This common technique may have been shown to you to help you finding and remembering where notes are on the fretboard. Some people idolize this system, noting that when using it, all you have to learn is the notes on the low E and A strings and then simply apply the pattern to find the rest. Initially, this was the way that I was taught as well, but it wasn't long before I realized there had to be a better way.
The reason that it didn't take much was that I wasn't actually able to use it in real life. Initially, I thought it was just me, that maybe I was the one who wasn't good enough to use it. But later in life even my students haven't been able to achieve the results they are looking for either using this method.
The reason that it doesn't work is that it requires more reasoning than other methods: first you have to find the note on the low E and the A string, and then use the pattern to find the note on the D or G, and then again to find it on the B or high E string. For most performers, this just isn't fast enough. Not to mention the fact that it's completely unnecessary.
So what can we actually do with the octave pattern? There are many other ways to use the pattern, and along with any other interval pattern for that matter. Rather than going through them all here, I recorded a video that will show an example where the octave pattern can be used for lead guitar players. I've seen this method used by many famous players, and in fact, I'm sure you have as well; so I'm sure you will find a way to use it in your own solos.
As demonstrated, it's quick and easy to apply this method to your own guitar playing. There are limitless possibilities in creative soloing, along with rhythm playing. Try it out, and have some fun with it - if you've done something original, record it and send me a copy; I would love to hear what you come up with.
About the Author:
Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for music theory applied to guitar.