Practice Challenge Week 1

Note mapping

This week’s practice challenge will help you learn how to use fretboard note maps to make reading notes on the guitar, bass, or uke easy.

Have you ever felt confused when looking at musical notation? Have you ever wondered how the pros make reading notes on the guitar look and so easy? You might not know it, but every note-reading guitarist has spent a significant amount of time mapping the fretboard on paper or at least mentally. Note maps are a tool to help you find your way around the fretboard and the music staff’s lines and spaces. 

Guitar neck & staff pdf
Bass neck & staff pdf
Uke neck & staff pdf

How it works

Step 1: Scan your music and determine the key and range of the piece

Scanning the entire piece gives you a bird’s-eye view of the music so that there are no surprises on your initial read-through.

To find out the key look for the key signature located at the beginning of the very first line of music after the clef and and before the time signature. Practice your skills by drawing the key signature on the staff of your note map. To determine the range scan all the notes and identify both the lowest and the highest notes.

Step 2: Pencil in all the notes in order from lowest to highest. Don’t forget the accidentals!

Step 3: Determine the location of the highest and lowest notes on your instrument

Step 4: On the blank neck diagram, pencil in the letter names for all the notes in the chosen piece.

Write the notes on the string right where you would put your finger on the fretboard!

Step 5: Be sure to write your name, the song title, and date on the note map as well for accurate filing 😉

Once you’ve completed your note map for a given song use it as your fretboard guide when you practice. Also, you can use it as a scale to practice correct finger placement, or use the notes for improvisation.

Have fun note mapping!