Learning The Fretboard. Part III

Why knowing your fretboard so useful. Also, a summary of the last two lessons as well as the notes beyond the 12th fret.

11
Greetings! In my last lesson, someone asked me why knowing any of this useful. I wrote up a rather lengthy but poorly thought through response and thought I should clarify myself in this lesson. Essentially, you don't [i]have[/i] to know your fretboard like this. Music really is about sound and you can create beautiful music without necessarily knowing exactly what you are playing. But from experience, knowing your theory helps immensely. Not all of a us are natural genius songwriters, so if you are a normal human like me, I think it is a good idea to learn as much as you can to get ahead of the competition. I'll go through some points about why this is useful. 1. Songwriting and Jamming If you know your fretboard and what you're doing, you will become more efficient at songwriting and playing with other musicians. For example, if you are playing with friends, or strangers, and you list a chord progression as: 8th fret Em7-shape barre chord, 7th fret A7-shape, 2nd fret Amaj7-shape, then 6th fret Am7 shape, then this weird chord which is like this *spend five minutes showing your friend the right fingering* and then etc., you're going to waste a lot of time and you will have no idea which chords you're playing and which key you're in. This will make finding the key and scale to use hard and make the entire process of making music more complicated. Instead, if I can say to you The chord progression is Cm7, F7, Bbmaj7, Ebmaj7, Am7b5 etc... and you know your theory and keys, you could say Cool, the piece is clearly in Bb major, I'll use this C Dorian scale over it,, it is easy! The difference between jamming with guys who know what they're doing and guys who don't is huge. Playing with guys (or ladies) who don't know their music properly is incredibly frustrating and normally ends in anger and a failed practice session. Also, knowing your fretboard and theory (which I will teach in later lessons) will help you write better solos and improvise more cleverly. If you know the chord progression and the notes in each chord, you can use this knowledge to highlight chord tones to create a better solo. Knowing these things can also help with writing more interesting and more suitable-sounding chord progressions. Instead of learning a million different chord shapes, you can learn the notes of certain chords (which I will teach), and then play with the notes to create many inversions of the chord. 2. Real work in the music business Okay, if you want to keep music as a hobby, then it is fine to not know your music theory. Maybe you just like singing along with your acoustic for the joy of it and plan to go to university to study something that will actually earn you money :P However, if you want to make a living from music, it is a good idea to not assume that you will make it as a super huge rock star who earns millions of Dollars to shred in front of a crowd. If you love music and want to make a living from it, you should make plans for the future. How are you going to make money from only knowing how to shred? What options are available? Becoming a music teacher or session musician could work. The point I am trying to make is that if you want to make money from music, you should try to learn as much as you can so that you have more doors open to opportunity. If you want to be a music teacher, you might struggle to find work if all you can do is teach a kid how to play fast. If you want to become a session musician and a piece of music is put in front of you and you can't read music and don't know how to play the chords, you won't get the job. Of course, hold onto your dream of making it as a professional performing musician (it's what I would like to do!), but just be aware that it is a hard industry to get into and if all else fails, you might need to find another way to make money with your music. That's enough of that. Sorry for the epically long intro! In this lesson, we're going to be learning the notes past the twelfth fret as well as combining the previous scales we learned. It'd be a good idea to learn these in the same way you learned the previous scales slowly, one octave at a time, while making an effort to remember the frets as notes rather than numbers. For the notes past the twelfth fret; learn them in the same manner, but a bit of math can also help here: The 17th fret is the same note (an octave higher) of the 5th fret on the same string. 17 12 = 5, right? You can find similar notes past the 12th fret in this way. Let's go. Full scales from previous lessons:
E Phrygian
 
e|-----------------------------0---------------------------
B|-----------------------0-1-3-----------------------------
G|-------------------0-2-----------------------------------
D|-------------0-2-3---------------------------------------
A|-------0-2-3---------------------------------------------
E|-0-1-3---------------------------------------------------
  
   E F G A B C D e f g a b c d e
 
F Lydian
 
e|------------------------------0-1-------------------------
B|------------------------0-1-3-----------------------------
G|-------------------0-2------------------------------------
D|-------------0-2-3----------------------------------------
A|------0-2-3-----------------------------------------------
E|-1-3------------------------------------------------------
 
   F G  A B C  D E f g a  b c d e f
 
G Mixolydian
 
e|-----------------------------3---------------------------
B|-----------------------3-5-6-----------------------------
G|-----------------2-4-5-----------------------------------
D|-----------2-3-5-----------------------------------------
A|-----2-3-5-----------------------------------------------
E|-3-5-----------------------------------------------------
 
   G A B C D E F g a b c d e f g
 
A Aeolian
 
e|------------------------------5---------------------------
B|------------------------5-6-8-----------------------------
G|------------------4-5-7-----------------------------------
D|--------------5-7-----------------------------------------
A|-------5-7-8----------------------------------------------
E|-5-7-8----------------------------------------------------
 
