# Lesson 11: Standard Music Notation For The Guitar Player

One of the challenges for guitar players wanting to learn how to use standard music notation is knowing where on fretboad to play what’s written down on paper. It’s one thing to read music notation and another thing to then play it on the guitar.

This is why tablature is so popular with guitar players, because it shows them exactly where on the fretboard they should play. The downside is that tablature doesn’t convey time, tempo and rythm.

The following diagram is a great tool for bridging the gap between standard music notation and tablature.

Key

• The letters along the top from left to right are the note names of the strings from the thickest to the thinnest string.
• The numbers indicate the fret location, from 0 (not fretted) all the way up to the 24th fret (if your guitar spans two octaves).
• The letters down the right hand side indicate the note name at that particular fret number and string. This example is for the Key of C.

As an example lets see where we can play the notes from the above diagram. E, G, B, D, F. Which we can remember with the mnemonic Every Good Boy Deserves Food.

The E is on the bottom line of the musical staff. If you look on the diagram below you can see there are three numbers on the lowest of the five black lines. The numbers are the 12 on the E string, the 7 on the A string and the 2 on the D string.

This means that the E on the musical staff above can be played at the 12th fret of the low E string, the 7th fret of the A string and the 2nd fret of the D string.

These note locations aren’t something you’ll be able to learn overnight. My advice is to concentrate on learning the note locations for the common chords that you play so that you can recognise them when they’re presented to you in standard music notation. For example learn the music notation for these chords.

After that you should start paying attention to the notation of songs that you’re learning to play, not just the tablature. Many song books feature both tablature and standard notation which you can use as a good opportunity to improve your sight reading.

# Lesson 8: The BEAD-GCF Pattern

Remember you can zoom in and out on the images in this post by pressing Ctrl + and -. This lesson builds upon Lesson 6: The Five Fret Pattern.

The Five Fret Pattern occurs because of the particular way in which the guitar strings are tuned 5 frets apart. The great thing about this is that it makes the guitar reflect fundamental patterns in western music. This is why I think it’s so important for guitar players to learn music theory for the guitar in a way that is specific to the instrument and not just a rehashing of piano lessons.

If you take any starting note and you keep moving up 5 frets along an imaginary infinitely long guitar string, you will eventually cycle through all the different notes (a real guitar string isn’t long enough but the same thing happens when you move vertically across the strings).

For example, start with the B note on the lowest string, move 5 frets to the right and you’ll find an E (or follow the Five Fret Pattern and move up to the next string). When you move along another 5 frets (or the next string using the Five Fret Pattern) you’ll reach the A note. If you continue following this pattern you’ll encounter all the notes in the following order:

B – E – A – D – G – C – F – A# / Bb – D# / Eb – G# / Ab – C# / Db – F# / Gb and then the pattern starts at the beginning again: B – E – A – D – G – C – F etc. It’s a circular pattern.

To help you remember this pattern more easily you can simplify it to:

B – E – A – D – G – C – F – Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb

Pronounce the first four notes as the word BEAD and remember the next three with the mnemonic Get Carter For me (after the movie Get Carter). Finally repeat the first five note names but as flats Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb.

Now look at the notes on the fretboard again and see how this pattern appears across the strings. Find the B on the lowest string, then the E on the next string, the A etc and remember that this pattern follow the Five Fret Pattern so it shifts over to the right for the two highest strings.

Pick another note on the lowest string, for example the A at the 5th fret. The next notes are D – G – C, then remember to follow the Five Fret Pattern by moving a fret to the right to find F and Bb.

This pattern is another tool to help you learn all of the notes on the guitar fretboard, but it will also help you learn the Circle of 4ths and 5ths, a fundamental tool for understanding music theory. The Circle of 4ths and 5ths will be covered in the next lesson.