Fretboard Mapping – Part 4

In this video, Colin demonstrates how to utilize the fretboard mapping exercises covered previously when improvising diatonically.

I hope you’ve gotten stronger at knowing your fretboard with the first three fretboard mapping lessons. If you haven’t worked through those yet, check those out first, as they help to build the foundation that the exercise I’m about to show you is built upon.

Practicing scales in alphabetical order is an important first step in mapping your fretboard but as soon as you’re accurate practicing scales in that way you should try to play them in creative ways. In this video I’m going to show you an exercise that I developed to practice mapping our fretboard diatonically in a nonlinear way. So let’s get to it!

This exercise is called “The Flow Exercise”. Even if we know how to play a scale well, sometimes our musical ideas break down midstream. I hear many student improvisers struggling to maintain a continuous line in their improvisation, even after practicing mapping exercises. The flow exercise is designed to help with this issue.

There are three main rules to The Flow Exercise:

  1. Pick a scale, and only play pitches in that scale.
  2. Choose a rhythmic figure and repeat it without pausing.
  3. Use the entire range of your fretboard.

Notice that this exercise incorporates the outside of the box methodology we covered in earlier lessons.

Here are some points to try to adhere to when practicing this exercise:

  1. Avoid stalling patterns, like repeated pitches. Your goal is to maintain a sense of motion in your line when you’re improvising.
  2. When you play a pitch, listen internally to which pitch you think should happen next and then find that pitch on your guitar. This will make your line much more singable and help develop a quicker connection between what you hear in your head and what you play on your guitar.
  3. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Use this exercise to explore new melodic possibilities. Don’t resort to comfortable fingerings or default patterns. Create fresh ideas every time you play this exercise.

You can continue to increase the rhythmic value and/or tempo as your confidence improvising within that scale grows. Then do the same thing with other scales and keys. Again, you don’t have to stick with just major you can use this exercise for any scale that you want to gain improvisational command of.

All right, now you try it! Be disciplined when doing this exercise, hold yourself to the highest standard, and don’t cut any corners. You should record yourself so you can give your flow a critical listen and use that to refine your melodic sensibilities. Thanks for watching, happy practicing, and I’ll see you next time on Inside Out Guitar!

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