   A B C D E F  G a b c d e f g a
 
B Locrian
 
e|------------------------------------7---------------------
B|------------------------------8-10------------------------
G|----------------------7-9-10------------------------------
D|---------------7-9-10-------------------------------------
A|--------7-8-10--------------------------------------------
E|-7-8-10---------------------------------------------------
 
   B C D  E F G  A b c  d e f   g a   b
 
C Ionian
 
e|---------------------------------7-8---------------------
B|----------------------------8-10--------------------------
G|---------------------7-9-10-------------------------------
D|--------------7-9-10---------------------------------------
A|------7-8-10----------------------------------------------
E|-8-10-----------------------------------------------------
 
   C D  E F G   A B c  d e f  g a  b c
 
D Dorian
 
e|-----------------------------------------10-----------------
B|--------------------------------10-12-13--------------------
G|------------------------9-10-12-----------------------------
D|----------------9-10-12-------------------------------------
A|----------10-12---------------------------------------------
E|-10-12-13---------------------------------------------------
 
   D  E  F  G  A  B C  d  e f  g  a  b  c  d
There's the first set of scales. Just one handy tip: Play these scales both up and down while saying the note names aloud. It's harder to say the alphabet backwards than forward and it will better test your knowledge of the frets. Also start testing yourself in other ways - just pick a random note on the fretboard and try to remember what it is :) Okay, here are the scales beyond the dreaded 12th fret. I'll post these as full two-octave scales, but try to learn the scales one octave at a time.
E Phrygian
 
e|-------------------------------------------12-------------
B|----------------------------------12-13-15------------------
G|----------------------------12-14--------------------------
D|-------------------12-14-15---------------------------------
A|----------12-14-15------------------------------------------
E|-12-13-15---------------------------------------------------
 
   E  F  G  A  B  C  D  e  f  g  a  b  c  d  e
 
F Lydian

e|----------------------------------------12-13-----------------
B|-------------------------------12-13-15------------------------
G|-------------------------12-14--------------------------------
D|----------------12-14-15---------------------------------------
A|-------12-14-15------------------------------------------------
E|-13-15--------------------------------------------------------
   
   F  G  A  B  C  D  E  f  g  a  b  c  d  e  f
 
G Mixolydian
 
e|---------------------------------------------15--------------
B|------------------------------------15-17-18--------------------
G|--------------------------14-16-17-----------------------------
D|----------------14-15-17---------------------------------------
A|-------14-15-17------------------------------------------------
E|-15-17--------------------------------------------------------
 
   G  A  B  C  D  E  F  g   a  b  c   d  e  f  g
 
A Aeolian
 
e|-------------------------------------------17----------------
B|----------------------------------17-18-20--------------------
G|-------------------------16-17-19------------------------------
D|-------------------17-19--------------------------------------
A|----------17-19-20---------------------------------------------
E|-17-19-20------------------------------------------------------
 
   A  B  C  D  E  F  G  a  b  c  d  e  f  g  a
 
B Locrian
 
e|----------------------------------------------19-------------
B|----------------------------------------20-22-----------------
G|-------------------------------19-21-22-------------------------
D|---------------------19-21-22-----------------------------------
A|-----------19-20-22--------------------------------------------
E|-19-20-22------------------------------------------------------
 
   B  C  D   E  F  G   A  b  c   d  e  f  g  a  b
 
C Ionian
 
e|--------------------------------------------19-20-------------
B|--------------------------------------20-22--------------------
G|----------------------------19-21-22---------------------------
D|------------------19-21-22------------------------------------
A|--------19-20-22-----------------------------------------------
E|-20-22--------------------------------------------------------
 
   C  D   E  F  G   A  B  c   d  e  f   g  a   b c
 
D Dorian
 
e|------------------------------------------------22---------------
B|-------------------------------------22-24-(25)------------------
G|----------------------------21-22-24-----------------------------
D|------------------21-22-24---------------------------------------
A|------------22-24------------------------------------------------
E|-22-24-(25)------------------------------------------------------
 
   D  E   F   G  A  B  C  d   e  f  g   a  b  c   d
There you have it. Don't worry if your guitar doesn't have 24 or more frets. My Strat only has 22. What you can do instead (also to test your knowledge) is to play the scale with all the notes, but in a different shape. eg. Your guitar doesn't have 25 frets, so play the 25th fret on the E-string (the F) as fret 20 on the A string instead. Hopefully these scales will not only help with your knowledge of the fretboard, but also with playing between those skinny higher frets. Next week's lesson will introduce 3 notes-per-string scales, as well as some weird backward scales that I invented. Good luck and practice hard!

