#1
Okay, so, I'm playing over a chord progression that goes C#m, E, A, E. I assumed this would be in the key of E since that chord seems dominant, but it's apparently in C#? Is the key always the first chord of the progression?

Then, box 1 for the pentatonic scale starts on the 9th fret, low E string, which is C#. So that makes sense. Is it generally this way?

What's confusing to me is that Hendrix's "All along the watchtower" is Am, G, F, right?
So why is box one located at the 9th fret E string, which is C#?

It's very possible I'm mistaken about something. But I would assume that in this case the Am pentatonic would work. Box 1 would originate at the 5th fret. But that doesn't seem to work over Am, G, F.
Last edited by RyanMW2010 at Oct 22, 2013,
#2
C# minor is the relative minor of E major. The C#m E A E progression could really go anywhere, the two most likely candidates or E or C#m as the ending chord. A song's key does not depend on the frequency of a particular chord or note, but where it resolves to - that'll give you a better answer.
#3
Quote by RyanMW2010
Okay, so, I'm playing over a chord progression that goes C#m, E, A, E. I assumed this would be in the key of E since that chord seems dominant, but it's apparently in C#? Is the key always the first chord of the progression?

Then, box 1 for the pentatonic scale starts on the 9th fret, low E string, which is C#. So that makes sense. Is it generally this way?

What's confusing to me is that Hendrix's "All along the watchtower" is Am, G, F, right?
So why is box one located at the 9th fret E string, which is C#?

It's very possible I'm mistaken about something. But I would assume that in this case the Am pentatonic would work. Box 1 would originate at the 5th fret. But that doesn't seem to work over Am, G, F.

The location of the notes or the patterns they form is irrelevant - what matters is the notes that you're using and how their sounds function over the backing.
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#4
Quote by RyanMW2010
Okay, so, I'm playing over a chord progression that goes C#m, E, A, E. I assumed this would be in the key of E since that chord seems dominant, but it's apparently in C#? Is the key always the first chord of the progression?

Then, box 1 for the pentatonic scale starts on the 9th fret, low E string, which is C#. So that makes sense. Is it generally this way?

What's confusing to me is that Hendrix's "All along the watchtower" is Am, G, F, right?
So why is box one located at the 9th fret E string, which is C#?

It's very possible I'm mistaken about something. But I would assume that in this case the Am pentatonic would work. Box 1 would originate at the 5th fret. But that doesn't seem to work over Am, G, F.

Am pentatonic should work pretty well over Am G F. But even if you are playing the "right" scale, it doesn't mean it will sound good. You need to choose the right notes in that scale to sound good. You can't just play random notes and hope for a good result. You need to use your ears.

The "box one" is the "basic" minor pentatonic position and its located on the fret where you find the root note. It depends on the key where it's located. In Am it would be on the 5th fret of E string. But the same scale is all over the fretboard (it's just five notes that repeat over and over again in different octaves/fretboard positions). These boxes should just make you remember the notes in the scale easier. But you still need to use your ears. Not every note in A minor scale sounds good over everything in Am.
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#5
Quote by RyanMW2010
Okay, so, I'm playing over a chord progression that goes C#m, E, A, E. I assumed this would be in the key of E since that chord seems dominant, but it's apparently in C#? Is the key always the first chord of the progression?

The key is where a progression resolves to, where it feel like home. For this progression, I'd say the key is actually kind of ambiguous, because E major & C# minor are each other's relative major/minor.

Then, box 1 for the pentatonic scale starts on the 9th fret, low E string, which is C#. So that makes sense. Is it generally this way?

Stop worrying about where your boxes start, dude. Learn the notes of the fretboard (this article will be useful in that) and the intervals of the minor pentatonic. (The latter being 1 ,b3, 4, 5, & b7 for all keys.) Stop being limited by thinking you can only play in certain positions. Your primary concern, in terms of the minor pentatonic, should be that you can play C#, E, F, G#, & B over your progression -- where you find those notes doesn't matter. (Of course, you still should be careful, as things like playing an F over your E chord won't sound great.)

What's confusing to me is that Hendrix's "All along the watchtower" is Am, G, F, right?
So why is box one located at the 9th fret E string, which is C#?

Because where you start on the fretboard isn't as important as what notes you play. This is exactly why I suggest you get away from boxes (and why I've always been adamant against box shapes).

It's very possible I'm mistaken about something. But I would assume that in this case the Am pentatonic would work. Box 1 would originate at the 5th fret. But that doesn't seem to work over Am, G, F.

