As the Beatles sang: listen, oo wa oo, do you want to know a secret…
Wouldn’t you like to be let in on something that other guitar players don’t know? Imagine what you would be able to do with this hidden information. Well, here are three little known, and rarely understood, secret fretboard angles that will change the way you view your guitar fretboard. Does the following look familiar to you? It should, it’s your fretboard!
Simply stated, X is the horizontal strings, Y is the vertical frets, including the nut and bridge, and Z is the diagonal octaves. This simple fretboard geometry is the key which unlocks your ability to instantly locate any letter on your fretboard. Let’s reveal the first secret angle, the horizontal strings with their letter names:
Next, let’s define the string’s length by revealing the second secret angle, the vertical nut and bridge:
The distance between two pitches, whether letters or tone numbers, is called an interval. The smallest interval is the half step, which on the guitar fretboard is one fret. Here’s a very old discovery made by Pythagoras, 6th Century BCE: when a string is divided in half, the frequency is doubled, and the octave is created. The interval of an octave is 12 half steps or 12 frets. Therefore, fret 12 divides the string in half and creates the 1st octave. Then, 12 frets higher, fret 24, the string is divided again and the 2nd octave is the result as follows:
We can now reveal the third secret angle, the diagonal octave. This simple angle enables us to locate any letter, on any string, faster than we every thought possible. Here are all the E’s within 12 frets connected by the diagonal octave angle:
Remember, although all the letters are the same, they are not all in the same octave, but that’s another lesson. So, let’s end this lesson by showing the 7 letters of music, A B C D E F G on 12 frets:
’til next time, have some fun connecting the diagonal octaves of all 7 letters because it’s a secret no more . . . I’ll be listening!