A typical question beginners often ask: “Do you really have to know the whole fretboard?” or they will make a remark like: “I first need to know all the notes on the fretboard before I can move on to improve my playing” Let me answer some of these questions by giving you some tips on what to do and what not when it comes to learning the fretboard:
First of all: You do not need to know all the notes of the fretboard to be able to play the guitar in a creative way. Knowing the notes will not harm with you creative playing but it is not a must to first learn all the notes and then to play music. We do not learn to speak our mother tongue by first studying literature and grammar of the English language. You learn to speak as you go along, and your language skills will improve the more your practise the language. Same thing with music: You get better by playing. Setting goals for yourself will speed up the learning process and getting to know the notes of the fretboard could be one of those goals.
Low E and A String:
Make a habit of getting to know the notes on the low E and A string. Most of this can be done by getting to know the Root notes of some of the chords you play: Get to know where the G is in an open G chord, The E in an open E chord, the A in an open A chord etc.
You will find once you get to know the notes on the low E and A, the other strings will follow: The notes of the high E string are the same as the ones on the low E, only three strings left to learn!
Playing Riffs and Melodies in Different Positions:
Play all your favourite riffs and melodies in various positions. This will help your technique and knowledge of the fretboard. It is a fun way to learn as well, since you are playing material you already know.
Sight Reading Using Tutor Books:
Most tutor books will start in the open position. Once you are familiar with the notes in this area move the melodies from the book up into another area of the fretboard. Try to play the melodies in as many positions as you can. Once you get comfortable doing this you will start to see the logic of how the fretboard works.
Keep working at it and hope to catch you soon again,