Playing Up and Down the Guitar Neck

Where are your skills at for playing up and down the neck of the guitar? Do you understand how scales are inter-connected? Can you work through one scale pattern and have it flow easily into other scale shapes? If you're curious about how this works, stay tuned because this weeks "Guitar Blog Insider" is going to discuss, "Playing Scales Up and Down the Guitar Neck."

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Most guitarists will learn their scales in fretting regions and the tendency is for the student to begin from a perspective of the "shapes function" working more vertically (than horizontally).

The trouble with this form of learning is that when it comes to using scales, the scale is locked into a box. So rather than applied in more horizontal ways - the scale feels more comfortable as a vertical shape.

In order to better comprehend how scale tones can be applied all over the neck, we can  learn octave templates to better understand the neck areas. Then we can learn to inter-lock those templates to form a more horizontal scale-run that allows for a greater reach.

Let's begin with a scale template that involves octaves to help us set the boundaries of how our scale will sit on the neck.

We'll use "three" separate octave layouts to form the boundaries of the places that we'll target on the neck for building our "up and down" the neck perspective.

Octaves of "D Notes" from the 5th through to 10th neck positions:

Now, let's establish some generic in-position one octave scales to fill in the region within the boundaries that we'd established with those octaves. Our scale to work through this part of the example, will be the "D Minor."

5th Position / 5th String:

 7th Position / 3rd String:

10th Position / 4th String:

Now that we've established our octave region and we're familiar with some limited scale layouts within those boundaries, let's organize a phrase that operates across that region and that uses notes from all of those small segments of the "D Minor."

Melodic phrase using "D Minor" from the 5th through to 10th neck positions:

Practice playing this along the neck, "D Minor" scale phrase both ascending and descending. Then, use the principles (that we've established in this lesson), to create some of your own "up and down the neck" scale runs.

After you get used to seeing boundaries (by way of octaves), and once you can understand how smaller scale segments can combine to form phrases up and down the neck, you'll be able to begin making up all kinds of melody lines that operate up and down the fingerboard.

So, I hope this helps you get a system established that will lead you to developing you own ways for performing guitar licks and runs up & down the neck. All it takes is some study time devoted to how scales connect within a limited boundary.

After awhile, you can work to expand that boundary further to include an even grater span of the neck. If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, head over to my website at and get your FREE lifetime membership... And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium paid lesson package!



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