Guitarists seem to be highly visual creatures. Just have a look at all the various diagrams floating around!
What a nice Gma7#11 chord.
And here's what the Lydian scale that goes well with that chord looks like:
While you might get different styles and looks, the basic concept is the same - a graphical representation of what to play.
This is more common on guitar than on most other instruments. Let's stick with the chord diagram example for a minute.
If you are a novice keyboard player you might initially be presented with a visual representation of the chord you are learning. However, you'd get weaned off rather quickly and soon you'd only use a notated version or just go with the chord symbols.
It's different with guitarists. That's why there's the old joke of how to get the obnoxious lead guitar player to turn down his amp? Simple answer: just put some sheet music in front of him.
Sad, but true. ;-)
Even experienced guitarists use diagrams. So it's not just a beginner's thing. And actually, why not when it's easier than notation and gets you playing the music quicker? After all, that's what it is about - the music.
Notation is Complex to Master on Guitar
Notation is comparatively more difficult on guitar than on other instruments.
For almost any note there are multiple locations where you could play it. Add the multiplying factor of which finger to use in which instance and you have the recipe for potential brain freeze right there.
So this is no rant about stupid guitarists not being able to sightread. Because reading music is difficult.
However, what's "dangerous" and could seriously hold you back is not knowing the locations of all the notes.
If all you go by is fret numbers from tab style notation or dots on diagrams you are limiting yourself.
Cold, hard truth: you need to know the notes on the fingerboard.
A Quick Test For You
- What's the note on the 10th fret of the B string?
- What about the 7th fret of the G string?
- Could you show us the C note on the D string within 2 seconds?
Way back in the stone ages when I had been playing guitar for a year or two... I was able to play some solos note for note and improvise over basic Blues and Rock progressions by ear. But ask me such a question and I'd stumble and freeze and look like a stammering idiot.
So, What's the Fix?
Learn the note locations. It's actually not that difficult. The secret lies in learning it in chunks by focusing on 1 or 2 notes at a time and practicing consistently.
You've heard that before, right?
- Pick a note and locate it on each string, go from the low E-string to the high E-string and back again.
- Repeat this process for 2-3 minutes.
- Once you've mastered a note after a few days/weeks, choose another.
- Rinse and repeat.
You could definitely learn it by yourself, simply adding it to your practice routine and sticking with it. The question is: would you be consistent with it?
Here's a better idea...
Invest into our Guitar Yoga series and your problem is solved. We feature our tested note location program in all 3 levels.
- The 3 "pillar" notes that give you a great structure for orientation in Guitar Yoga level 1 for a solid foundation
- All the "natural" notes in Guitar Yoga level 2.
- And after finishing our Guitar Yoga level 3 you'll know the guitar neck inside out.
Developing a solid foundation will make learning everything easier and more meaningful.
So, what are you waiting for? Get Guitar Yoga and master all the notes on the fingerboard.