Teaching Guitar Since 2000

Sharps and Flats (Accidentals)

We can raise or lower the pitch of any note by one fret using accidentals:

sharps (#) or flats (b)

To raise the pitch of a note by one fret ( half step) we use the sharp symbol # .

Example 1: C (1st fret on the second string)

Once the sharp is in front of it , it becomes C# and is played on the second fret of the second (B) string.


Name the notes, and what fret they will be played on.

click here for the answers

Usually notes are two frets (one whole step) apart.
There are two exceptions to the rule:

E- F the distance is one fret
B- C the distance is one fret

So E sharp and F are identical. The same is true for B sharp and C. Since these notes sound the same but have different names, they are called ENHARMONIC.

2. Flats:
Flats are used to lower the pitch of a note by one fret. The symbol used is b .

Accidentals may appear anywhere within a piece of music. However, they will last only for one measure. In the example the sharp in front of the first C will also be applied to the second C of that measure. The Cs of the second measure will be played on the first fret again.

  3. Naturals:

If we do not want the sharp from the example above to be valid for the whole measure, we can put a natural sign in front of the second C sharp and it would become a regular C (C natural) again. The natural cancels any sharp or flat for one whole measure.




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