Up the neck.

We now look at how to play anywhere on the neck. This discussion assumes standard tuning is used.

Previously, we have looked at chords (and scales, depending on which thread you're following) in open position (open notes plus frets 1-3). This has tied up our discussion to one part of the neck (for good reasons actually). We now look at transfering that knowledge to the rest of the neck.

Consider without looking at the fretboard, the chromatic scale, the meaning of intervals, and the idea of transposition.

Chromatic scale - the scale containing all 12 chromatic tones (and their octaves) of the western 12-tone system we are using, namely:
A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab.

Intervals - the distance between two tones.
(the smallest interval in the 12-tone system is a half-step [or semitone], and it is the distance between any two adjacent non-enharmonic tones in the chromatic scale [A# and Bb are enharmonic, etc.])

ex.
C to G is a perfect 5th (which we shall abbreviate as 5).

Transposition - the change of a group of tones from one key to another while retaining their original functionalities.

ex.
C to G is a perfect 5th
(C = 1, G = 5)
C# to G# is a perfect 5th
(C# = 1, G# = 5)

The path we will use to learn to play anywhere on the neck will involve transposing tones from the open position to higher positions on the neck. Understanding the process is not necessary for physically playing the chords/scales/etc. we create; however, it is necessary to be able to create your own chord/scale/etc. maps for yourself (maybe you need a chord that you can't find printed anywhere), and to rid ourselves of dependence upon chord books, books of scales, etc.

We will begin with chords.

Starting with E major (E=E,G#,B) (E = 022100)

R-I---|---|---|
O-I---|---|---|
--I-O-|---|---|
--I---|-R-|---|
--I---|-O-|---|
R-I---|---|---|
0   1   2   3

 

we note the root note is on the 6th string (also the 4th and 1rst strings)

If we move every note up 1 fret, this is like transposing up 1/2 step (from E to F).

We get : an F major chord. (F = F,A,C) (F=133211)

|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
  1   2   3

Notice, by moving all notes the same distance in the same direction, we have kept the intervals intact, and thus the type of chord (scale, etc.) is kept intact, but the root note (and other notes) have changed names. Here from E to F.

We can continue in the same fashion...
move everything again a 1/2 step and we get
F# major (F# = F#,A#,C#) (F#=244322)
or we can call it
Gb major (Gb = Gb,Bb,Db) (Gb=244322)
and the shape would be:

|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
  2   3   4

Okay, so it's the same shape as the F major chord. We have here a moveable shape that we can use to create any major chord. In order to play a specific major chord we would line up the root note of the chord with the desired note on the appropriate string. Here the root note is on the 6th string (also the 4th and 1rst string).

So you need to know the names of the notes on the sixth string.
They are:

E|F|F#/Gb|G|G#/Ab|A|A#/Bb|B|C|C#/Db|D|D#/Eb|E| etc.
0|1|2    |3|4    |5|6    |7|8|9    |10|11  |12| etc.

note: at the 12th fret the names repeat so any fret above that is the same name as 12 frets below.

ex.
Which note is on the 17th fret of the E string?
17 - 12 = 5
5th fret of E string = A
therefore 17th fret of E string is A.

The upside of this is that we need only memorize/learn the first 12 frets to know the names of all the notes on that string.

So say we wanted to play a Bb major chord. We have the moveable major chord shape, and by placing its root note on the 6th fret of the 6th string, we will have a Bb major chord.

|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
  6   7   8

How would you play such a chord? I would suggest using a barre for the notes on the 1rst, 2nd, and 6th strings. (play all these notes with one finger by laying it across the neck).

I will refer to the previous shape as being an "E-shape" or an "E-position" since it was derived from the open E-major chord. Other names may be used by other authors, but I will refer to to a moveable shape conating root notes on the 6th, 4th, and 1rst strings as being "E-shape" or "E-position".

 

Repeating the same proceedure with the other 4 open major chords...

Open D major (D= D,F#,A) (D=X00232)

--I---|-O-|---|
--I---|---|-R-|
--I---|-O-|---|
R-I---|---|---|
O-I---|---|---|
X-I---|---|---|
0   1   2   3

Eb major (Eb=Eb,G,Bb) (Eb=X11343)

|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|-R-|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
  1   2   3   4

And in general, D-shape (root notes on the 4th and 2nd strings) major chord has the shape:

|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|-R-|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|

The notes on the 4th string are:

D|D#/Eb|E|F|F#/Gb|G|G#/Ab|A|A#/Bb|B|C|C#/Db|D| etc.
0|1    |2|3|4    |5|6    |7|8    |9|10|11  |12| etc.

