1 (edited by e s shaw 2014-05-21 15:48:32)

Topic: Fret Board PositionsThis is guidance for people who want to learn the

This is guidance for people who want to learn the notes on the fretboard and likely are interested in
sight reading the notes.

(Note: Since posting this on Chordie, I complied an eBook of the material and posted it on Scribd)

Would anyone like to talk a bit about guitar fret board  positions? I don't see us really getting to where we
want to be with either melodic music or comp and rhythm based music until we learn to produce patterns in
six positions of the neck.

The positions correspond to the dots on the neck. These are approximations and can vary depending on the key of the
song, or, more accurately stated,  dependent  upon the key the player  chooses to specialize in. 
G Major and A Major are widely used keys. I concentrate on C Major. That means  my index finger is often
home-based  on the 5th fret. The fifth fret is  the top of the second position and the bottom of the third position.
If you take nothing else away from this discussion, let it be that little piece of information.

What I have to say applies to the second and third position of the neck. I am especially concerned
with directing your attention to the third position. The third position is really the heart of the neck.
It is frets 5,6,7,and 8. In that position, the third, there is a lot of musical potential. Almost two full C
scales, all or part of lite chords (triads) C through D#,  F through Ab, and A through C.

Unlock the potential of the instrument by learning the triads and their inversions with me.

There is a very common C note on that fifth fret. Ascending the C scale is very easy
from that position. The hand does not have to move.

Descending the scale from that position is convenient. You have two choices. You can descend the scale to the
eighth fret C note or two the third fret C note. If  this is confusing to you, then you will have to learn
both where the C notes on the fretboard are, and how to play the major C scale -- C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C -- ascending
and descending.  That means ingraining the major scale pattern.  The major scale pattern for C Major is:
Root (C) whole (D) whole (E) half (F) whole (G) whole (A) half (B) Octave(C)

Learn it visual, it audio, learn it with flash cards, drill it, or whatever. Bring every tool in your learning arsenal
to bear to ingrain that pattern. At the heart, it is a series of intervals. Don't hold back, play it every key from
every root on the instrument.

Until that has been a goal, little of the rest of what I have to say will make much sense.

It  could be that what I have to say really does  not apply to your particular musical style. Obviously,
that is not intended as a criticism.  No matter. Don't waste your time learning something you won't be
using. Different strokes for different folks.
When your index finger is on the fifth fret C note and your descending scale target is  the eighth fret note C (top E String) 
you will  have to make a one  half step move on the way down, between the G note and the F note, to set your hand in
the right position.

Move the hand down a fret and a half when your target is the the third fret C note, which is on the A-string.
How convenient. The hand position does not change once that pinky is planted on the fifth fret C note. 

All things considered, that fifth fret C note is a pretty good  home base, in that respect.  Meaning,
you can accomplish a lot in the  Key of C with a minimum of movement of the hand up and down the

You may find another hand position more useful depending on the Key you are most interested in.
Bear in mind I have been concentrating on C Major, and the scales C, F, and  G.
There is another great C position located  on the tenth fret. When I say great, I mean useful and flexible.
A position is useful and flexible when its location allows easy ascending and descending access to
all the mid range notes and is in an easy to reach board position. D-string, tenth fret, meets those
standards. We'll talk about that note when we discuss the fourth and fifth positions.
Right now, we are fixated on Position Three, Frets 5-8.

The guitar is called a treble instrument.  Middle C on the piano is on the third fret A-string., way down there.
Between low (or top string)  open E note and the 12th fret high E note (bottom string)  are three octaves.
High C is  on the 20th fret, but most  players rarely go there. Technically speaking, there is a fourth octave,
it is from E note 12th fret to  E note 24th fret.   
We could talk about those top positions at a later date. Really, the one of  interest is the 6th position,
frets 12 through 16. That is where you scorch those high note melodies and rifts.

