Free Guitar and Bass Fretboard Diagrams

These guitar-neck note charts will not only help you better understand your instrument and improve your playing, they might teach you a little bit of music theory.

For a guitarist the notes on the fretboard are a bit like the colors on a painter's palette. Setting aside unconventional, avant garde weirdness you might find in experimental music, every note you can play is found within the grid of frets and strings on the neck of your guitar. The ability to rapidly find the right string and fret on which to play (for example) a G note is obviously useful. But as you start to play scales and chords or learn to improvise it is equally valuable to memorize and commit to muscle-memory the relationships between different positions on ths neck of a guitar. For example, since all of the strings on a bass guitar (or the four lowest-pitch strings on a regular 6-string guitar) are tuned to be five half-steps apart:

  • Moving to the next thinner string will shift a tone up by 5 half-steps (for example from A to D).
  • Moving to the next thinner string and two frets closer to the headstock will shift a tone by 3 half steps (5 - 2) instead, like from A to C.
  • Moving to the next thinner string and two frets closer to the bridge will shift a tone by 7 half steps (5 + 2), like from A to E.
  • Moving two strings over and two frets up (closer to the bridge) will shift a tone by 12 half steps (5+5+2), which is preciesly one octave (A to A)
 
 

You won't regret investing the time to develop a solid working knowledge of where to find each note on the fretboard and how that note relates to its neighbors. But you don't need to memorize every note on the neck of your guitar all at once. You might find it useful to memorize the location of a few "anchor" notes (such as the notes found in the open strings, third and fifth frets) and know that you can always work out the note at any other position by counting frets (half-steps) from those landmarks.

Here are some small fretboard charts that you can print out and hang as a poster or keep for reference. The diagrams are available in three versions (1) guitar-only, (2) bass-only, and (3) guitar and bass combined.

Each link points to a PDF version of the full-color fretboard diagram. Tapping the link will trigger a prompt to download the file or open the poster in a new browser window. Please contact us if you have questions or encounter any problems.

 
 

These fretboard charts are provided by FATpick, the app makes it easy to learn to play guitar.

You can also find more free tools for guitar and bass players at FATpick.com.

 
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