12 More Notes on the Third String, Repetition & Fingerings


In this unit you will learn more fretted notes on the third string, symbols for small-scale repetition and fingerings.



The Notes ‘G‘ & ‘A

‘G♯’ and ‘A♭’ are enharmonics. To play ‘G♯’ or ‘A♭’, fret the first fret on the third string.

The Notes ‘A‘ & ‘B

‘A♯’ and ‘B♭’ are enharmonics. To play ‘A♯’ or ‘B♭’, fret the third fret on the third string.


Small-Scale Repetition 


The simile means “in a similar way.” Sometimes it is seen in notation as the abbreviation sim. It directs you to continue playing in the manner previously marked. In the example below, the simile refers to the tenuto articulations.

One-Beat Repeat

The one-beat repeat is a diagonal line placed in the middle of the staff. It directs you to repeat the music from the preceding beat. It is important to mention that this symbol is often employed in jazz and popular music and suggests that you strum according to style or personal taste.

One-Measure Repeat

The one-measure repeat consists of a diagonal line with a dot on either side that is placed in the middle of an empty measure. It directs you to repeat the music from the preceding measure.

Two-Measure Repeat

The two-measure repeat consists of two diagonal lines with dots on either side that is placed on the barline between two empty measures. It directs you to play the music from the two preceding measures.

Four-Measure Repeat

The four-measure repeat consists of four diagonal lines with dots on either side that is placed on the barline between four empty measures. It directs you to play the music from the four preceding measures.



Fingerings specify which fingers to use and where to place them. The plucking-hand and fretting-hand each have a unique set of symbols.

Plucking-Hand Fingering 

The plucking-hand fingering convention is universal. Each italicized letter corresponds with a Spanish word for a specific finger (with the exception of the pinky finger). See the example below.


Symbol Spanish English
p pulgar thumb
i indicio index
m medio middle
annular ring
e or x

Fretting-Hand Fingering

The fretting-hand fingering convention is more complicated because it can involve up to three extra symbols per note. Fingerings can easily clutter the score with too much visual information, which is why I recommend playing from scores in which composers or editors apply fingering notations sparingly. Two fretting-hand fingering conventions are explained in this unit: the standard method and Norman method (named for its inventor, Theodore Norman). Both methods use Arabic numerals to represent fretting-fingers.

Symbol Finger
1 index
2 middle
3 ring
4 pinky


The Standard Method

In the  standard method, Arabic numbers (without circles) represent fretting fingers; circled Arabic numbers represent string numbers; and Roman numerals represent fret numbers. See the example of the standard method below.

Symbol Direction  
Arabic number 3 Fretting finger
Circled Arabic number 3 String number
Roman numeral IV Fret number

The Norman Method

In the Norman method, Arabic numbers (without circles) represent fretting fingers and Roman numerals represent string numbers. Fret numbers are typically not employed in the Norman method because there is only one place per string where a note of the same staff position can be played. Therefore, if you are given the string number you can determine the suggested fret number on your own. See the example of the Norman method below.

Symbol Direction  
Arabic number 3 Fretting finger
Roman numeral IV String number


Why the Norman Method?

I believe the Norman method is more effective than the standard method at reducing the amount of visual information on the score. It also fosters an intuitive approach to sight-reading. However, because the standard method is more common, it will be applied to most compositions and exercises throughout the series.


Let’s Play

Sight-Reading Tip

If the score you intend to sight-read contains a lot of fingerings, do not feel inclined to follow them at first.  More often than not, an editor (not a composer) adds fingerings to a score as helpful suggestions. In this case, the editor’s fingerings are not mandatory. However, sometimes a composer will assign fingerings in order to achieve a particular timbre or phrasing. In this case, fingerings provide deeper insight into a composer’s musical intentions. In either case, fingerings do not need to factor into a first or second sight-reading encounter. Remember, too much visual information on the page can slow down mental processing.

Checklist for Sight-Reading

  • Count the beats out loud (including the &).
  • Keep going (even if you make a mistake).
  • Maintain your best playing posture.
  • Look at the score, not your hands.
  • Play with the feel of the meter.
  • Play patterns instead of individual notes (AKA chunk).
  • Cultivate a calm demeanor.
  • Have fun!

Let’s Play Rhythms

Attitude Tip

Don’t think; feel! It is like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory. –Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon

Exercise 12.1: Score

Exercise 12.1: Audio

Exercise 12.2: Score

Exercise 12.2: Audio

Exercise 12.3: Score

Exercise 12.3: Audio

Exercise 12.4: Score

Exercise 12.4: Audio 

Let’s Play Patterns

Attitude Tip

Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else. –Shunryu Suzuki

Remember, Roman numerals represent string numbers.

Exercise 12.5: Score

Exercise 12.5: Audio 

In the next exercise the ‘simile‘ in measure 3 directs you to continue accenting in the manner of measures 1 and 2.

Exercise 12.6: Score

Exercise 12.6: Audio

Exercise 12.7: Score

Exercise 12.7: Audio

Let’s Play Duets

Attitude Tip

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ­–Lao Tzu

Exercise 12.8: Score

Exercise 12.8: Audio

Let’s Play Compositions

Note: These compositions are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license  (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Attitude Tip

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were built for. –John A. Shedd

The piece Texas  provides two sight-reading opportunities.  I suggest you sight-read the Guitar 1 melody first and the vocal melody second.

Texas by Brandon Mayer: Score

Texas: Audio

Melpomene by Paweł Kuźma: Score

Melpomene: Audio


You have completed this unit! If you kept up with the beat and accurately played approximately 70% of the pitches and rhythms, you are ready for the next unit. Feel free to repeat the exercises. However, do not play them so often that you memorize them. Once you memorize the notation, you are no longer developing the skill of sight-reading.


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