How to play nearly everything within 5 frets.

How to play nearly everything within 5 frets

play nearly everything within 5 fretsIn a lesson I posted a while back, I introduced the concept and musical value of practicing arpeggios within a range of one octave and also within a limited span of the fingerboard. Using these kind of  fingerboard restrictions can be really helpful, especially for  improvisation as it makes you think of notes and not fretboard shapes.  I’d like to expand upon that approach a little in this  lesson and also offer a way of practicing some of the most common scales and arpeggios all from the same root. In effect it gives you a way to play nearly everything within 5 frets!

You might be wondering now what is the point of a guitar practice routine where everything is played from the same root? Well for a start, it  really helps your ear to hear the interval differences between various  scales and arpeggios, and without the added complication of changing  keys. It also helps you understand that the pitch difference between a  lot of scales and arpeggios is often minimal. For me at least, this was  quite an ‘eye-opener’ in terms of my understanding of new scales and  arpeggios.

To give you an example, once you realise that there is only one note different between a major scale and a melodic minor scale (built from the same root)  then you often find that your use of the melodic minor scale becomes  more confident, as all you have to do is change that one note. That’s a  lot easier than finding a whole series of new fingerings every time you  learn a scale or arpeggio.

If you are perhaps looking for a new form of guitar practice routine,  or are really finding it hard to memorise new scales and arpeggios,  then this routine might just be what you need. You don’t have to learn  it all at one sitting of course and it would work best if you gradually  add it in to your own schedule, taking a new scale or arpeggio on board  every few days or so.

For  the more advanced players out there, you might find it beneficial to work on these one octave scales and arpeggios firstly from a C root and  then move into the other keys. Remember to try and keep within a five fret span of the fingerboard too. Trying a new key every few days is a  great way to develop your fingerboard knowledge and you will certainly  notice the difference in your soloing within a few weeks.

I have used this particular guitar practice routine play nearly everything within 5 frets to really good effect with many of my online students and of course in my own practice as well. It is also one that you can modify to suit your own needs. I  haven’t for example included every single scale/mode/arpeggio, but  rather picked out some that most jazz and fusion players would require  in their normal playing. Feel free therefore to change things around as you feel you need to.

Posted below is an audio file (and accompanying PDF of the music) played on MIDI piano of the various scales and arpeggios played within one octave:


OK that’s it for this lesson. Take things slow and gradually build the exercise up until you can play all  the different scales and arpeggios at a single sitting. Now you know that you can play nearly everything within 5 frets.

Happy Practicing!