What I have said here also applies to the Pentatonic Scales, which are popular. In the  key of C Major, the A
Minor Pentatonic scale is where the action is. That scale is A, C, D, E, G, and A.  Like all relative minors, it is
the sixth of the scale. 
The third position has it covered, but A Minor Pentatonic also plays very well from the Fifth position, pinky on
the twelfth fret A note. So, pentatonic players, don't think none of this applies to your style, because it does.

So, that is a little discussion about one of the favored neck positions, the third. Learning the positions, it can
be helpful to learn the six positions one at a time. This is the hardest part, but at least you know where you
are going. Then combine the six into three two: position one and two, three and four, lastly five and six.
Once you get the three twos down, go for two threes. Finally, it is just one. Long day's journey into night.

I realize this can be confusing when players are just learning the language.

Comments or corrections always welcome.

Classic Gospel and Traditional Hymns

2 (edited by e s shaw 2014-05-14 19:06:34)

Re: Fret Board PositionsThis is guidance for people who want to learn the

Post #2  Detailed  Review of  Major Scale Pattern

As an incentive, maybe a life saver, for those who may have read the first post, who may have seen the value in practicing that C major scale on  the third position, who may have given it a try, but just could not make themselves stay with the pace or logic (or lack of same) of ideas, I thought I would write a detailed review of that material. I can't do this for every post, but to kick start the  process, here goes. 

It is probably easier if you have someone read this to you.

As you know, the first post was devoted to the C major scale on the third position, Frets five through eight.

(Note: One thing I am not going to do is refer to notes after the manner of "eighth fret low E string."
When I want to  refer to the C note played on the low E string eighth fret, I am going to call it
the "Eighth Fret C.")

If that means the reader has to count up each string from the nut until he finds it, then so be it. The easier way is to get a hold of a fretboard diagram. Your goal is to learn the name of every position on the fret board. I am not going to enable procrastination. Refer to Jerome's lessons on scales, above.

The C scale is C - D - E- F - G - A - B - C.

That having been said, place your pinky on the fat E string, Fret Eight. That is a C note. From that position, the interval to the next note, the D note, is down one string (to the A string) and down one and a half frets. The index finger, Finger One, naturally falls right on the D note. Already, we are having fun, because we just learned that the one/two scale interval is down a string, down three frets (1.5 steps.)

Knowing the guitar strings are tuned to the fifth of the scale causes this to be obvious, but you don't have to worry about that at this point.

Just know that Finger One is now on the A string D note, the 2nd of the scale,  and that your next note, the E note, the 3rd of the scale, is a full step higher. Finger Three is on it.  The next note, the 4th ,is up a half step.

That is the F note and the Pinky plays it.

Now we are ready to advance another string and another whole interval, which, as we just learned, is down a string, down three frets. It is a G. Your index finger is over it. Go for it.

If you have stayed with it this far,  Finger One is on the fifth note of the scale, the G note. That is the D string, Fifth fret.

Now you are ready to move to the 6 of the scale, and it is the A note. That note is a full step, or two frets, higher than the G note. Play it with finger three.

Your pinky is now on the seventh fret A note, and your next  target is the B note. You already know the interval --  down a string, down three frets. But wait, no finger is over that note. What are we to do now?

You probably guessed. We are going to shift the entire hand down a fret. When I say "shift," shift and play the B note with Finger One on the G string, Fret Four. In my terms, that is the "Fourth Fret G."

Hold that thought, hold that position. This is a great time to talk about one of the most common and useful intervals of all -- the half step interval between the 7 and the 8th (the Octave.)

In the C scale, the 7 is the B  note and the 8 is the C note. The distance between, or interval, is one half step, or one fret. Finger Two is  over it. Play it. Congratulations, you just played one of the most common C scale positions on the neck, the  lower C scale on the third position.

