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Running Laps Around Your Fretboard

By Guitar Tips


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Let's face it, playing a professional, well polished solo is extremely difficult. More often than not, we find ourselves confined to a certain area of the fretboard. Perhaps you are playing a solo based on a certain scale that you like, such as a pentatonic or mixolydian. Whatever the case, you end up getting the same sounds over and over.

We have all faced that frustrating situation at one time or another. There's nothing worse than being stuck with the same tones and not knowing what to do with the hundreds of options available to you. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The guitar is not designed to be frustrating. In fact, the fretboard is configured to make your life as easy as possible. How does it make your life easier? By connecting scale patterns. As you may remember from previous lessons, each scale has five individual patterns. These patterns cover the entire neck of the guitar.






What you may not know is that each of those five patterns overlap each other at some point on the fretboard. This is the key to stepping out of that one scale pattern and sprinting across the fretboard. You can now take advantage of every note within that particular key.

While it is impossible for us to cover every scale in detail, as there are over 80 patterns to remember, we can investigate the most useful.

Pentatonic scale pattern.

By now, the majority of you have heard of the pentatonic scale. It is theoretically one of the easiest scales we have available to us and is the most practical for soloing. The beauty of this scale is that you can use it to play any key and still sound great.

The scale pattern that made the minor pentatonic scale famous is the following:

... While that scale pattern may be the most famous, there are four other extremely useful patterns that you should know. They are as follows:















..Get extremely comfortable with all five of the above scales. With practice, you can easily master them within a short period of time. Take care not to confuse them and mix them up, because they will be the foundation that the rest of your solos will be based on.

To answer the question of how they fit together, we must first look at what key we are playing in. Once you decide which key you are playing in. Let's use the key of Am as our first example, which is the same as C(more on that in a minute). Take your #1 scale pattern, and place the first note on the 8th fret of your low E string, which is a C.

Keep in mind that these scale patterns can also be played in the key of C. This is due to the 6th note of any scale being the relative minor. Since we are using the pentatonic minor scale pattern, the minor key makes more sense. Both have the same key signatures, just different patterns.


What you are really doing is using C as the "root" of your scale. A root is the first note of any scale and often dictates the key you are playing in. If you don't know your notes, I suggest learning the low E string as it will save you plenty of time.

After you have located where your #1 scale pattern is going to be placed, which is on C in our case, we put the #2 scale pattern on D, which is two frets up from C.

We then proceed to put the #3 scale pattern on E (12th fret), which is another two frets up from D. Our #4 scale pattern is three frets up on G (15th fret). Finally, our #5 scale pattern is another two frets up from G, which is the 17th fret.

Any above pattern with an "or" with an alternate scale just means that the full scale can be played higher on the fretboard or lower. In other words, there are two octaves to the scale. Depending on the key you are playing in, you will alternate between the high versions and the low versions. For the key of C, you use the higher versions.

As you play through the scales in the key of Am (or C), you will find that they overlap each other and share notes. This will hold true with every key. Basically, this is what opens up the doors to wicked solos where you never hit a wrong note. To play in another key, move your #1 scale to a new root note.

Using solo techniques to write new material.

Now that you know how to totally utilize the area on your fretboard, it's time to put things into action. When creating new riffs and solos, there are a few things to keep in mind that will spice up your playing.

Hammer On's/Pull Off's
Bending & Double Bends
Sliding between the connecting notes
Tremolo Picking
Palm Muting
I also suggest you try using finger length to your advantage if you have larger hands. Since you know where you're going and what notes you should be playing on your fretboard, you can easily do huge jumps around the fretboard.

The possibilities are endless when you think of all the things you can do with five scales and some technique



Written by Guitar Tips:  If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want! Visit

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