How to visualize every note on the fretboard

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Master one key first

When I started this series of articles I promised you that if you stayed in the key of A-Minor/C-Major long enough, I would teach you to name any note on the fretboard in as little as a day. Well here's the simplest and easiest way to do this. But it will only work as well as your ability to visualize the A-Minor/C-Major scale. If you don't feel very confident at this yet, be sure to stay in that key for a month or two. Don't practice playing in any other key until this one is thoroughly embedded in your brain. It will be ten times easier to learn the other keys when you master this one first.

Three small patterns to learn

Now the next step is to learn the notes within these three little patterns:

When you master the A-Minor/C-Major scale and you can name the notes instantly within these three patterns, then you know all the notes of the fretboard. Because you can always find one of these shapes where ever you are. Here's how to learn these notes in the fastest way possible:

The quick method

1. Draw up one of the shapes on a piece of paper, but only put a name on the first note like this:

This gives you an A-shape, a B-shape and an E-shape. As always, focus on mastering one before you go on to another. And if you master the A-shape first, the other ones will be quite easy because they contain the same pattern. Start by focusing only on this part of the A-shape:

The four note core

These four notes repeat themselves in the other two patterns. It's obvious to spot them in the B-shape and you'll see them in the E-shape as well. Now teach yourself to name any note with this four note shape. You might want to take a piece of paper and draw a big version of these four notes without the names on them. Then you can look at that paper and visualize the names of the notes whenever you have 10 seconds to spare. How much time do you think need in order to learn this pattern?:

Now of course it's important that you learn and forget it, learn it and forget it until you don't forget it anymore. But you can go through this process in a couple of hours: Spend 3 minutes memorizing the pattern, then forget about it, then see if you can still remember it an hour later. If you can, take a two hour break - then come back to it. When you've memorized that pattern. Go on to this one:

You cannot learn the notes just by looking at this pattern. You must create a pattern that only has dots and no names. To learn this pattern you only have to ad two notes to the four notes you already master. Use the same "learn and forget" method to teach yourself this one. Then move on to the B-Shape:

As you clearly see, there are only two more notes to learn here. When you master this one, go back to the A-shape and see how much you've forgotten! When you learn something new that resembles something old, the brain want's to throw out the old because it thinks it doesn't need it anymore. By returning to it and relearning it you tell the brain to hold on to it. Now put your focus on the last pattern:

Notice how you still see the "BCEF" pattern, only it's upside down and split up. When you have memorized the notes within this six note pattern return to the previous pattern and see how much you've forgotten. Then return to the first pattern and do the same. Then return to this one again and make sure that you still remember it.

G-Minor Sweeping Tapping Arpeggio Sequencing Lick

When you have several ways of producing the notes you create more options for yourself. This lick uses quite a few techniques that you can practice seperately. Break the lick down into smaller parts and master one part before you move on to the next.

Improvise and speak the notes out loud

Then start improvising on the two bottom strings while you speak out loud the notes you play. Continue to do this until it's effortless:

Then continue this on the middle and the bottom two strings. Then play all the four notes per string patterns while doing the same. While you are doing all this, you are strengthening your fretboard vision radically. Notice how much better you become at recognizing the different patterns on the fretboard in this process. If you use this step by step method you can develop the ability to name any note in a day. And if you practice this a little each day for a week you'll remember it for the rest of your life. And that's a promise.