Fretboard Mapping – Part 1

In this video, Colin demonstrates how to memorize pitch names on the fretboard one string at a time using the Chromatic Scale.

Unlocking your fretboard is essential if you want to play guitar without limitations. In this episode I’m going to show you a chromatic exercise to help you know your guitar inside out.

Today I’m going to talk to you about fingerboard mapping; fretboard mapping. It seems like every student that is struggling with breaking outside of the box when improvising or struggling to improvise, it comes down to the fundamental of knowing your fretboard. Do you know where your pitches are?

With that knowledge you can tie in the theoretical knowledge that you’ve gained. For example, if the song is in D Dorian you could map out all the notes of C Major, which is the parent major scale of D Dorian, and you could use your entire fretboard to improvise with. But a lot of people just look at one part of the neck to play a scale in and say, “Ok, well I’ll just use these few notes over here.”

But you’re neglecting the rest of your fretboard! So that becomes a problem when it comes time to really express yourself. Today I’m going to show you one exercise that is helpful for mapping your fretboard. This will be the first of many installments of different ways to really get to know and master your fretboard.

This is called “Linear Fretboard Mapping” and it involves a metronome, so I recommend downloading a metronome app on your phone, or you can use an old school metronome. There are also metronome websites that you can use as well.

We’re gonna play every note up to our 12th fret using the names of the notes. When you get to a note that has a sharp or flat name on the way up, let’s just use the sharp names, and on the way down, let’s use the flat names so we get practice doing both. We’re gonna say it while we play it: one note per click.

Let’s start at 80 beats per minute and name all of the notes on our fretboard one string at a time. Let’s start with our low E string.

Free Chromatic Scale Chart

Click below to download a free PDF of the Chromatic Scale

You want to be able to map out all the notes and say them as fast as possible. The reason the speed is really important is because the faster you can recognize the pitches on your fretboard, the more accessible it will become in an improvisation situation. So if you are playing in the key of E-flat Minor (which is G-flat Major) you might take a second to be like, “Oh is this the right note?” and that little millisecond could mean the difference between playing the right note or the wrong note or playing the note in time or playing it out of time. So knowing these notes inside out is very, very important.

Spend some hours dedicated to mapping out all of the notes on every string chromatically, and come back for the next installment on Inside Out Guitar.

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