This is How I Learned the Neck (3 LEVELS)

If you have a hard time understanding the layout of notes and patterns on the guitar neck, then you are definitely going to want to try this. These ideas are a collection of what I was first taught about how the notes work on guitar and how they are laid out across the neck. The ideas I'm about to share were my first exposure to neck training when I was initially learning guitar. And, they work great!

To really learn your neck, all it takes is just a few minutes each day using a few proven methods and you will begin to get in your own routine down.

The examples I have here will go a long way in helping you reach up to a whole new level of neck awareness. Plus you'll get your fingers to be able to respond much better (and much faster) to all of the notes on the neck.

This training routine has to do with building a better "mind muscle connection" with where all of the notes are on the guitar fingerboard.

The system works by taking your fret-board knowledge through the components of;
  • phrase re-location
  • multi-location music reading comprehension
  • single tone tracking capability (all over the guitar)


I’m going to show you the method that I went through to learn the guitar neck. And, it’s going to be a lot easier than it might seem, because you may have been doing everything you think you’re supposed to do, and yet you’re not seeing much of a result.

That’s because there’s probably a few factors that are missing in how you’re studying the guitar neck.

Now, I say this all the time, but our fingers react to how our mind trains them.

If you’re not training your fingers with the correct commands, (to go to the correct places), and if your mind has never been trained how and where notes are located on the guitar, then you’re going to feel like there’s a gap between how you’re hearing ideas in your mind and how your fingers will end up producing visualized results on the guitar’s fingerboard.

The first thing I did to learn the guitar neck is I had a teacher when I was just starting out, who had me begin working on the range of the fingerboard in 3 areas (or what he called fret regions).

Every week my teacher would give me a new short melody line... And, he wanted me to play that melody in three areas of the neck.

As you probably know, most guitar books (that you buy) start the training in the first position, but what you play in that area is going to also be available up through the 5th to 10th as well as up higher in the 10th to the 15th Frets.

Only thing is, you need to realize that the higher you move up the neck will also mean that your octave range could also become affected.

So, let me show you a way that you can use to take a phrase from the first five frets, up into 5th position region, and then move it up higher into the 10th position as well...

1st Position Melody:

5th Position Melody: 

10th Position Melody:

The next thing that happened to me (that really affected my learning of the guitar neck), was I had a teacher who introduced me to the world of Jazz Guitar.

That teacher was very serious about all of his students learning to read music. In fact, he used to have an adage he’d often say,

Guitar Players Play Guitar, but Musicians Read Music.”

He was a very serious guitar teacher about learning to read all over the neck. And, I know why. It’s because when a guitar player learns to read music, they learn the location of every note on the neck and they also become extremely proficient at understanding how rhythm operates.

As an example of how he used to get me to read down melody lines, I want to run through a short melody with you.

We’ll approach it exactly how my old teacher used to. And, that means, first we’ll learn the notes, then we’ll understand the rhythm, then move it into one other location using the exact same pitches, finally he’d want me to re-write the melody up an octave and also play it up in the new octave.

Melody - Octave Range 1:
Learn to read the following melody. Play it in two different neck regions.

Melody - Octave Range 2:
Learn to read the following melody. Play it in the correct range.

The third thing that I did (to learn the neck) is an exercise that I took from an article I’d read (in a guitar magazine - I used to buy), that magazine was called, “Guitar for the Practicing Musician.”

The article talked about a multiple note layout concept on the neck that worked in a way where you would start from the lowest pitch of a particular note name, and then you’d take that note and move it vertically (string by string), playing the same note (but through different octaves), until you reached the highest pitch for that note on the neck.

The exercise was all based upon the idea of where you were supposed to play all of the notes quickly using a metronome if possible.

However, playing the exercise fast required a lot of practice.

I felt it was a great exercise that I started doing and kept doing for around a month and it was incredibly helpful for nailing down the notes all over the guitar fingerboard. Plus it really helped me get to know note names.

Let me demonstrate this exercise for you using the note of “F.”

Note Tracking Exercise:



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I Played "Chord Tones" for 30 Days (WOW!)

There are lead guitar workouts and then there are chord tone targeting workouts. In this video, I will show what happens when guitar students follow the detailed formula of a chord tone workout for 30 days...

The chord tone formula in this lesson is the result of learning how to determine a key signature, and then organize the chord tones of each chord in a progression from the notes of the key.