Open C major (C=C,E,G) (C=X32010)

O-I---|---|---|
--I-R-|---|---|
O-I---|---|---|
--I---|-O-|---|
--I---|---|-R-|
X-I---|---|---|
0   1   2   3

C# major (C#=C#,E#,G#) (C#=X43121)

|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|---|---|
  1   2   3   4

And in general, "C-shape" (root notes on the 5th and 3rd strings) major chord has the shape:

|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|---|---|

The notes on the 5th string are:

A|A#/Bb|B|C|C#/Db|D|D#/Eb|E|F|F#/Gb|G|G#/Ab|A| etc.
0|1    |2|3|4    |5|6    |7|8|9    |10|11  |12| etc.

Open A major (A=A,C#,E) (A=X02220)

O-I---|---|---|
--I---|-O-|---|
--I---|-R-|---|
--I---|-O-|---|
R-I---|---|---|
X-I---|---|---|
0   1   2   3

Bb major (Bb=Bb,F,D) (Bb=X13331)

|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
|---|---|---|
  1   2   3

And in general, "A-shape" (root notes on the 5th and 3rd strings) major chord has the shape:

|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
|---|---|---|

Notes for the 5th string are given above.(see "C-shape")

Open G major (G=G,B,D) (G=320003)

--I---|---|-R-|
O-I---|---|---|
R-I---|---|---|
O-I---|---|---|
--I---|-O-|---|
--I---|---|-R-|
0   1   2   3

Ab major (Ab=Ab,C,Eb) (Ab=431113)

|---|---|---|-R-|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|-R-|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
  1   2   3   4

And in general, a "G-shape" (root notes on the 6th, 3rd, and 1rst strings) major chord has the shape:

|---|---|---|-R-|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|-R-|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|

The notes on the 6th string are given above (under "E-shape"). And we note that we need only learn the notes in the 1rst 12 frets of the 6th, 5th , and 4th strings to have access to these 5 positions/shapes.

We can perform similar things with scales, arpeggios, etc.

 

Consider E-pentatonic minor (open position).

R-I---|---|-O-|
O-I---|---|---|
O-I---|-O-|---|
O-I---|-R-|---|
O-I---|-O-|---|
R-I---|---|-O-|
0   1   2   3

F-pentatonic minor (E shape)

|-R-|---|---|-O-|
|-O-|---|---|-O-|
|-O-|---|-O-|---|
|-O-|---|-R-|---|
|-O-|---|-O-|---|
|-R-|---|---|-O-|
  1   2   3   4

And in general, "E-shape" penatonic minor has the shape:

|-R-|---|---|-O-|
|-O-|---|---|-O-|
|-O-|---|-O-|---|
|-O-|---|-R-|---|
|-O-|---|-O-|---|
|-R-|---|---|-O-|

We can connect these shapes to create a map over the entire fretboard.

Consider the F-major chord expressed through the 5 shapes (F= F,A,C)

"E-shape"

|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
  1   2   3

"D-shape"

|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|-R-|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---I---|---|---|
  3   4   5   6

"C-shape"

|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|---|---|
  5   6   7   8

"A-shape"

|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
|---|---|---|
  8   9  10

"G-shape"

|---|---|---|-R-|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|-R-|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|---|-R-|
 10  11  12  13

"E-shape" (again)

|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
 13  14  15

(notice any shape repeats 12 frets higher)

Notice there is an order going through the neck "E-shape" to "D-shape" to "C-shape" to "A-shape" to "G-shape" to "E-shape", etc.

We can map this out onto one large fretboard map.

F-major chord.

 |R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|  
 |O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|
 |-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|
 |-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|
O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|
 |R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|
etc...

In general, the major chord has the pattern throughout the neck ("E-shape" through "G-shape") of:

 |R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|  
 |O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|
 |-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|
 |-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|
 |-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|
 |R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|

We can now take this map , and cut it up into sections or zones as we choose.

One sort of section is based on the open chords, and we've gone thoroughly threw this type of thought above.

Another type of zone system would be "positions" as used in classical music. Here the number refers to the lowest fret played in the position (which is generally assigned to the index finger).
So for example , 2nd position refers to playing in frets 2-5, with each fret assigned to a specific finger (2nd to index, 3rd to middle, 4th to ring, and 5tth to pinky). Of course, there are times when a finger must stretch to another fret, but "2nd position" is a way of saying "in general, keep these fingers here to interpret this part of the music."
Classical positions are often notated with a roman numeral above the beginning of the part of music using it.
ex. 2nd position notated with II.

note: Barres are often notated in classical music with a capital C and a roman numeral. CII is a full barre at the 2nd fret. 1/2CII is a partial barre at the 2nd fret.

