How long does it take to memorize the guitar fretboard? If you truly want to master the fretboard, it’s best to move away from relying on a fretboard chart and start memorizing chord positions, root notes, the CAGED system, and more. Here, we have included many options in our breakdown of the best software and apps to learn guitar fretboard fast and easily, as everyone has different methods that suit them best.
While a good practice routine is a must, you need more than just rote memorization. Learning the guitar fretboard for beginners can lead to boredom if you make this common mistake. However, learning interactively on the other hand can turbocharge your playing. Whether through mini-games or by slowing down your favorite solos, the fretboard is yours for the taking with these apps and other programs. Read on for some great software to help with just this.
BEST FREE OPTION: LEARN GUITAR FRETBOARD EASILY WITH FA CHORDS
If you want to easily learn guitar fretboard positions at a low price, this is the software for you. The developer of this software is actually a guitar tutor, so you know this app has real thought behind it. FA Chords includes games that give you the same note from multiple angles. Whether as part of an interval, scale or by itself, contextual learning means unexpected notes don’t surprise you or slow you down.
Much of the content is based on the CAGED system which is across the board the best and most professional way of organizing the guitar fretboard neatly into fretboard positions and chord shapes that make soloing easy, and it makes up the basis of every guitar fretboard diagram.
FA chords also introduces the Circle of Fifths. This bit of music theory shows how parts of the scale fit together and is one of the best ways to learn guitar fretboard notes by understanding the patterns behind the process. As a result, it’s an ultra-fast shortcut to playing your own solos. By building in theory to memorization games, FA Chords makes this topic accessible. Even if you just set out to master some basic scales, you’ll come out a lot more skilled.
Specs/availability: All parts of the software are available for separate download on the website’s software page. They are available for all operating systems including Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android.
GUITARLAYERS: BEST PAID OPTION TO LEARN GUITAR FRETBOARD NOTES EASILY
If you want a gamified option to learn notes of the guitar fretboard, Guitar Layers is one of the slickest options on this list. Its sleek black interface and color-coded notes and chords make learning the fretboard a breeze. In addition, its unique learning pattern uses color coding to let you neatly sort notes, e.g. by the octave.
Guitar Layers gets its name from its layered system of learning. This makes abstract concepts visual, like harmonizing. As a result, you’re able to see how scales and notes relate to each other and where they are in context. This goes a bit deeper than the theory of FA Chords, too. Guitar Layers actually shows you notes relatively. It also lets you make custom scales, and change the notes of any pre-existing scale. It’s on the more expensive side, but it’s worth it due to how comprehensive and high-quality is it.
Specs/availability: Available for macOS from the app store. Not available as an app, although it’s aimed at education where most will have desktop access.
BEST SIMPLE OPTION: MASTER GUITAR FRETBOARD WITH FRETBOARD WARRIOR
Whilst the previous two options are complete packages, Fretboard Warrior does one thing but does it well. In a similar vein to some of the games included with other apps here, it tests your knowledge of the notes on the fretboard by asking you to tap the correct place. This can help you learn guitar fretboard positions fast in ANY key because ALL positions are based around a root note.
There are many options out there that promise to help you learn guitar fretboard notes in 10 minutes or other similarly impossible times. In truth, to properly learn the fretboard means using it dynamically. There is no shortcut, but this game comes close because it focuses on one specific thing but does it interactively.
However, what sets it apart is that it’s very quick and convenient for focussing on just one thing. It’s speedy and without distractions, so it keeps your thinking flexible and fast. This is a really great transferrable skill for playing guitar solos, where it’s necessary to think on your feet.
Specs/availability: Can be downloaded online from the developer
LEARN GUITAR FRETBOARD FAST WITH FRETONOMY: BEST GAMEPLAY BASED OPTION
Yes, this one has 18 mini-games. Fretonomy is big both on the aesthetics, and on the games. If you learn most easily in a fun and interactive environment, this is by far the best app on the list. It has up to 18 different mini-games and it is a value-for-money option for learning guitar fretboard positions for beginners and intermediate guitarists alike, as it is technically free but offers in-app purchases.
The interface is smart and eye-catching with both an overview of a fretboard plus chord positions and names and a musical stave so you can see music in different forms. Bonus points to this app for including this last part as many guitarists rely on tab, but it never hurts to learn to read music.
Like most of the software on this list, Fretonomy also teaches chords, chord positions, scales, and intervals. However, it also offers a nice selection of chord progressions for help with songwriting.
Specs/availability: Available on both the app store and for Android
BEST BONUS OPTION: SOLO ALL OVER THE FRETBOARD WITH THE AMAZING SLOW DOWNER
One of the best ways to learn the notes and chords of the guitar fretboard is to play solos to contextualize your knowledge. It is not hard to learn to solo on guitar but if you really want to master the fretboard, it’s an essential skill. Contrary to what you may read online, it is not possible to learn to solo in 5 minutes or other ridiculously short times. It takes dedication and practice, but this app makes the process a lot faster and easier.
. This app is expensive, but worth it to adjust the tempo of any piece of music. In this way, you can slow things down to your ideal tempo. This also lets you break down a solo so it’s easier to learn, which is arguably the most appealing feature of the app.
Although it’s not strictly educational, this deserves includion as one of the best alternative apps to learn the guitar fretboard notes and chord positions because of how it connects this to wider playing techniques.. By slowing down songs you can break guitar solos into their constituent parts and patterns. getting to grips with the real building blocks of constructing your own. As a result, working your way from the first fret to the twelfth has never been easier.
Specs/availability: Available on the app store. Also available for Microsoft Windows – but it’s considerably more expensive at 39.99 USD.
HONOURABLE MENTION: LEARNING GUITAR FRETBOARD FAST AND SCIENTIFICALLY WITH FRETPRO APP
Fretpro isn’t exactly the best app to learn guitar fretboard overall if you want more depth, but it’s still a really neat piece of software. It’s basic, but it’s not pretending to be anything more. Its purpose is just to help you learn the notes of the fretboard. However, its learning style is high tech and it uses something called spaced repetition, where the same questions come at irregular intervals. Science has proven that this keeps your thinking sharp and flexible – a must for independently moving up and down the fretboard.
Approaching guitar this way means it’s easier to handle novelty. This is one thing several apps on this list have in common. It’s a vital skill – for example when you’re sight reading or at a jam session. This method also helps learn large amounts of information by keeping all parts interconnected. With this app, you will memorize the fretboard so easily that you soon won’t need a guitar fretboard diagram. Instead, you will be able to quickly and smoothly move from position to position.
FretPro is made by a single guy in California on a mission to help guitarists. It has a smart interface and bonus points for this high-tech method of learning, so it wraps up the list with a bang.
Specs/availability: Available for iPhone on the App Store
So there you have it. Whilst some of these apps have similar games, each guitarist is different and there are ways that work for some which don’t work for others. It’s all about finding your learning style and how best to unlock it for total fretboard mastery. Plus, a deeper knowledge and understanding of how the notes and patterns connect to each other means you too can begin to construct soon from the ground up.
Want to improve your guitar playing? Check out both our software section for more helpful programmes, plus our archive of tutorials.