Tips for Re-learning the Fretboard?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. I've played for 11 years now. For the first 9 years, I tuned to EADG. After that I bounced around between a few different tunings but have finally settled on DGCF for the foreseeable future. I’ve been in this tuning for the last 3 months, and have probably used this tuning for the last 10 months in the last year and a half (on and off).

    I’ve tried doing scales and playing notes along the neck while reciting the note names, as well as playing old songs I learned in EADG in the new tuning, but no matter what I do, I can’t seem to stop comparing the new tuning to the old.

    For example, if I’m looking for the G on lowest string, I’ll usually tell myself “it’s two frets higher than the 3rd fret”, instead of just telling myself it’s the 5th fret. When I’m playing a song I played in EADG, I tell myself to fret the notes two frets higher.

    Is there anything I can do to wipe the EADG tuning from my mind, or is it going to take another 9 years before the new tuning has the same influence as the old?
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Old habits die hard. When I was dabbling on cello for a while if I was reading and saw a top line A my first finger would immediately press down the high A string where the B is. It's going to take a while.
    mbelue and Matthew_84 like this.
  3. Just thought of something regarding the quote above. Is it odd that I determine notes by how many frets it is from the nut?

    I use the side dots (on frets 3, 5, 7, etc) to determine what fret number I’m looking at.

    I’m wondering if I try memorizing the notes at the side dots on each string only, if that will help change my mapping process better so that I’m looking more at landmarks, rather than doing more of a mathematical/counting approach?
  4. Matt Lake

    Matt Lake Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2010
    Jefferson CITY
    How about some of those fretboard marker stickers with the notes on them? May help visual memory.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  5. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    I never heard of such an off-the-wall idea. Why would you do such a thing? Basses aren't guitars; there's no benefit to unconventional tunings, especially for a novice player unskilled in transposition.

    My advice is to sh!tcan this crazy notion right now. If you need the D for the guys you play with, buy one of these:

    hip D.jpg
    mbelue and Max Bogosity like this.
  6. Tried it. Didn’t like it. I prefer keeping my tuning in P4’s on all strings. I also found it rarely snapped back to being in tune after a few flips of the lever.

    Anyways, I only play open strings unless I need to, so changing the tuning didn’t really make a lot of the songs I play impossible to do. I just need to relearn the board.
  7. That may help. Thanks. I’ll look into that.
  8. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    Matt Lake said:
    How about some of those fretboard marker stickers with the notes on them? May help visual memory.
    Wow, the guys in your band must be pretty generous. If I showed up to rehearsal with note stickers on my bass, they'd laugh me out of there for sure.
  9. Set up a slow click on a metronome or whatever.
    Pick a note, let’s say C.
    On every click, you have to play a C. No repeating the same one. Find every C on every string. If you can’t do it in time, slow down the metronome.
    Now pick another note (maybe go around the circle of fifths) and do it again.
    When you can do it consistently, in time, for every note, speed up the click.
    Repeat as needed.

    A teacher gave me this exercise years ago. It’s dull but effective.

    I’m starting again myself as my own solution to needing the low Eb and D was to get a five string, but when I look down that extra B string confuses my tiny brain and makes me forget the other strings.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  10. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Just memorize the notes on the 2nd, fourth, 6th, eighth, and 11th frets. Do that and you should know where every note from the open strings to the 13th fret are.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    There is a MUCH easier way to think about this topic. ;)

    Simply think of the note at the 3rd fret as G. It will actually sound as an F, but in your head, you are thinking G.

    Now let's say you want to play a (concert pitch) F blues with the chord changes F7-Bb7-C7. If you think G7-C7-D7 instead, then you will be in the same key as everyone else and the song will sound great.

    Essentially you are treating your bass as a Bb transposing instrument (like trumpet or saxophone). Any student of composition or arranging should understand how to read and write charts for transposing instruments. Most musicians who use drop tunings (scordatura) or capos are thinking in the "key of the fingering" (transpositionally), not in concert pitch. If your guitarist also tunes to D, he will probably thank you for calling that lowest pitch E instead of D!
    lowplaces and Matthew_84 like this.
  12. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    EADG is sacred to me. Why I own 5 strings.
    Max Bogosity and lowplaces like this.
  13. That’s smart. Thanks!
    lowplaces likes this.
  14. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    It's a terrible idea. Concert pitch is the only way to go.
    Just keep saying the names of every note when you practice. It will click eventually.
  15. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Transposing may or may not be a terrible idea, but it's certainly a popular idea. Transposition is used by the majority of bands who down tune in my experience. It is also used by classical composers who write for scordatura strings, guitarists who use a capo, or anyone who plays trumpet, sax, or other transposing instruments. Since it is so commonly encountered, it is a tool well worth having in your toolbox.

    Also, let's not forget that bass is by definition a transposing instrument that sounds an octave lower than written. Since we are already transposing any time we pick up the instrument, why not open our minds to the possibility of transposing by intervals other than the perfect octave? :)
  16. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Taking heroin is also a popular but terrible idea.

    Concert only.
  17. Transposing is a great tool to have in your toolbox. It also leads to lots of confusion. "What are you playing there" "C" "Written C or concert C?" It's easier for everyone if a C is a C.

    Guitarists using capos are probably the leading cause of trainwrecks due to songs played in the wrong key. :D
    lz4005 likes this.
  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    At first I thought you were being overly hyperbolic. But then I looked at some case studies:

    Charlie Parker. Played Eb transposing alto saxophone. Used heroin.

    Miles Davis. Played Bb transposing trumpet. Also used heroin.

    Keith Richards. Uses a capo and loves alternate tunings. Yup, you guessed it: heroin.

    So maybe you're onto something with your theory! Keep up the good work. :)
    Max Bogosity, Matthew_84 and lz4005 like this.
  19. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    65,000 fatal opiod overdoses in 2016.
  20. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I still say that knowing patterns helps. You still have to know what the names of the notes on the fingerboard are, though, to know where the roots of a chord/scale are. But from there you can play the pattern. Of course, you should also understand why the pattern is shaped the way it is, otherwise you are missing the main ingredient. But, as you play the pattern you don't have to recite every note that goes by. And don't forget how the pattern for each chord/scale evolves as you move up the fretboard into a different shape in different positions. It helps if you know chords/scales on guitar first.

    I usually talked more about chord shapes than scale shapes to early students. There are fewer notes to clutter the fretboard diagram that way. Eventually, they would begin to see the scales associated with the chords.

    And I don't do heroin.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 24, 2021

Share This Page