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How I Figured Out The Fretboard

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How I figured out the mysteries of the guitar fretboard :) Check out my music here: http://www.johnrobsonmusic.co.uk
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Text Comments (172)
dengie75 (1 day ago)
great lesson much appreciated, hope you get out of prison soon.
Cp Man (8 days ago)
Great advice! I will try this for sure. You kept the real nugget for the end. Worth sticking around for. Btw really funny video. I learnt with Russ Shipton's books back in the day too. You're video on your Mum/Benton nearly made me cry and then this! The highs and lows eh?!
Oqsy (13 days ago)
Fantastic lesson! The broken string explanation is a solid springboard for finding your way around the fretboard. I have always had a tendency to stick around the first position at open strings or the 12th fret for the octaves until about 2 years ago. After listening to a lot of Rolling Stones I forced myself to get familiar with riffs and chords built off the D and G string in that no-man’s land halfway between open and the 12th fret. It unlocked an entire new world for me and I suddenly found I liked the sound of that part of the neck better! I’d been playing since 1994, so I *knew* the notes were there and certain songs required me to play there, but I didn’t use it voluntarily until I *understood* it. New chord shapes suddenly became part of my daily playing, and I can say I sound much better now having the choice to voice a chord where I think it feels and sounds better. Your students are lucky to have you!
Mikael Lewis (29 days ago)
Good gawd man...get to the point! Actually some pretty good tips. Just took a while to get there. LOL 😜
Mui MasMacho (1 month ago)
First amp Akai GFC-710D ???
bob murray (1 month ago)
Thanks, nice to know how you figured out the fret board. Didn't help me though. I hoped after watching I'd know where every Eb was located on the fretboard at a glance (& so on..)
Dennis Mason (1 month ago)
What I learned from Sunshine of Your Love: Everything.
METAL Metal (1 month ago)
So helpful, I want to start understanding what scales and chords are and this makes so much sense whereas other books and stuff don't give you this.
mick (1 month ago)
Fantastic video for beginners !!
donindri (1 month ago)
Funny thing about a box of notes, like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get! Forest Gump School of Music!
MEDINAHSHRINER (2 months ago)
OK I am joining the foreign legion.
Tim Gelder (2 months ago)
I guess you missed the tuning fork part,haha
Gazza-usa (2 months ago)
Wouldn’t it be faster to learn the pentatonic scales (all 5 boxes) and where the root notes are and then transpose to anywhere on the neck ?
allen gower (2 months ago)
Thanks John !! you speak in a way that's easy to understand, and break things down perfectly I have been playing for over 50 years and I've never learned scales etc. ie mixolodian, pentatonic etc to me being a thicko I just played the notes that sounded right and got away with it. But after watching this video then it all starts to make sense. and again Many thanks mate
Pauly C (2 months ago)
As a beginner I'm starting to understand good lesson mate 👌
Steve Davis (2 months ago)
I just love the realism of northerners your a breath of fresh air bro, I could watch this over and over and get something new every time. Thanks ever so much for this, makes me want to travel 200 miles for a guitar lesson.
Joshua Caleb (2 months ago)
Ah yes... the wall...
Andy Platt (2 months ago)
Excellent video!
bmxriderforlife1234 (4 months ago)
this lesson/story reminds me of screwing around on some stringed instruments we had at my local grade school. uke's banjo's and some weird 4 and 5 stringed guitars. not bass's but like proper guitars just missing strings and tuners.
upplsuckimcool16 (4 months ago)
I'm confuse there are not 5 steps between e and a on that keyboard..... how do you get 5 steps? There are 3 steps between E and A............ 6 half steps... There are 5 NOTES between them i guess..... but notes are completely different than steps..... in fact if you wanted to get technical there are an almost infinite amount of notes between them... that's what we narrow them down to steps.
Bulwul (4 months ago)
Incredibly helpful and interesting. Thanks John.
andrew buckley (4 months ago)
Those are the notes I play too... but they stare, those eyes stare but don't smile, never smile. Those notes. It's all Adam Ants fault. Ah sod. Smoke in the Water it is.
