Music Theory & Learning the Fretboard

Jarick

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If there's one area I've improved the last couple of years, it's getting much better at playing chords and melodies up and down the fretboard. I credit this to watching Tom Bukovac's videos, where he really introduced the idea of needing to know your notes and chords everywhere. I'm nowhere near proficient at this, and still haven't even memorized all the notes, but I can now start to feel out chord shapes in different positions while playing melodies, and it really ties everything together for me. Really enjoying playing along to some basic backing tracks now and not just trying to play notes on a scale but sing phrases on the guitar that keep coming back to the rhythm chords.

It's a departure from when I grew up basically playing punk and rock and doing just enough to get by. I really wish as a kid that I had been able to take guitar lessons and start to open my mind up to a more theory-based approach when I was younger and more malleable.

Anyone else working on music theory, learning the fretboard, chords and shapes beyond the basic scales? Any books, videos, or courses you like for this?
 
I really need to work more on this for sure (mastering the fretboard and being able to jump to different parts of it proficiently as needed).
 
I highly recommend the Barry Galbraith jazz studies books from Aebersold!

There are some amazing ideas in there for phrasing, chord voicing, and playing over complex changes.

This is another one that really opened up the way I think about voicings and gave me tons of great ideas:

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For chord voicings another good thing to practice is inversions. Pick a chord, say G major, and do two things:

  1. Starting on the low E, play a G with the bottom note of your voicing on the low E string starting with the 3rd fret G, then move up the string to the next note in the chord (B 7th fret) and play a G starting there. Do this all the way up the string. Then, do the same thing only starting with the bottom note on the A string. Repeat on all strings.
  2. Play all variations of G you can think of in all positions starting with a G in the root. Next, play all variations of G with B in the root, then D.
After you’ve spent some time with those, start adding different 7ths and embellishments. Do the same thing with minor chords, and any less familiar chords
 
That Jody Fisher book looks great. I haven't studied out of a book in forever but that may be the key. Added to my Amazon cart for the next checkout!

Flipping over to TrueFire as I've got an annual membership there, I'm going to start the Frank Vignola Modern Method course which seems very similar for basics.

I've always wanted to learn jazz guitar, but have trouble getting started. This may be a good introduction!

EDIT: started watching the course, it's really detailed. There's over 100 videos, a 420 page PDF that's basically a full jazz guitar instructional book, and then another 50 files of charts noting positions of all the chords in every key.
 
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I’m leaning in that direction when I’m noodling around. It’s amazing to me that I can cram so much information in my brain about things related to my job, or gear facts/trivia, but trying to retain theory information and it’s just in one ear and out the other.

Lately I’m doing a couple things that I know were taught in some Berklee courses and surely countless other teachers taught it as well, but just staying on one string and finding as many melodies as possible with that one string, or taking a chord and only using the notes within that chord to play a lead. It’s a great way of getting the most out of 3-5 notes because once you’ve repeated a phrase a couple times you have to move away from it and discover what else is available with those same notes.

Gilmour is a great example of someone who can stay in one area and monopolize the sh*t out of a few notes while not repeating himself. Someone like EJ or Vai will make a statement flying up and down the neck and Gilmour can play 3/4’s the ”Comfortably Numb” solo staying right over the Bmin at the 7th fret position. Actually, when I went back and started re-learning some Floyd stuff after 20+ years of not playing any of it, I realized I was looking for the notes all over the neck when Gilmour plays the majority of them in one position.

I know, I don’t shut up about Gilmour. I’m not sorry, though. :ROFLMAO:
 
I’m leaning in that direction when I’m noodling around. It’s amazing to me that I can cram so much information in my brain about things related to my job, or gear facts/trivia, but trying to retain theory information and it’s just in one ear and out the other.

Lately I’m doing a couple things that I know were taught in some Berklee courses and surely countless other teachers taught it as well, but just staying on one string and finding as many melodies as possible with that one string, or taking a chord and only using the notes within that chord to play a lead. It’s a great way of getting the most out of 3-5 notes because once you’ve repeated a phrase a couple times you have to move away from it and discover what else is available with those same notes.

Gilmour is a great example of someone who can stay in one area and monopolize the sh*t out of a few notes while not repeating himself. Someone like EJ or Vai will make a statement flying up and down the neck and Gilmour can play 3/4’s the ”Comfortably Numb” solo staying right over the Bmin at the 7th fret position. Actually, when I went back and started re-learning some Floyd stuff after 20+ years of not playing any of it, I realized I was looking for the notes all over the neck when Gilmour plays the majority of them in one position.

I know, I don’t shut up about Gilmour. I’m not sorry, though. :ROFLMAO:

Hey when you write a bunch of songs that are enduring 40-50 years later and demonstrate incredible melody while being extremely simple and sounding amazing, you earned nonstop adoration!

