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How Many Sharps and Flats are in Each Key?

MASTER ARPEGGIOS

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How Many Sharps and Flats are in Each Key?

How Many Sharps and Flats are in Each Key?

Guitar Hack

MASTER SHAPE

Yes, you can memorize the sharps and flats in any given key by investing some time and effort, but we guitar players have a very easy way to remember them sitting right under our fingers. The diagrams below show you the Master Shape to find out exactly what sharps and flats are in any key. Of course, there’s no key of C here, because it’s natural, with no sharps or flats at all.

MASTER SHAPE – Finding the Sharps

The same shape is used whether we are looking for the number of sharps in each key (RED) or what notes are sharped in that key (BLACK).

How many sharps are there in each key?

To find out how many sharps there are in each key, start counting from the high E (1st string).
If the root of the key is on the 1st string, it has ONE sharp.
If the root of the key is on the 2nd string, it has 2 sharps, and so on…

You have the answer in the BLACK shape…

  1. The key of G (RED SHAPE) contains one sharp – F#, which is the note on the same string in the BLACK shape.
  2. The key of D (RED SHAPE) contains 2 sharps (F#, C#), which are the notes on the first and second strings in the BLACK shape.
  3. The key of A (RED SHAPE) contains 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#), which are the notes on the first three strings in the BLACK shape.
  4. The key of E (RED SHAPE) contains 4 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#), which are the notes on the first four strings in the BLACK shape.
  5. The key of B (RED SHAPE) contains 5 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#), which are the notes on the first five strings in the BLACK shape.
  6. The key of F# (RED SHAPE) contains 6 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#), which are the notes on all six strings in the BLACK shape.

MASTER SHAPE – Finding the Flats

A similar pattern emerges when we want to know how many flats there are in each key.

It’s basically the same idea. The difference is that we now start on the Low E (6th) string and work our way to the high E (1st) string…

In this case, the same shape is used whether we want to find out how many flats there are in each key (RED) or which flats there are in a certain key (BLACK).

How many flats are there in each key?

Counting from the low E (6th string):

  1. First, you have the key of F – with only one flat.
  2. On the 5th string, you have the key of Bb – Counting from the 6th string, this is string #2.
    It contains 2 flats.
  3. On the 4th string, you have the key of Eb – Counting from the 6th string, this is string #3.
    It contains 3 flats.
  4. On the 3rd string, you have the key of Ab – Counting from the 6th string, this is string #4.
    It contains 4 flats.
  5. On the 2nd string, you have the key of Db – Counting from the 6th string, this is string #5. It contains 5 flats.
  6. On the 1st string, you have the key of Gb – Counting from the 6th string, this is string #6.
    It contains 6 flats.

Which flats are in each key?

Move the Master Shape to the 6th fret (BLACK).

Notice that the note on the 6th string is the flat you have in the key of F (RED shape).
So, the key of F has only ONE flat – Bb.

For each additional key, you count all the flats from the 6th string to the string you found the root on in the RED shape.

So let’s take a look at the RED and BLACK shapes together:

  1. RED – On the 6th string, you have the key of F – 1 flat.
    BLACK – String 6 = the flat is Bb.
  2. RED – On the 5th string, you have the key of Bb – 2 flats.
    BLACK – Strings 6 and 5 = the flats are Bb and Eb.
  3. RED – On the 4th string, you have the key of Eb – 3 flats.
    BLACK – Strings 6, 5 and 4 = the flats are Bb, Eb and Ab.
  4. RED – On the 3rd string, you have the key of Ab – 4 flats.
    BLACK – Strings 6, 5, 4 and 3 = the flats are Bb Eb, Ab and Db.
  5. RED – On the 2nd string, you have the key of Db – 5 flats.
    BLACK – Strings 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 = the flats are Bb, Eb, Ab, Db and Gb.
  6. RED – On the 1st string, you have the key of Cb – 6 flats.
    BLACK – Strings 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 = the flats are Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb and Cb.

So much is revealed to us in the geometry of the fretboard, you just need to know where to look! 😊

That’s all for today, hope you enjoyed this lesson.

Please feel free to ask your questions or share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Cheers,
Yaakov.