Getting Around The Fretboard: Busting Out Of The Scale Box

author: PaulKleff date: 08/19/2009 category: guitar techniques
rating: 8.5 / votes: 28 
Here's another question from a student: I know some scales (like the blues scale, major and minor) but how do I get out of being stuck in just one scale box at a time. I watch videos of other players and they go from one end of the neck to the other and I have no idea how they are doing it. When I try to do it, I get lost. This suckshelp! When you see a guitar player doing a long run that starts at one end of the guitar neck and ends on the other, most of the time the run is built on a series of very simple connected shapes. This lesson will help you see how those shapes are created and connected and give you a way to start creating your own longer licks and runs on the guitar neck. Looking at the key of A, for example, first we need to identify where the A notes are located on the neck. If you haven't memorized the names of the notes on the guitar fretboard yet, this is a reason it is important. In our example, the A notes will be used as our target note for putting together a guitar lick that will start on the 6th string fifth fret and end on the 1st string, seventeenth fret. Here are the A notes we will use: To practice this pattern, play each A note with your fret hand index finger. These notes are the target notes that will be the first note of each connected phrase that makes up the longer run. The next example shows how a simple six-note pattern can be used to create a long run that starts at one end of the neck and ends up at the other. This six-note pattern starts on each target note that we looked at in the first example and the fingering is the same starting on each A note. So with one simple partial scale pattern we are able to create a long run up the neck without getting lost. The key is to be locked in on the target notes and to be able to go from each six note pattern and finally end up at the 17th fret on the high E string: Now that you have the idea, you can create more interesting patterns and connect them. The pattern we just looked at sounds ok, but you can create some variety in it by creating simple patterns that repeat. Just start each pattern on your target note to connect them together. Here is an example that uses a blues-based repeating pattern: The previous examples were in the key of A. Connecting patterns in other keys works just like any other scale pattern or barre chord. Just find the tonic note of the key you are in, then locate that same note on the 4th string, 2nd string and first string going up the neck. For example, to play this type of run in the key of F# minor, start the pattern at the 2nd fret of the low E string and follow it up by playing the pattern at the 4th string 4th fret, the 2nd string 7th fret and end on the 1st string 14th fret. No matter what type of pattern you are playing using this technique, remember to practice it slowly and really work on the portions of it where you are moving from one target note to the nextthis is the toughest part of using these types of patterns. Make sure you are able to make smooth transitions from one part of the neck to the next. These examples are just a starting point to get you going using this idea. The possibilities are manyyou can use all different types of note combinations and patterns, play them descending down the neck, use arpeggio shapes, play them slower or fasteruse your imagination to create your own ideas. Once you know how to connect the patterns, you can get from one end of the guitar neck to the other and never get lost again. Receive a free guitar instructional e-Book with 5 additional lessons like this one at Paul Kleff is a musician and guitar instructor in Grand Rapids, Michigan USA 200 Paul Kleff
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