Ben I have seen this programs out there trying to sell u something on knowing the fretboard up and down the neck,but is this something u need to know as a beginner or is this something that comes over time.
I think Ben’s out gigging this weekend, so he’ll probably take a couple of days to get back with you.
If I was just starting out, though, I’d concentrate a lot more on the end of the fretboard than playing up the neck. If you’re playing bluegrass, a big chunk of your time will be spent on those first 5 frets.
Thanks Larry ,I see u on the forum a lot so I’m sure u know what u r talking about and I appreciate it.
— Begin quote from “budman”
I see u on the forum a lot so I’m sure u know what u r talking about
— End quote
I’m just here a lot because I have so much to learn, but I have been hanging around long enough to have learned from a few of my mistakes. I’m sure Ben can give you some focused direction on how to approach the fretboard when he gets back.
You see him here a lot because he has a addiction to music and learning like the rest of us.LOL
You got it, Jim! I’m addicted to pickin’ and you guys are all my enablers. This place is like a crack house for accoustic music.
At least we are all here together with friends.LOL
There are lots of different methods for learning the fingerboard. I generally ask my students to memorize block forms. I find that they allow the student to memorize the fingerboard in 4 or 5 fret sections (which is pretty easy to learn). Here is the Major scale in block forms that overlap:
Notice that the 3rd finger of the left hand in the last form plays the same fret as the first finger in the first form. These 4 forms cover the entire fingerboard for the Major scale. But here is the cool part, these same 4 forms cover the entire fingerboard for all 7 modes (diatonic scales) including Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (natural minor) and Locrian. Just to be clear, you can see from the following Aeolian (natural minor) block forms that they are the same exact fingering as the major scale; the only difference is the position of each of the notes within that scale (e.g. the root “1” has moved as have all the other notes of the scale).
What is even cooler about learning these 4 forms is that instead of learning 7 positions for each of the 7 different scales in 12 keys each (588 different combinations), you just need to be able to memorize these 4 block forms and know how to use them to be able to do the same thing.
Anyway, there are lots of ways to approach learning the fingerboard, I try to make it as easy as possible.
That is an interesting looking approach. How long does it take a typical student to learn the blocks? After that, how long to get comfortable knowing how to apply it to common modes in varying keys?
Thanks for posting it!
I’ve been working through William Leavitt’s Berklee book and it seems very similar to Drguitar’s method, though the boxes are a little different. Leavitt uses 5 boxes, but the concept of moving them around to switch modes is the same.
Generally, I will have the student learn to memorize one block a week. So a month is plenty of time to memorize the 4 blocks. In recent years, I have seen books which teach the 5 block method. I find the 5th block to be clumsy under the fingers, but it does overlap two of the forms that I butt end up to each other. The method you speak of is called the CAGED guitar method and is a strong method. It is so called because each form is built around a specific open chord form, those chords being C, A, G, E and D.
As far as the length of time it takes to know how to use this information fully, that depends on the student. I have had students who learn that information at the same time as when they are memorizing the forms so they are able to use them correctly nearly immediately. Some students find it hard to wrap their heads around the simplicity of the concept and they can take quite long (a year or more).
Moreover, just knowing what is correct is a huge distance from being able to use that knowledge musically with your fingers and a pick. You have to teach your hands how to get around the fingerboard easily and be able to use this information nearly spontaneously before you can begin to be creative with these forms. Also, even if you can do all of the above, that only takes you to the point where you can improvise with diatonic modes (scales). That takes you pretty far, but is still quite a distance from sounding jazzy, bluesy or bluegrassy. Those styles require at least the addition of blue notes (b3, b5, b7) and the proper placement of those notes within a line or riff. However, I find it a good place to start and properly learned, it can carve years off the time it takes to learn to improvise.
— Begin quote from “drguitar”
knowing what is correct is a huge distance from being able to use that knowledge musically with your fingers and a pick. You have to teach your hands how to get around the fingerboard easily and be able to use this information nearly spontaneously before you can begin to be creative with these forms. Also, even if you can do all of the above, that only takes you to the point where you can improvise with diatonic modes (scales). That takes you pretty far, but is still quite a distance from sounding jazzy, bluesy or bluegrassy. Those styles require at least the addition of blue notes (b3, b5, b7) and the proper placement of those notes within a line or riff.
— End quote
I see… nothing to it, then. I should have it all worked out this afternoon.
