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how to Read Electric Guitar Sheet Music

Understand how to read sheet music quickly

How To Read Electric Guitar Sheet Music

Figuring out how to read music is a really vital skill to have. But it’s additionally a different skill from actually playing the electric guitar. Why should we treat them as one and the same! As a section inside our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning The Electric Guitar’, we hope to provide you with the know-how and information to read music better.

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Do we need printed music?

So how does somebody from Singapore write down something, and another person in Ireland can read it? It’s because they follow the rules of reading and writing in the English language. Produced written music notation is exactly the same. If you are in Toronto or Melbourne, so long as you can decipher the icons on the page, it is possible to play the music.

But when was it created? Well, truly early illustrations have been found on stone tablets as long ago as 2000 B.C. Though the modern variety we read now was actually made by Catholic Monks to help make church music worldwide a standard format!

How To Read Electric Guitar Sheet Music

Why Learn To Read Music?

Learning to read music takes effort and time. There are no two ways about it, it’s a hard skill to learn.

Some awesome performers never learned, and there are common techniques that include playing by ear, or by using chord patterns, that ultimately don’t need written music.

You could absolutely go down this path if you choose. Just recognize that like riding a bike, reading music is a skill you never forget – and the pros massively overshadow the negatives.

Is Reading Music Difficult?

When you learnt to read and write, did you handle them as the same task? Of course not. Managing your hand actions by using a pencil, studying the forms of letters, focusing on how letters join together are all a radically different skill from using your eyes to determine what a combination of characters spells.

Reading music, and the entire process of learning to make it happen is the same.

Playing the electric guitar is really a radically different skill from reading the sheet music in front of you. Lots of badly skilled instructors attempt to teach the two of these aspects together – however, you know better! Learn them as separate skills that overlap. This way you’ll become successful more quickly.

Learn How To Read Music

The Treble Clef Staff

For electric guitar, staff notation is actually organised around something known as the treble staff. This contains a stave (the name for the lines) of five lines and 4 spaces. It is usually labelled using a treble clef (the squiggly thing at the start of the line)!

Middle C lies in the gap at the very bottom of the stave, on an imaginary line.

Notes can sit on a line or in a space. The vertical placement (height) of the note identifies the pitch. The higher up the stave, the higher the pitch. When the note has to go higher or below the stave lines, we add mini lines for each note that is higher or lower. These lines are known as ledger lines.

Treble Clef Staff

The notes

In order to avoid counting up from middle C each and every time, we can easily make use of memory aids to recognise the notes. The four spaces of the treble staff spell out “FACE”.


The 5 lines, base upwards, for the treble staff are E G B D and F. The easy way to know them is to remember acronyms. The most popular is “Every Good Boy Deserves Football” – but I feel you’ll be able to make a significantly better version!


And to display the actual way it all appears, this is actually the whole Treble Clef staff

Treble Clef Staff

Note Lengths

When reading through music, we read from left to right. Now we recognize what placement on the stave makes what note, we need extra instruction from the printed symbol. We need to understand how long to hold the note for.

The actual shape of the note and if it’s filled in, tells us how long 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 Electric Guitar Sheet Music

How To Read Electric Guitar Sheet Music - Summary

You finally did it!

You have the details, now go and use what you’ve discovered! What’s that old saying about taking a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink…

Of course, there are numerous additional aspects to eventually learn – but for now, that ought to provide a great headstart!

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