A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Memorizing notes on the E-string using the Cycle of Fourths

Just a brief update – its working! I’m only one day in (I started trying this out last night) but so far, playing notes on the first 11 frets of the E string and following the order of the Cycle of Fourths is helping me to memorize those notes.

I’m still slow, but I think its because of the brainwork involved. Its just mapping though. Basically, I know that if we start on C, the pattern is:

C – F – Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb – B – E – A – D – G – C

Initially, I was counting frets and naming notes to find a point of reference, but now, I just automatically know that the 8th fret is C, the 1st fret is F and Eb is the 11th. I still have to somewhat figure out most of the others on the fly, but its getting better. Right now, this is what happens in my head:

  1. C: 8th fret. This is automatic now
  2. F: 1st fret. This is also automatic
  3. Bb: 6th fret. I have to think about it, but I can quickly find it by going back 2 frets from C
  4. Eb: 11th fret. This is automatic as well
  5. Ab: 4th fret. This one takes thinking and reorientation
  6. Db: 9th fret. This one takes thinking & reorientation too
  7. Gb: 2nd fret: This one is pretty quick. I think it’ll be automatic soon. Its easy to find since F is on the 1st fret
  8. B: 7th fret: This one takes a few seconds to figure out, because of the Bb from before
  9. E: Open. Easy
  10. A: 5th fret: Takes a few seconds to find
  11. D: 10th fret: Also takes a few seconds to figure out still
  12. G: 3rd fret: Pretty quick, once I remember that F is the 1st fret
  13. C: 8th fret. Returning here is easy

As of this AM, when I practiced for a few mins in between client emails, I also started trying to name the fret after the note, so I call out “C-8” then “F-1” and so on. It slows me down, but its helping when I have to find some of the ones that need thinking – especially when they’re flatted like Ab, Db and so on. On the runs when I remember things like A is on the 5th fret, then its easier to slide down one.

Ok. We’ll see how I fare in a week. I started this on a Thursday, so I can’t just use weekends to monitor how I’m doing.

Here’s a link to the first post about this stuff:


One response

  1. Pingback: Memorizing the Fretboard using the Cycle of Fourths | Ugly Bass Face

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