Understanding the fretboard

Playing the same things (chords, scales, melodies, etc.) - on different strings...

After completing this lesson, you will see the fretboard with different eyes and realize that some chords or scales that look different are actually exactly the same thing, just played on different strings.

1: A major third

A majord third always extends over two frets, when the two notes are played on adjacent strings. However, if the lower tone is on the G string, the third is on the B string at the same fret.

All strings are tuned at intervals of fourths, except the B string that is just a major third higher than the G string.

2: The first few tones of a major scale

This fretboard diagram shows the first five tones of a major scale. It doesn't matter here what major scale it exactly is (since all major scales have the same sequence of whole steps and half steps).

Now click on the arrows and watch how the first five tones of a major scale look like, when the root lies on a different string. In this example we always transpose the root by a fourth up or down as well. Again, it always looks the same until we move tones from G string to B string. Those tones must also be moved a fret to the right to be transposed by the same interval as the tones from other strings.

3: A major triad

Now we take a major triad in the base form [root (1) + major third (3) + fifth (5)] with the root on the E string and we're watching how a major triad in the base form looks, when the root is located on a different string.

Like before we can see how the tones that are changing from G string to B string also have to move one fret to the right (or one fret to the left when being transposed down and changing from B string to G string)

4: Barre chords

Now we take the four lowest tones of a major barre chord and watch how the same type of chord looks when the root is positioned on A string or D string.

And now ...

you should be able to put together every chord, melody or scale that you already know by yourself on different strings! Try with

  • a 5th
  • an octave
  • a minor 3rd
  • a minor triad
  • ...