Joe Bloggs (4 months ago)
When I was learning the fretboard at around 11 (1974 in my case) I learned it by visualizing where are on each string, one at a time up to the 12th fret. I quickly noticed that the same notes appear too different strings across the neck and the whole thing repeats from the octave at the 12th fret. No guitarist I ever meet knows the notes on the fretboard, or bass players either....it's a lost art....😎🎸
pecky Peck (4 months ago)
Very informative video! the woolies guitar I think it's a teisco, they sell on eBay for a few hundred now! Hank Marvin got me into the Stratocaster
Kurt Lac (4 months ago)
The Bach dis was completely unnecessary. Show some respect.
John Robson Guitarist (4 months ago)
Kurt Lac As someone who has studied The Well Tempered Clavier over the years, I have nothing BUT respect for J S Bach. His system of equal temperament (thereby circumventing the Pythagorean Comma) is the foundation of modern music. You obviously missed the point that as an 11yr old I had no interest in the music of someone I'd never heard of & died centuries before. I stand by the point that musical education needs to be made relevant to the student being taught, by NOT force feeding them with music they are unfamiliar with & have no interest in.
theedman22 (4 months ago)
Do you have an Eagle's Hotel California beginner's intro up?
BK Bland (5 months ago)
Quite good. Thanks!
Thomas De Lello (5 months ago)
Learn the CAGED system then learn the cycle of 5ths... and you're gold.
Domenic Paga (5 months ago)
PRE VIEWING THOUGHT- FOLLOWING THE ALPHABET ON EACH STRING DOES MAKE AN ENIGMA OR Whatever THAT CAUSES CONFUSION AND THE PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT NOTES. THIS HOLDS MANY BACK. IT IS JUST FOLLOWING THE ALPHABET ON THE GUITAR AND MUSICAL STAFF, NOT A WTF MYSTERY. THANX
Brian Cahill (5 months ago)
Just discovered you tonight John . Third video in, your makin great musical sense to me.Gonna keep watchin more. Were about the same age bet you like the undertones . {Adam ant goodie .......,Marco ..}
Joe Bloggs (5 months ago)
I learned every note on the fretboard by learning it string by string from one end to the other. Learn it visually...till you can look at any fret of any string and know what note it is...
1224JOHND (5 months ago)
at 74 years young the light bulb MOMENT !!!
Sam Santana (5 months ago)
Think about how different things would have turned out had you kept a spare set of strings at home...hmmm
CAVERN1234 (5 months ago)
I had and still have a tuning fork A and still have it all these years later
Paul C (5 months ago)
Was that the Ralph Mctell book. I had that !!
John Robson Guitarist (5 months ago)
Paul C Russ Shipton, that book, mate. I think it did have Streets of London in it though 🎸😀
Rock n Big Joe (5 months ago)
learned something today. I really liked your presentation. from San Antonio, Texas
kevindlinc (5 months ago)
Now I see why we're both bald. Did your Mum cut your hair too?
kevindlinc (5 months ago)
John Robson Guitarist The Horror! In a Carol Burnett skit comedy kind of way. The '70's were pretty kookie. Just listen to the theme song to Three's Company and tell me that isn't goofy. Great era for rock and roll!.
John Robson Guitarist (5 months ago)
kevindlinc Out with the basin & kitchen scissors one a month 😀
Car Dreams in Styrene (5 months ago)
you brought back some memories.....
Les Mcc (5 months ago)
Curious what hair care products are showcased on the shelf behind!?
John Robson Guitarist (5 months ago)
Les Mcc The wife's 😀
SeaSharp (5 months ago)
Thanks John, very good lesson. I've been playing for years and learning the fretboard is somewhat of a mental block for many.  I had a dog that was pitch perfect to the high E and then he died so I got a tuning fork.  Then came the blow pipe and now I have Snark. Cheers.
David Nika (5 months ago)
8:10 to 8:19 Soooo true! That's my favorite point in this video.
lee shafer (5 months ago)
great analogy about 8:40. i always use typing the fastest typist is not always the best writer btw/ who else thinks adam ant peaked with" Deutscher girls"?
