If you want to dramatically improve the way you play guitar, bass, or other stringed instrument, there's one thing that will give you enormous benefits with very little efforts: learning the fretboard of your instrument extremely well.
It's surprising how many guitar and bass players, even after months and years of serious playing and study, still don't really know their fretboard. This is especially common among self-taught musicians.
What about you? Can you put a finger at random on the fretboard and tell the name of that note without thinking? In half a second or less? Can you do that effortlessly, anywhere on the fretboard?
If you can -- congratulations, you belong to the elite among musicians. And if you don't have this ability yet but want to develop it, you can start today itself and within a few weeks you can effectively acquire the skill and bring your playing to a higher level.
Here are some of the things that you will be able to do (or do better) after improving your fretboard skills:
Many guitar and bass players can "figure out" a note on the fretboard by "counting" from the nut or another familiar note, but...
... are you satisfied with that?
See, if I ask you, "What note is the lowest string?" you'll probably reply "E !" immediately (unless you are a complete beginner). You just know it, you don't need to "think" about it, you don't need to "calculate" it from some other note. You just know it.
Now, would you like to know the whole fretboard just like that?
Difficult, you say?
Actually, no, it's not very difficult if you know how to do it...
So how do you do it?
AFT supports all stringed instruments like guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, etc. and left-handed players as well
Well, what you need is a METHOD. A complete, easy, effective and enjoyable method to take you from here to there, step by step. And here it is:
List of lessons in the
1. The Chromatic scale
Lesson are short and focused. Each of them is dedicated to a particular exercise or development stage.
First of all, let's define the goal of the method: To know each and every note on the fretboard, immediately, naturally, and effortlessly, just like you know the open strings.
Secondly, notice that there are two "directions": One is "position to note" i.e. when you see or think of any fretboard position, you instantly know what note it is. And the opposite direction, "note to position", means that when you read or think of any note, you instantly know where to play it on the fretboard. The AFT method will train you equally well in both directions.
Third, "No Thinking And No Hesitation". As long as you need to think, "What is this note?", or "Where is G# ?", you are wasting time, energy, and concentration which should be focused on playing and enjoying the music. Mistakes, hesitations, frustration, etc, will be inevitable. Therefore your goal is to know and use the whole fretboard without having to think about it and without any hesitation. The AFT course is designed to achieve this type of knowledge. In other words, while some effort is necessary to develop the skill, the goal is to know the fretboard (and use that knowledge) without effort or strain.
Fourth, you should know flats and sharps equally well. This seems a minor detail, but it often happens that a musician is much more familiar with a note as, say, "C#" rather than "Db". The course will make sure that you are equally fluent and comfortable with both.
This is a fretboard progress map that you will find in the Absolute Fretboard Trainer program for Windows (all versions from 98 to Windows 8).
The fretboard is blank - all white - because you have just started. (This is a guitar map, but the program supports both guitar and bass fretboards).
Go through the first lessons and start doing the interactive exercises: rapid-fire Q&A, metronome-paced drills, special progressions.
After a few days the map may look, for example, like this:
What's happening? Every time you run a drill the program monitors your performance and continuously updates your progress map.
Green areas show where you're doing well; your response is fast and consistently correct. Red areas show where you're still making mistakes or responding too slowly. Then there is the whole range in between:
Each position on the fretboard|
is color-coded according to
your performance in the drills.
You can literally "get the whole picture"
Go on with the drills. Once or twice a day, launch the program, click on the next drill, and do your 10-minute session.
Note: There are various types of drill, interactive and not. While only interactive drills (Question and Answer) can be measured and monitored, all combine to build your skill quickly and effectively.
In this way, after a few more days the map will, for example, look like this:
Fret after fret, string after string, with flats and with sharps, keep going...
... until the whole map is a lush green! This is how you build your fretboard skills with the Absolute Fretboard Trainer software.
The learning curve for this program is remarkably flat.
See, you don't depend on a teacher, and you can practice at whatever time, place or intensity you choose. And how much better is this than any book, chart, or flash-card system?!
The program is productive and enjoyable from the moment you start. It's as easy as browsing a web site. In fact, the program does not even have a separate help system - it's not needed! You'll understand when you use it.
It's flexible, too: You can learn guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo or any other fretboard instrument you want. You can display right- or left-handed fretboards, choose from various instrument sounds, set personal preferences, use any tuning, etc. It's a pleasure to use.
The best way to understand how the method works is simply to try it out for yourself.
AFT during a position-to-note exercise for mandolin
The free version of AFT included in the Musician Training Center suite will help you master the first few frets of your instrument, and if you like the results, the full version of AFT Professional will help you master the whole fretboard and at the same time significantly improve your musical ear and your reading skills with additional advanced exercises.
Notice that you don't need to study music theory or sight-reading to master the fretboard, but you should at least be familiar with a few basic concepts such as note names, flats and sharps, the chromatic scale, the division of the octave in 12 semitones, etc.
If you need it, the first lesson of the program will bring you up to the mark with these concepts. This will be the only "theory" lesson -- all the rest is practice.
Fret by fret, string by string, you will go through the whole fretboard. I think you may find this process fascinating, because the program will be constantly monitoring your progress and performance in every area of the fretboard, as well as showing your improvements on a series of "progress maps".
On these maps you can see where your strengths and weaknesses are, and with a single click you can tell the program to give you training where you need it most.
This is the main phase of the course. It will last a few weeks, with 10-15 minutes a day of practice a day. By the end of it you will have acquired a superior knowledge of the fretboard.
AFT's simple but effective interactive sight-reading training
The program will then offer you a few special exercises and some tips for the occasional follow-up session.
That will bring you to the end of the course, and your absolute fretboard knowledge will be pretty much cast in concrete.
From that moment, every time you pick up your instrument to play, you will enjoy the fruits of your work.
AFT is included in the Musician Training Center (MTC) program (Windows and Mac versions available). Install MTC, then click on [Courses] and double-click on "Absolute Fretboard Trainer" to start it. Everything else that you need to know, you'll find it in the course itself.
Download Musician Training Center for Windows or Mac OSX
If you have any question, write to email@example.com
You can buy Absolute Fretboard Trainer PROFESSIONAL here: AFT order page