I have, with time and a lot of trial-and-error, mapped out the entire fretboard like we are talking about (though not exactly like your method, drguitar, or the CAGED system). But, I essentially think of the fretboard as boxes and use diagonally based connecting runs to move me between positions. I can run through the major and natural minor scales pretty easily, I can move my mental map around to fit any key I want, and I can probably improvise something coherent over most music, including bluegrass.
My problem is that I don’t always sound bluegrassy when I improvise. On one hand I have this trusty mental map to move me around the fretboard, and on the other hand I have all these cool Banjo Ben licks. Now, I just need to figure out how to integrate them into one smooth style. Lately, I’ve been trying to break apart Ben’s licks and see why they work rather than just trying to get my technique up to speed, but it’s a long hard slog.
Here’s an example of how my box or position map breaks down for bluegrass.
I ran across this little riff the other day and it’s pretty easy to play and sounds good when played to speed, but because of the open strings my mental map kind of breaks down. It’s like I’m switching back and forth between two position boxes on successive notes and my brain can’t yet do that on the fly.
Larry, I think you need to quit using open strings, and then, you’ll be golden.
Just kidding, but I do understand your dilemma. I think this is especially true in bluegrass where such a large amount of what we do is in the first 4 frets and the open string use is so prevalent. Unfortunately, I am not at the same point in applying theory as you so I haven’t run into the problem you are facing. As I said before, I am not thinking notes when I am playing bluegrass. If I am thinking at all, it’s just intervals off of a few key note references (root, IV and V). It’s kind of liberating actually (just fun). At the same time I know I’ll need to pay the piper eventually. To paraphrase Jack Torrance in the Shining. “All play and no work makes mike a dullard.”
— Begin quote from “ldpayton”
My problem is that I don’t always sound bluegrassy when I improvise. On one hand I have this trusty mental map to move me around the fretboard, and on the other hand I have all these cool Banjo Ben licks. Now, I just need to figure out how to integrate them into one smooth style.
— End quote
Ben has a great video that explains his thought process when creating a nice bluegrassy lead over a melody. http://www.banjobenclark.com/videos/free-guitar/guitar-red-haired-boy-259/
He basically explains a simple method for developing a bluegrassy lead line.
In the process of trying to dissect what makes a bluegrass lead sound bluegrassy, I have noticed some concepts that might help you.
[ul]Memorize the melody (the more places on the fingerboard the better)
Start your riff on the same note that is in the melody at that moment (if not that exact note, at least a chord tone of the chord being played)
End your riff on the same note that is in the melody at that moment(if not that exact note, at least a chord tone of the chord being played)
Add blue notes to create a bluesy sound (the blue notes are b3, b5, b7)
Strong bluesy movement of those notes are b3 to 3, 3 to b3, b5 to 5, 1 to b7, b3 to 2
Using 4 note patterns in sequence (e.g. 1-6-5-3, 6-5-3-b3, 5-3-b3-1, 3-b3-1-b7, 1) are often used in bluegrass guitar leads
More than any other rule, stick with the melody![/ul]
Thanks dr. That red haired boy lesson of Ben’s has been the single most valuable lesson I’ve been through here. It really helped me see how a bluegrass lead is constructed, and I’ve since used his method to tab out several decent lead breaks for myself, many of them incorporating the open strings that give me problems.
I feel like I have a fair number of tools for constructing a bluegrass lead, but what I can’t do is come up with that stuff in real time. If I’m halfway up the neck and start throwing in open notes, I have trouble anticipating what it’s going to sound like. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time playing in G and C positions so that all the open notes are diatonic and then just kind of randomly throwing in open notes while working up the neck. I’m hoping to familiarize myself with the sensation of hitting a smaller diameter string and getting a lower pitched note. I need to get to the point where I can anticipate what these riffs sound like before I play them, like I can when playing out of a box position.
I’m probably just expecting too much, too fast. It is getting easier, just not as easy as I would like.
— Begin quote from “ldpayton”
…If I’m halfway up the neck and start throwing in open notes, I have trouble anticipating what it’s going to sound like…I need to get to the point where I can anticipate what these riffs sound like before I play them, like I can when playing out of a box position.
— End quote
Well. you are doing much better than I am then.
My background is classical and jazz so I am used to playing all over the neck except in open position. It took me a while before I could throw riffs in while playing 1st position chords. I am much more comfortable up the neck.
It’s all a step at a time.
Thanks to everyone for chiming in on this subject,I have much ahead of me and ur thoughts help.I appreciate all the comments.