Philfy Phil (5 months ago)
Ignore the ignorance John, speaking as a suvener, I love the northern accent. Keep up the great work, there are many people who I'm sure will get a lot out of this. Incidentally, my Dad who was from Hull would have called your music center a gramophone! :-)
theedman22 (5 months ago)
Man, that was one of the best, most down-to-earth lessons in how to find notes that I've ever seen! Wow! Your method has actually simplified my learning. Scales were confusing to me at this point. You have helped me see "spatial relations" of notes/strings.
Steve Douglas (5 months ago)
I started to drift after awhile. Started fixating on what looks like hair care products on the top shelve. Between the moon and the bottles, well, throws me off a little.
Paul Kafig (1 month ago)
I didn't notice, but now I can't unsee it. Thanks so much for that :/
Steve Douglas (5 months ago)
Cool!!
Les Mcc (5 months ago)
Me too!!
Steve Parkin (5 months ago)
Hi John, just found your videos and love your teaching technique with a few stories and learning situations thrown in making it a lot more interesting than just watching someone play guitar a lot faster than my brain can take in. Just subscribed to your channel please keep motivating me to continue learning.
mjt11860 (5 months ago)
great lesson! subscribed!
Jim Sober (5 months ago)
I still have one of those Korg electronic tuners which I bought in about 1977 at a cost of about $125. It still works fine but is the size of a brick to carry around.
Azza Paterson (5 months ago)
pitchpipe i had one too back about 1978 aged 14. None of my Scottish ancestry here in Australia produced any good sound from blowin' into it sounded alien to me.
"Olden days"? Shite, I turned 23 in 1978. Where does one go beyond "olden"?
Herman Helmich (5 months ago)
Good entertaining and informative story Thnx a lot
John Nimitz (5 months ago)
Very good video. He referred that guy on the poster as a 'Git'...I love that...'GIT', my new word! lol. Thanks for sharing your story! \,,/
markymark2558 (5 months ago)
Very Helpful, Thank You.
Angel Martinez (5 months ago)
Hey, nice guitar, what model Tele is that? Excellent story mate!
John Robson Guitarist (5 months ago)
Angel Martinez Cheers mate. It's a parts caster mongrel 😀
howardsinclair (5 months ago)
John, your stories took me right back! Woolies guitars, school photos, boring music lessons... I remember buying "Twenty Golden Greats" by The Shadows in 1977 and learning every tune. Also every Status Quo album. I can't say I ever impressed girls with my playing though, unfortunately (obviously should have paid more attention to Adam Ant). One lightbulb moment for me was finding a couple of pentatonic scale patterns in a book, realising how they worked in any key, and applying them to songs. Forty years later and I'm still learning, so it's good to see videos that introduce ideas I've not come across (or not understood) before.
David (5 months ago)
All the knots on the fret board... ;). This was awesome.
Bill Roe (5 months ago)
I might add when learning different ways to play a phrase, to go beyond simply moving the same shape up or down the neck 5 frets but to find other shapes that will produce the same tones. It can help to connect scale positions and break out of boxes. I tuned using Zeplin records. The Kay guitar I inherited from older brother only had 5 strings and was missing the high E by time I got it. Who knew?
Tom Quirke (5 months ago)
Cheers for that.. makes sense
Edgar Lee (5 months ago)
Oh, it was YOUR phone! I thought it was mine!
Rob Stephens (5 months ago)
THANK YOU ! Well Done !
Sean Brogan (5 months ago)
Thank you Sir!
David Brown (5 months ago)
So you were poor, and a heavy -handed player which broke a lot of strings. Nice story. A bit torturous to sit through but a nice story nonetheless.
Anglo Saxon (5 months ago)
I think I have basically done something similar - just figuring stuff out along the way. I still have a ways to go though. I like your explanation.
