position, rather than the way music really works. Music flows towards, through, and away from notes so it is about the relation of them to a key. That's why the recommendation when learning to do it in all 12 keys works, because you are learning, if you will, the same patterns of fingering or fret mapping, but each time the note used is different. Using this technique ensures you have to think of the relationship between the notes being played rather than the pattern being played, so you do not get tied into pattern association of just repeating the pattern without knowing the notes.Try it for a week or so and watch that problem you have on the D and G string disappear as you learn to play, name and transpose flowing notes around the fretboard.

    For example when you know a song in one key and then you met another band or a singer that do it in a different key, you can transpose the pattern around to suit, but if you also know what the notes are being used then you can work and create within the frame work of keys. That may sound like a trivial thing in your practice, but it will reinforce the habit to become a normal thing you just hear and know in the long run.*
  19. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Reading. It made me learn it. Simple as that.

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