Yes, A minor pentatonic would work. It fits over all 3 chords. Note that the diatonic (read: safe) chords in the key of A minor are: Amin, Bdim, Cmaj, Dmin, Emin, Fmaj, & Gmaj.

Again, though, A minor pentatonic isn't limited to a few box shapes. It's literally all over the fretboard. A minor pentatonic consists of the notes A, C, D, E, & G. Which means that, wherever those notes are, you can play A minor pentatonic.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 22, 2013,
#6
Quote by RyanMW2010
What's confusing to me is that Hendrix's "All along the watchtower" is Am, G, F, right?


Nope.
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#7
Quote by crazysam23_Atax

Because where you start on the fretboard isn't as important as what notes you play. This is exactly why I suggest you get away from boxes (and why I've always been adamant against box shapes).


I dunno. I'm partly playing devil's advocate here (and I'm well aware I'm well within "Do as I say, not as I do" territory... I've never really sat down and religiously learned the box shapes either ), but the big problem is that the only two options aren't "No clue where any notes are" and "Total badass who knows where every note is instantly". Most players fall somewhere in-between, and as such it's a matter of trying to get them to improve with as little effort as possible (I'm lazy and far from perfect, and most other people are, too).

If you tell people to learn too much all at once (and the implication being that doing anything else is worthless), you run the risk of (a) none of it going in properly and (b) even worse, scaring them off to the point where they won't learn any theory and may even just quit guitar in frustration.

I'd be the first to admit that box shapes are a shortcut. Of course they are. That's why they exist. But if you have someone who has no clue about improvising or making solos, learning something which is quite easy to get your head around, like the box shapes, is better than nothing, and may well get them out of trouble and stop them from looking like an idiot if someone asks them to play something off the cuff. And they may also serve as sort of a foundation, where the person may build on that later.

I like greg koch's quote in one of his books (this is paraphrased, obviously): "Some people frown on box shapes, but what your ears will learn to do later, your eyes can do for now."

I agree with that. If you use them the wrong way, then box shapes can be constrictive, I agree wholeheartedly. But I don't know that there's any need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, either. or that even if they do box the person in, that having a "safe" box which they can play in is any worse than having no clue whatsoever (I'd argue it's not).

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#8
THe problem with box shapes (and I have zero problem with them, so long as you realize that they're a transitional step) is that they encourage you to think of all the notes of the scale as interchangeable. "These notes are safe, other notes are not. Just move your fingers around in the box."

And when you're just starting out, that's really useful and can help you build some confidence. "Oh, hey, I'm playing and it sounds like music." That's an important thing.

The problem is that the notes are, in fact, not interchangeable. They each have their own unique relationship to the tonic note, and GOOD solos are made by using those differences, playing melodies, and understanding what each note is going to sound like. You eventually want to be able to "think" in music - to know what everything will sound like before you play it because you know the specific individual sounds of the notes.
#9
Quote by Dave_Mc
I dunno. I'm partly playing devil's advocate here (and I'm well aware I'm well within "Do as I say, not as I do" territory... I've never really sat down and religiously learned the box shapes either ), but the big problem is that the only two options aren't "No clue where any notes are" and "Total badass who knows where every note is instantly". Most players fall somewhere in-between, and as such it's a matter of trying to get them to improve with as little effort as possible (I'm lazy and far from perfect, and most other people are, too).

The thing is, if you work on memorizing the notes of the fretboard (which is actually much easier than people think, really), then you bridge the gap from being clueless to knowing where to find any note instantly.

Quote by HotspurJr
THe problem with box shapes (and I have zero problem with them, so long as you realize that they're a transitional step) is that they encourage you to think of all the notes of the scale as interchangeable. "These notes are safe, other notes are not. Just move your fingers around in the box."

And when you're just starting out, that's really useful and can help you build some confidence. "Oh, hey, I'm playing and it sounds like music." That's an important thing.

The problem is that the notes are, in fact, not interchangeable. They each have their own unique relationship to the tonic note, and GOOD solos are made by using those differences, playing melodies, and understanding what each note is going to sound like. You eventually want to be able to "think" in music - to know what everything will sound like before you play it because you know the specific individual sounds of the notes.

This is roughly how I feel. I just get slightly bent out of shape when people literally think in terms of "Box 1 starts at X fret"...yeah...it does. But you can literally play the notes of any scale (in any key) all over the fretboard. And very few new players ever seem to be taught this. Granted, it's not an easy concept, but still...
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 22, 2013,
#10
Quote by AlanHB
Quote by RyanMW2010
What's confusing to me is that Hendrix's "All along the watchtower" is Am, G, F, right?


