Objectives: In this chapter, you’ll learn the names of the strings on the guitar, the names of the notes at every fret, and differentiate between half-steps and whole steps.

Notes on a Piano

While these lessons are geared towards guitar, we’ll use the piano keyboard to start this lesson. Why? Because the piano is easier to visualize and great for showing examples. It’s made up of a simple repeating pattern with no repeating pitches. (Notes do repeat, but pitches don’t. We’ll talk about notes and pitches later.) And it moves in only one dimension – horizontal. It’s also color coded black and white to differentiate between natural notes and accidentals. (We’ll talk about natural notes and accidentals later in this lesson.)

Piano keyboard with arrows left to right showing the key layout is a single dimension horizontal.

Pianists play the keyboard side to side.

Notes on a Guitar

Guitar notes move in two dimensions: horizontally across single strings and vertically crossing from string to string. Because the guitar is played in two dimensions, it’s more difficult to visualize than the one dimensional piano keyboard. There’s also no color coding of notes like the piano has.

Guitar neck with arrows showing notes move in two dimensions - horizontally along string and vertically crossing strings.

Guitarists play both left/right across the neck and up/down crossing strings.

Check Yourself

Answer the following questions.