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How to Memorize Notes on the Bass Guitar

This lesson provides strategies for how to memorize notes on the bass. Learning the notes will help with understanding songs, scales, patterns, keys, timing…most aspects of playing bass.

Important Point: Memorizing the notes will make you a better bassist. But you don’t have to memorize them all before learning other aspects of playing. Try to include learning them as a regular part of your practice routine. If you do, you’ll eventually commit them to memory!

There is no easy or magical method, strategy or trick for memorizing the notes. However, there are a lot methods that can help. Here are a few that I myself and others have found to be effective:

Say or Sing the Notes Out Loud

Whenever you are practicing, say or sing the notes out loud. This would apply to anything you are playing – scales, songs, patterns, etc. Saying or singing the notes out loud as you play them is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to commit them to memory. Do this when using the methods we list below (or other methods that you find or create).

Learn the Natural Notes on the Fret Markers in Alphabetical Order

Play all the natural notes on the fret markers in alphabetical order. Start with the E string and finish with the G string. The notes will be played in this order:

  • E string (3rd, 5th, 7th frets) G A B
  • A string (3rd, 5th, 7th frets) C D E
  • D string (3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th frets) F G A B
  • G string (5th, 7th, 9th frets) C D E

Below is a diagram showing the natural notes on the fretboard markers.

Natural Bass Notes on Fretboard Markers

Learn one string at a time: It may be helpful to learn these notes one string at a time. Start with the E string and learn those notes, then learn the A string, D string, and G string. Once you have each string memorized, play them all together at once.

The Learn the Sharps and Flats in Between

Once you have all the natural fret marker notes memorized add the sharps and flats.

Below is a diagram showing the sharps between the natural notes on the fret markers. Starting with the E string, play them in alphabetical order: G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E.

Sharps in between Natural Notes on Markers

Below is a diagram showing the flats between the natural notes on the fret markers. Starting with the E string, learn them in alphabetical order: G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, Gb, G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E

Flats in between Natural Notes on Markers
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Learn one string at a time: Again, it may be best to learn these notes one string at a time. Start with the E string and learn those notes, then learn the A string, D string, and G string. Once you have each string memorized, play them all together at once.

Learn Four Frets at a Time

With this method you are basically learning 4 frets at a time on each string going from lowest (E) to highest (G). Start with frets 1 – 4, then learn frets 5 – 8, then learn frets 9 – 12.

Below are diagrams showing the notes four frets at a time on each string with sharps:

First 4 frets with sharps:

Learn Bass Notes 1st 4 frets

Second 4 frets with sharps:

Learn Bass Notes 2nd 4 frets

Third 4 frets with sharps:

Learn Bass Notes 3rd 4 frets

Learn Sharps then Flats: Start by learning the notes as sharps. Then learn them as flats.

Below are diagrams showing the notes four frets at a time on each string with flats:

First 4 frets with flats:

Learn Bass Notes 1st 4 frets flats

Second 4 frets with flats:

Learn Bass Notes 2nd 4 frets flats Bass Guitar Lessons Memorizing the Notes

Third 4 frets with flats:

Learn Bass Notes 3rd 4 frets flats
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Learn one string at a time: Again, it may be best to learn these notes one string at a time. Start with the E string and learn those notes, then learn the A string, D string, and G string. Once you have each string memorized, play them all together at once.

Study the Notes, Write them Down, Test Yourself

Here’s a method you can use anywhere without needing your bass.

Print out a diagram of a blank bass fret board – click here for one. Or you can draw your own.

Review and study a section or pattern of notes. For example, you could study where all of the natural notes are on the E string, or study where all of the C’s are located, or study the notes in certain scales, arpeggios, fills, licks – whatever you choose.

On the blank diagram, write down all of the notes for the pattern you studied without looking. Check your work and repeat until you have that pattern memorized.

Here are two diagrams for reference showing all of the notes on the first 12 frets with sharps and flats:

All bass notes with sharps Bass Guitar Lessons Memorizing the Notes
All bass notes with flats Bass Guitar Lessons Memorizing the Notes

In Conclusion

As mentioned above, there is no easy or magical method, strategy or trick for how to memorize notes on the bass. The methods listed above can be effective at helping. So try to include them as a regular part of your practice routine. Or find/create any method that works for you. Just keep working at it, and you’ll eventually commit the notes to memory!

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how to memorize notes on the bass