Y ‘all want to hear a funny story? I am in my 50’s and I just started to play the bass guitar. I have had 4 bass lessons and the rest of what I know I got from some of the free bass lessons on YouTube and of course Josh. During these lessons the instructors would refer to notes and I would of course be lost unless he/she referred to tablature. I got tired of having to stop the video to search or wait for them to give me the fret number if the instructor said something “the root note is G#”. So I decided to stop being lazy and afraid to learn it so I gave it a try.
When I first took bass lessons I learned that if I go up the fret board then the notes past the whole notes are going to be sharps. If you are going down the fret board those same notes are going to be flats. When I started bass lessons two years ago I had also ordered from Amazon a set of stickers that label all the notes on a bass fret board from the open EADG to the last fret of the bass. I put the stickers on my bass guitar but it still looked confusing so I just went back to waiting on the tablature from the instructors.
So fast forward two years later and I was still doing the same thing. Just recently (like in the last two weeks of this post) I got tired of stopping the videos or waiting to be given the tabs for the notes. So looked at the bass that I practice with (that’s the one that I put the stickers on) broke it down in my mind to understand the fret board.
I started by saying to myself I am going to forget all the sharps and flats for now and only focus on the whole notes and identify certain patterns to use as a reference. I noted that frets 5, 7,9, 12, 17, 19 and 22 on my fret board all contained whole notes all the way across. For example fret 7 is BEAD on bass (to help me remember I call fret 7, BEAD7 because fret 7 spells the word “BEAD”. So when an instructors says the 7th fret and the note is “A” I know that the 7th fret spells BEAD so the “A” would be on the D string (or 2nd string) of the 7th fret. See it easy when you look at it that way
I also learned that notes B,C and E,F do not have sharps or flats notes between them it’s just BC and EF. keeping this in mind I Identified the areas on the fret board where BC and EF are together in a square on the fret board. This occurs on the bass fret board on frets 2 and 3, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 14 and 15, and 19 and 20 on my bass.
Once I got this down I could use these whole notes and BC, EF patterns as references to identify the sharps and flats. Using this method I was able to identify every note on my bass fret board within 24 hrs. of figuring this out.
I thought this was a real revelation and I had discovered something that no one else had thought of because my bass teacher never mentioned this to me. So today (11/07/2019) I decided to see if this is an established method of learning the fret board or did I just get lucky and happen to figure it out on my own. I clicked on the first video in my search and after viewing the video had my answer. Man I had the name for the method and everything (I was going to name it after me). I was going to post videos of my discovery to help other beginners. I really thought that I had come up with something new!!!
This way of learning the fret board should be standard, how come nobody teaches this? It would cut down on a lot fear and ease the learning curve leaps and bounds. I thought I was a genius or had more musical intellect than I knew. Because of learning the fret board like this now when I hear instructors say things like “the circle of 4ths” now I can look at my bass have more of an understanding of what he’s talking about.