One of the most challenging aspects of learning how to play the guitar is learning the fretboard. When a player presses their finger down on a fret, it changes the amount of string that can vibrate when that string is plucked. This, in turn, changes the sound made and the note played. On guitar lessons in Atlanta, learning where to press on the fretboard to get which note does take time to learn. This is why many guitar teachers recommend students put fretboard stickers on their guitars. This is a little cheat sheet that makes playing easier. Some guitars already have fret stickers or markers on them, but others don’t. If your child’s guitar doesn’t have fretboard stickers on it, how do you apply them?
Decide on the Fretboard Stickers
Most fretboard stickers are little dots. These dots can be plain circles, different colors, or even have designs on them. Other stickers may be squares, patterned lines, or even unique designs that look, to those who haven’t taken online music lessons or don’t play guitar at all, more decorative than useful. There are even fretboard stickers out there that look like flowers, vines, intertwining stripes, and more. While your child may want to start with stickers that are designed to be helpful in learning, they can later go with something more decorative once they understand frets better.
Dots Are Easy
If you’re placing simple dots, squares, or other small stickers on the fretboard, the process is fairly easy. Fretboards are usually marked at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th, and 21st frets. Simply place the stickers on the fretboard behind the strings. It may be easier to actually unstring the guitar first. Do be sure that whoever is putting the stickers on pays attention to the jump between the 9th and the 12th frets. The pattern up to that point is every other fret, but that changes here since the 11th fret is skipped over in favor of marking the 12th.
Installing Larger Graphics
If your child wants to put decorative graphics on their fretboard, the process is a little more complicated. First, you’re likely going to want to unstring the guitar, although you don’t have to. Next, you’ll want to lay it flat on a table, and you may want to put something under the neck or have at least one other person there to help steady the guitar.
- The first step is to turn the sticker over and, using a ruler and a pen, mark the location of the 3rd fret hole and the 7th fret hole. You’ll need to carefully line up the sticker with the fretboard to do this.
- Next, cut the sticker along these lines to split it into three parts.
- Take the first sticker (either end is fine) and remove the backing.
- Line up the image along the fretboard by sliding it under the strings (if they haven’t been removed). Be sure to hold the sticker up above the fretboard so it doesn’t touch.
- Once the image is in the correct position, gently pull the sides to stretch it slightly.
- If the sticker is designed to fold around the neck, take one side and fold it around, then press it securely against the neck. Now repeat with the other side, making sure to keep some tension going so the sticker doesn’t wrinkle.
- If the sticker doesn’t fold around, press it down firmly against the neck once it’s lined up.
- Check to make certain the sticker doesn’t touch the strings at any point. If it does, you can usually lift it up and reposition it.
Now repeat this process with the other two parts of the image. Once all three stickers are on, congratulations! The guitar now has marked frets that should make it easier for your child to play.
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