Nope.

^^ding ding^^

Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower is originally in Am

Hendrix loved Dylan. But when he redid this song he did it in C#m
Si
#11
Quote by HotspurJr
THe problem with box shapes (and I have zero problem with them, so long as you realize that they're a transitional step) is that they encourage you to think of all the notes of the scale as interchangeable. "These notes are safe, other notes are not. Just move your fingers around in the box."


I never saw it that way. For me it was like "here are where the notes of that scale are on your guitar". (or arpeggio, or chord, or interval, or whatever)

Personally the biggest problem I see is that a lot of players skip the whole beginner phase, and jump to whatever they think will make them awesome the quickest. In regards to box shapes, they take in something that they don't have the foundation to understand, and end up misusing it. To them though, I'd never imply in anyway that those scale patterns are "bad" to learn or "for beginners", rather Id suggest to learn the basics 1st.

I believe alot of guitarists learn the patterns, with little or no theory background, but WITH a background in playing music and listening, which is enough to make proper use of the scales. You don't necessarily have to understand for instance that "this note is the Major 7th". If you know the shapes, and develop an aural familiarity, playing great music can be the result.

I wouldn't say learning box shapes are a transitional phase. You learn em, and use em. Doesn't mean you won't learn anything else, and likewise learning theory doesn't mean you have to somehow ignore the patterns scales and things make on your guitar as some sort of "step forward". It just reinforces what you know and gives you a firmer grasp.


Quote by 20Tigers
^^ding ding^^

Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower is originally in Am

Hendrix loved Dylan. But when he redid this song he did it in C#m

True!
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Oct 23, 2013,
#12
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
What's confusing to me is that Hendrix's "All along the watchtower" is Am, G, F, right?
So why is box one located at the 9th fret E string, which is C#?

Because where you start on the fretboard isn't as important as what notes you play. This is exactly why I suggest you get away from boxes (and why I've always been adamant against box shapes).

If he's trying to play in the wrong key it won't matter if he is using boxes or a full knowledge of the fretboard to get the notes of that key...the result will be the same.

TS - I'm so glad that you could hear it was wrong. The next step is to hear what notes sound good and start putting them together. Then when you look at what notes your ear has chosen (rather than your brain through box shapes of fretboard knowledge) then you will realize you're actually in a different key.

Find notes that sound like they fit. Music is about sound first and foremost.

EDIT: saw this after my attempt at a double post...
Quote by GuitarMunky
I believe alot of guitarists learn the patterns, with little or no theory background, but WITH a background in playing music and listening, which is enough to make proper use of the scales. You don't necessarily have to understand for instance that "this note is the Major 7th". If you know the shapes, and develop an aural familiarity, you can play some music, and that's always a good thing in my book.
And it really sums up all that needs to be said on the topic.
Si
#13
Quote by GuitarMunky
I never saw it that way. For me it was like "here are where the notes of that scale are on your guitar". (or arpeggio, or chord, or interval, or whatever)

Personally the biggest problem I see is that a lot of players skip the whole beginner phase, and jump to whatever they think will make them awesome the quickest. In regards to box shapes, they take in something that they don't have the foundation to understand, and end up misusing it. To them though, I'd never imply in anyway that those scale patterns are "bad" to learn or "for beginners", rather Id suggest to learn the basics 1st.

I believe alot of guitarists learn the patterns, with little or no theory background, but WITH a background in playing music and listening, which is enough to make proper use of the scales. You don't necessarily have to understand for instance that "this note is the Major 7th". If you know the shapes, and develop an aural familiarity, playing great music can be the result.

I wouldn't say learning box shapes are a transitional phase. You learn em, and use em. Doesn't mean you won't learn anything else, and likewise learning theory doesn't mean you have to somehow ignore the patterns scales and things make on your guitar as some sort of "step forward". It just reinforces what you know and gives you a firmer grasp.


True!



I think I'm what you mention in the second paragraph. I've been playing guitar and writing songs for almost 20 years, but I sing and always played rhythm. I really want to become a complete guitarist now. Actually I want to be SRV

But I think can tell what sounds good, where, from playing for so long. I think I have a good ear. The box shapes enticed me because they gave me a bunch of notes that would always work when I was soloing, and a "wordbank" from which to build my lick vocabulary. I do really want to learn theory though. I want to become a complete musician, or as best as I can. I've been reading intro theory online but I have to admit it's a little confusing to me still
#14
Quote by 20Tigers
If he's trying to play in the wrong key it won't matter if he is using boxes or a full knowledge of the fretboard to get the notes of that key...the result will be the same.

