To start learning the bass guitar fretboard inside out, learn these 3 points you can use as a reference. These 3 different areas will act as shortcuts you can use to find any note quickly. Dive straight in or look at How To Find The Notes On The Bass Guitar to gain more of an understanding of the fretboard.
Learn these 3 points and you can find ANY note much, much quicker. Make sure you know these extremely well.
Point 1 - the open strings
This one’s easy. If you can’t remember the names use this mnemonic: Every Alsatian Dog Growls (going from thick string to thin string).
Point 2 - the notes at the 5th fret
These notes share the exact same pitch (they are the same sound). So if you know the open string names then the 5th fret notes will be easy once you remember the pattern: the note on the 5th fret is the same as the thinner open string next to it.
- 6 strings and some 5 strings have a thinner string higher sounding than the G. Following our pattern it is no surprise that it is the C string.
- Another pattern (they are everywhere on the bass!) : if you look at the 5th fret notes - A D G C - you will see that they are 4 notes apart. The bass is ‘tuned in 4ths’. This means each string is 4 notes from the next. E.g. If you go E F G A and count E as ‘one’, then that is 4 notes. So although we don’t have a C string in the diagram above, we can use this 4ths pattern. G to C is 4 notes ( G A B C, counting G as ‘one’).
Point 3 - the notes at the 12th fret
Another easy one here: the notes on the 12th fret are exactly the same as the open string notes. The 12th fret is where those two dots are on your neck.
Don’t underestimate how important and useful these 3 points are in learning the fretboard.
- Want an Ab? One fret lower (left) than the A on the 5th fret.
- Want a D#? One fret higher (right) than the open string D.
- Want a high Gb? Go one fret lower than the 12th fret G.
How well do you honestly know your fretboard? Comment below!