Jerry Carroll (5 months ago)
Great video never knew the five fret thing thanks from. The usa
fivethumbsfrank (5 months ago)
Close your eyes and John peel lives! ...cool story, thanks for sharing it.
twisted whisker (5 months ago)
Great video......love the school photo!!
jose condez (5 months ago)
You're a good guitar teacher John. thank you for sharing your ideas. greatly appreciated.
shaun ozzyoz (5 months ago)
What if your a old whipa snapper like me!!!!!!!!!.
Steve Bishop (5 months ago)
‘Plugging the guitar into the stereo’s mike input’...that image took me back to the memories of my first guitar...thanks for that✌️
Dspeir (6 months ago)
It funny how people getting their start playing seems to parallel . I got my start in much the same manor that you did at age 10 . I love the tele copy . I have a american standard, they are great guitars . Seeing you as a hansom young lad in your picture made me nostalgic for the old days . Great story with much to learn from . I highly enjoyed it :)
mic jas (6 months ago)
book cost more than gguitar
Foottapiologist (6 months ago)
As true as bob I'm busy fixing up a guitar like the one at 4:38 . Identical except my pickups have a sort of gold foil ish look about them.
Foottapiologist (6 months ago)
Horugel on the headstock
DrumWild (6 months ago)
When I first picked up a guitar in 1977, I had nothing in the way of tuners available, so I would use the dial tone of the landline phone, which was a nice 440A. The next year, I found one of those air-powered organs for 20 cents, and got that for tuning.
Patti Stafford (5 days ago)
In the mid 1970's, my Uncle Mel gave me something like a rectangle disk that is as wide as the neck and it had short frets in various places. You set it under the strings, then holding the guitar between you and the TV, then pluck a string while looking at the TV. The wavy pattern you see determined whether the strings were too high or low. I think he knew the inventor.
Grant Perkins (6 months ago)
Since I posted that last comment, I've related the insight to several guitar learner friends and each one has sort of scratched their head , thought for 5 seconds and then I saw the lightbulb light up as they realised the simplicity and exact precision of what you said! Again, Mr Robson, my heartfelt appreciation!
Markas Dvaras (6 months ago)
What's a "Pitch Pite?" Is that Ingrish?
Markas Dvaras (6 months ago)
I was asking because that's what was printed on the pitch pipe that you showed in the video. Great vid, by the way.
John Robson Guitarist (6 months ago)
Markas Dvaras No idea, mate. Never heard of a "pitch pite." Certainly never mentioned one 😀
Joe McCarthy (6 months ago)
Tuning fork is what I started with. Still have it with my lutherie tools. Liked the video. I have an image of the piano keyboard with all the notes as the background image on my music laptop. I was going to say that great minds think alike, but I haven't memorized the fretboard yet -- you have. I think I'll try your "broken string" approach. Thanks.
Zane Walker (6 months ago)
Great story. Being a few years older than you, I had to chuckle about your comments about seeking out guitar info back in the day before the internet. Finding a library book with a bit of an explanation about standard tuning was a real find! Now I can listen to excellent teachers like yourself with just a click of the mouse! Thanks for sharing this with us!
Grant Perkins (6 months ago)
Subscribed!
Grant Perkins (6 months ago)
I think this vid just helped me immensely. I'd never actually thought about the fact that any note on any string is just 5 (or 4) frets up on the string above it, and had virtually given up on the idea that I'd ever be able to memorise the entire fretboard - (and here's a thing! - I'd sort of also convinced myself somehow that it was because I was getting old and the memory isn't what it used to be, but anyway ...... now, what was I saying? ..... ah yes, the memory and low S O thing) .... but just that part of that sentence turned on a light bulb! I really don't know how many geetah vids I've watched, it must be over a hundred hours - but until now I've never heard that sentence (that I can remember, LOL!) Thanks ever so much!!!! :) :) :) :) :) :) :) Good luck with everything :)
Robert Adams (6 months ago)
We were about the same age and had THE SAME HAIRCUT in 1978...
Shane Gochenouer (6 months ago)
I've built a fretboard map on a sheet of tabloid size (A3 I think its called on your side of the pond) and laminated it and have it on the wall next to my amplifier, incredibly handy!
