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Practice Without Guitar: Learn The Fretboard
Written by Gary Fletcher

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There are two kinds of guitarist, those who know their fretboard and those who don't. Although simply memorizing all the notes won't make you into Jimi Hendrix overnight, you can be sure that the best guitarists are all in the camp of "those who do". Fortunately, you can learn a lot about the fretboard without eating up your precious practice time.

Although there are lots of different techniques for learning your fretboard the real key is repetition. Repetition helps you learn and refreshes the knowledge so you don't lost it. Here are ten different ways you can get your dose of repetition while not playing your guitar.

Fretboard Learning Exercises

  1. Pick a note, name all the places it occurs on the guitar.
  2. Pick a fret, name the notes on all strings.
  3. Pick a chord position, name all the notes in it and their place in the chord position. Name their scale degree too.
  4. Pick a fret and string and name the note that occurs. Name all the intervals up to octave above and below the note and the place they occur.
  5. Pick a chord and name all the places it occurs on the fretboard in different inversions. Name the root note's position and the shape of the other notes, or spell them out one by one like in item 3 above.
  6. Do the same for the chords of a progression or song. Find all the places you could play the progression or song using different chord shapes.
  7. Make up little phrases with the first letters of each note on a particular fret, e.g. Every Afternoon Do Guitar Blues Exercises uses the notes of the open strings. Use this for a few key frets, then identify notes on nearby frets relative to them.
  8. Slip a small fretboard diagram into your wallet so you'll carry it around with you everywhere. When you have two spare minutes you can pull out your chart and place notes, scales or chords on it.
  9. If you don't have the slip of paper handy you can use visualization instead. Picture a fretboard in your mind, pick some notes and "see" where they occur on the fretboard image.
  10. Find yourself some fretboard software for your mobile phone, iPhone or Palm computer.

Maximize Learning Time

That's ten easy ways to work on your fretboard knowledge, all without a guitar in hand. You can use these exercises as you exercise, shower, shop, or during any of those little spare moments that occur in the day.

Maximize your guitar learning time by taking advantage of them today.

Gary Fletcher is a writing guy who spends too much time not playing guitar.

Image Credit: Kainet
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