Take a break, you are halfway through the post. But, guess what. You just learned one of the strongest C scale positions on the neck. Now all you have to do is play it up and down a few thousand times -- No, just kidding, you will ingrain it by playing simple melodies form Sheet Music in the Key of C major. Don't panic. That comes later. But, do go out and buy the Hal Leonard guitar book, any time. It has a lot of sheet music in it. Or pick a book you want that has simplified C major songs you want to play.

OK, are you ready to continue playing the C scale, Position Three? Picking up where we left off, Finger Two is playing the Fret Five C note. Our goal is to play the next octave C scale in that same position, Position Three. Let's cut through the bull and simply re-shift the hand back to where is was and place Finger One on that Fret Five C note. That will make it easier, going forward, because now our hand position will not change through this scale. Getting the hand in the right position, going forward with this, turns out to be a major pain, but we will do it.

Now you recall we learned that the interval between notes one and two (the 1st and 2nd) was down a string and down three frets. That is true, but there is another important interval between the 1st and 2nd degrees of the scale when playing the same string. That interval is "up a whole step" or, in other words, up two frets.

Use that interval knowledge by playing the D note with Finger Three, Fret Eight, up a full step.Now, at this point, many people have trouble on account of the fact that the fifth string, the B string, is tuned to a fourth rather than a fifth. This means the intervals  we applied to the top four strings suddenly drops one half a step to make up for this change. Intervals return to normal once we get by the B string.

Rather than make things more complicated than they already are, let's just simplify by stating that our next note, the E note (remember, we are now on the D note) is directly under the C note, rather than down a string, down a fret, where we might have expected to find it.

Play the E note with Finger One on the Fifth fret of the B string.

Up a half step (one fret) to the F note. Then go up a full step. Play the G note, the 5th of the scale with the Pinky.

Next string, please.

Find the 6th of the scale, the A note, on the E string, Fret Five. You don't have to move your hand.Now you are ready to play the 7 and 8 with fingers three and four.  Remember that useful half step interval beween notes seven and eight of the scale?

That was easy.

Now you have learned two C scale positions on the neck. You have learned the two C scales on the third position. Learn three more and you have mastered the C scales on the neck. Along the way, you have made some very important associations, associations that will serve you well as you proceed. Not the least is that you are learning intervals. Not the least is that you are starting to associate string and fret with degrees of a scale and with letter designations. For one thing, you nopw know where two C notes are located.

So,that is a review, Whew!
Hopefully we only have to go through that, once. You are learning a new language. That's always a task at first. Itn gets easier, and more fun, too.

Classic Gospel and Traditional Hymns

3 (edited by e s shaw 2014-05-15 03:50:36)

Re: Fret Board PositionsThis is guidance for people who want to learn the

Post #3

Here are some graphic representations,
Some computer people like to show the neck like this:

The C Scales, Position Three


The C Scales, Position Three


There is always the risk something will be lost in the translation from one computer to another.
If it does not display right, copy and past into a text file. Then convert to a mono space font such as
courier new, as I originally laid it out.

The Pentatonic A Minor Scale  (A C D E G A) Position Three


Usually, the first A Minor Pentatonic people learn is at the Second Position. This one
is at the Third Position.  We are learning notes, not patterns.

Classic Gospel and Traditional Hymns

4 (edited by e s shaw 2014-05-15 04:01:35)

Re: Fret Board PositionsThis is guidance for people who want to learn the

From what I am hearing, there is some interest out there in developing melodic solo skills, so I won't end these sessions without closing the circle on that objective. But, you have to stay with the groundwork. Let's summarize what we have learned so far.


In a nutshell, we learned the two C major scales of the third position, frets 5th through 8th.

In the process of doing that, we became more familar with the strings and talked about how they are tuned to a fifth, with the exception of the B string, which is tuned to the fourth of the string before it.
We applied the concept of intervals, very useful. An interval is the distance between notes. We saw a positive way to apply it.
A very important unmentioned lesson was that the 4 of the scale is directly below the root, same fret. We can go into that later,
as we touch on what is called a chord progression.

