Reading Music NotesLearn More Faster

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You might think it’s hard to start reading music notes or notation as its also called but it’s fairly simple. To read music fast and accurate will require some time and practice.

You don’t have to become an expert music reader for this to be a valuable learning tool. Just knowing what the notes are and where they are on your guitar will expand your learning field.

Remember as a musician you are also a music student for life no matter how good you get.

Let’s start with the staff and see how it relates to the guitar.

The Staff and Middle C

The term middle C always seemed to apply to piano players for reading music notes because I wasn’t taught about the bass and treble clefs while taking guitar lessons. I had to find this stuff out myself.

Ever wonder why you saw notes like these not on a staff? They are on a staff that’s what the little lines are.

Two Music Staffs

There are two types of staffs for guitar players to understand the treble or G clef and Bass or F clef.

The clef tells you what range of tones you are in like bass for a bass guitar or treble for regular guitar.

This is the same double staff or Grand staff as it is called that you see for piano players below

They read both lines at the same time

If the millions of people that play piano can read two staffs at once there is no reason you can’t learn to read one staff

The Grand Staff

The treble clef is the top 5 lines staff and the bass clef is the lower 5 line staff. Together these are known as the Grand Staff. Middle C separates them.

Left Side Symbols

The symbols on the left tell the musician what staff they are looking at. The 4/4 symbol is the time signature more on that later.

There is usually a la


The upper and lower notes are one octave apart.

The lowest note on the guitar is the 6th string E. Which is the 3rd note on the bottom staff above.

Our 6th String E Note

In the above staff you will see the E note in the lower bass clef. This is our 6th string note. We have 2 lines above it plus the middle C line.

This is how we get the notes from the top of the page. They come from the bass staff.

Middle C

The middle C line runs through the center of these two staffs.

The C on the left side in the treble clef is the same as the C on the right in the Bass clef

The notes go up or down by one note with each space or line.

The staff will get divided into measures according to the time signature.

Name Those Notes
Reading Music Notes

These will be the names of the notes that are on each line or space. For now there are several different types of notes you will need to learn.

No matter what type of note it will still be a B or C or whatever the line or space is called.

We also need to look at the time signature that’s next to the Clef symbols then we’ll do the note types.

Once you get going you will see it’s pretty simple. There is just a lot of little things I need to point out to you first. Hang in there.

Reading Both at the Same Time

A keyboard or piano player uses both of these clefs reading both at the same time.

The treble clef is played with the right hand and the Bass clef is played with the left hand. Show-offs.

Treble Clef – Reading Music Notes

You might want to get familiar with the treble clef first. Learning the Bass clef isn’t necessary but it can come in handy reading or interpreting music not written for the guitar.

Time Signatures – Note Values

Top of Fraction =

Number of Beats per Measure

Bottom of Fraction =

Type of Note that gets a Whole Beat

Whole note – Hollow center, No stem or flag = 4 beats

Half note – hollow center, always has a flag = 2 beats

Quarter note – filled center, always has flag = 1 beat



Windows Media

Whole half and quarter note examples

There are some extra clicks from the metronome to separate the notes.

Combinations of the three notes

There is only one way of playing the whole note other than making it last two or more measures

Here are some combinations of the half and quarter notes within one measure.

The C where the time signature goes means 4/4 time like the above samples. It means common time because a majority of the music is written in this time signature.

Ties and Dots – Reading Music Notes

There are ways to change note values by combining notes using a curved line or placing a dot after the note like below.


In the above sample measures 1 and 2 will sound the same, the same is true of 3 and 4, they are just written different. You are making the first note sound longer.

When you use a tie you add the two values of the notes together unlike a dot.


A dot after a note raises its value by one half. If you put a dot after a half note which is two beats you make it three beats long.

Measures – Reading music Notes

Every measure except for pick up notes(later) must equal the top number in the time signature.

If its a 4 or C there must be 4 beats in every measure.

If the top number is a 3 then there must be 3 beats in every measure.

3/4 time is a Waltz One two three with an accent on the one beat.