Agreed. But I figured he would be able to hear that for himself, as the notes would clash against the chord progression.

Quote by RyanMW2010
But I think can tell what sounds good, where, from playing for so long. I think I have a good ear. The box shapes enticed me because they gave me a bunch of notes that would always work when I was soloing, and a "wordbank" from which to build my lick vocabulary. I do really want to learn theory though. I want to become a complete musician, or as best as I can. I've been reading intro theory online but I have to admit it's a little confusing to me still
Generally, theory works best with a "from the bottom up" principle. What I mean is, you start off with the less complex stuff and progress to more complex stuff. For instance, if you can't read sheet music, start there. Then, move on to scales and then keys. Then, chord construction. And so on.

I know I (and others) recommend it all the time, but musictheory.net does a really good job of starting with the basics and moving through stuff. The site by no means covers more complex theory, but it gives you the meat and potatoes that most theory people use every day.
#15
^ I agree with starting with the easy stuff, but I'm not sure I'd say "reading sheet music" is the easy bit. I loathe sight reading, maybe it's just me who finds it hard, but yeah. There are far easier basic theory things (like what a scale is, where the notes are, how to form chords) which don't require an ability to read music but which will still be very helpful and far better than no theory.

Quote by HotspurJr
THe problem with box shapes (and I have zero problem with them, so long as you realize that they're a transitional step) is that they encourage you to think of all the notes of the scale as interchangeable. "These notes are safe, other notes are not. Just move your fingers around in the box."

And when you're just starting out, that's really useful and can help you build some confidence. "Oh, hey, I'm playing and it sounds like music." That's an important thing.

The problem is that the notes are, in fact, not interchangeable. They each have their own unique relationship to the tonic note, and GOOD solos are made by using those differences, playing melodies, and understanding what each note is going to sound like. You eventually want to be able to "think" in music - to know what everything will sound like before you play it because you know the specific individual sounds of the notes.


Agreed.

The big problem I have with the "don't teach it that way or they'll misuse it" mentality though is that you're blaming a system which is arguably perfectly good for the way a lot of people tend to misuse it- which is not necessarily the system's fault, and also you can't say for sure that everyone will misuse it that way- you might be not telling someone the box shapes when it would really help them, for example, and if you ask me, that's not your call, it's the student's call.

I tell people what they want to know and if they misuse it it's their problem, kind of thing. At least with something harmless like music that they can't do any damage with

Quote by crazysam23_Atax
(a) The thing is, if you work on memorizing the notes of the fretboard (which is actually much easier than people think, really), then you bridge the gap from being clueless to knowing where to find any note instantly.


This is roughly how I feel. I just get slightly bent out of shape when people literally think in terms of "Box 1 starts at X fret"...yeah...it does. But you can literally play the notes of any scale (in any key) all over the fretboard. And very few new players ever seem to be taught this. (b) Granted, it's not an easy concept, but still...


(a) "Easier than people think" doesn't necessarily equal "easy", though.

I mean, heck, I know (basic) music theory. I played piano and drums before I played guitar (and actual, proper, classical lessons- I can read proper music notation (badly, but I can do it )). I know all the notes instantaneously on a piano, for example. I'm in a better situation than the vast majority of new guitar players, in other words, and I've been playing for some time, and I still can't name most notes on the fretboard instantaneously. I can work them out pretty easily given a few seconds, but not instantaneously. And I genuinely like theory, I'm not one of those people who's dragging their heels when it comes to theory, or who acts like theory kills your creativity or any of that nonsense.

So... yeah. If someone who already knows and enjoys music theory finds it difficult (not to mention boring) to learn all of the notes on the fretboard, you'll have a hard time persuading me that what all the new players need to do is just "learn all the notes on the fretboard" and that it's "easier than people think".

I think you're expecting too much of people. I mean, a lot of people just play for a bit of fun. That's their prerogative, really.

(b) Is it easy or not? LOL.

The other thing is, there's nothing to stop you from using box shapes while also using your ear.

Quote by GuitarMunky
I never saw it that way. For me it was like "here are where the notes of that scale are on your guitar". (or arpeggio, or chord, or interval, or whatever)

Personally the biggest problem I see is that a lot of players skip the whole beginner phase, and jump to whatever they think will make them awesome the quickest. In regards to box shapes, they take in something that they don't have the foundation to understand, and end up misusing it. To them though, I'd never imply in anyway that those scale patterns are "bad" to learn or "for beginners", rather Id suggest to learn the basics 1st.

