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Learn the Notes, Learn the Flats

 

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Spider Legs Warm-Ups: Great Finger Exercises!

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This lesson keeps the focus on the brain. We'll continue learning how to use the Spider Legs warm-up to serve as a context for learning the names of the notes in the first four frets of the guitar.

In this lesson, we will take each string one at a time and learn the notes found on that string. In this run-through however, we'll also look at the concept of "flats", and how they relate to the notes on the guitar.

Even if you don't read music, it is extremely useful to understand the basic concept of how the notes work, how sharps and flats work, and how to locate a specific note on the guitar. This will help in understanding the music you are currently working on, in learning new music, and in communicating with other musicians.

For the purposes of this exercise, I am not going to go into great detail about the music theory behind notes, sharps, and flats. The purpose of this exercise is to simply familiarize you with the concepts, and where specific notes are located on the guitar neck in the first four frets.

My lesson that presents a more detailed explanation of the music theory behind all this is currently under construction. I will post the link to it right here as soon as it is ready to go.

Meanwhile, let's learn the names of the notes, one string at a time. As you get more familiar with these, you may wish to bookmark this lesson and try saying them along with me. It's a great way to make sure you are on the right track.

As the concept of "flats" refers to a note that is one half-step (one fret) BELOW the letter-named note, we'll do this exercise in a descending pattern, starting with the high E string.

FIRST STRING (High E string):
Played at the Fifth Fret: A
Fourth Fret: Ab (A flat)
Third Fret: G
Second Fret: Gb (G flat)
First fret: F
Played open: E

So all together, the notes on the first string, in descending order, starting at the fifth fret and working our way down to the open string, are: A, Ab, G, Gb, F, E

SECOND STRING (B string):
Fourth Fret: Eb
Third Fret: D
Second Fret: Db
First fret: C
Played open: B

So all together, the notes on the second string, in descending order, starting at the fourth fret and working our way down to the open string, are: Eb, D, Db, C, B

THIRD STRING (G string):
Fourth Fret: B again
Third Fret: Bb
Second Fret: A
First fret: Ab
Played open: G

So all together, the notes on the third string, in descending order, starting at the fourth fret and working our way down to the open string, are: B, Bb, A, Ab, G

FOURTH STRING (D string):
Fourth Fret: Gb
Third Fret: F
Second Fret: E
First fret: Eb
Played open: D

So all together, the notes on the fourth string, in descending order, starting at the fourth fret and working our way down to the open string, are: Gb, F, E, Eb, D

FIFTH STRING (A string):
Fourth Fret: Db
Third Fret: C
Second Fret: B
First fret: Bb
Played open: A

So all together, the notes on the fifth string, in descending order, starting at the fourth fret and working our way down to the open string, are: Db, C, B, Bb, A

SIXTH STRING (lowest sounding string, Low E string):
Fourth Fret: Ab
Third Fret: G
Second Fret: Gb
First fret: F
Played open: E

So all together, the notes on the sixth string, in descending order, starting at the fourth fret and working our way down to the open string, are: Ab, G, Gb, F, E

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You probably noticed that sometimes when we went from a note with a single letter name (G for instance), and lowered the tone of the note by one fret, we called it "G flat", or Gb. "Flat", by definition, means you are lowering the note by one half-step, or one fret on the guitar.

However, this is not a completely consistent system. There are two places in the musical alphabet where no flat (or sharp) exists. That is between the notes E and F, and also between the notes B and C. Notice in the chart above that every time we went from F to E, or from C to B, there was no flat. We just went directly from the E to the F, and from the B to the C. Strange but true, that's just the way it is.

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