Using Octaves To Find Notes
You should now already know all the notes on the thickest two strings. Now by learning your Octave Shapes, you should be able to find all of the notes all over the guitar.
An octave is 12 semitones higher than the root note - the equivalent of going all the way around the Note Circle and back to the same note. It is the same note, just an octave higher or lower.
Octave Shapes 4 and 3
Look at the top octave shape to your left (Octave 4). You can see that any note on the 4th string is the same as the one on the 6th string but back two frets. This means if you have a note on the 4th string that you don't know - just count over two strings (getting thicker) and down two frets (toward the nut). The note you will come to will be the same one, but an octave lower. Check out the relationships between the notes and check you understand the right directions to move.
Look now at the one next to it (Octave 3) and you can see that a note on the 3rd string is the same as the note on the 5th string but two frets down and two strings over. Same deal as before - count over two strings and down two frets.
You should also play these Octave Shapes using your first finger on the lower octave and your 3rd finger on the upper octave. Doing it on the guitar can really help get the idea clearly in your head. Do it now!
Octave Shapes 2 and 1
The top diagram on the left (Octave 2) shows the relationship between the 2nd string and the 5th string, using a new octave shape. You have to remember that the notes on the 2nd string have to be found using this different shape! In this case, you count forward 2 frets (toward the bridge) and over 3 strings thicker (to the 5th string) to get to the right note.
As you should hopefully know, the two outside strings (the thickest and thinnest strings) are both the same note - so knowing the note on the 6th string automatically tells you the note on the 1st string! Octave 1 shape is easy!
The Octave names 1-4 are just something I call them, not an official name or anything... I call them these because Octave 4 helps you get the note on the 4th string, Octave 3 helps you get the note on the 3rd string etc. I will use these octave names later so try and keep them in mind!
Drawing up Your own map of the notes all over the neck is something you will find VERY helpful. Sure you can download one from the internet, but making your own and drawing it yourself really helps plant the notes in your mind. You might find the Note Name Test Sheet useful for that too! (see below).
There is an additional lesson to help with learning the notes on the Intermediate Foundation 1-5 DVD and also in my Practical Music Theory Course.
Once you have these Octave shapes in your memory and you know how to use them it's time to have some fun and check out some tunes!
One of the locals (and ex-forum moderator) round here made a neck diagram with spaces in each fret for you to use to fill in the note names - and even a space to write in how long it took you!
1. Choose a note (on the top left)
2. Time how long it takes to find all those notes and write them on the neck - there are 6 spaces - you'll be writing between the lines, not on the lines - :)
Big thanks to Tourniquet!
Note Name Test Sheet DOWNLOAD