The BEST Fretboard Exercises

If you want to build your knowledge of the guitar fret-board and see real long-term results, then you have to train hard enough with intervals, scales, arpeggios. And, you'll need to train with practical (musical) ideas along with technical drills for a better understanding of the neck... 

The problem that many guitar players face is that they do not know (and simply have no way to know), if they are learning the guitar fret-board correctly.

Most guitar players do not even understand how they could be learning the guitar fret-board to the best of their ability.

In this post, I break down how to tell if you are training hard enough to see results from your fret-board practice. 

The answer may not be exactly what you want to hear, but I can promise you that it is the answer that you need to hear if you are ever going to make gains with your knowledge of the fret-board.


I’m going to help you answer some of the most important questions that you can ask yourself when it comes to seeing results from your study of the fret-board.

It’s a mistake to ignore these areas. But, only you can address these questions.

The questions are;
  • Have you mapped out and memorized all of the octaves and unisons across the fret-board? 
  • Have you spent time working out your note locations with both scales and arpeggios within at least 5 to 7 fret lengths all over the fret-board?
  • Are you practicing each new riff or lick that you learn so that you can play those ideas in at least three different locations of the fret-board? 

Those are the questions, let’s take them and break down a study routine for getting as good as you can at each one of those, so that if you feel like you might need work on any of these, you’ll be able to begin the practice into them right away.

For a lot of guitar students one of the big mistakes made is to ignore Octaves and Unisons. So let’s start with this topic first…

Often times, in my own private lessons, I’ll begin by selecting a note and then map it out all over the neck.

For this lesson, let’s select the note of, “G.” First, you’ll want to start by mapping out all of the notes of “G,” like this…

Then, you’ll want to understand which notes are moving laterally producing octaves, such as this open 3rd-string “G,” moving up at its octave here at the 1st-string / third fret “G.”

Then, you’ll want to become familiar with how unisons are relocating laterally as well. For our example; the 1st-string / third fret “G” is in unison with the 2nd-string eighth fret “G,” as well as, with the 3rd-string twelfth fret “G.”

Another mistake I’ve noticed over the years is that a lot of students haven’t spent the time building their knowledge of scale and arpeggio patterns in multiple locations of the fret-board.

This leads to a poor level of knowledge (for not only the scale and arpeggio shapes, but also for the note and interval locations around the neck).

Here’s an example of how to take a one-octave, 5th-string root “C” Major Scale, as well as, a “C” Maj.7 Arpeggio, and then re-locate them to other areas of the guitar fret-board…

2nd Position Scale:

Here’s a “C” Major scale built off of, “C” note at 5th-string third fret.

7th Position Scale:

Here is the scale again up 5 frets higher on the 8th-fret of the sixth string…

Next, let’s map this same idea over to an arpeggio built off of, “C” maj.7

2nd Position Arpeggio:

Here’s a “C” Major 7 arpeggio built off of, “C” note at 5th-string third fret.

7th Position Arpeggio:

Here is the arpeggio again up 5 frets higher on the 8th-fret of the sixth string…

It’s really important to know your keys and your harmony, so be sure to study them every day to build your skill with keys, harmony and their application…

If you don’t know your keys, and you don’t understand your chords, I’m gonna make you a great offer. 

With any donation over $5, or any t-shirt purchase from either my Tee-Spring or my Zazzle store, I’ll send you a free copy of two of my digital handouts.

One is called, “Harmonized Arpeggio Drills” (it’ll train you on developing your diatonic arpeggios), and the other digital handout is my Barre Chord handout which includes a page showing the key signatures and a chord progression on applying Major and Minor barre chords.

Just let me know about your donation or t-shirt purchase and I’ll email those handouts to you within 24 hrs.

Another fret-board mistake that students will often do is that once a guitar riff or a lick is learned - that riff or lick is far too often left in the exact same place on the neck that the guitar player had first discovered or composed it...

Let me demonstrate a far more effective way for a guitar player to learn licks and riffs that will not only everyone learn more about the fret-board – but also develop every new riff or lick at a much higher level of skill…

Let’s say that you learned a new guitar riff in the mid-neck area.
And, the riff went like this…

Riff Example 1: Mid Frets Region

You could play that riff in another area and develop a higher level of awareness for how notes re-locate elsewhere on the fret-board. Here’s the same riff, but now relocated into the open position…

Riff Example 2: Open Strings Region

The riff comes across as sounding different in another fingerboard region doesn’t it. And, this sound can be applied musically in unique ways.

Now, most riffs can also be slightly altered to be performed in other areas of the fret-board as well. Here’s that same riff again, but this time played slightly different in order to function up in the higher fret-board register…

Riff Example 3: Upper Frets Region



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