Figuring Out Where To Solo

I wanted to demonstrate how to solo across the fretboard using basic shapes, and then showing how the shapes connect to cover the fretboard.

3
When I first decided to become a lead guitarist, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought that soloing was just randomly playing notes skrewn across that fretboard. But the truth is that there is a pattern to all of it and I now know that. (thank you guitar grimoire) (btw guitar grimoire is a great addition to any guitarists library) I want to teach you the major scale because if you know the major scale you also know the minors scale( relative minors rock! [ill delve into this concept in the lesson])

First Pattern

This first pattern is based on the root note on the top string. It's a great starting point when figuring out a scale. For my example I'll use the c major. In case you don't know, the 10 fret on the low e string is c so that's where we start
C major starting at root note C 
/-------------------------------------------------------------10--12--14
/-------------------------------------------------10--12--13
/------------------------------------9--10--12
/ -----------------------9--10--12
/ ------------8--10--12
/(8)--10--12
The pattern looks like this
   8  9  10 11 12 13   <--- ( indicate frets)
/        0     0  0  
/        0     0  0  
/     0  0     0     
/     0  0     0     
/  0     0     0    
/  #     0     0 
#: Root note This pattern can be move to anywhere and is named by it's root note. For example lets move the pattern up two frets
D major starting at root note D 
/-------------------------------------------------------------12--14--15
/-------------------------------------------------12--14--15
/-------------------------------------11--12--14
/ ------------------------11--12--14
/ ------------10--12--14
/(10)--12--14
The pattern still looks like this
   10 11 12 13 14 15   <--- ( indicate frets)
/        0     0  0  
/        0     0  0  
/     0  0     0     
/     0  0     0     
/  0     0     0    
/  #     0     0 
#: Root note What im trying to show is this pattern can be moved anywhere and is always named by its root note. While this pattern is a great starting point due to how easy it is to identify, the stretch on the low e and a strings is slightly uncomfortable and reduces playing speed. Therefore I will show you another pattern that connects with it that is more confortable and can be played faster.

Second pattern

This pattern is contained within four frets and is adjacent to the first one.
First Pattern               Second Pattern
/        0     *  *        /  *  *     0
/        0     *  *        /  *  *     0
/     0  0     *           /  *     0 
/     0  0     *           /  *     0  0
/  0     0     *           /  *     0  0
/  #     0     *           /  *  0     0
#:root note *: where the two scales connect As you can see the two scales connect. To show this on tab I will use the c major as my example
C major starting at root note C  First Pattern
/-------------------------------------------------------------10--12--14
/-------------------------------------------------10--12--13
/------------------------------------9--10--12
/ -----------------------9--10--12
/ ------------8--10--12
/(8)--10--12
C major Second Pattern
/---------------------------------------------------------12--13--15
/---------------------------------------------12--13--15
/-------------------------------------12--14
/ ------------------------12--14--15
/ ------------12--14--15
/ 12--13--15
Second Pattern
   12 13 14 15  <--- ( indicate frets) [yeah only four frets !!!]
/  *  *     0
/  *  *     0
/  *     0 
/  *     0  0
/  *     0  0
/  *  0     0
First two patters combined
/        0     *  *     0     
/        0     *  *     0     
/     0  0     *     0        
/     0  0     *     0  0     
/  0     0     *     0  0   
/  #     0     *  0     0 
Therefore if you were playing in G, (root note on third fret top string), it would look like this
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     <--- ( indicate frets)
/        0     *  *     0     
/        0     *  *     0     
/     0  0     *     0        
/     0  0     *     0  0     
/  0     0     *     0  0   
/  #     0     *  0     0 
Once again, the patterns will never change. Now what kind of instructor would I be if I stopped here? A crappy one that's for sure! As a result I want to add one more shape that really hammers it all home.

