How to use all this now, now, now!

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A second way of navigating

I'm an impatient guy. I like to be able to use what I learn very fast. This article as about the strategy that I have used to go from playing the standard blues scale pattern, to using all of the fretboard and all of the available scales and arpeggios. It's simple, easy and fun to work with. But first I would like to expand a bit on my last article. Yesterday I showed you how I navigate around the fretboard by using this pentatonic scale pattern:

This pattern has it's root note on the low E-String. But you can play the same scale using a pattern that has it's root note on the A-String instead:

You will of course have to teach yourself the notes on the A-string to be able to navigate using this pattern. But It's worth the effort. If you have two patterns to work with, it's easier for you to find the right scale faster. Let's quickly look at how the Dorian scale looks using the same type of pattern:

And the Natural Minor in the same position looks like this:

You can take that same pattern and use it to find the Phrygian mode on the E-string. Because the pattern you see above is also a Phrygian scale if you play it starting on the E-String. (Every Minor / Major scale pattern is of course also Phrygian scales patterns. But you know what I mean by now right?) Let's transform this shape into a Harmonic Minor shape by pushing the seventh step up one fret:

How to use this now

Alright, let's move on to the practical side of this. Let's say you want to learn and use all this stuff as fast as possible. Here's how to do it.

1. Learn to navigate using the two patterns I've shown you.

Put on some random songs and figure out what scales to use by using the method I've described to you. Use your ears to determine the key and then figure out which scales to use over that key. Keep changing the songs and see how fast you can nail them.

2. Master them!

Become very familiar with these two "navigational" patterns and learn to play Blues Rock, Minor and Major, and Harmonic minor within these patterns. When you can navigate and play solos using these two patterns it's time to expand them until they are so connected that they are one.

3. Expand into 3 and 4 notes per string patterns.

By now you should have control over these two positions on the neck. You can play two Pentatonic Minor shapes, two Natural Minor/Major shapes and you master the Harmonic Minor in those two positions as well. Now look at the different patterns and start expanding them into 3 and 4 notes per string patterns. Here's an example where I have taken the A-Natural Minor, Mixed with the A-Minor Pentatonic, and then I've expanded those two scales with a four notes per string pattern:

I hope you clearly see the four notes per string pattern in there. Now I would spend some time playing around with this pattern - shifting from the minor pentatonic, to the natural minor in it's traditional shape, to the four notes per string pattern. When all that feels like "one thing" add some other pattern like this:

- This time I made sure you could see the four notes per string pattern! Practice this while being very aware of when you are in the traditional pattern and when you move out into your four notes per string pattern. Start on the low E-string and move down into the two different patterns. Don't try to grasp this entire pattern as "one thing" instead, use the "roads" that you have created and play in one of the two patterns.

Another example could be to add a two string, four notes per string pattern to it like this:

Make sure that you practice this until it feels like home to you. The whole point of doing this is to be able to add one pattern to the one you already know, and then to add that pattern to your "vocabulary" so that you can use it the next day when you practice with the band. Now let's say you're in the other pattern, the one with the root note on the A-String:

Now let's say you're playing in a A-Blues Rock context. You would then ad the blue note to the pattern and mix it with the Dorian more which looks like this:

Let's expand that and put a big four notes per string pattern across that:

Now play through the traditional shape first. Then play the four notes per string pattern and then play around with the three notes per string Pentatonic Blues scale within this shape. This is the pattern marked with blue.

Keep expanding these two patterns until you've covered the entire fretboard. And every time you expand these two patterns you instantly get a little more freedom, that you can use to have more fun now, now, now!

Diminished String Skipping Legato Insanity

This baby has some serious challenges in it: String skipping isn't easy and stretching like this can take a while to get used to. But keep at it and you'll triumph as always!