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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Guitarists have never been great sight-readers. There are two reasons for this:
1. Lack of practice.
2. There is an extra step in the sight-reading process that requires choice and decision-making.

The same pitch can be played multiple places on the fretboard of the guitar. Over time, this concept is assimilated and where you decide to play each note is primarily dependent on where you played the last note and the note you have to play next. The guitarist will usually go for the most intuitive option. Where are all these options on the fretboard?

Using a standard tuned 6 string 24-fret guitar as a model I made a chart.
  • There are 49 individual pitches (including the open strings) on a standard tuned/6 string/24 fret guitar.
  • There are 150 places those pitches can be played (including the open strings.)
  • 10 pitches can be played at 1 location
  • 18 pitches can be played at 2 locations
  • 30 pitches can be played at 3 locations
  • 36 pitches can be played at 4 locations
  • 50 pitches can be played at 5 locations
  • 1 pitch can be played at 6 locations

The chart is downloadable below. Here is how it works:
The open E on the 1st string can be played at 6 locations. These locations can be identified by the color-coded pink E6. The E represents the pitch, the accompanying number represents how many places on the fretboard that pitch occurs, and the color-coding is as follows:

6 locations = Pink
5 locations = Blue
4 locations = Green
3 locations = Gold
2 locations = Light Blue
1 location = Black

The pitch E6 diagonally divides the fretboard into 2 halves which reveals a nearly symmetrical pattern. If someone were to make a topographical map of the fretboard there would be a diagonal mountain with the E6's as peaks and the slopes on both sides of the mountain would fall away to blue (5 locations), green (4 locations), etc. Sometimes that sort of visualization helps. (I actually thought it would be great to build with LEGOS.)

The chart is not perfect but it illustrates the element of choice guitarists encounter when reading music. In contrast, pianists have no choice. All 88 pitches are laid out in front of them and can only be played in 1 location. This just means their challenges are different and knowing where the pitches are is not one of them.

Anyways, I just thought I'd share. :)
 

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Interesting way to visualize the fretboard... Really emphasizes the difference between the keyboard and fretboard when learning. I often wished I had initially learned to theory and music on a piano... Just to have a clearer mental picture of music theory, especially in the case of chord structures.

Your diagram is intriguing when looking at chord positions and inversions... which is something important I need to work on. I saved a copy to play with later. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Pianists were actually the primary people that helped me realize something was different between how they read music and how I read music. The diagram maps out the "pitch redundancy" of the guitar fretboard. The term "pitch redundancy" came from an article written by a pianist explaining music notation. Pitch redundancy is extremely useful because it creates options. (Options are not useful when sight-reading.) If you find the diagram useful, use it. If you can make a better one that communicates the same information, please do.
 

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I've considered this before as i'm someone who took piano lessons from about age 6-12 and learned to read music before picking up a guitar (which coincidentally was around when i stopped piano lessons). I think i've maybe twice attempted reading guitar music on a staff and gave up quickly, though i still read regularly for the keyboard. Reason #3 guitarists suck at reading is because tabs are easier! IMO the ideal way to write down guitar music is to have both tab+notes, like the PAW tab book does for instance.

There's a video of Paul Gilbert somewhere on youtube that i can't find where he plays the open high E string and slides up to the same E through all the strings (ie: 5th fret on b string, then 9th on g string and so on..). Of course he does this blazingly fast and impressively. Wish i could find it as it's the perfect representation of pitch redundancy, at least for jemsite lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've considered this before as i'm someone who took piano lessons from about age 6-12 and learned to read music before picking up a guitar (which coincidentally was around when i stopped piano lessons). I think i've maybe twice attempted reading guitar music on a staff and gave up quickly, though i still read regularly for the keyboard. Reason #3 guitarists suck at reading is because tabs are easier! IMO the ideal way to write down guitar music is to have both tab+notes, like the PAW tab book does for instance.

There's a video of Paul Gilbert somewhere on youtube that i can't find where he plays the open high E string and slides up to the same E through all the strings (ie: 5th fret on b string, then 9th on g string and so on..). Of course he does this blazingly fast and impressively. Wish i could find it as it's the perfect representation of pitch redundancy, at least for jemsite lol.
Tablature tells you where to play which simplifies the decision-making part of reading notation, so in that respect, it is easier. The FTLOG solo would probably be played quite different if it were not for the tablature showing the player how Steve uses really wide stretches on a few strings rather than arpeggios across many strings. (Assuming the person learning it had never heard the song.)

I wanted to put all the options out on paper so that I could see what they actually look like, simultaneously. Also, in other threads, there were discussions about why the guitar is hard. I didn't know how to contribute to those threads so I started this in a rather sparse section of Jemsite to point out the guitar inherently requires an extra step in "figuring out where the notes should go." If the piano requires 2 steps, the guitar requires 3 with the exception of the highest 5 pitches and the lowest 5 pitches.

When I was a student, a chart like this would have been useful because it specifically lays out the redundant pitches rather than vaguely presenting the idea you can play the same pitch multiple places. They are not all pragmatic or realistically playable, but they are there should you need them.

I've learned a lot from Paul Gilbert's offhand comments, let alone his lessons. They are surprisingly insightful. ;)
 

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I've learned a lot from Paul Gilbert's offhand comments, let alone his lessons. They are surprisingly insightful. ;)
I get that from him as well... Little tidbits that don't often get mentioned can be important. Some of this is just his very relatable, unassuming, down-to-earth way of speaking to people... I think. He does explain things in easy to understand terms for the musically uneducated (or with limited theory).

Not To Meander
 
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