Third Pattern

The minor petatonic
/  0        0
/  0        0
/  0     0 
/  0     0   
/  0     0  
/  0        0
But teacher how can you use a minor pentatonic in a major scale? Im glad you asked young grasshoper. lol You see, minor scales are really just major scales in different keys.Every major scale has a relative minor For example
C majorG majorD major
C D E F G (A) BG A B C D (E) F#D E F# G A (B) C#
A minorE minorB minor
A B C D E F GE F# G A B C DB C# D E F# G A
If you've noticed, it's always the sixth note in the scale. This relationship is called relative minor. Such as, A minor is the relative minor of C major, E is the relative minor of G major, B is the relave minor of D major, and so forth. Now to show how these scales relate Ex. A minor Penatonic
   5  6  7  8  <--- (used to indicate frets)
/  0        0
/  0        0
/  0     0 
/  0     0   
/  0     0  
/  #        *
# being the root note A * being the note C And that's where you begin to see it. The A minor pentatonic is in the key of C major. Therefore the minor pentatonic connects with the other scale shapes so far. Heres how
/        0     *  *     0     0        0  
/        0     *  *     0     0        0  
/     0  0     *     0        0     0     
/     0  0     *     0  0     0     0     
/  0     0     *     0  0     0     0  
/  #     0     *  0     0     0        #    
#: root note *: Where shapes overlap This is where the pentatonic really takes it home. As you can see we've bridged gone from one octive to the next on the top string, this means that now the patterns repeat. So you have basically covered the fretboard. To review I want to show you a system you can use to find nearly all the usable notes for any scale. For the example lets use the Key of G major 1.) find the note on the low e string its on the 3rd fret 2.) Use first scale shape based on the first note
   3  4  5  6  7  8  <--- (used to indicate frets)
/        0     0  0  
/        0     0  0  
/     0  0     0     
/     0  0     0     
/  0     0     0    
/  #     0     0
3.) Add the second shape
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
/        0     *  *     0     
/        0     *  *     0     
/     0  0     *     0        
/     0  0     *     0  0     
/  0     0     *     0  0   
/  #     0     *  0     0 
4.) Add third shape in order to reach next octive
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15
/        0     *  *     0     0        0  
/        0     *  *     0     0        0  
/     0  0     *     0        0     0     
/     0  0     *     0  0     0     0     
/  0     0     *     0  0     0     0  
/  #     0     *  0     0     0        #
5.) Become aware of total fretboard. ( repeat pattern till you reach the end of the fretboard)
   3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
/        0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0
/        0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0
/     0  0     *     0        0     0     0  0     *     0        0
/     0  0     *     0  0     0     0     0  0     *     0  0     0
/  0     0     *     0  0     0     0  0     0     *     0  0     0
/  #     0     *  0     0     0        #     0     *  0     0     0
6.) Fill in empty spaces using octives (in this case match up 12 fret - 14 fret to fill in frets 0-2)
opn  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
/ 0        0     0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0
/ 0        0     0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0
/ 0     0     0  0     *     0        0     0     0  0     *     0
/ 0     0     0  0     *     0  0     0     0     0  0     *     0  0     0
/ 0     0  0     0     *     0  0     0     0  0     0     *     0  0     0
/ 0        #     0     *  0     0     0        #     0     *  0     0     0
7.) bam, you have nearly every single note! Have fun, because you know your stuff. (by the way, remember while this is a G major scale, due to relative minors it is also the E minor scale. How cool is that?) While this may seem complicated at first for new guitarists trust me with time it will be second nature. Soon people will say E major and Bamm! You will know what notes to use instantly! Just work on it. I would like to mention that there are a few spots you will need to fill in when using these three patters. To show you I will use the G major
opn  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
/ 0     *  0     0     0  0     0     0     *  0     0     0  0     0     0
/ 0  *     0     0     0  0     0     0  *     0     0     0  0     0     0
/ 0     0     0  0     0     0     *  0     0     0  0     0     0     *
/ 0     0     0  0     0     0  0     0     0     0  0     0     0  0     0
/ 0     0  0     0     0     0  0     0     0  0     0     0     0  0     0
/ 0     *  #     0     0  0     0     0     *  #     0     0  0     0     0
#: root note *: missing notes As you can see there are 8 spots that need to be filled in, but considering that only using 3 patterns you can nearly fill in the entire fretboard I'd say I'm satisfied. I'll be putting a video on my profile that gives a visual example of this soon so just check out my profile and I'll explain it visually. I hope you enjoy and btw remember Every Single Pattern Is Movable And It's Shape Never Changes! Ever! To finish I will use my system again, but in a different key. For the example lets use the Key of F major 1.) Find the note on the low e string it's on the 1st fret 2.) Use first scale shape based on the first note
   1  2  3  4  5  6    <--- (used to indicate frets)
/        0     0  0  
/        0     0  0  
/     0  0     0     
/     0  0     0     
/  0     0     0    
/  #     0     0
3.) Add the second shape
   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
/        0     *  *     0     
/        0     *  *     0     
/     0  0     *     0        
/     0  0     *     0  0     
/  0     0     *     0  0   
/  #     0     *  0     0
4.) Add third shape in order to reach next octive
   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13  
/        0     *  *     0     0        0  
/        0     *  *     0     0        0  
/     0  0     *     0        0     0     
/     0  0     *     0  0     0     0     
/  0     0     *     0  0     0     0  
/  #     0     *  0     0     0        # 
5.) Become aware of total fretboard. ( repeat pattern till you reach the end of the fretboard)
   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
/        0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0
/        0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0
/     0  0     *     0        0     0     0  0     *     0        0
/     0  0     *     0  0     0     0     0  0     *     0  0     0
/  0     0     *     0  0     0     0  0     0     *     0  0     0
/  #     0     *  0     0     0        #     0     *  0     0     0
6.) Fill in empty spaces using octives ( in this case match up 11-12 frets to frets 23-24 and match up 12 to open)
Opn  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
/    0     0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0     
/    0     0     *  *     0     0        0     0     *  *     0     0
/ 0     0  0     *     0        0     0     0  0     *     0        0     0
/ 0     0  0     *     0  0     0     0     0  0     *     0  0     0     0
/ 0  0     0     *     0  0     0     0  0     0     *     0  0     0     0
/    #     0     *  0     0     0        #     0     *  0     0     0
7.) Fill in the spaces if you so desire
Opn  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
/ *  0     0     0  0     0     0     *  0     0     0  0     0     0     *
/    0     0     0  0     0     0  *     0     0     0  0     0     0  *
/ 0     0  0     0     0     *  0     0     0  0     0     0     *  0     0 
/ 0     0  0     0     0  0     0     0     0  0     0     0  0     0     0
/ 0  0     0     0     0  0     0     0  0     0     0     0  0     0     0
/ *  #     0     0  0     0     0     *  #     0     0  0     0     0     *
8.) Now it's time to rock! Remember Every Single Pattern Is Movable And it's Shape Never Changes! Ever!

