A Guitarist’s Guide to Sharps and Flats in Music Theory

In one of my earlier lessons, I have scratched the surface of the concept of Sharp and Flat notes in western music. This lesson takes it up a notch and focuses on its application. For that, I have created two exercises using the 1st String (e) notes of the guitar. These exercises will help you get a good hold on how the Sharp and Flat note concepts work on the guitar frets in a real-life playing/practicing scenario.

Important Facts about Sharp and Flat Notes

A note will have a Sharp note only when there is whole tone or whole note interval with the next note. A Sharp note is indicated by the sign “#”.

For e.g. the tonal interval between the notes E and F is half, so E wouldn’t have an E sharp. So if you say E sharp, you will play the note F.

With regard to a guitar fretboard, a half step note would be the adjacent fret and a whole step note would be one fret apart.

Similarly, a note will have a Flat note only when there is whole tone or whole note interval with the previous note. A Flate note is indicated by a sign similar to “b” in standard musical notation.

For e.g. F wouldn’t have an F flat note because the tonal interval with it’s previous note i.e. E is only half step.

Natural Note

A natural note is nothing but a note which is neither Sharp nor a Flat. This becomes necessary if you want a note to remain as it is or natural if a sharp or flat is indicated at the beginning of the notation.

[Video] Sharps and Flats for Guitarists

This video will give you a much clearer understanding of the concept of sharps and flats. Please do watch it.

Sharp Notes on the 1st String (e) – Open Position  

Standard Notation

Sharp Notes of 1st Guitar String E Open Position - Standard Notation

TAB Notation

Sharp Notes of 1st Guitar String E Open Position - TAB Notation

Flat Notes on the 1st String (e) – Open Position

Standard Notation

Flat Notes on 1st String E of Guitar Open Position - Standard Notation

TAB Notation

Flat Notes on 1st String E of Guitar Open Position - TAB Notation

Sharp Note Exercise

Standard Notation

Guitar Exercise on Sharp Notes on 1st String - Open Position - Standard Notation

TAB Notation

Guitar Exercise on Sharp Notes on 1st String - Open Position - TAB Notation

Flat Note Exercise

Standard Notation

Guitar Exercise on Flat Notes on 1st String - Open Position - Standard Notation

TAB Notation

Guitar Exercise on Flat Notes on 1st String - Open Position - TAB Notation

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