The 2nd position for the F major chord (above) would look like this:

|---|---|---|-O-|
|---|---|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|-O-|
|---|-R-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
  2   3   4   5 

 

Focusing on F minor (and the general map for minor "E-shape" through "G-shape") we'll look at some other schemes.

|R|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|O|  
|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|
|O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|O|-|-|-|
|-|-|R|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|
|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|
|R|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|O|

Another type of zone is the "# of notes per string".

Starting with the root note on the 6th string "3-notes-to-a-string" gives (F minor scale shown):

|-|-|O|O|-|O|  
|-|O|-|O|-|R|
|O|-|O|-|O|-|
|O|-|R|-|O|-|
|O|-|O|O|-|-|
|R|-|O|O|-|-|

This is kinda a combination of "E-shape" and "D-shape". Many guitarists find such new box shapes as helpful in getting out of the old box shapes.

Starting at the same place, "4-notes-to-a-string"

|-|-|O|O|-|O|-|R|
|R|-|O|O|-|O|-|-|

Such a position is often useful in building runs from one position of the neck to another. Careful analysis of this pattern and the fretboard map shows this pattern pops up on the other sets of adjacent strings a perfect 4th apart (6 to 5, 5 to 4, 4 to 3, 2 to 1).

And you could choose to play on a single string

|R|-|O|O|-|O|-|O|O|-|O|-|R|

(also works well with tapping)
This will work on any simialrly fretted instrument in any tuning.

 

 

Given the map of the fretboard, you could carve it up anyway you like.

<begin rant>
You could give it a fancy name, and dupe unsuspecting beginners out of their hard-earned money, claiming it as the secret which will finally unlock the instrument. If you can get them to invest enough of their time into your system, the social proof will be so great that out of fear of feeling stupid about their wasted time, many will become converts to your system and provide you with testimonials and free advertising, trying to convince others how they didn't waste their time at all, but how after only 3 months, 6 months, or a year spent learning the system they have now memorized the fretboard and can see things so much clearer than those not indoctrinated into the particular system.

Jump on in boys,, there's money to be made.

ROTFLMAO.

All ways of learning the fretboard are pretty much equally valid. Only a money-hungry self-delusional meglomaniac will claim to have the only key to unlock that understanding. It's an illusion to keep you from trying to pick the lock on your own (and not need the key-keeper).
Heck.... the door's not even locked.
<end of rant>

Having chosen a way to carve up and learn the fretboard...

To get the most out of all systems , you should learn where each interval is in relation to a root on a particular string.

For example, knowing which note is which in the major chord for each shape would give you 3 of the 12 chromatic notes and their octaves.

ex.

|-1-|---|---|
|-5-|---|---|
|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|

 

Learning more scales/chords would help you learn more intervals in a relative way on the fretboard.
For instance if you also learned the minor pentatonic scale and which intervals were involved you would have access to these intervals:

Minor pentatonic

|1|-|-|b3|  
|5|-|-|b7|
|b3|-|4|-|
|b7|-|1|-|
|4|-|5|-|
|1|-|-|b3|

Intervals so far:

|1|-|-|b3|  
|5|-|-|b7|
|b3|3|4|-|
|b7|-|1|-|
|4|-|5|-|
|1|-|-|b3|

etcetera. I've already gone over this in the first ten or 12 lessons I gave for AGB. You can access those lessons at http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/archive/archive.html

This type of training is best accompainied with ear-training. I could write a lesson on ear-training but to be brief for the moment...

Pick each chord note for note and sing every note you play.
Pick each note in the scale you play and sing every note.
Play different chords in the same position (ex. play F and Fm "E-shape") and see if your ears can tell which one is which.

And having accomplished learning where the intervals are, you can use that information to learn progressions such as I-vi-ii-V in a relative way on the fretboard without reference to any key.

One example : I-IV-V
I major chord (E-shape - root on 6)

|-R-|---|---|
|-O-|---|---|
|---|-O-|---|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|

IV major and V major chords
(A shape - root on 5)

|-O-|---|---|
|---|---|-O-|
|---|---|-R-|
|---|---|-O-|
|-R-|---|---|
|---|---|---|

Place root notes of chords on corresponding spots from this above diagram.

|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|
|-4-|---|-5-|
|-1-|---|---|

So the I and the IV chords are in the same fret, and the V chord is the same shape as the IV chord , two frets higher. This works regardless of key, so we need not refer to any particular key.

Next lesson is on slash chords.

Peace,
Christopher Roberts


How do I change all those numbers to letters (for notes, chords, etc.)? Here's a transposition chart simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/guitar/8theory3.html


Back to the Chord lesson index
Back to the Scale lesson index
Next Chord Lesson - Slash chords
Next Scale Lesson - Licks, riffs, etc.
Previous Chord Lesson - Alternating Bass
Previous Scale Lesson - Root notes
Home


Last updated December 24, 2002.
Copyright 2002,2008. All rights reserved