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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2001
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge - I want to know my way around

I don't quite know how to explain it, but I need help with learning scales across the entire fretboard. I want to see it less as a pattern that runs up four or five frets from first string to sixth string, and more as something that envelopes the entire fretboard.

I appreciate any help.
Vai is God is offline  
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 06:14 PM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

why don't u try:


there are some really intereseted lessons there in the blueprints section & also under some other section, but i forgot how it's called, you'll find them it's a real interesting site
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 06:25 PM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

Ok, well, here is my suggestion, lets do it with G ionian for now. *first, play it like this.


then try this


and then on one string *(low E, whatever, pick the G as the first note and build from there)


just play one octave on the single strings, then play one octave on one string and the next octave on the next string. *
Do this with all the scales, and then, take melodies you like and retranscribe them to be played on one string. *Then, practice while you watch TV, talk on the phone, Play in the dark where you can't see the board, just practice, but do it until it is second nature to you.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 06:27 PM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

try to learn scales by their sound instead of patterns. i don't think you need perfect pitch or something to achieve this, just listen and find something particular, like the minor=sad major= happy thing.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 06:51 PM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

If you've seen my posts in the Phrasing topic, you can assume I'm notorious for long replies here. So here goes... an article detailing my approach to scales and the fretboard.

When I was first interested in scales and theory, my memory wasn't too spectacular. I couldn't memorize "shapes" per se, but that may also be because I'm a lefty and it takes me a little more brain power to flip a fret diagram upside down and backward in my head. That was a major roadblock, but I knew I had to get past that eventually. Or not. I can't remember when, how, why, or how fast but I developed a pretty unique approach to scales. I actually gave my buddy a mini guitar lecture on this yesterday so I remember some of the more concise things I said.

I never, ever, ever "worked" laboriously or even consciously on memorizing the fretboard, but over time (between the time I started, and about two and a half years after, which was a while after I quit lessons) I developed a sense of what notes are where. I don't like the feeling of being forced to memorize something, so maybe that's why this stuck - I never forced it. Well anyway I was quick to take advantage of this 'sixth sense' and work out a simple exercise to improve on it.

[This may/may not work for you, but it helped me a bit: (Note: I never practiced this to a metronome because I felt it was more of a free flowing thing but you are welcome to use one.) Play random notes all over the fretboard and name them out loud as you play them. It may be hard at first but work to eliminate the pause between looking at (or hearing, but I'm not much of an ear player) the notes and saying them until it is nearly instantaneous. Play the notes as fast as you can while maintaining this naming procedure.]

Back to the story: One of the things I was also was interested in as a beginning guitar player was the keys, and especially key signatures. I had a blank notation book which had on the inside cover a rudimentary guide to notation; the last item listed was a listing of the keys and signatures. I quickly memorized the order of sharps and flats (FCGDAEB, BEADGCF respectively) and most of the key names.

When I think of a scale I relate it to its key. My mind goes something like this: E major? Well it's got four sharps, F, C, G, and D, and the other three are natural. So I just play with those notes, keeping in mind which of those are sharped. If I think of a mode I relate it to its relative major key but also keep the inherent sound of the mode in mind. My rule is simple: when soloing, never stay in one position too long. It's bad for showmanship too! :biggrin: If I'm less familiar with a particular key then I relate it to a more familar one... e.g., I'm not good with F minor but I know it's got one more flat than C minor so I just play with C minor's notes, but flat the D as well. Harmonic minor is another good example - A Hmc. minor is the same as A minor except the G is G#; its easy to learn new stuff by relating it to previously gained knowledge. (Also, after a while some scales will become second nature - you won't even think of keys, you just know what notes to hit. Some are like that to me, it's extremely liberating to "know" a scale inside-out!)

Another approach I delved into, to some extent, is one-string scales. Joe Satriani wrote about this and I have the column but generally 'learning' scales up and down individual strings will get you more likely to change positions.

You are very welcome to use my approach. But if you do not think it's right for you, dig deeper into your own original musical mind and come up with a solution. That's how I did it.

I'm not sure if I left out anything important; if you have questions just ask me. And memorize that fretboard!

And just out of curiosity, how many people here actually took the rote memorization approach?

Anyway, good luck with this. I hope I inspired you.

