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Many guitarists aren’t too sure about the notes on the higher parts of the fretboard, especially on the 4th and 5th strings. But it’s a simple matter to put that right if you just focus on the natural notes – i.e. ignore flats and sharps for now. Then you’re left with just seven notes to think about:

ABCDEFG

Here’s the secret that makes finding notes a breeze: with only two exceptions each note is two frets higher than the one before it. So…  if you’re on A and you want to go to the next note, B, just go up two frets.

Ex1_150214_natural notes

You’ve got to agree, that’s easy!

How about those exceptions? First B to C. Those notes are just one fret apart. Second E to F. Same thing, they’re one fret apart.

You now have enough knowledge to see where all the natural notes are on the fretboard. For example let’s look at the natural notes going up the second string for an octave, starting at the first fret.

You probably already know that our starting note is a C. The note after C is D. That’s not one of our exceptions, so it’s two frets higher:

Ex2_150214_natural notes

We now go from D to E. Again, it’s not one of our two exceptions, so we go up two frets:

Ex3_150214_natural notes

Next move is from E to F. Now that is one of our exceptions, so we go up just one fret this time:

Ex4_150214_natural notes

Now we go from F to G, then from G to A, then from A to B. These are all moves of two frets, Finally we go B to C – as one of our exceptions that’s just one fret:

Ex5_150214_natural notes.fbd

As you can see, all the gaps are two frets, except B to C and E to F. (I always remember the exceptions by thinking Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby were close – but that’s just me. Try coming up with your own phrase if you need one to remember the exceptions by.)

Now pick up your guitar and work out the natural notes on each string in the same way. Or print off this workbook and pencil them in (the second sheet gives you the correct answers to compare with your version.)

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Chet made a beautiful arrangement of a beautiful song when he took on Don McLean’s ‘Vincent’. Click here for my note-for-note transcription (standard notation and TAB) taken from the live performance in the video clip.

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No matter how many lessons you have, how good your teacher is, what innate talent you draw upon or what your good intentions are, in the end it all comes down to how effectively you practise. But if playing guitar is a hobby, not your day job, you might find it hard to keep a large block of time free every day.

Jamie Andreas, of guitarprinciples.com, has a wealth of valuable guidance about how to practice well. Here she is demonstrating how you can squeeze the most value out of as little as a five minute practice session.

I suggest we all put it into practice!

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My band FunkeeJunkee are playing at the Brambletye Hotel, Forest Row on Friday. Come along and beat the Friday 13th jinx!

FunkeeJunkee at Brambletye

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Ovation Balladeer

Ovation Balladeer

I had an Ovation Balladeer for many years. It was a great guitar – played well, good tone and projection, and equally at home fingerstyle, picking or strumming.

But there’s something of a ‘frozen in time’ quality about Ovations now – as much a part of the ’70s and ’80s as long hair and four (or less) channels on the telly. They’ve dropped out of fashion and sales are low, so I guess it’s no surprise that Fender – who took over Ovation’s parent company in 2007 – have pulled the plug on US production.

They’ll still be made in China, South Korea and Indonesia, but I wonder this is the beginning of the end.

Read the full story here.

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With only 33 days until Christmas here are some ideas for gifts and stocking fillers for the guitar-person in your life. If that’s you, then drop some hints to your significant other!

All these items are available through the Ashdown Guitar Lessons Store, powered by Amazon.co.uk

(Prices may vary. Correct at 21st November 2012)

Stagg SGA108BJ Stand Stagg SGA108BK Foldable Universal A Accoustic & Electric Guitar Stand
From Stagg. Avoid guitar accidents with a safe stand.
List Price: £14.99
Price: £9.89
Yamaha_F310_pack Yamaha F310 Acoustic Guitar Pro Pack
From Yamaha. Excellent starter pack.
List Price: £149.99
Price: £131.42
Dunlop Lok Straps Pair of Jim Dunlop Lok Straps
From Jim Dunlop. Protect your electric or acoustic guitar by using a Lok Strap to secure the strap properly.
Price: £3.30
Yamaha Pacifica 012 Yamaha Electric Guitar & Basic Pack – Pacifica 012 (Black)
From Yamaha. Great package for a first electric.
List Price: £232.00
Price: £185.00
Korg TUAW2G guitar tuner KORG TUAW2G Guitar tuner
From Korg. Accurate clip-on tuner to help keep your guitar perfectly in tune.
Price: £16.95
Fast Fret Fast Fret Strings cleaner
From GHS. Keeps strings bright and lasting longer.
Price: £6.99
Farleys Stageplayer II Guitar Stool Farleys Stageplayer II Guitarist Stool and Stand
From Farleys. Revolutionary, folding guitar stand & stool with foot rest.
List Price: £62.95
Price: £50.26

These and thousands of other gift ideas are at the Ashdown Guitar Lessons Store, powered by Amazon.co.uk

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I want one of those…

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