Getting Around The Fretboard: Busting Out Of The Scale Box

'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.'

Ultimate Guitar
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

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Oh no!! I'm kinda wrong XD. The lick is on the key of A, using the A aeolian mode. If he used F# and C natural on some part of the lick, the key wouldnt change to G, but the mode would change to Dorian
    So in other words you form octaves up the neck of the guitar. It is like connecting the dots, if you want it it in the key of G you would start at 3rd fret on the low E string and use the same pattern as 5th fret (key of A). Then 7th fret which is a B note, you use the octave pattern again if you want to play the key of B up & down the fretboard. Keep playing until you have it memorized. It should be as easy as learning to drive a vehicle(It will be frustrating at first, but if you keep trying you will eventually get the hang of it). Rock On!!!
    esp 4 life
    but you didn't explain how to devise those patterns that are relating to the key, is it just a hit and miss to what notes to play or do you just have to know every single note in a scale to match the notes
    that was such a bad lesson Don't you people get sick of writing that? seriously that was good. I have that problam, I can sit there and improvise for hours on end, but i never move up or down the fretboard. Thanks
    This was a little short, but I had been having a little trouble with this and this has given me a nice starting point. Very good, thanks!
    Finally I get it I don't know if it's because I've been reading a million different articles and it just clicked. But I think it was how simple it was explained in this one! Great Job!
    It's ridiculous, but for some reason I never thought of this! I've been messing with modes and all sorts of scale boxes, but this definitely frees up the fretboard a bit more! Thanks!!
    this is a great article although it seems the same as Paul Gilbert's lesson a couple of months back in Guitar World.
    This lick is on the kay of A. As long as he doesnt change the root note of the scales he is using, thius wont change. The array of notes used doesnt determine the key, it determines what scale/mode is being used. If he threw an F# and a C on there, he wouldnt be suddenly playing in the key of G; he is playing in the key of A, using the A Locrian mode (7th mode).
    Paul Tauterouff
    Short and sweet. I like to repeat licks in multiple octaves like this and memorizing the root notes is the "key" to that. (Pun intended.)
    Or it could have been in one of the established minor keys and not been modal at all.
    vIsIbleNoIsE wrote: BrandNewSin17 wrote: DasFishys right. That first runs technically key of C. Am. but oh well. modes don't have to run off of the major scale, does it? the example could have been in A minor, ionian?
    You couldn't have A minor Ionian, because natural minor is actually Aeolian. So really it would be A Aeolian. It all depends on where they start, what notes are being played behind it, and what notes you keep going back to. Yes, C Major (Ionian) contains the same notes as A Minor (Aeolian.)They are the relative major and minor to each other. This is in A Minor though, because you start off on an A, and end on an A. If you used the same notes, but started on an E (which is three notes from C), all of a sudden this would become E Phrygian, which is the third mode. If yoou started on a D, it would become D Dorian. Etc, etc, etc.
    BrandNewSin17 wrote: DasFishys right. That first runs technically key of C. Am. but oh well.
    modes don't have to run off of the major scale, does it? the example could have been in A minor, ionian?
    DasFishy, you're right about modes being part of the major key, but when you're talking about any minor key, people will generally say _ minor, instead of going up 3 half-steps and saying that major. Plus this isn't modal, as it's the relative minor as opposed to Aeolian mode. Although really, same diff. Its just a sort of cheat that musicians use to say things faster.
    Okay article, certainly helps those who don't understand the basic concepts of key and whatnot, but there are already many articles about this. Too little too late, in my opinion. Decent start, but this needs to be expanded.
    Quick question: That looks like an A minor scale, which I always thought was in the key of C. Aren't modes considered to be in the key of the major scale they share notes with? I might be wrong, so please feel free to clear that up.
    This is something I have a touch of trouble with, and this didn't really help. Too example-y, not really explaining it well.
    Lmao, I'll come back later on this lesson. I'm too much of a beginner to comprehend this....not to mention I never learned to read notes.