P.S.: A reference for all to peruse -

nothing = C major / A minor
# = G major / E minor
## = D major / B minor
### = A major / F# minor
#### = E major / C# minor
##### = B major / G# minor
###### = F# major / D# minor
####### = C# major / A# minor
b = F major / D minor
bb = Bb major / G minor
bbb = Eb major / C minor
bbbb = Ab major / F minor
bbbbb = Db major / Bb minor
bbbbbb = Gb major / Eb minor
bbbbbbb = Cb major / Ab minor
sixstringphoenix is offline  
post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 10:23 PM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

I think part of the problem is that most people will ONLY look at scales in terms of modes/positions. *I think that is what hurts most people.

To me, a scale is something that encompasses the entire fretboard by design. *It is 5-8(ON AVERAGE) notes that can be found in various places... not just a small space that spans 5 frets or so. *I know most of the so-called "theory buffs" will try and say that playing out of the modal position can be "wrong" but I say, if you're playing the right group of notes, it should not matter where on the fretboard you play them.

So in short... if you want to work on playing up and down the fretboard, it may help to stop seeing a scale as only a small segment of the fretboard. *Look at the highway as 4 lanes, not just the one lane you are in.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 10:49 PM
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I'm with Jay here, the problem most people have with scales is that they learn position and pattern concepts. *Blues boxes and the like a great tools but the idea is to get more continuity. *For this I really recommend sitting down and setting a synth or a midi program to loop a chord or a progression and pick a mode or scale. *

For instance, loop E Major and then just play over it. *Start off with the positions you know are in E, after that play in between them. *Play all the spaces that aren't a pentatonic pattern. *This (for me) was the easiest way to use the whole fretboard instead of just pieces.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-12-2001, 10:53 PM
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The exercises I put up are based on teaching you the notes in a scale on the neck, I agree, play it to sound right. *I don't play by pattern, nothing sounds worse than a guitar player who sounds like he's playing scales all the time, but, by learning the scales, and learning to play all the octaves on each string, it helps you visualize your fretboard, then, it becomes a no *brainer when you are wanting to rip up and down the board.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2001, 12:25 AM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

I'm in a rut too... except that while I initially found myself stuck to patterns and shapes, I now realise that it's a great way to keep track of what you're doing on the fretboard... But I always try to play 2 to 3 notes on a string that's out of the pattern... for example:


Can also be seen pentatonically as:


So on a string, I'll stretch the range of the fingering and try to play the same pattern, but with more notes in a string, and this gives me the feeling that the tonality of the lick is improved simply because it flows better.

What I'm at a loss now, is how to apply octaves or dyads to the same string, and have the Vai/Petrucci-like flow of notes...
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2001, 08:05 AM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

I can tell you from personal experience:
It works. Guaranteed. Just do it a lot.

It's so simple that it's ridicolous. It's something that's been around for thousands of years for example in Indian music, and is a basic building block of guitar playing too often ignored.
Futz around in different keys, modes, etc and LISTEN. It also helps to have a root note going on in a looper or an open string etc. I bet you'll notice a huge difference in just a few months.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2001, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for all your replies, I will certainly try some of these!
Vai is God is offline  
post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2001, 04:07 PM
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Expanding Fretboard Knowledge

Two answers:

1. the book Fretboard Logic (vols I and II).

2. *the Fundamental courses in the library section at www.guitar4u.com (free).

Use these and you will learn chord forms and scales all over the neck.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2001, 04:49 PM
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except for the third the guitar is perfectly symmetrical,

if you think about it, all you have to do to keep in key anywhere on the neck is when you move up four frets move down a string , and simply add the rest of the scale around the new centre, hence you can never get lost,

I tend though not to think in terms of keys but follow the melody in my head, that way Im always in tune.
the only way to practice that is to sing, and play what youre singing on the guitar simultaneously. This will improve your improv immensly

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2001, 04:55 PM
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Great idea Devo. I might try that sometime. I don't like singing because it feels kind of embarassing for me (and I don't play vocal music anyhow) but that's a cool idea.

However, while some of the best melodies (and improvs) sing like the human voice ... there's still a lot of great music that's impossible to recreate with the average voice. With my range, my improvs won't go very far at all :biggrin: !!!

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-13-2001, 05:07 PM
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I cant sing either, but my brain doesnt know that *I croon along and to me the guitar is playing whats going on in my head and whats coming out of my mouth.

make sure no-one hears you though :idunno: cause they might come lookin and see that!!! thats how I imagine I must look when I sing
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guitar playing , joe satriani

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