Although it seems like a bit of a chore, learning all the notes on your fretboard is so helpful when it comes to learning to play ukulele. The ability to instantly know what note you’re playing wherever you are on the neck on your uke opens up all kinds of possibilities and should start to connect the dots for you on which notes and chords work together and why.
If you would prefer to listen to the audio version of this article, you can press the play button below.
44 frets to memorise
By now you should know the names/notes of your open strings, the next step is to get to grips with some of the names of the fretted notes that you play. We only need to know the notes up to the 11th fret, as once we hit the 12th fret we’re a whole octave up and the notes repeat themselves starting from GCEA again.
That’s a whopping 44 frets (4 strings x 11 frets) that you need to learn. It’s going to take a little while to get that memorised. I find the best way is to break it up into much smaller chunks, starting with frets 5 and 7. The beauty of frets 5 and 7 is that just like the open strings, they contain no sharps or flats.
The notes at the fifth fret are C, F, A and D. At the seventh we have D, G, B and E. Or as I call them, Chickens Fight All Day (CFAD) and Don’t Go Breaking Everything (DGBE). However you remember them doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find a way to make them stick.
What about the rest?
Ok so we’ve done 8 (plus the 4 open strings which you already know right?) and you’ve got 36 left to go. There’s no quick trick that is going to force the rest into your brain and keep them there. I’d suggest that you work on them in small chunks. Once you have the open strings and frets 5 and 7 memorised. It should be easy enough to add in frets 1, 4, 6 and 8 as you have a reference point for all of them, you already know the notes next to them.
It will take time, there’s no getting around that but try and do a little bit each day and before you know it, you’ll be well on the way to becoming a fretboard master. I’ve included another fretboard diagram for you of all the basic notes (not including sharps and flats).