Close this search box.
Close this search box.

how to Read Acoustic Guitar Sheet Music

Your one-stop help guide to reading acoustic guitar sheet music

How To Read Acoustic Guitar Sheet Music

Learning how to read music is really a different skill from actually playing the acoustic guitar. As part of our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning The Acoustic Guitar’ series, this segment will provide you with ample information to begin practicing this amazing skill.

watch now
Music Tutorials
Amazing Acoustic Guitar Tutorials

What actually are the musical notes?

Music is really a language; and like every language, it has a written variety. Notation gives musicians all over the world a tool to communicate. A composer writes their piece with distinct icons, and if you can read music, it is possible to comprehend it, decipher it, and ultimately play it.

But when was it created? Well, truly early illustrations have been found on stone tablets as long ago as 2000 B.C. Though the present-day variety we read now was actually designed by Catholic Monks to make church music around the globe a standard style!

How To Read Acoustic Guitar Sheet Music

Why Bother Learning To Read Music?

Let’s be totally honest. Learning how to read music is a challenging thing to do.

If you’re looking to perform pop, it’s not so crucial that you figure out how to read music. Nevertheless, if you do, you’ll find life easier in the future.

You may absolutely go down this path if you choose. Just be aware that like riding a bike, reading music is actually a skill you always remember – and the pros massively over-shadow the disadvantages.

What Is The Specific Method?

When you learnt to read and write, did you handle them as the same task? Of course not. Managing your hand movements with a pen, discovering the patterns of letters, understanding how letters join together are all a radically different skill from using your eyes to understand what a combination of characters spells.

The entire process of finding out how to read music is very similar.

Playing the acoustic guitar is a radically different skill from reading the sheet music before you. A lot of badly experienced instructors make an attempt to teach the two of these factors together – however, you know better! Master them as independent skills that overlap. Like this, you’ll have great results more quickly.

Basics Of Reading Musical Notation

The Treble Clef Staff

For acoustic guitar, staff notation is actually organised around something known as the treble staff. This consists of a stave (the term for the lines) of five lines and 4 spaces. It is usually marked with a treble clef (the squiggly thing at the start of the line)!

Middle C sits in the space at the very bottom of the stave, on an imaginary line.

Notes can sit on a line or in a space. The vertical location (height) of the note defines the pitch. The higher up the stave, the higher the pitch. In the event the note has to go higher or lower than the stave lines, we add mini lines for any note that is higher or lower. These lines are called ledger lines.

Treble Clef Staff

The notes

So we don’t need to count up from middle C to get our note, we can easily make use of a trick – and it’s as basic as keeping in mind the word FACE…


The 5 lines, base up-wards, for the treble staff are: E G B D and F. The easiest way to learn them is to recall acronyms. The most popular is “Every Good Boy Deserves Football” – but I imagine you’ll manage to generate a better version!


Also to give a nice overview of the entire Treble Clef staff, here it is:

Treble Clef Staff

How Long Do We Hold Notes For?

If we read sheet music, we read the score from the left-hand side to the right. As we have already figured out which specific note to play, we now need to find out the span of time to play it for. Thankfully, the printed note actually tells us this at the same time.

The actual shape of the note and if it’s filled in, tells us how much time to hold the note for.

  • A whole note (or if you are in the UK, it’s called a Semibreve) is an empty circle and lasts four counts.
  • A half note (or if you are in the UK, it’s called a Minim) adds a stem and lasts two counts.
  • A quarter note (or if you are in the UK, it’s called a Crotchet) fills in the circle and lasts one count.
Note Length
How To Read Acoustic Guitar Sheet Music

How To Read Acoustic Guitar Sheet Music - Summary

Each week, on a Friday, I mail out the 4 Feature Friday e-mail. It’s a very simple idea that is made up of four fantastic things I’ve found that week.

So long as it includes something related to music, it can land in the e-mail. Think of it as a music pandora’s box!

You’ll only get to see them once a week email if you sign up directly below. And we also guarantee to never, ever spam.

About the Author

Uncover What 4 Items I’ve Discovered This Week

Every Friday, I send out an exclusive email with the four most amazing things I’ve reviewed or used that week.

It could include exclusive giveaways or chances to interact with me, instruments, books, gadgets, music, new techniques/tricks, and — of course — all sorts of fun musical stuff I dig up from around the world.

These 4-Feature Friday’ emails are only available if you subscribe to my e-mail newsletter.

Read the next post in this series: