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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Printable Banjo Fretboard

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kboone - Posted - 08/17/2009:  09:13:01

I am looking for a printable sheet that has just a blank banjo fretboard on it. I am one of those guys who seems to make progress on the banjo through learning the technical side of things. I think it has become apparent to me that I need to KNOW the fretboard. I can figure out what the notes are anywhere on the fretboard, but I cannot immediately do it without thinking or using reference notes. I think I can progress farther if I had an inate knowledge of the fretboard. So what I was looking for was a printable sheet that had a blank banjo fretboard on it so I can just make a bunch of copies and fill out the notes myself over and over and over. I think that would get it in my head. So does anyone have a copy of a printable sheet or know somewhere online that would have a picture of a blank fretboard?

Edited by - gottasmilealot on 08/17/2009 19:55:14

djgretzkypup - Posted - 08/17/2009:  09:26:29

Ken -

You can find this information and more on my website

Here is a link to one with the notes:

Feel free to email me at and I will send you a blank fingerboard without the answers from my instructional Banjo CD.


Edited by - djgretzkypup on 08/17/2009 09:27:29

Banjophobic - Posted - 08/17/2009:  11:17:15

I would advise you to concentrate on learning the 3 maj chord shapes, and finding the 1-3-5 tones of the triad. Then you can have a frame of reference for 3 tones, which shows you all the adjacent notes, inlcuding the accidentals. Thats, in my opinion, is a better way to learn the fingerbaord. Seeing the whole fingerboard as individual notes, can be overwheliming. Start with the local chord groupings in a particular key and memorize the tridas first, then locate other tones nearby. Over time, you twill be able to identify every note on the FB without tedious memorization and lack of reference. It will take time, like any method, but also yeilds valuable info about chords.

djgretzkypup - Posted - 08/17/2009:  11:45:59

Not bad advice Banjophobic.

Learning the finger board can start with chord structure. To understand the fingerboard like a road map, you also should focus on scales and relationships of notes to one another. I agree that the chord forms are a good reference point.

One of the first things I have my students do, however, is to fill in the notes on the fingerboard. This way, they learn the musical alphabet better and can see a picture of the fingerboard in more detail. This is a tedious process but it is time well spent. I have found over many years that a number of students have problems understanding the musical alphabet forward and backwards. You can also see a blog I wrote on this matter at the following link:

While it may sound simple, the musical alphabet is confusing for many students.

Edited by - djgretzkypup on 08/17/2009 11:47:04

gshall - Posted - 08/17/2009:  16:37:51

This might be what you need. It's a picture of the finger positions for every major, minor, and major 7th chords. I find it easier to find the chord and then identify the note for the string position. If you keep in mind there's only a half step (1 fret) between B and C, and between E and F, you can start at any known chord and find whatever chord you want.

That's mighty little, just go to my photos and look at it.

I could be some 50 year old dude sitting around in stained shorts resting my pizza on my beer belly, except I''m too old.


Edited by - gshall on 08/17/2009 16:38:47

kboone - Posted - 08/17/2009:  18:58:22

Thanks for the advice and I do understand the triad notes of the major chord. But I have to think about it right now. And I can figure any note out with a reference point i.e. the triad of the chord shape. It's just that I have to think about it. I wish this were all ingrained in my head.

Banjophobic - I watch your LOTW and I love them - so thank you. You talk about a 6th and a sus4th etc. And I know what they are and what that means. But translating that to the fretboard is not in my head. I was just thinking that if I could get the fretboard in my head, and the scale notes in my head, then when I need to hit a 6th note in G I can intuitively go to it instead of thinking - ok what is it and then where is it.

I was just thinking if I focus on memorizing a section of the fretboard at a time, and get it down, that when I am holding a G chord at the 789 position that I would be able to visualize all of the surrounding notes without having to think about it. I just think that this knowledge would help me get to the next level. Right now I can learn a song from tab, and I can figure out some songs on my own. My thinking is that if I had this knowledge I would have a much easier time of making my own arrangements and figuring out better fingerings etc.. Of course the knowledge of the fretboard has to be combined with a knowledge of the scales, etc.. In order for it to have any benefit.

I know some people can progress without all this and just do it with their ear, but I found that the more knowledge I have on music theory and how things work together seems to help me along a little more.

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