The way most of us were taught scales and practice scales is centered around positions. That is a good approach and you should work on knowing all the positions, but it is certainly not the only thing to check out.
In this lesson, I am going to show you some examples of things that sound great, are easy to play and are not in positions, and then also talk about how you practice towards playing like that.
Triads on a String Set
This is an example of something that clearly is pretty easy to play when you stick to the same string set. This type of melody is also something that is very repetitive and a specific sound, but later in the lesson, I will show you some other more open examples of this.
If you look at the advantages you can see that:
- The Right Hand is consistent
- Phrasing and the Polyrhythm is easy to bring out
- It is using the same type of melody: Triads
Fake Metal version
Let’s first look at how this doesn’t work in a position and then I will also talk a little bit about how this should combine with positions and isn’t really instead of.
You can play this in a position as well, that would be something like this:
But here it is a lot less natural to get the consistent phrasing and just difficult to play. And this is a really clear example of something that works a lot better along the neck.
Positions – The Final Frontier
If you play a phrase like this then there is one thing that you do need to be aware of is that you have to be able to keep playing where you end up.
Even though it is cool for Star Trek (0:46) B-Roll To boldly go where no-one has gone before it is not practical for guitar solos if you end up in a place where you don’t know what to play.
So you do want to know your positions and have that overview of the neck as well.
Practicing Efficient Things
So what do you practice to play something like the first example (B-roll of Example 1a maybe slow mo?)
It is not enough to just work on the scale on one string like this:
But as you can see the example is made from diatonic triads from 2 scales: G major and D altered.
So you can practice those like this:
and the altered scale is also really useful, like this:
For these exercises, I am really consistent with my right hand, and as you will see that is one of the big benefits of playing like this: It gets easy and consistent for the right hand.
Besides playing the arpeggios you also get to dive into the diatonic harmony of the scales which is really useful for having more things you can use in solos
And once you know the exercises then it becomes a lot easier to work on other similar licks like this one:
Besides the triads, there is another similar type of melody which is 10 times as easy to play if you give the right-hand priority I will get to that later but first let’s look at another way where moving around the neck gives you more options when it comes to creating strong melodies.
This phrase is on a Dm7 Bb7 Cmaj7, so Subdominant, minor subdominant, tonic in C major.
The melody is a motif on the Dm7 and the motif is repeated and developed on the Bb7 to then resolve to C. Using that you can have a Dm melody and an Fm melody on the Bb7.
Because the phrase is shifting the motif up the neck then it is easy to keep the phrasing and in that way make the motivic development clearer while still changing things and adding to it. If you played it in one position then you would lose some of the phrasings and also make it much more complicated to move the motif.
Strict Arpeggio Tricks
Another place where you can benefit from having using a specific way to play arpeggios and move around the neck is to stick with a pattern similar to what I am doing in this example:
Here the Cmaj7 and Am7 arpeggios are played as 1-1-2 arpeggios which makes it easy to put them after each other.
1-1-2 Arpeggios are arpeggios with the four notes spread out so that the first two strings have 1 note and the last string has 2 notes.
To explore stuff like this it can be really useful to practice your arpeggios in diatonic 3rd distance like this
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