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Learn Your Bass Fretboard With These 6 Tips

Learn Your Bass Fretboard With These 6 Tips

6 Tips to Help You Learn Your Bass Fretboard…

Learning your fretboard is a great way to learn your bass, play confidently in any situation, and be able to identify where different notes are and what they sound like.

I am going to give you some simple tips for learning your fretboard in any tuning that you choose. I am going to have a future video on playing bass in standard tuning so make sure you keep an eye out for that!

In this video, I am playing a 5 string fretted bass. No matter what kind of bass you play you will be able to easily learn how to navigate your fretboard.


Tunings do matter when it comes to playing your bass. This ensures that the notes sound correct when played whether you are playing to your favorite song, writing a song, or playing with other musicians you want to make sure you are in tune. 

Now for this video, I am going to tune in standard tuning. 

We are starting from the thinnest string further away from you is G. 

The string next to it is D. The string next to D, is A and finally the thickest string closer to you is the E (if playing a 4-string bass). 

If you are playing a 5 string bass, the thickest string next to E is going to be B. 

These are important because they tell you the distance between notes. 

When we have a half step between frets they are only one fret away whereas a whole step is two frets away.

On the D string, if we are going from the A note (7th fret) to A?/B? (8th fret), that is a half-step away from each other. If you are going from A (7th fret) to B (9th fret) that is a whole step.

this could arguably be considered the first step in learning your fretboard, but learning your octaves is one of the easiest things to learn. 

Each of your open strings, no matter what tuning you are in, is going to be the same note as your 12th fret.

For example, if you are playing in standard tuning your open D string is going to be the same note as the 12th fret on that string which is also D. This note is just played an octave higher.

Now keeping this in mind, the next note after D is D?/E?. this note is going to be the same distance from the D note since they are only a half-step apart. This means that not only is  D?/E? the first fret on the D string but it is also the 13th fret since they are an octave or 12 notes apart. 

Continue this with the other notes on the strings.


These are other metrics to make sure that you are in tune and know the notes on your fretboard. The fifth fret on each string is the same note as the string next to it. 

In standard tuning, if I am playing the G (5th fret on the D string), guess what that is the same note and tone as the G string next to it. 

You would do this across all your strings. 

This is great if you think that you might be slightly out of tune, need to make sure your tuning is correct, and are able to decipher the notes that you are hearing. 


They tell you what each note is on the fretboard. They are distinguished with dots at the following frets: 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th, and 21st 

The A  string has the following dotted frets:

3rd: C
5th: D
7th: E
9th: F?/G?
12th: A
15th:  C
17th: D
19th: E
21st: F?/G?

You can also see the octaves for each dotted fret as well. 


These are little stickers that you can put onto your bass that can help you identify the notes that you are playing visually. I am a visual learner and have found that using stickers specifically made for your fretboard works well for learning.

This is just some of learning your fretboard. It takes time and a lot of practice and persistence to keep learning and understanding your bass. 

There are tons of other articles and videos on Bass Musician Magazine’s website and social media that you should definitely check out. 

Thanks for stopping by!

For more information on music theory check out my e-book and paperback, “No-Nonsense Guide to Music Theory, Scales and More!” available on Amazon

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