Robby24ish (7 months ago)
John! U R so charmingly delightful and quite informative. Love your past stories about piano, first guitar etc, do enjoy U. Peace&Love out 2 U
Bruce Kelly (7 months ago)
Great video I have so many questions.. I’ll try to rewatch
Know Very Little (7 months ago)
When I bought my first guitar(s) in the early '70s they were never in tune. I knew nothing about, tuning, re-stringing, etc.
spiderkitty76 (5 months ago)
Know Very Little most of the guitars on the rack at guitar center right now are probably not even in tune, & they're damn sure not set up properly. Truly intonated my ass!
Gusdogbrownlab (7 months ago)
wow! had the same book and the same Amstrad music centre and a similar scary school photo
Rick O'Shea (7 months ago)
your commentary on what constitutes the perfect Stratocaster was refreshingly free of pretentious rubbish and contained insights new to me (and I've played Strats for over 3o years, and some lesser guitars as well). Moreover, your opinion in those matters beyond empirical reach happily and nearly comprehensively coincide with my own. I look forward to being subscribed and hearing your playing. "The whiskey made me do it" indeed. Maybe one day we can jam together. Hey, I've been around long enough to see more unlikely dreams come true, so I dream on! yours in guitar ~ Rick O'Shea ☆
Bella Chi (7 months ago)
Thanks for the tip. The fretboard can be an overwhelming mystery. More relationships involved (across & up and down) than the strictly linear piano.
David Morisset (7 months ago)
You had me until you broke the 3rd string. Lol
A Person (7 months ago)
Took me a while to realise when he says "nort" he means note.
Paul Kafig (1 month ago)
Thanks for asking this (and clearing it up). I thought he was saying "naught" like A0 to indicate an open string. I thought I was learning some exotic technical term that I could impress my teacher with :-)
Jeff Hall (3 months ago)
Harley Benton amps
andrew buckley (4 months ago)
John Robson Guitarist Thats easy for you to say
Calvin Martin (4 months ago)
LMAO!
IamDoctorJekyll (5 months ago)
John has a cool accent... the north of England I surmise from the comments... hints of Scot but not nearly there!
Jim Ross (7 months ago)
is this guy Adam Ant
Adrian Beldon (7 months ago)
Thank's John, very inspiring.
Kirsten tv100 (7 months ago)
I learned to play on my dad's Top Twenty. It's in the attic now, maybe I should dig it out for old times.
MisAnnThorpe (8 months ago)
I'm guessing that the last Adam Ant song you ever needed to learn (to impress the lasses!) was Friend or foe?
John Robson Guitarist (7 months ago)
MisAnnThorpe By the time Wham & the Duranies were in the hit parade (what it was called on the olden days) I was gigging in a metal band. I had the hair for it back then 😀
MisAnnThorpe (8 months ago)
Did you prefer the Duran Duran/Spandau Ballet/Wham! songs you had to learn next?!
John Robson Guitarist (8 months ago)
MisAnnThorpe No, I drew the line at Goody 2 shoes 😀
Jammy Git (8 months ago)
At least your school had more artistically imaginative school photographers the I had at my school. All I can remember are those hideous backdrops that looked like a cross between a poor tie dye attempt and marbled 😆
Donny brown (8 months ago)
Just tell us..wtf
GasNBullets (8 months ago)
Sounds like you might have the teaching style I need to learn from. Subscribed. Email me [email protected] about skype lesson prices
John Robson Guitarist (8 months ago)
GasNBullets Cheers mate 😀
Woodrow Robinson (8 months ago)
Great video.
Chris Franklyn (8 months ago)
I started with a tuning fork :) But then I was lucky to grow up in a house where my brother got a piano, which was then used for tuning my guitar. Many years later, I've never learnt the fretboard properly, but transposing what you know makes a lot of sense.
upplsuckimcool16 (4 months ago)
I used the dial tone on a house phone..... I was told that was an E.
John Martin (6 months ago)
Chris Franklyn a
Grant Perkins (6 months ago)
I love tuning forks! (does that sound weird?) Can you still buy them?
unclejack123 (8 months ago)
well explained ............ JRW
vertigofall (8 months ago)
Good vid thanks!

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