I believe alot of guitarists learn the patterns, with little or no theory background, but WITH a background in playing music and listening, which is enough to make proper use of the scales. You don't necessarily have to understand for instance that "this note is the Major 7th". If you know the shapes, and develop an aural familiarity, playing great music can be the result.

I wouldn't say learning box shapes are a transitional phase. You learn em, and use em. Doesn't mean you won't learn anything else, and likewise learning theory doesn't mean you have to somehow ignore the patterns scales and things make on your guitar as some sort of "step forward". It just reinforces what you know and gives you a firmer grasp.


+1, excellent post.

I totally skip to what I want to learn, lol. Guilty as charged there
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
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Last edited by Dave_Mc at Oct 23, 2013,
#16
Quote by Dave_Mc
(a) "Easier than people think" doesn't necessarily equal "easy", though.

I mean, heck, I know (basic) music theory. I played piano and drums before I played guitar (and actual, proper, classical lessons- I can read proper music notation (badly, but I can do it )). I know all the notes instantaneously on a piano, for example. I'm in a better situation than the vast majority of new guitar players, in other words, and I've been playing for some time, and I still can't name most notes on the fretboard instantaneously. I can work them out pretty easily given a few seconds, but not instantaneously. And I genuinely like theory, I'm not one of those people who's dragging their heels when it comes to theory, or who acts like theory kills your creativity or any of that nonsense.

So... yeah. If someone who already knows and enjoys music theory finds it difficult (not to mention boring) to learn all of the notes on the fretboard, you'll have a hard time persuading me that what all the new players need to do is just "learn all the notes on the fretboard" and that it's "easier than people think".

I think you're expecting too much of people. I mean, a lot of people just play for a bit of fun. That's their prerogative, really.

Although different people learn at different paces, all memorizing the fretboard is...is memorization. It helps that you know that the open strings and the 12th fret will always be E, A, D, G, B, or E in E standard tuning respectively. The problem that occurs is that people don't want to memorize things. They just want to plug and play. There's something be said for that, but you can't really claim "it's hard" if you refuse to put in the work to do it. And, let's be honest, the majority of people don't like putting in work.

(b) Is it easy or not? LOL.

Conceptually? Not easy to grasp, because people start thinking things like, "Where do I start?" But once you get to the point where you realize it doesn't matter where you start, then it's easy. Start where you feel like and you have almost infinite options of where you can go and what you can do.

The other thing is, there's nothing to stop you from using box shapes while also using your ear.
Of course...
#17
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
(a) Although different people learn at different paces, all memorizing the fretboard is...is memorization. It helps that you know that the open strings and the 12th fret will always be E, A, D, G, B, or E in E standard tuning respectively. The problem that occurs is that people don't want to memorize things. They just want to plug and play. There's something be said for that, but you can't really claim "it's hard" if you refuse to put in the work to do it. And, let's be honest, the majority of people don't like putting in work.


(b) Conceptually? Not easy to grasp, because people start thinking things like, "Where do I start?" But once you get to the point where you realize it doesn't matter where you start, then it's easy. Start where you feel like and you have almost infinite options of where you can go and what you can do.

(c) Of course...


(a) Well sure, but some things are easier to memorise than others. I mean you could claim that box shapes are just memorisation, too, so you're going to struggle to persuade me that people who *are* willing to memorise the box shapes but who aren't willing to memorise the fretboard notes are just too lazy to memorise anything, lol.

I mean I'm a lazy git. I'm well aware of that. I'm also contrary, so if someone tells me I have to do something, my natural inclination is to do the opposite.

But even with that aside, I'm not sure it's as simple as "You're just too lazy to learn that".

For a start, some people only play music as a hobby. They can't (or aren't willing to) devote their entire life to music. That's fair enough.

Secondly, I'm not sure a reluctance to do inherently unmusical, boring stuff necessarily means someone is lazy. In fact I'd make the argument that actually more musical people probably hate doing that stuff.

Don't get me wrong- I do know some of the notes on the fretboard instantly, and as you suggested, even knowing a few strategic ones here and there is very helpful, and ideally eventually you'll know them all.

But it's a long way from that to "What you must do right now is sit down and learn all the notes on your fretboard! No box shapes, that's cheating! No shortcuts, that's cheating too!"

(b) I grasped the concept long ago and I don't think that necessarily means it's easy.

(c)
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?