How to Use Music Theory to Find the Notes on the Piano and the Guitar

By Michael Pilhofer, Holly Day

You can use music theory to help you find notes. Sometimes you just can’t remember which note is which when you’re playing a musical instrument, especially when you’re a beginner. But don’t worry. You can use the information here as a handy reference when you can’t quite remember.

Looking for notes on the piano

This is a little more than three octaves’ worth of the piano keyboard. The corresponding natural notes on the grand staff are labeled on the keyboard. Note also the hand placement, indicated above the keyboard (RH for right hand, and LH for left hand).


Picking out notes on the guitar

The trouble with laying out the neck of a guitar against musical notation is that notes repeat themselves all along the neck, and having so many options for playing notes in different ways can get confusing. So, here you’ll see the guitar neck broken into three nonrepeating sections to correspond along the natural notes on the staff, stopping at the 12th fret (which usually has two dots on it).

The 12th fret is also known as the octave mark, meaning it’s the same note as the string played open, except one octave higher.

Here are the notes of the first three frets of the guitar.


Now, check out the notes for the next five frets of the guitar.


Finally, here are the notes for the next four frets of the guitar.