My first "aha!" moment was being able to string positions together through slides while doing scales. I kind of had figured out how to get from the first box to the second intuitively when I started playing, otherwise I would see them more like islands than being connected. When I first started doing TrueFire lessons, there was some good stuff by Angus Clark, and one was sliding between positions.

Now the first lesson in this jazz series is playing the chromatic scale on one string, which is surprisingly difficult as I've never done that before. And then calling out the names of the strings as you do it. That's going to take some practice.
 
I'm no theory master but I have a decent grasp of things. I remember when it clicked for me. Literally a lightbulb moment. I am still not great at writing songs but I know where I am on a fretboard really well.
 
Now the first lesson in this jazz series is playing the chromatic scale on one string, which is surprisingly difficult as I've never done that before. And then calling out the names of the strings as you do it. That's going to take some practice.

I'd kindly suggest calling out the notes verbally and aloud (F, F#, G, G#, etc.) as you play them chromatically.
Fun warm up/exercise and also you'll know the fretboard instantly in a few months.
 
I'd kindly suggest calling out the notes verbally and aloud (F, F#, G, G#, etc.) as you play them chromatically.
Fun warm up/exercise and also you'll know the fretboard instantly in a few months.

Yeah that's what I tried to say (poorly). It is tricky but good! I'm going to get really good about knowing there's no B sharp and E sharp. Been working on this exercise on and off and already much smoother at moving the hand up and down the board. Also with this exercise, you use all four fretting fingers equally, so that should build a lot of pinky strength for me (very neglected).
 
Fun exercise I was working on today: playing major scales in different fingerings. A good exercise is to for instance play a C major scale starting with your pointer finger on the 3rd fret of the A string (A 3 5 7 / D 3 5 7 / G 4 5) up and down. Then play a C# major scale starting with your middle finger on the 4th fret of the A string (A 4 6 / D 3 4 6 / G 3 5 6). Then a D major scale starting with your ring (or pinky) finger on the 5th fret (A 5 / D 2 4 5 / G 2 4 / B 2 3). Could be done starting on any string too.
 
Fun exercise I was working on today: playing major scales in different fingerings. A good exercise is to for instance play a C major scale starting with your pointer finger on the 3rd fret of the A string (A 3 5 7 / D 3 5 7 / G 4 5) up and down. Then play a C# major scale starting with your middle finger on the 4th fret of the A string (A 4 6 / D 3 4 6 / G 3 5 6). Then a D major scale starting with your ring (or pinky) finger on the 5th fret (A 5 / D 2 4 5 / G 2 4 / B 2 3). Could be done starting on any string too.
Steve Morse has a video where he talks about playing each shape in various positions, but starting on different fingers. So in your example, he'd start (focusing on just the C scale) with the 1st finger, which would then be 3-5-7, 3-5-7, etc. But then he'd start with the 2nd finger, which would move his hand postion down 1 fret, so it would be 3-5, 2-3-5, etc., and so on. Then he'd do the same exercise starting with the same finger, but beginning on the 6th string, and go through the permutations. Some shapes would involve finger stretches, and iirc, for the ones where you have 2 different choices, I think he would focus on making all the patterns 3-notes-per-string.

Then different major keys, run thru minor keys, then onto various modes. He really knows the fret board, and this was his way of learning it.
 
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always working on it.

sometimes the simplest thing opens up brand new ideas, like doing everything on one string or in one position.
 
Guthrie Trapp and the CAGED system. He’s been kicking my ass over at Artistworks. Great stuff.

 
I've been playing bass and guitar for more than 15 years now and have only somewhat recently started to get into fully memorizing the notes on the fretboards as well as intervals. It's a boring task but it really does pay off. In my search for ways to improve in these areas, I found an app called Fretonomy and it's absolutely fantastic. It provides a huge range of drills to work on this stuff and I use it both on my Android phone and iPad. I HIGHLY recommend checking it out if you're wanting to gain a greater understanding of the fretboard.


Google Play Link

Apple Store Link
 
I've been playing bass and guitar for more than 15 years now and have only somewhat recently started to get into fully memorizing the notes on the fretboards as well as intervals. It's a boring task but it really does pay off. In my search for ways to improve in these areas, I found an app called Fretonomy and it's absolutely fantastic. It provides a huge range of drills to work on this stuff and I use it both on my Android phone and iPad. I HIGHLY recommend checking it out if you're wanting to gain a greater understanding of the fretboard.


Google Play Link

Apple Store Link
Nothing beats a set of stickers on a practice guitar and then learn theory by notes and intervals.
 
I've spent thousands of dollars on this hobby, and despite how much fun a dopamine release from a new pedal/guitar/amp may be, the best investment so far has been paying a local badass for guitar lessons. Been doing them every month for about 5 years now and there's been a quantum leap in my playing as a result.

My current favorite book isn't really about theory, shit it isn't even about guitar! Been great for working out new subdivisions, rhythms, and making my solos a bit more interesting.

 
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