How Many Octaves On A Guitar? Learning to play the guitar usually starts with learning its octaves, just as it with scales and the piano. You must then learn the number of octaves on your guitar by counting them.
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Keep in mind that every guitar has a somewhat unique design, but most guitars have about four octaves. The actual number of octaves, usually given as fraction, depends on the number of strings and frets, even the tuning done. For example, a 7-string guitar will have a higher number of octaves than a 6-string guitar, as is the case for guitars with more frets.
Counting the Octaves
The following method is widely considered as the most natural way. You can use other methods, of course, but this one’s more suitable for a beginner.
- Begin by finding your guitar’s lowest note, the open low E string. Move up to two strings and two frets, which will make an L-shaped pattern. It is the first octave.
- The second octave lies between the E, not on the second fret of the D string and the high E open string.
- The third octave begins at the high E open strong to the 12 frets on High E.
- The fourth octave is the last 12 frets on your guitar.
And here’s when your guitar’s specific design comes into play, at the fourth octave. Keep in mind that every octave consists of 12 notes, and with 24 frets on a guitar, it will have four octaves.
But what if your guitar only has 22 frets? It means your guitar doesn’t have a complete fourth octave! In this case, your guitar has exactly 3⅚ octaves. Well, the 1/6 missing octave may not sound much, but if you are being technical here, then a 22-fret guitar will only have 3⅚ octaves.
The answer will also depend on the tuning of your guitar. On your 22-fret electric guitar, for example, you will have four complete octaves if you used Drop D tuning. In it, the low E slides drop two notes to a D, so the twenty-second fret on the high E string becomes a D note.
Remember, too, that the type of guitar will influence the number of octaves. Most electric guitars have more frets than acoustic guitars, so their number of octaves will be higher.
Learning the Octaves
While learning the chords can be the first stepping stone to learning the guitar, many guitarists suggest learning the octaves first. First, you will find the fretboard less intimidating when you’re playing, even when you’re starting to write riffs, solos, and fills,
Second, you will have an easier time learning the scales when you already know where the octaves are. It is similar to playing the piano, but with strings instead of keys.
Third, you can get “thicker notes” when playing melodies in octaves. You will like that there’s more energy in the solo or song when done in this manner.
Fourth, you can think of octaves as guideposts when improvising on the notes and chords. It is especially true when you’re not into scales as a method of learning guitar pieces.
You may have difficulty in understanding the octaves on your guitar. But that shouldn’t be an issue with comprehensive guides like the Guitar Fretboard: Memorize The Fretboard In Less Than 24 Hours and Mel Bay’s Complete Book of Guitar Chords, Scales and Arpeggios! Your choice in a guitar also matters obviously and the YMC 38″ Coffee Beginner Acoustic Guitar Starter Package is highly recommended.
One Reply to “How Many Octaves On A Guitar?”
“On your 22-fret electric guitar, for example, you will have four complete octaves if you used Drop D tuning. In it, the low E slides drop two notes to a D, so the twenty-second fret on the high E string becomes a D note.”
While overall this is true there is some confusing language to explain it.
If you tune to regular drop-d (only the low E is tuned to D) then yes, you will have 4 complete octaves because you are going from the (detuned) open low e that’s now a d to the 22nd fret on the high E which is ALWAYS a d note in standard tuning. It doesn’t BECOME a d note because you tuned down the low E, which is implies by what you wrote…