Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

  1. #1

    Default Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    I've been playing for about a year. I've dabbled in learning to read music but it hasn't really stuck. I've tried to memorize the fretboard but it's been slow. I've gotten decent at tab but I'm basically just playing numbers.

    Maybe I'm Captain Obvious here but it occurred to me the other day that I should try to maximize my strength (enjoyment of songs) to help me learn the actual notes I'm playing (to help with improvisation and learning music).

    So I just started figuring out and writing notes on my printed music as a learning exercise. And it really helped - like a worksheet almost.

    First I adapted a few of the sheets to add a third row of lines, but that turned out to be too much work. So now I'm just writing the notes below the tab for a few songs per week.

    Pretty basic, but every bit helps I guess. Examples provided with permission from Mandolessons.




  2. #2

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    I have done this over the years and found it very helpful, I liked to see the way the notes worked with the chords.
    Northfield NF5M #268

  3. #3

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    Ya, it may help a bit to let you get more familiar with where the notes are. But you do realize you are simply translating what those notes on the staff are, either numbers, or the letters. Have you tried writing down just the notes for beats 1 and 3? You will be surprised by just how little information you really need to read. Writing the notes to mirror the tab is just simply one step closer to the notation, but it is still a translation of the notation.

    I have done something similar for one tune, but quickly abandoned it after I decided it was unnecessary. Writing things down really helps me to remember, so I thought writing the notes under the standard notation would help me to memorize the tune. This made sense at first, then I realized it was simply an unnecessary step.

    Tab is similar, but again, an unnecessary step. I analyzed what I was doing as I read tab, I would read the numbers, then translate the numbers to notes for some of the notes I played (0, 2 and 5 mainly). Most of the tunes I learned, I would be memorizing the numbers. As I got more familiar with the fretboard, it became a bit easier (and faster) to do this translation, at least up to the 7th fret. Anyway you look at it, with tab, you are translating that number to a note, even if your mind doesn't realize it.

    This realization that I was reading numbers which I was then translating to notes made me realize I needed to focus on reading notation more. Most of the tunes I know, I would be thinking the numbers in my head as I played the tune. Yet some tunes that I learned by the standard notation, I would think the notes in my head as I played. So I knew it was possible to read notation, albeit slow, in order to learn a tune, I just need to practice it more.

    Well, I still need to practice it more. It is hard to break from the tab, as I am pretty fluent with it. I think what I am going to end up with is the ability to read notation or tab for fiddle tunes and ITM, and be able to play it at a moderate tempo. More complex tunes like choro or some classical, if I am able to learn the piece slowly, that will be fine for me. I do not think I will ever be a fluent sight reader, and that is fine with me.

    I am not advocation that you need to only be reading standard notation. But what I am advocating is that you need to know you are playing a G for the opening note of Blackberry, not a 3 on the E string. Or a D for the opening of Whiskey, and not necessarily the open D string.
    Collings MT-O
    P.W. Crump OM-III

    Not long in this house:
    Weber Bitterroot F

  4. #4
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    13,923

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    As an 'ear player',i simply looked at 'where' on the fingerboard i could find the 'sounds' that i was hearing. To me,it didn't matter what the 'sounds' were called as long as i found them. After a while,as i got more familiar with where the 'sounds' were,they ''named themselves''. It didn't take me too long,as i'd done the same thing when i taught myself to play banjo. When i'm playing a song or inst.,i don't think in terms of 'notes',i simply hit the position where i can find the correct 'sound' - it works !,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  5. #5
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    My main playing job is backing up singers of country songs and bluegrass gospel. Some of these guys regularly decide that they need to sing the song in G# or D# or something!!
    So .... it is absolutely necessary to know where every note is located to be able to go up the neck and add a lick or embellishment or solo part to the song.

    I found that biting off SMALL PIECES of information was the way to go, otherwise it can get overwhelming.
    So practicing starting a short lick on every 'D' on the fingerboard for several days before changing to practicing another note location seems to make it stick better.

    I never TRY to memorize where sharps and flats are located; I just know that they're adjacent to the 'normal' notes and automatically find them on the fly. (After a while you actually memorize them without trying.)

