Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fretboard Organizational Systems part III: 12 Keys in Every Position


    This installment will explore scales with relation to position.  In fact, it could be thought of as more of an exercise for position playing rather than an organizational system, but you'll find that all the systems tie together anyway.

    Most guitar players learn maybe two or three fingerings for a scale and are comfortable.  That's cool, but say you're at a jam playing over some simple changes.  You're on G minor and the line you're playing happens to fall in between 2 of the positions you know for G minor.  Sure there's not far to move your hand in either direction to get into one of the fingerings you know, but why should you have to move your hand at all? (unless that's what you're going for, anyway)

    If you want to have total mastery of the fretboard you should be able to play in any key in any position on the fretboard.  In order to get to this point, you need to learn every scale in every position.  This will give you (essentially) twelve fingerings for each scale.

    The learning process is simple enough, however it is a lot of information to digest.  Remember to take it slow at first learning a few fingerings in each position, gradually adding more fingerings as you get comfortable.  

    First, choose a position (an area of any four adjacent frets) to begin working within.  Next, choose a scale to work on in that position.  Now find all the notes of said scale that fall within the position.  You'll notice that in order to play all the tones of the scale you will sometimes need to go outside the position by one fret.  When this happens, employ a first finger or fourth finger stretch, as explained in Fretboard Organizational Systems part I: Positions.  Remember to start from the lowest tone of the scale in the position, which isn't always the root note.

    Once you've mastered that scale in the position you chose, learn another one and practice going back and forth between the two scales.  Then learn another one, and so on, until you have learned all your scales in that position. After that, start all over but in a different position.  Repeat this process until you have learned all your scales in four-fret positions beginning on every fret up to the twelfth fret.

    A helpful way to learn all the scales in a position is to order the scales in fourths or fifths so that you are only changing one note at a time.  For example, learn G Major then C Major then F Major and so on if you want to order them in 4ths, or learn G Major then D Major then A Major and so on if you would like to order them in 5ths.


    Remember if you have any questions or comments to leave a comment below!

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