How to read guitar notes

To learn how to read guitar notes is not as tricky as you think. In standard notation, music is written on something called a Staff. The staff consists of 5 lines. The notes can be written on the lines or between them. The higher the note is placed on the staff, the higher is the note (pitch). When the notes are higher or lower than the staff, extra lines are added as you can see on the image further down.


Music can be written in different clefs. Guitar music is written in G clef (treble clef). It is called the G clef because the clef circles round the G note.

G Clef

Let's focus on the note height first and wait with the rhythm. Here is a standard notation staff and a tab staff. On the tab staff you can see where the notes can be played on the guitar. The difficulty with reading notes on guitar is that the same note can be played on different places of the neck.

Standard Notation Staff Tab Staff

The first thing you should do though is to learn the notes on the first 4 or 5 frets of the guitar, start with one string at a time. For a complete overview of all the notes on the guitar click here.

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