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    reptile-thing18
    this helped me a lot as well. i never really under stood those people that just started to solo out of nowhere now i get. thx. but how do u solo with like the other scales like harmonic minors and stufff??
    mrnbkn
    your lesson really make things clear out for me, I'm just a newbie but I think I finally got the point for soloing and improvising
    ahindi
    10th fret on the e string is a d. the 8th fret on the e string is a c
    wyldeshredder
    i dig it. have been playing lead for about 4-5 years now, will try to incorporate some of these shapes to spice things up for me. i find my style changes a lot when i base it out of a different position. when i learned what your second position was^ it was like reaching a whole other level.
    Ibanezbelyeu
    These shapes are great. Maybe go into the chords that fit over the fretboard underneath these shapes? Voila, there you'd have modes and how to apply them wrapped
    fear-the-reaper
    Wow thanks, this was really really helpful :] i'm so bad at writing my own kickass solos and this helped start them off
    thetonto
    im finding this article very helpful, but im confused when the second and third pattern come in. this may be a rediculous question but how do i play all these notes consecutively?
    metalupurazz
    i get it jus not after when u say to fill in the notes and do u play all the notes from top to bottom once you put in the next shapes like after the second pattern and then when u put in the pentatonic?
    bulger2503
    yaaarp wrote: The 10th fret on low E string is a C? I think you may be thinking of Drop D tuning...
    10th fret on low E is a D
    Blas3
    Nice stuff, but the diagrams or what are a bit confusing...
    Mikehugo2415
    Wow, I really enjoyed this lesson. Thanks for these shapes, I look for places to solo sometimes because I don't know much theory. This helped ALOT. I'm looking forward to more.
    yaaarp
    The 10th fret on low E string is a C? I think you may be thinking of Drop D tuning...