Fretboard Knowledge

The first thing is technique and the second component
to “guitar control” is fretboard knowledge. This includes the
knowledge of the scale patterns, but also where the
notes are on the fretboard, knowing
their various combinations (such as scales, modes,
chord voicings, etc), and beyond. It
encompasses music theory, and how that
theory applies to the particular layout of
the guitar fretboard.

For example, take a simple A minor pentatonic scale,
starting on the 5th fret low A string, playing two
notes per string, and ending on the 8th fret high E string (C).
This is the pentatonic scale that guitarsists are
probably most familiar with. The scale itself is
easy to learn and play.

But go a little deeper with analysis, and you discover
a wealth of fretboard knowledge…Notice all the degrees of
the scale, and the intervallic relationship to every other note.
Notice the physical relationship on the fretboard.
Notice the first octave is 2 frets and 2 strings away.
Notice the V (5th) note (E) on the B string at the 5th fret.
Now go deeper, notice how the notes in A pentatonic
(A C D E G) are a subset of the notes in C major,
without the IV and the VII. Notice the A minor triad
overlaps with the scale on the 5th fret on the top
three strings. And this is all just the beginning.
Now expand these kinds of observations to more positions, more
scales, and to entire chord progressions. Notice the
relationship between scales used to solo over a
progression and the chord tones within the chords of that

There are many, many, many ways to conceptualize
the fretboard, and the more you know, the
greater your fretboard knowledge and mastery will be.
“Memorizing” the fretboard is often a misused concept.
Let’s say you memorize that the 8th fret on the B
string is a G. That by itself is of some value, but it is
more meaningful within the context of a scale or chord
progression. For example, in an A blues progression,
using the A minor pentatonic scale, the G is considered
“the 7th”.

So if you’re playing the G on the 8th fret B string,
you should be able to see all the notes around it,
such as the A on the 10th fret B string, which is the root.
Then, you should also be able to see that the G is part of
the A7 chord, in multiple voicings.

And you should be able to see that the G is one
half step above the F#, which is the third of
the D chord, which is the IV chord in the progression. And
you should be able to see the relationship between the A7 chord and the D7
chord, and the smooth voice leading from the G down to the F#.

I could go on and on, but hopefully this gives
you an idea of what I mean by fretboard
knowledge. The bottom line is, the more
familiar you are with all these conceptualizations
of the fretboard, the deeper your understanding will go.

Now here is a critical concept – when you’re playing
a deeply passionate solo, there is no
room for thought. There is no room for conceptualization.
Therefore, you learn the various ways of thinking
about the fretboard, you deepen your understanding
and knowledge, but you don’t let this get in the way of
emotion and feeling.

It can help you in many subtle ways. One way is “if you get
lost” on the neck, you can fall back on what you know.

This idea of looking at the scale from as many angles as possible is the concept behind
the guitar scale system software, which will grill you and drill you to make sure you
know the scale everywhere.

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Wavatar aka shredder

I ddnt get it…it is sooo complicated tht it is nt getting in to mah head..i hv been playing guitar through 6 years ..nw i have created mah own band nd m the lead guitarist …i want to create mah own solos like michek angelo batio ,like slash,joe sastriyani..eric johnson…please help me out

Wavatar Roy

My life is cluttered with different shades of blue that collide into each other with no seeming purpose except to cause turmoil. I need to learn to gently bend the different shades of blues to a soothing brew instead of dramatic explosions like the tail of the space shuttle. Blue can be calming to a point where blues
blues!!! you feel as if you have been sedated. It can also take you to a dangerous place where there is seemingly no return. The irony is that it is a similar reverberation that will guide you on a safe return to that slow mellow place that reflects massage with a warm almond oil. I want to be able to make this happen with six strings connected to a hand crafted piece of wood.

Wavatar JimL

Great balance of concept as it relates to teaching one to understand various scale, chord and tonal relations on the fretboard. Particularly pleased to note that your emphasis is not on memorization but visualizing tangible relationships that ultimately give a student a great area in which to grow.

Finally you win the prize by elevating feeling and a type of playing from the inside out. It is much like a language you speak fluently without always understanding its meaning and not being confined by a lack of vocabulary. Definitely keep the magic in music, and allow the theory and analytics to be tools not the highest goal of achievement. They are absolutely critical in getting a student prepared to experience true growth in improvisation and a real gift of expression.

Wavatar mojo jojo silva

How do you memorize all of this? I’m trying to learn the fret board and scales, There has to be a technique of some sort to learn all of this. Can you all give me a hand? I gotz the blues!! got to get over the hump. Thanks and like Carlos would say, let the music set you free!! Love it, God Bless

Wavatar Mark Deffebach

I agree with the author. Back in the 80’s I mapped 24 frets worth of major, ascending melodic minor, and harmonic minor scales so I could see how all the scales and chords and arpegios and licks that I knew fit into a bigger picture. Currently I am working on smaller pictures of how various modes, scales, etc fit into any area I can reach from where I am, as I read jazz lead sheets playing gigs on upright bass with more accomplished musicians in Dallas. By doing this, I learn the sounds of various chords as defined by the symbols and also I learn what various note options are available and how they sound with the chord even though they are not specifically spelled out. Knowing various sounds and how they “feel” really opened up my playing.

Wavatar Dany

I am just getting started playing guitar again after many years of focusing on my other instruments. Thanks for setting up this page and all your videos. I am looking forward to getting my guitar chops back in shape!

Wavatar Shaun

This is such a simple method that anyone can get it. I just never really through about it like this. Thanks so much for making this course! It’s helped a ton.

Wavatar Mark

Hi Claude I don’t know if you can help me, I’ve bought heaps of Guitar Control DVDs to play lead guitar I’ve also bought some of your lead stuff too. I can name and find all the notes up to the 12th fret, i can do the basic scales, but!!!! I still can’t work out how to play any rifts to our church songs, where and when to play them in the song and what note to finish on to go back into the song?? Please help me or do you think I should go have lessons???

Wavatar fashion

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