Given that all of the notes of each chord within a key's chord progression can be targeted for generating the best soloing sound, this system will produce the best sounding solos - every time.

The catch is, you don't need a ton of theory, only the basics of the key. In fact, after 30 days of doing this chord tone targeting routine guitar students will end up with an even better sounding approach to improvising than they ever had before.


In this post I’m going to demonstrate how valuable a simple chord tone playing exercise can be to help you improve; how you hear notes, how you see notes on your neck, and how to use common scales like the Pentatonic and even how to use modes.

This is a proven system that I like to use on a 30 day practice cycle, and I know it works, because I have experience teaching it to hundreds of my own private students.

In getting started, I’d like to introduce you to an easy chord jam that covers 4 bars across two different chords. We’ll learn how to play it and then we’ll talk a little further about its key signature and how to start analyzing chord progressions just like this one.

Chord Progression:

In almost 90 percent of cases, the chords that are used in a rhythm jam (or in an entire song) are going to be taken directly from the harmony of a key.

This means that you need a system in place to determine the way chords get associated to a key. Luckily, this system is quite easy. It works like this…

When you’re in a Key, the 1st, 4th and 5th notes will have major chords built upon them. And, the key’s; 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes would have MINOR chords built upon them.

For example, if we were in the key of “G” that would give us; “G, C and D” notes building its major chords, (the 1st, 4th and 5th notes).

And, if we went over to the Minor chords in the key of “G” we’d have; Am, Bm and Em. The key’s; 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes.

This formula makes it easy for us (as musicians), to examine any chord progression and then apply this system to be able to automatically know exactly what key that we have in front of us.

For our example; if we were to analyze our jam for this; “Am to D major” progression… the “Am” could function as the 2nd degree in the key of “G,” or, as the 3rd degree in “F,” or as the 6th degree in the key of “C.”

Then, looking into where the “D Major” chord could exist… it can function as the; 1st chord of the key of “D,” the 4th chord in the key of “A,” or as the 5th chord in the key of “G.”

Did you happen to notice that both of the chords exist within the key of “G.” That’s correct. What this tells us is that our chord progression is in the key of “G.”

Now that you understand chord location and how to use it to scope out the chords in a key, (and also how to use this system to determine the key itself), you’re ready for the next step.

We can take the key (and most importantly its notes) and begin making music from those notes by targeting each chord.

We’ve already determined that the key is “G” so we know our notes are;
“G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#.”

Next, we’re going to have some fun and use the notes of the key to target the sound of each chord. This is where your ear will start being able to anticipate the best note sounds along every beat of the chord progression when you play it.

All it takes is practice and time spent on this system. The last part of the music theory we need to know before we can start jamming is the notes found in each chord, but now that we know the key, that’s going to be easy!

Chord tones are easy to determine once you know your key, because all it takes to learn them, is to jump through every second note of the chord and apply the correct notes from the key that has been established.

Take for example the first chord of “A Minor” in our progression. After the first root note of “A” we skip over “B” and then jump to the note of, “C.” Then, we skip “D” and go up to “E.” It’s just that easy, the notes in our “A Minor” chord are, “A, C and E.”

A Minor Chord Tones:

And, you can use this same approach for the “D Major” all you’ll do is jump off of the root of “D” skipping the “E” and head straight up to the, “F#.” Then, the final move skips over the “G” and takes us to the note of “A.” This gives us the chord’s official notes of; “D, F# and A.”

D Major Chord Tones:

We can use those chord tones as a way to practice playing the best notes when we perform guitar solos over that, “Am to D maj.” progression. 

To prove it to you, I’m going to play a demonstration melody, and then I’ll solo with notes that focus on playing into the roots of each of those chords off of the 5th and the 3rd chord tones.

In other words, when I want to cover the sound of that “A Minor” chord, I’ll play from the “E” or the “C” into the root of “A.”

And, when I want to cover the sound of that “D Major” chord, I’ll play from the “F#” or the “A” into the root of “D.”

But, what’s even better is along the way I can add in other notes as well that belong to the key of “G.” …making this type of an exercise both a lot of fun, and an exercise that you can play for a long time without ever getting bored.

Example Jam /Melody:

The idea of spending 30 days working on playing a chord tone exercise like this and learning how to analyze the key signature of a progression, (as well as, analyze the chord tones of any chord in a key), it might have sounded next to impossible before watching this lesson.

But, now that you’ve seen exactly how easy this idea is to practice, I’m sure that you’ll have a lot of fun jamming on it.

