Numbering Your Fretboard

Learn How To Number Your Fretboard On Guitar!

In this guitar lesson we are going to learn about the numbers of the frets on the guitar. This may seem like a simple topic, but if you are a beginner it is pretty important. If you can quickly understand where to put your fingers during a lesson, you won’t get frustrated and you will learn faster. We have provided you with a diagram of the fretboard with each of the frets numbered.

Fret Board Numbering On Guitar

If your guitar has a different number of frets from the one you see in this video, don’t worry. Most electric guitars have 21, 22, or 24 frets. Fenders and Gibson style guitars usually have 21 or 22 frets. Ibanez and Jackson style guitars usually have 22 or 24 frets. If you have an acoustic guitar it will probably have around 20 frets.

Let’s look at a few examples to learn how to count the frets on the guitar. Let’s say that someone told you to put your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the 1st string. You would start counting on your open high E string as 0. From there, count 5 frets up. Now you would put your index finger on that 5th fret. Here is a diagram that shows the 1st finger on the 5th fret of the 1st string.

Fret Board Numbers 5th Fret

Now put your 2nd finger on the 12th fret of your 2nd string. Here is a diagram to show you where you should put your 2nd finger.

Fret Board Numbers On Guitar

Learning how to count the frets is pretty simple so you probably won’t have to spend much time on getting the hang of it. You should realize that once you get to the 12th fret of your guitar, the notes just start repeating. For example, the 12th fret of your open high E string is another E. This E is just one octave higher. Most guitars will have fret markers to help you kind of keep your place when you are playing. These markers come in all different shapes and sizes. The most common shapes are dots, blocks, trapezoids, and shark fins.

The next step is to learn the notes on the fretboard. You should also be comfortable with your finger numbers and reading sheet music!

This Lesson Has 21 Comments

  • Priesslizn says:

    Hi all, I’m glad that I came to this forum

  • Johnnie says:

    This diagram for the placing second finger on twelth fret of fifth string is WRONG. How can the first string be the high E string and the fifth string be the B string ? It can’t, thats why it is WRONG. The second finger on the twelth fret of the fifth string should be on the A string. This needs to be fixed.

    • Mike Monroe says:

      @Johnnie and Hemanth

      It might apeal wrong, when you compare the video with the fretboard diagram.

      But, those diagrams, as well as Tablature notation looks on to the strings as the(right handed) player would do, when having the guitar in front of you in playing position then tilt the lower end of the body upward, so the neck is horizontal.

      In other words, It shows what Nate sees looking down on his own fretboard or what you see, looking down on your own fretboard.

      It does NOT (!) depict what YOU see looking on to NATE’S fretboard.

      On the left end of the diagram you see the string names – the bar on the end of the lines symbolizes the nut dividing the fretboard from the headstock. On the right hand side of it imagine the soundhole or the pickup of your guitar.

      This system has been defined this way. Lefties like Jimi Hendrix, my step son and may you yourself will have to imagine the entire thing the left way around.

      BUT! The low E still is the string (or line) nearest to the reader, because even Jimi’s left hand Strat will tilt upward with the lowest string nearest to his body.

      I stumbled across this website today and I think its great!

      But, I did realize that – being someone who teaches others, also -one might tend to overlook things, that are absolutely clear and logical to ones self as not neccesarily making any sense to other people and hence need explanation.

      So all the diagrams are correct so far and I hope I could clear some things out for you guys.

      Keep it up you guys and lets give Nate a hand for his superb effort!

      Cheers Mike

    • florence angel says:

      if you think you know more than Nate, you can as well make your own Guitar lessons website, then maybe I would give you a bad comment………..UGH

    • Al says:

      Well jeez,Mike and Florence, that there is some nice spin. Johnny is exactly right and it doesn’t matter how you look at the fret board. Forget the video, we are discussing the diagram and text. First, you don’t start at 0. That is ridiculous unless you’re a software programmer. Second, I suppose you can put your 1st finger on the 5th fret and your 2nd on the 12th at the same time?

      LoL, show us a picture please. I would be envious because I have small hands and short fingers.

  • Hemanth says:

    ya it needs to be corrected., but videos perfect………….

  • Vivek Aggarwal says:

    This is really helpful for a beginner.

    Thanks a lot sir

  • Gibson Sg Guitar says:

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this website. He used to be entirely right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how so much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  • roozbeh says:

    i didn’t understand the 2nd finger on 12th fret of 5th line
    and i didn’t understand what mike monroe said
    can anyone explain it to me?

  • Paul says:

    The way it is shown is correct.

  • florence angel says:

    thanks Nate, i’m really getting the hang of it

  • Ross says:

    The convention is 1st string is high E and 6th string is low E. The 5th string on a 6 string guitar with conventional tuning is an A. Doesn’t matter if you are in the southern hemisphere or left handed. The diagram is wrong like Johnnie pointed out. They do seem to have a problem with proofing the diagrams here.

  • Nancy says:

    I know that I’m going to sound really stupid but where do you go to download the sheet music/tabs for the lessons?

  • Chris says:

    I agree with Johnnie. I believe that guitarists generally regard the high E string as the 1st string and the low E string as the 6th string. But even if you number the strings opposite that order, the numbers are FIXED so there will be a constant, and common, point of reference, and those numbers should not be considered subject to change for “orientation” purposes.

  • Sarodien says:

    Hi I’m new and have a question. How do you know which string to play first in different chord like A,G,D and Bm ect.

  • Ron says:

    Johnnie& whomever

    Johnnie: You need to learn your fretboard…. I have been playing
    55 years and that’s one of the first things I had to learn… And!!!
    A couple of other tidbits I sill will give you…. First, you NEVER stop learning and next, there will always be someone better than you and me


  • Daniel says:

    “Now put your 2nd finger on the 12th fret of your 5th string. Here is a diagram to show you where you should put your 2nd finger.”

    Ignore everyone who says “the answer shown in the diagram is correct.” It’s wrong.

    Even if you reversed the standard numbering of the strings, it would still contradict the answer to the question before it — but there’s no good reason I know of to reverse the string numbering. It would just confuse the issue.

    The 1st string is the skinniest one, the one closest to the ground when a right-handed guitar player is holding the guitar. It is the “high E” string.

    The 2nd string is the one “above” the 1st string, the “B string.”

    The 6th string is the fattest string, the one on top when a right-handed guitarist is holding the instrument, and it’s the “low E” string.

    Nate even says as much at 0:55 in the video.

    I think some people are confusing the finger# and string#, maybe?

  • Eric says:

    It is very simple. It is the text to the diagrams that is wrong. You can call the high E string 1 or 6 if you like but you can’t call adjacent strings 1st and 5th!

  • izrael tuilevu says:

    its great to have this kind of guitar lesons online…..

  • Ricky says:

    I am just waiting to see when the correct answer is supplied by Nate. I am a beginner and I dare not try to answer it.

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Ricky, The graphic just had a mistake in it, so I just changed the text to reflect what the graphic is showing. is getting a major overhaul in about a month so this lesson won’t even be here in a few weeks.


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