Guitar neck chart with color coded pitches

(If you have any questions about this chart, please feel free to email me. If it's a question that's useful to others, I'll update this page.)

I've created a free printable pdf diagram of all the notes on a 24 fret guitar neck available in two flavors: Guitar Neck Diagram Sample Standard right-hand version or Left-handed version. It gives the note name and octave label for every fret. Each unique pitch is given a unique color that gradually evolves from a dark purple to yellow. This way you can see the pattern of notes gradually increase in pitch as you go up the neck or how the notes get repeated as you shift strings. Also included are the corresponding notes on a traditional 5-line staff so you can see how a particualr fret or open string would be notated traditionally. The chart works fine for guitars that don't have 24 frets (Electrics often have 22, Acoustics and Classicals usually have 20), simply ignore the frets your guitar doesn't have.

For those unfamiliar with the octave numbering system used, it corresponds to the traditional 88-key piano. The lowest note on a piano is an "A" and is given the designation "A0." Piano Octave NumbersAll the notes in that octave, up to (but not including) the first "C" are also in the "0" range. At the first "C" a new octave is begun and is called "C1." All notes from "C1" until the next "C" are in the "1" octave. This pattern continues, adding one more to the number with each new "C" until there are no more keys. The notation on the guitar begins with E3, so the notes lower than that on the piano cannot be played on the guitar (except a few of them could be through altered tunings)

Now for a few technical notes for non-newbies:

Some manufacturers of keyboards made a mistake in this numbering system and labled everything from the first "A" until the next "A" in the zero octave. So, instead of the first "C" being "C1," they called it "C0." Most of you won't ever need to know that, so if this is confusing, it's fine to not worry too much about it and just move on. But, since a few of you might be coming to the guitar after first learing piano (or one of these "mislabled" keyboards), I thought I'd include the clarification to clear up any potential confusion for you.

Another techincal note is that the guitar is what is called a "transposing instrument." This means that the note given on the 5 line staff, is different from the pitch you actually hear (called "concert pitch"). The guitar actually sounds an octave lower than notated. Why do that? Why not just notate the pitches as you actually hear them? If they did that, guitar would have to be notated on a two staff system (like piano) instead of one, or you'd have to use a whole bunch more ledger lines to keep it on one staff. Both of those would make reading the music MUCH more difficult as well as double the print length of songs, so it's notated an octave off. What this means is if you played middle C written in guitar music, it actually corresponds to the "C" an octave BELOW middle C on the piano. Again, most of you won't need to know this. But since some of you may be orchestrating music or wanting to read music from piano (or another non-transposing instrument) and play it on guitar, this info can be important to you. But if you think that's odd, at least our instrument is a simple octave transposing instrument, where a "C" is still a "C," just in a different octave. Others, for example the Bb Clarinet, are playing a different note completely from the note written on the page (a Bb is sounded when a C is written- talk about nightmares for writing key change).