Just use the formula that I’ve outlined here, and above all else write down everything on paper that you’re studying. That’s by far the best way to work on these ideas.

Take a pencil to paper and keep as organized as you possibly can – you’ll learn so much more in doing that!



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"The “Holy Trinity” of RIFF Training (Blues, Rock, Country)

Riff training (including song-riff workouts), are a bit of a mislabeled term. If you want your skills for playing riffs to expand as much as they can you should never only focus on practicing song-riffs from within one music style... 

When it comes to riff development, I've found it is best to focus on what I call the “holy trinity,” of riff training. 

This simply refers to working on riffs in at least three different music styles at one time. And, they should all be practiced in one session. It builds an incredibly high level of skill in a very short period of time.

In this lesson's video, I demonstrate a sequence of 3 riff-builder exercises that you can learn in three different music styles. 

The riffs are basic enough that you could learn them in one evening of practice. And, the best part is that these riffs will hit three styles; "Blues-Rock," "Pop-Music," and, "Country."


In the TAB for the Blues-Rock riff below, the images are showing "3" riffs that you can probably learn in an evening, (depending upon your skill level).

They’re fairly easy if you go at your own pace and speed, and they cover three different playing styles across; Blues-Rock, Pop-Music and Country.

For a lot of guitar players, (especially players who are just starting out), learning anything that’s fun, fairly easy, and highly musical will go a very long way to building motivation.

That is exactly why learning guitar riffs across several different music styles is such an excellent skill-builder.

Let’s get things started with a riff that’s based within a style of music that pretty much every guitar player loves jamming on - Blues-Rock...


Part One...

Part Two...

Part Three...


The next riff that we’re going to learn will be a two-part riff in the style of, “Pop-Music /Pop-Rock Guitar.”

You’ll hear ideas similar to this type from musicians like, “Tom Petty,” “John Cougar,” and also “Bryan Adams.”

This riff sound is more or less established around a chord strumming approach that helps build a good sense of rhythm guitar and it also helps a lot with learning how to add passing lines that employ short scale phrases.

 Part One...

Part Two...


The 3rd riff that I have for you is going to be from another incredibly popular style of music, and that’s Country Guitar.

This country riff has two parts that function between the main riff and a turnaround idea.

 Part One...

Part Two...


It kind of goes without saying that if you’re a beginner or an intermediate player and you have an interest in staying motivated at learning and practicing guitar, (as most practicing guitar players obviously do), then there’s nothing better than learning guitar riffs, (from all kinds of different music styles).

Studying song riffs and invented riffs that are a part of some of the more popular styles and directions of playing will definitely go a long way toward making every student of this instrument maintain their interest level.

Not only that, learning riffs is an excellent way to keep up a guitar student's motivation to continue learning more and more about playing music on this instrument.

Let’s face it, guitar riffs are generally quite straight-forward to learn and best of all they’re a lot of fun to play both for yourself and when it comes to playing for others too.



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Your Guitar Teacher Never Taught You This (Were You Lied to?)

Are you a guitar guy wanting to know the fastest way to understand scales? If so, you're not alone. Guitar schools are full of guitar guys that struggle to understand scales, and they are letting their weakness with key signatures hold them back...

Anyone who doesn't notice their scale development occurring at a rapid rate (or at least as fast as their friends are building scale skill), will often start to think that they are missing a secret ingredient. Or, that they haven't been told something.

They might start to think that they are doomed to being weak with scales forever. They might even think that they're being lied to.

None of this needs to be the case.

Getting good with the concept of key signatures is the answer.

Learning about how keys are the true foundation of music is the critical factor to developing scales at a very high level of applied knowledge.


⚫ Are you a guitar player who realizes the difference between “Key Signatures,” and, “Tonality” ? ...Do you actually utilize this concept?

⚫ Are you a guitar player who thinks that there are dozens of scales, all different, and all of them confusing?

⚫ Has the prospect of even trying to learn scales completely turned you off of learning even the most basic and important scales that we have in music?

If you’ve spent years having never understood how scales really work on the guitar, or if you don’t understand the different keys, (and instead you’ve avoided learning the true musical nature of scales), then this will be an integral lesson to read right through to the very end.

For many of you, I’m sure that at some point (through your study of guitar), a teacher along the way has shown you either a major scale or a minor scale of “some” type, and then, they probably went on to explain the value in learning and practicing that scale.

Did that teacher lie to you, because they didn’t FIRST talk with you about key signatures? Maybe, maybe not. That all depends...

What's important to understand is that this scenario is very common and if you did study the scale shapes (without learning key signatures), I’m not surprised.

Many guitar students develop the ability to play scales without knowing keys, and if you did, then I’m glad to know that you’ve at least practiced the scales.

However what if I told you that scales are actually just a piece of a much higher level concept called, “Key Signatures.”

And, what if I added to this, that the study of key signatures is really at the very core of your study of music.

Knowing this piece of information now, what would change in your guitar playing?

And, how would that change affect all of the ways that you approach; playing songs, writing music, and playing lead guitar?

The first thing to do is help develop a better understanding for key signatures and their relationship to scales.

Let’s take a look at a key signature of, “C.”

This key signature contains all natural notes, there are no sharps or flats, every note is a natural letter name.

If we were to place these notes onto the fingerboard we’d have this layout.

Learn to play through the tones from "C" to "C," (shown on the fingerboard diagram above), to cover the tones located within the key of, "C."

The organization of notes in a key is actually identical to the notes that we’d use to achieve any musical sound that creates any Major or Minor melody part.

This major and minor idea in music is referred to as “Relative” scales and it creates what’s called tonality. It works for all scale concepts including transposed modes.

When dealing with relative tonality or transposed modes, the notes are the same, but when they get performed off of different degrees we end up with a different scale perspective for the sound.

In other words, how the sound of each of those notes is received by our listener can change depending upon which note that we start playing from 1st, along with which note we end on.

In the last section we examined the key of “C.” And, we noticed what that key looked like on a staff and on the guitar.

If we were to play that key from off of a different note, we would establish a new sound.

That principle in music is called, “Tonality.” It’s one of the most interesting things about music because it can be rather subjective, and it can be perceived in different ways.

One musician performing a solo might decide that over a group of chords which relate to the Tonality of “A Minor,” they might want to perform a series of licks and runs largely based off of the scale layout related to the same note, (which would give us an, “A Minor” scale).

However, it would not be wrong for a musician to also perform a solo over “A Minor,” but from the perspective of “C Major.”

In fact, piano players tend to do this sort of thing all the time.

Some musicians tend to not exactly consider “Major” and an, “Minor” as being “different.”

In reality, each one is still just the key of “C.”

So, to help you better understand this, let me play you two melodies. Both over an “A Minor” chord progression.

The first melody will be organized from the perspective of the, “A Minor” tonality, (focusing upon the note of "A").

Melody 1). 
Tonality of "A" Minor - Perspective "Minor"

The second melody will be approached by way of the “C Major,” tonality, (focusing upon the note of "C."

Melody 2). 
Tonality of "A" Minor - Perspective "Major"

Since both of the melody lines come across as sounding quite nice, this clearly relates the fact that the key signature is our primary line of thought when we set out to compose or improvise music.

How we decide to perform ideas (within the key signature), is completely up to us. As long as the chord progression and the ideas that we plan on playing are diatonic to the key, (in other words as long as all the notes are the same), we’ll be absolutely fine with any of the notes in any order that we choose for creating melody.

When it comes to tonality, the chord progression will generally (and more adequately), dictate whether the sound of a series of chord changes promotes "Major" or "Minor" color.

As you heard with my example, there is really no issue at all with playing something like a “C Major” sound over top of an “A Minor,” chord.

When a melody is performed under a chord progression that is part of the same key signature, everything works and it sounds perfectly fine.


Because in the end everything comes down to the notes that you decide to play out of the key that you're in.

That’s what really counts, (learning to do that, and do it well).

And, that’s what your focus needs to be as you’re practicing your musical skills.

As you can tell, the key signatures really are the cornerstone of what we play.

They’re the principle level of thought when we start organizing every musical idea on sheet music (on paper), and keys make up a very specific line of thought for high level composers, and also for improvisers in more complex styles like jazz.

So, if you haven’t been taught this concept before, you might want to ask yourself, “have I been lied to up till now?

Well, if lying is omission, than ‘maybe you were lied to.’

Honestly, you have got to remember that music is highly subjective. And, what a guitar player does, might not be the exact same thing as what a; pianist, or a saxophone player, or what a signer might do.

Each musician will tend to think about music differently.

Musicians will also tend to apply a lot of these concepts quite differently.

And, the more ways that you can learn to interpret music will equal a better more knowledgeable level of musician that you’re going to become in the long run!



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