How to Get Strong Neck Awareness

Are you weak when it comes to your knowledge of the guitar fret-board? Do you lack the ability to easily join together scales, licks and riffs all along and across the guitar neck? If this sounds like you, then you'll want to check out this lesson to fix that...

In this lesson I’m going to show you something you can do every day to build a strong awareness of the guitar notes and start getting rid of the confusion that can keep you from your knowledge of how scales and musical ideas really work on the guitar.


This is going to be an incredibly helpful video because I’m going to show you what you need to do every single day to build a stronger awareness of the guitar neck. You’re probably thinking “Every Day,” what is this, and how long does it take, if I’m going to be doing it every day.

Most of us play guitar every day, but for a lot of guitarists there’s one thing that’s missing and that’s building a fret-board relationship for transitional shapes that operate to connect our guitar neck together.

Once you learn to navigate along the neck with all your shapes, it’s going to make playing; scales, licks and riffs a whole lot easier.

The concept of this entire process is all based upon searching for easy to spot geometrical shapes and using them as your link when within a key center.

For example, if you were playing music in the key signature of “C Minor” there would be recurring shapes and patterns within that scale layout on the neck as the scales notes move all around the fret-board. Let me show you exactly what I mean.

Let’s start by playing through a very common fingerboard layout for the scale of, “C Minor.” Here’s our pattern, it is based upon the first six tones of the "C Minor" scale, built off the 6th-string root at the guitars 8th fret…

Shape 1).
8th Position six-tone "C Minor"

From that 6-note shape, I want you to focus on the 10th and 11th frets of the 6th and 5th strings.

Focus Tones: 8th Position
6th and 5th string location

Those "focus tone" notes (red outline) are the ones that we’re going to use as transition tones to link this scale to another pattern that falls toward the head-stock. Here’s how the new location for those tones will re-locate on the neck.

Focus Tones: 5th Position
5th and 4th string location

Notice how those transitional tones are applied once again, but this time they’re located on the 5th and 4th strings at the 6th and 5th frets.

This will allow us to use those notes as a way to transition over to another fingerboard area and still apply the same tones, within a different fret-board location.

Check out how our new pattern looks, played from the 3rd position, of 5th string.

Focus Tones: 3rd Position
5th and 4th string location

Notice how the transitional tones exist in both the 5th position pattern, as well as, in our 3rd position pattern. Both patterns are linked using the transitional tones location.

As you can tell from the shapes above, when you view any type of similar shape sitting within a; scale, arpeggio, chord or anything really - when the shapes are viewed as a group of transitional notes that can be relocated, those notes will act as an excellent way to learn how to visually track any type of musical idea around the neck.

And, once you get good at using various kinds of recurring “shape and pattern” ideas you’ll be able to find new locations for pretty much anything that you’re studying on the guitar.

Keep in mind that this entire process operates around a 5-fret transitional principle.

Once you discover your primary location, jump over to the next string (lower or higher), and you’ll have the same shape under your fingers five frets out. It’s really easy, try transitioning a guitar lick elsewhere using the next exercise in "D Minor."

Here’s a “D Minor” lick in 3rd position from the 5th-string.

Visualize the transitional region of the shape on the neck.

Since this idea is located off of the 5th string root, move up five frets and jump to the next lower string. At that location, you'll have the same lick available once again, but this time  it will be played at the guitars 8th position.

 Visualize the shape in the new neck region.

To organize these ideas all over the guitar, I’d highly suggest grabbing a pencil and start drawing out a new fret-board pattern on a piece of guitar fingerboard worksheet paper every time you practice.

After awhile you’ll get so good at doing this, you’ll be able to do it in your mind in literally seconds. And, after you practice this for a few weeks, it’ll take no time at all for you to understand the note layout, visualize it, and then apply it to several other fingerboard areas.

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