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    pHiLLa
    Very informative, especially from my perspective because I have no clue when it comes to music theory. this lessons are gold to beginners ( me =P) Looking foward to the next one
    Lolcohol
    ! Awesome. This stuff is important even for people who aren't just beginners, but if you're starting here, then that is excellent Thanks, man.
    Lolcohol
    Oops. I forgot to straighten out my tab...Sorry if you are obsessive compulsive and that kinda thing annoys you.
    bender424
    Cool, the piece is clearly in Bb major, Ill use this C Dorian scale over it, You lost me here. This is not how modes work.
    Lolcohol
    bender424 wrote: Cool, the piece is clearly in Bb major, Ill use this C Dorian scale over it, You lost me here. This is not how modes work.
    I over-simplified it and really was just making use of an example. C Dorian would work quite well in that particular instance, since it is a very jazzy progression. C Dorian has the same key signature as Bb and Dorian generally is used quite a bit for jazz. That's why I said that. And as for "this is not how modes work," What exactly did you mean? Were you referring to what I just explained, or the way the lesson is taught?
    bender424
    I over-simplified it and really was just making use of an example. C Dorian would work quite well in that particular instance, since it is a very jazzy progression. C Dorian has the same key signature as Bb and Dorian generally is used quite a bit for jazz. That's why I said that. And as for "this is not how modes work," What exactly did you mean? Were you referring to what I just explained, or the way the lesson is taught?
    I was referring to the fact that you spoke of Bb major (tonal music) and C dorian (modal music) which are two very different thing. Otherwise the lesson is well presented. I just had to mention that part about the mode. If a piece of music is in Bb major, you use Bb major, that's all there is to it.
    Lolcohol
    Interesting. Either we've learned something differently or I'm confused. I play some jazz piano too and I know that the chord progression that I listed (which is actually just Autumn Leaves), I would use C Dorian rather than a Bb major scale...I'll read up on it more though because I don't know what "modal music" is and how it compares to tonal music. Thanks =]
    Lolcohol
    bender424 wrote: I over-simplified it and really was just making use of an example. C Dorian would work quite well in that particular instance, since it is a very jazzy progression. C Dorian has the same key signature as Bb and Dorian generally is used quite a bit for jazz. That's why I said that. And as for "this is not how modes work," What exactly did you mean? Were you referring to what I just explained, or the way the lesson is taught? I was referring to the fact that you spoke of Bb major (tonal music) and C dorian (modal music) which are two very different thing. Otherwise the lesson is well presented. I just had to mention that part about the mode. If a piece of music is in Bb major, you use Bb major, that's all there is to it.
    Okay, you'll maybe have to explain that "modal music" thing, because I'm not familiar with it. I didn't say that the piece was in Bb major. It has the key signature for Bb major and I guess I could've said it has the key signature for G minor. I'm confusing myself, but how are you thinking that modes are used??? Because I'm pretty sure that if a piece is in a certain key, that doesn't at all mean that you need to use that key's major or minor scale alongside it. I'm trying to explain my point of view without sounding stupid here...I would say that modes are separate scales that are used over particular chord progressions to carry chord tones and to create cadences that resolve differently to than if you just used a normal major/minor scale for everything. Ugh. Brain melting. Let me know what you think?
    bender424
    You are right here, but not in the sense you think of. ''I would say that modes are separate scales that are used over particular chord progressions to carry chord tones and to create cadences that resolve differently to than if you just used a normal major/minor scale for everything.'' Mode are indeed separate scales, but they are used in modal music, which is something we rarely heard of. Modal music is basically a music where the tonal center is not the 'tonic' of the scale, and from the little I've heard of modal music, the tonal center change a lot of time, so do the scale used. A more common example would be a vamp between two chords. If we use Cmaj7 and Dmaj7, we could play in the C Ionian or C Lydian over the Cmaj7, and D Ionian or D lydian over the Dmaj7. Now let's return to the Bb major. Of course it share the same notes that C dorian, but it's a tonal piece. Mode therefor have nothing to do with it. They are used when the tonal center change during a chord progression in a modal way. English is not my native languge, so I hope I didn't confuse you.
    Lolcohol
    Not at all. You explained that well and write better than most people who's first language is English. I've never really heard of modes being described in that way, but will definitely look into it
    bender424
    I suggest you go read the mode sticky in the musican talk forum. Some people here have a better understanding of mode than me. And thank you for the compliment! I try very hard to write in a way to be understood.
    Lolcohol
    Cool. I'll do that! Your English is great - honestly. I would never have guessed that it wasn't your first language :S
    Billyaxe73
    These lessons are great! Keep em coming. Combining scale practice with learning the fretboard makes it interesting and fun. I have been playing for a while, but have been a tab and play by ear guy. Only recently became interested in learning theory. Your teaching method is interesting and easy to follow. Looking forward to more.
    skirmisher
    Sorry for the epically long intro!
    The intro was very enlightening for me!!!!