    The area around the 10th fret was probably hardest for me to keep in my head at first. Finally just had to memorize FCGD! It's almost mnemonic.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

  6. The following members say thank you to Philphool for this post:


  7. #6
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    13,923

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    Phil - I was picking along to a few Tony Rice songs a day or so ago,several of them were in odd keys F /Bb etc. - i simply moved my kick off position up or down a fret. Honestly,i couldn't 'readily' have said which note was where (sort of),but it didn't matter as long as i hit the 'sound'. That seems to be what you mean in your 3rd paragraph above. I just do that every time. 'Whatever' - ultimately it's what works for us. As long as a musician hits ''the right notes,in the right place at the right time'',an audience won't give a toot 'how' he does it.

    I found that when i started playing banjo,without ever trying to,i eventually learned the name of every note on the fingerboard. However,it didn't help me to play any better,or make playing anything any easier. That was achieved by hard work & 100's of hours of practice,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  8. The following members say thank you to Ivan Kelsall for this post:


  9. #7
    Stop the chop!
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    europe
    Posts
    1,185
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    My main playing job is backing up singers of country songs and bluegrass gospel. Some of these guys regularly decide that they need to sing the song in G# or D# or something!!
    So .... it is absolutely necessary to know where every note is located to be able to go up the neck and add a lick or embellishment or solo part to the song.

    I found that biting off SMALL PIECES of information was the way to go, otherwise it can get overwhelming.
    So practicing starting a short lick on every 'D' on the fingerboard for several days before changing to practicing another note location seems to make it stick better.

    I never TRY to memorize where sharps and flats are located; I just know that they're adjacent to the 'normal' notes and automatically find them on the fly. (After a while you actually memorize them without trying.)

    The area around the 10th fret was probably hardest for me to keep in my head at first. Finally just had to memorize FCGD! It's almost mnemonic.

    I'd hate to play in the keys of G# (8 sharps) or D# (9 sharps) from sheet music! G# is of course best thought of as Ab (4 flats), your A fingering pulled back one fret. But, of course, that depends on how you went about learning the mandolin, the exact order of keys. When I started on the mandolin 50 years ago I had already been playing the guitar for 10 years, which is where I learned music. So I just started playing the mandolin in virtually all keys at once. I do notate my compositions but I don't believe I've ever played the mandolin from sheet music - whenever sheet music for a tune is available I learn the song first, then work it out on my instruments.

  10. #8
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    I'd hate to play in the keys of G# (8 sharps) or D# (9 sharps) from sheet music! G# is of course best thought of as Ab (4 flats), your A fingering pulled back one fret. But, of course, that depends on how you went about learning the mandolin.....
    Yes, as I mentioned, I'm never playing from sheet music and have the scale patterns & doublestop patterns in my head, so I mostly use knowledge of the upper fingerboard as a "place to get started". I just need to be able to go directly to my starting 'base' (not bass) note (often the tonic) regardless of which finger I'll use or which pattern I'll employ for that phrase. (These are just the crutches I need to ambulate.)
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

  11. #9
    Pittsburgh Bill
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    447
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Using Tab to Learn Fretboard

    Try a book such as ALFRED'S TEACH YOURSELF TO PLAY MANDOLIN, It will teach you to learn the ''dots" and fret board one course at a time with very simple exercises. Not rocket science and in my mind much easier to follow the "dots" than to try to memorize what you just deciphered from tab. From ALFRED'S your hands will automatically learn muscle memory even before your mind learns the fret board. Once you have learned all four courses in the first position you will have developed the skills to teach yourself 2nd and 3rd position playing which may take a little more self discipline. Of course you could write up your own similar exercises as ALFRED's used for teaching playing in the first position.
    If you give it an honest try and resist letting it intimidate you, I think you will find it much less of a challenge than you encountered in previous attempts.
    As a side note, not everyone learns the same, as I can attest by my struggle to learn new tunes by ear.
    Last edited by Pittsburgh Bill; Nov-11-2018 at 10:26am.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Collings MT
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •