Learn to Break Out of Pentatonic Boxes and Use the Entire Fretboard



hey this is Steve Stein from guitar zoom and thank you so much for joining me what I want to help you with today is a problem that I get a lot of people that come up to me asking me about all the time which is how do I break out of a rut or how do i how do I make my solo sound more like solos and less like scales or how do I keep myself from getting bored all the time because I'm playing the same things over and over and over and there's a lot of different ways to approach this but one thing that I think is really important is learning how to see more of your fretboard as one continuous flow of movement versus you know just just a position or a box we call it just one place on the guitar maybe we've got one here and one down here or something like that and it really prohibits us from being able to move across the guitar so that's what I want to help you with a little bit today so it doesn't matter whether you are practicing pentatonic or you're practicing diatonic you know whatever scale it is any scale is able to be viewed across the entire fretboard okay just takes a little time now this isn't the the only thing obviously learning to better your technique and better your understanding through theory and you know learning licks and patterns and all these things are really great things to learn how to do but I think learning to have more freedom across your fretboard is a really great thing to build your confidence and build your creativity because it gives you something else okay when I first started learning how to play you know I'll refer to this as my first position I'm gonna go up to the 12th fret which is E minor pentatonic or G major pentatonic depending on how you're looking at this and I learned how to play this which I'm sure most of you know and it took me a long time to learn to get out of that one position I would just play everything there every time or if I was in the key of a I would move it down to the fifth fret or whatever and so I developed patterns and I developed you know licks I would play all those sort of Paul Gilbert sorts of things or some sort of repetitive lick that I've learned you know whatever it might be but I was stuck there all the time and and I didn't know how to get out of there and even when I was showing how I could learn these other positions it just seemed like I was I don't know if I was too lazy or what the deal was but I I just wouldn't learn them so what I want to tell you today is it's really important to break out of that for even if it's not for somebody else even if you only play you know by yourself or whatever just the fun that you can have of being able to play more this way across the fretboard as opposed to kind of wearing blinders and just playing up and down in one position okay so what we're gonna do is we're going to start with pentatonic and then I'm going to show you a little bit in diatonic as well just to kind of make a comparison here but let's say that you're trying to learn how to solo right you're learning some some stuff about scales and you know some licks and different things like that and again you know ii minor is being played so you're trying to target the note ii or the third which is g or whatever it might be but we're trying to find something a little more interesting to do here so here's what we're gonna do I'm gonna take this right here and let's just break down what I'm playing right now I'm playing the notes II om G a and B and D so Penta meaning v I'm playing five different notes and then I'm playing those five notes again in the next octave and then I'm gonna play again but I only have two more notes left and I run out of strings so I'm playing the same notes over and over and over in different octaves you know we learned this whole thing here as one position which is great but understand that what you're really doing is you're playing multiple octaves of the same notes so what we want to do is we want to learn the easiest way to begin with again learning your theory and understanding things is very important but I always think it's more important to learn how to have fun and get creative first and then learn the whys in the house and and different things like that so let's take that that position that we're playing right now and I'm gonna refer to this as the first position now it's okay if you think of it as something else but it's the first position that we're learning how to play here off of the note e now again we could be an E minor pentatonic or we could also be in G major pentatonic because they both have the same notes but what we want to do is find somewhere else on the guitar to move so we're not just stuck in this one position here so if we think about the notes and I don't want you to worry too much about the names I just want you to see how this actually works I'm playing again eg in the neverending strings again again thank you for joining me I appreciate that hopefully I'll be able to help you with this a little bit so by the time we're done you can grab your guitar and start trying something new something a little bit fresh okay so here's what we're gonna do we're gonna take those same notes but we're gonna move that direction we're gonna play the same notes so I'm gonna move down to the note D okay I already played e up in here right I had down to a lower octave D here at the the tenth fret of the sixth string okay and I'm gonna play this shape let me show you the shape first and then let's talk about what the notes are real quick so I'm gonna play ten twelve nine ten twelve and nine twelve nine twelve ten twelve ten twelve so I'm playing ten twelve twice nine 12 twice and then 10 12 twice again so it's a fairly symmetrical shape that that's fairly easy to play and again I probably if I was playing an E minor pentatonic I'd want to know where my e's are so I can try and target those among other notes that I can learn and things like that but what I want you to hear now is that when I play this if I play those notes down here in this new position which I'm gonna call the fifth position because in pentatonic if I took all five of my pentatonic notes and stuck them all on the sixth string I could actually create a new shape on each one of those notes so again don't worry about the the title the position titles but just so you can kind of see what I'm doing here so I'm playing so I'm gonna go down here I start on D but if I start here that's not playing the same notes so it looks different but it sounds the same okay the only difference is as I move down or as I move up the guitar I can't keep starting on e every time obviously I have to start on something else which is why again what I really could do is take the and the GE and they name the beat in the D and I can put them all on the 6th string and then learn to build downward from there now the most important thing is is once you've learned how to do that let's say you know that first position of a minor pentatonic right here and now you're learning this new position which I'm calling the fifth position but it doesn't matter I learned this new position that's starting at the tenth fret but it's the same notes over and over and over right so I'm playing E's and G's and A's and B's and DS [Applause] and that's what I really want you to start thinking about isn't the fact that you're learning this second this new position so to speak which is important but it's really learning how to visualize how this new position and that other position that you new are connecting together to give you this freedom to be able to move around the fretboard this is where sliding and all these different things become really important because we can start getting more creative with our through these two positions or we can even connect the two positions together to create new licks or new patterns or new ideas okay so what I like about learning these other positions is it gives me the freedom to approach my fretboard in a different way okay I've got all these other places that I can go and there's other ways that I can get there right I might move I might slide and just the again the creative process I'm not playing anything new I'm playing the same notes but because I'm able to visualize the fretboard this way it's giving me some more ideas or approaches to things that maybe I haven't done before so as we keep learning these positions and I'm just going to go through these first two for you right now but as you keep learning gives you the availability of being able to move around wherever it is you'd like to go and then when you get into that let's call it the home position right this this main place then you've got all these cool licks that you can do but instead of just playing all those licks all at once and then you're out of ideas maybe you use the fretboard more this way and then when you need something really cool that you've already established you go back to that position or maybe you start learning some licks in some of those other positions so as you're moving around you can get into that position then come up with some things that you've you've practiced there as well I try and teach people a technique called meandering and basically what meandering is is setting a metronome or using a backing track or whatever it is at a particular tempo and learning how to move without stopping ok now this isn't necessarily a musical technique it's just a practice technique to see how well you actually know your fretboard so let's say for instance I set a metronome and my practice was at this speed so what meandering says is I'm gonna move around at that tempo or at that speed and I can't stop what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna try and keep moving as long as I can before my hands freeze or my brain freezes up and I can't come up with anything if if it happens a lot it means I'm probably moving too fast right if I have to stop a lot then I need to slow my metronome down or my jam track or whatever it is I'm using so you want to find a comfortable speed this isn't necessarily just practicing each position which is really important this is trying to learn how to move in and out of the positions that you have been practicing to see the possibility of getting creative with them so let's say again I'll say I'm right here and you can see again it doesn't really sound musical at this point but what it is showing me is am I able to move through the positions that I've learned comfortably at that tempo so that way if I come across an actual song that I'm playing and the song starts and it's doing something like this okay I can get in there and I can start learning how to move around with more rhythm more phrasing all these different things that can happen but that wouldn't have even been possible if I hadn't left this this primary or home or first position whatever we want to call it so I really want you to start thinking about how important this could be to your playing now again I mentioned earlier that pentatonic being that there's five notes I could put all five of those notes on the sixth string and then build positions from each one but I don't just want to practice playing up and down each one of these positions which is important okay I also want to learn to practice this way so I've got this musical freedom or creativity to be able to move across the guitar and make things up this way okay so there's lots of different ways that you can practice this but here's my point it's not all or nothing like I always meet players that think well I you know I can't jam with other people or I can't to get together with other people until I learn everything perfectly I don't know that you ever learned everything perfectly I think this this journey this guitar thing just goes on forever for all of us okay it's just some of us have more of a comfort zone that feels good to us and we do what we do as best we can in there but we're always learning we're always learning something else so even if you only started with two positions and you just learned how to develop those and then maybe the week after you learn how to play you know another position that connects to that so now you've got more stuff or the month after or whatever it might be because once you learn these positions obviously it's nice to know where some notes are so you can try and target notes that you're playing when you know if a particular chord is being played you're trying to target the root or the third of the fifth or whatever it might be to make your solo sound a little more musical and give them melody right but that's another level on top of this but that's certainly something that you could do or you can learn like I said before licks or patterns or things like that so hopefully that sort of makes sense to you learning how to play each one moving up and down is very important from a technical standpoint but from a creative standpoint it's also important to learn how to see how they connect together congruently this direction so you can have some fun so as you're learning this and as you're jamming with a jam track don't worry so much about how fast you can play let that come later right now just try and learn how to how to get more creative with your movement kind of move around the fretboard and just enjoy some of those movements and again once you get comfortable with that move to another position learn another one and keep going so again so I don't waste your time let's go ahead and look at diatonic real quick what we're gonna do is just use G major E minor depending on how you want to look at it and I'm gonna move down here to the third fret so what I'm gonna be doing is playing this position right here it's called a spread fingering and it looks like this what I'm doing here is playing the notes of the G Major scale and then I ran out of strings but again same principle I could learn another position and it would enable me to move across the guitar so if we wanted to call this position that I just played the first position and if you don't know it don't sweat it I just I just want to show you this in case this is where you are and you're playing so I could move to the second note which is a and play the exact same notes again but I'm simply starting on a so I'm playing and then I've got D now the bigger picture here is with these two positions instead of just playing up and down each one which is important no doubt about it but I could start moving around the fretboard combining these two and as I get comfortable with that I learn another position in another position and that sort of thing and what it really does is it just opens up my availability move around wherever I want to go so if I hear the sound of a cor and then if you miner come from Anna or whatever it might be it gives me this larger palette to work from to get more creative which hopefully will sound better to whoever's listening to me but more importantly it's going to be more exciting for me as a player because I'm not just doing the same thing I'm not just going up and down over and over and over now don't get me wrong there's a needless to say there's a million wonderful things that you can do in one position I'm just saying if you haven't really explored the fretboard moving across this way I strongly recommend that you start learning how to do that just a little bit again don't don't adopt the all-or-nothing attitude where you have to develop all seven positions of diatonic or all five positions or you have to learn every you know scale in every key just start with something that that's kind of in your wheelhouse at this point what keys do you play in what scales are you learning and how could you take just that idea and starts panning it out across the fret board a little bit more to have some fun and get more creative hey this is Steve Stein from guitar zoom thank you so much for watching this video if you enjoyed it please do me a favor like it and share it and also make sure that you subscribe to this channel so you're always notified when I release new videos

22 thoughts on “Learn to Break Out of Pentatonic Boxes and Use the Entire Fretboard”

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  2. Steve I love your lesson`s but please cut your hair. I don`t mean to be negative but you are to good looking and such a great teacher to have hair that long. Sorry if I offended you, just my opinion but who am I.

  3. I want to play guitar again and this video has inspired me!
    Great musician, great teacher, great lesson!
    Now I'm a new subscriber.
    Thank you very much!
    Thank you!

  4. and thank you btw, you know most videos i cant understand but your tutorial really makes sense, step by step…learning scales + positions + moving in the neck with same scale, its really easy to understand for those beginners thank u!

  5. did you use same pattern in 9:00 ? im also new on scaling, we have the same pattern hehe now im learning licks any advice for me?

  6. It feels like water, ideas are streaming naturally into the play and you start to feel free like the guitar is just an extention of your limb; That's how I feel after breaking free from "standard pattern" and utilizing all position of the fretboard.

  7. THIS is for sure the best explanation of the topic I could find so far!!! Well done, Mate! Can you help me with a practical hint how I can solve one issue I face? Although I have long fingers, it's always causing cramps in my forearm when I try to play the upper strings with my little finger. So I tried to use the ring finger to cover this, but it's uncomfortable and not the means of the excercise … Thanks a lot in advance 🙂

  8. The sound effect sounds really good ! 👍🏻 how did you dial that one up !?? 😨😰🤦🏻‍♂️

  9. So question.. maybe a dumb one, but if you can connect the 1st position and 5th position… Can you also connect the 1st and 3rd? 1st and 4th? Etc.

  10. Dude you have an awesome kind soul as a teacher. You've traveled your journey to where you are without forgetting the steps that set you on it. It's crazy plain to see how much you love teaching. You are fantastic at it ,yeah everyone says that, but to do it as well as you do takes it into the realm of genuine empathy. You very effectively put yourself in others shoes, and that is the mark of a great man as much as a teacher. You're rocking the life thing. ..oh yea thanks, I'll definitely be buying into 'Guitar for life' for my benefit and to help support you and your team's work. Thanks for the freebees here , seen a bunch.

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