#1
No, this isn't about physics or faster than light movement .)

What I'm going to present here is a couple of very simple concepts that just
might help you see the fretboard in an entirely new way. It's intended for
anyone who wants to learn to solo better. The beauty of it is its all visually
based. There will be very little to no theory or note names. So, it should be
useful for beginners on up.

As guitairsts, many of us have learned the major scale as a collection
of horizontal fingering patterns. This is extremely useful. BUT, in terms
of soloing it's a very STATIC and ABSOLUTE way of navigating around
our soloing. What we're really doing when we're soloing a sequence of
notes is conciously or subconciously thinking "I'm here right now. Next,
I want to head this way". How many times, when you've "headed that
way", you went outside your usual fingering pattern, and then you
went "Oops. I'm lost. Gotta think about this.". Well, it's happened
(still does) a LOT to me anyway. It's a result of static thinking in absolute
patterns. What we want to do is always know where we can go next
RELATIVE to where we are now, no matter where we are. Maybe this
will help.


Lets start with a diagram of the fretboard with all the notes of the C major
scale as red dots.



For many, this may look like a somewhat random jumble of notes. Just as
a simple exercise. Look at the picture and see if you can find all the C's.
How about all the B's? How about all the E's How about F's?

My first point is that it is NOT a random jumble of notes. It's a VERY regular
pattern that repeats and extends infinitely in any direction! How easy or
hard was it to find those notes? Depending on your skill and experience that
could vary by quite a bit. What I hope is that no matter what your skill,
the following simple idea will make it a LOT easier.

The idea is simply: a LANDMARK. There's actually potentially many of these,
but I'll show you ONE that's VERY easy to remember and see. This will will help
a great deal of making some order out of that jumble of notes.

The Landmark I'll talk about I'll call the "4 Box". And, it looks like:



Looking at the left hand "square" you'll see a small box of 4 notes where
each pair of notes is a half-step/fret apart. On the right you'll see
a "diamond". An unfortunate fact of music, and in this case the guitar
fretboard, is there's an exception to every rule. The "diamond" pattern
happens between the 2nd and 3rd strings because of the guitar tuning.
BUT MENTALLY, you can just do this shift in your head and still consider
it a box. A way of looking at it is you have a "hill" at the 2nd and 3rd string.
Shift "up" the hill when going from 3 to 2, shift "down" when going from
2 to 3.

OK, back to the square. Take a look at the C Major fretboard pattern again.
Find the squares. Pretty easy to do isn't it? Visually and mentally
your brain finds it pretty easy to distinguish simple patterns in a relatively
complex background. That's just the way it works.


Now we're ready for the next diagram, and the first really cool thing to
come out of this:



This shows the major scale degrees associated with the square. The
7th and root are on one string, the third and fourth on the other. In C major
the note names are shown in the diagram. The cool thing is, wherever you
see that square on the fretboard, IT WILL ALWAYS BE THOSE EXACT
SAME NOTES! GUARANTEED! Now go back to the note finding
exercise. Armed with this knowledge, how much easier is to find those notes?
In fact, with this visual cue, you can now pretty easily find 4 out of 7 of the
major scale degrees almost at a glance! That leaves only the 2, 5 & 6 scale
degrees which you can locate also fairly easily relative to the 4 box.


Ok, now on to the next cool thing. We have these squares scattered over the
fretboard. But, now we want to use them to start thinking about relative
movement. The next cool thing (and I think this is extra cool), is this:

WHENEVER WE HAVE A HALF-STEP IN A SOLO THAT'S USING THE MAJOR
SCALE, WE ARE ABSOLUTELY 100% GUARANTEED TO HAVE AT *LEAST*
TWO WHOLE STEPS ABOVE AND BELOW ON THAT STRING!!!!

Here's a Diagram of the "Hamburger" or "Sandwich":



Basically the 4 box is "sandwiched" between 2 whole step areas. The left
side shows the basic sandwich. Note that I said at *least" 2 whole steps.
The right diagram shows that there's a single whole step extension coming
out of the upper-left side of the box, and going down from the right side
of the box. So, as long as you can keep where the 4 box is in your head,
you know where you can take the extra whole step.

