Fretboard knowledge is about finding the things you want to play in a way that is playable for you.
When we talk about knowing the fretboard then we are talking about where we find notes or groups of notes.
It is not enough to just know the notes, you need to know the useful groups of notes as well like arpeggios, triads, pentatonic scales, whatever you need.
I have other videos where I talk about how to work on learning the fretboard using scale positions, in this video, I am going to focus on exercises that move up and down the neck to tie things together and give you an overview like that. You can check out the links at the end of the article.
How Fretboard Visualization works
If you are improvising over a Dm7 and want to play a Dm7 arpeggio then that should be easy to find or maybe an F major triad.
In a way, you could look at it in a position like this. Let’s say that you are using C major or D Dorian to play over the Dm7 chord. For the entire fretboard that looks like this:
If you are improvising in the 5th position then you want to know where the chord tones of the Dm7 chord are as shown here:
Or maybe you want to use the triad found on the 3rd of the chord: F major.
Before we go to some more complicated things it is still a great idea to just do some basic scales.
#1 Scale on One String
I will show you these exercises building it up from very simple to the types of exercises where you are really going all over the neck from low to high. And I will also talk about how I practice using and developing my fretboard overview
First start on the root as you get more comfortable and know the notes of scales try to start on the lowest note in the scale on a string.
For example: G major on the 6th string
G major on the 5th string then lowest fretted note is a B
You should know the notes of G major: G A B C D E F# G, and when start somewhere else keep thinking or even saying what note you are playing.
This is of course just the scale we also need to start learning other useful things up the neck before it becomes exercises navigating freely around the fretboard
#2 Diatonic triads 1-2
When you are improvising you often play arpeggios in your solo, and not only the arpeggio of the chord you are playing over, so you need to have a good overview of all the arpeggios in the scale.
A good place to start is with the diatonic triads, which are great to have in your vocabulary for solos.
The same goes: g major on e string, but try to also do G major on the A string.
You can do lots of exercises with this: triads in different ways like one note per string
For example going through the diatonic 7th chords:
Now we can have a look at how to work on really moving around the neck.
#3 Fretboard Overview exercises
In this video I am somewhat assuming that you are already working on your scales in positions and in the scales also practice diatonic arpeggios and triads etc. Because you need that for this type of exercises.
First try to play the scale from the lowest note to the highest. (G major E to D and back)
You should of course also try the same with diatonic triads and other arpeggios.
This is mostly how I practice scales and when you work like that then you constantly need to actively use your overview of the fretboard which also makes it a lot stronger.
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