Now, here's the final piece of the puzzle. It will basically allow you to navigate
all over the fretboard in a much more relative fashion. As long as you know
where to find those 4 boxes, you can start on or near one and then just keep
going!

We need a way to connect the 4 boxes. There's actually probably many mental
connections that you can come up with for this -- and the more the better. But,
I will show you 2 very simple, easy to remember ways:




The first way, pictured on the left, is a simple diagonal. It slants downward
on the page (upwards on the actual fretboard) when going right, and upwards
going left. Pretty simple. Don't forget that pesky extra shift between the
2nd & 3rd strings.

The next way just uses the extended burger.

When you go "upwards" from the LEFT side of the square and hit a half step, you continue to the LEFT to make the
other half of the next 4 box.

When you go "upwards" from the RIGHT side of the square and hit a half step, you continue to the RIGHT to make the
other half of the next 4 box.

When you go "downwards" from the LEFT side of the square and hit a half step, you continue to the LEFT to make the
other half of the next 4 box.

When you go "downwards" from the RIGHT side of the square and hit a half step, you continue to the RIGHT to make the
other half of the next 4 box.

LEFT - LEFT and RIGHT - RIGHT

If that's not entirely clear try it yourself with the guitar and navigate around. I think you'll see the point.
Basically, no matter where you are, you can easily find someplace to go from that spot and stay
within the scale without having to memorize all the fingering patterns up & down the neck. You can
cover the entire fretboard within the scale with these simple rules and visual and mental cues
and landmarks. Also, you can do that AND quickly determine the scale degree you're at!


That should be enough to get you started in thinking more relatively. There's a LOT more
to it in terms of patterns you can find and connections you can make. Also some nifty
implications that come out it when there's a key change (ie just shift the 4 box). Lastly,
similar concepts will work for the pentatonic scale. Maybe you can figure them out!


The final thing I want to show isn't directly part of this, but may help you "see" lots more
connections of the 4 box and get you moving outside of the standard horizontal scale
fingerings.

This final thing is regular patterns of the major scale that move DIAGONALLY up the neck. I won't
go into much detail other than showing you a few. They ALL use either a 3-4 or 4-3 pattern (no
coincidence that 3 + 4 = 7 notes of the major scale), 3 = 3 notes per string, 4 = notes per string.

If you look at the 4 note strings and think of it as a 3 note + slide you get some VERY REGULAR
looking patterns like (fingering):

1-3-4-slide
1-3-4
1-3-4-slide
1-3-4
1-3-4 slide
1-3-4

Anyway, here's just a few:

#2
Pretty good. This is a fairly long article trying to explain a somewhat simple concept. I actually figured out a slight variation of this method by myself , but this would be very helpful to people trying to get the scales down. I'm not too sure if it's worthy of devoting a whole article to, but we will let Rankles decide upon that.
#3
I think it's as long as it needs to be. It's not that long really. Lots of diagrams.
Yes, it seems simple. Maybe it seems overly simple to you because you already "figured it out yourself". But, usually the best ideas are the simple ones.

Actually, I could have gone into a LOT more depth on it. But, it's just to get
people started thinking this way and figure other stuff out for themselves.
#4
I know all of the set "patterns" for the major scale and I was moving next to try and fluidly connect them in my practice. This really helps a lot to visualize the connections. For some of us who are taking several hours of classes and have a job, we don't have too much time to figure it out ourselves so information like this is very much appreciated. Thanks and keep articles like this coming.
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#5
Great! Thanks!
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#12
I don't get the diagonal pattern in "Connecting the BOXes". Does it go up in pitch, or up on the strings? Does it go up, or down? It's kind of confusing.

And the other pattern, what is LEFT? Left in the picture, or left on the fretboard? Because left on the fretboard would be the upper left in the picture, and right on the fretboard the bottom left in the picture.

And should you end on the root note once you hit the string opposite of the direction you started in?
Last edited by robinlint at Jul 13, 2009,
#13
Thank You.
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#15
I've already posted saying so. For beginners especially, learning to play a scale from anywhere on the fretboard is essential practice and is also very worthwhile in learning the positioning of notes rather than just intervals. Unfortunately, I don't think that it was ever submitted.
#16
Hah wow I've been using that 4-box method myself It's a good'n
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