What else did we learn? Oh, we were introduced to hand positions, also called neck positions. We learned to think of the neck in terms of six positions of four frets each, marked by the dots. That's huge knowledge, because it just so happens we have four fingers on our hand.We also learned to pay attention to hand shifting. Shifting the hands usually means changing finger positions, too, as we shift our hand to a better place to continue playing.

So that's a lot of knowledge that we embarked on. What we are really doing here is learning fundamentals and how to apply them.

Intro to Post #4

Where do we go from here?
The answer to that depends upon what happens to be in the best interests of the reader's learning. One option is to move up to the fourth position and learn the C scales in that position. Or, we could go down and talk about the second position. That's a power position.

For now, I want us to remain focused on that third position. There is more information in terms of musical assets there for you.

In the meanwhile, I trust you have taken my advice and started on the long journey of learning to sight read the C scale using the information provided in Post #1.    Get the Hal  Leonard Guitar book as soon as you can. The notes are big there and easy to read.
You should be drilling in the C Scale by playing from a music sheet; you know, the ones with all the dots, lines, and staffs.
I will be later recommending a set of power tools for you, much of the set is free, if you know where to look. Right now, your
total cost is the Hal Leonard book, about $20.00 So, this session is a bargain.

Post #4

You are now on your way to learning how to play "Mary had a Little Lamb" on your guitar, one note at a time. Audiences will be thrilled to recognize the song.  I promised you I would unlock some secret third position assets for you, and here we go.

As a practical matter, you do not want to be playing straight melodies all the time. Actually, you don't even want to be improvising on the melody to a great extent. Those performances are thrilling. However, as a practical matter, most of the time you will be playing strummed chord patterns, following the drummer and bass player as a vital part of the rhythm section.

If you are like most of us, you have learned the first position chords and learned some moveable barre chords that allow you to play chord  shapes higher on the neck. In this post, we will be introduced to the idea that acceptable chord combinations exist right up to the neck. You just need someone to unlock the code and show you where they are. Consequently, let me introduce you to the concept of three note chords and their inversions.

As you know, a chord consists of multiple harmonizing notes of a scale. There are many variations of chords. We will stick with what is called the common chord. A common chord is a three note chord consisting of the first, third and fifth notes of the scale. For the C chord, the first degree of the scale is a C note, also called the Root. We abbreviate the chord by calling it a 1-3-5 (a one three five) and everyone knows what we are talking about.

If the one of the C scale, or the "root" of the C scale is a C note, what do you suppose  the three of the C Scale is?
If you said the E note, give yourself a gold star.

The three of the scale is the E note.  In other words, if the scale is  C - D- E - F - G - A - B - C.
then the third note is E note.  The fifth degree of the scale is the G note. Since your common C chord consists of the 1-3-5, the notes of the C chord must be C, E, and G.  Comprende?

Figure 1. Here is the common C Major Chord at the first, also called  "open"  position.
The notes C, E, and G, played together or arpegiated.


What is an inversion?

If you are not already familiar with the idea of an inversion, it is simply a variation of the order in which the notes of the chord are played.
While a C chord is the 1-3-5 played in that order, C-E-G, and inverted chord is one where the order has been changed. No big deal, you say? Stay around for this.

The first inversion of the C chord is E-G-C, or 3-5-1.  The three has become the root.
The second inversion of the C chord is G-C-E, or 5-1-3. The five of the scale has become the root.

In the past, inverted chords were mostly popular with piano players. Lately, inverted chords have taken the guitar community by storm.
I am going to show you now a C major chord on the third hand position. It is played in 1-3-5 order, from the top E string as
1-3-5  1-3-5 .

Figure 2. Here is your secret code of the notes of the  C chord at the third position.
Note the order of play is 1-3-5 1-3-5, or C-E-G-C-E-G.


For reference, and because you must know that we are going to discuss three triad (three note) chord
structures; namely, the root, the first inversion, and the second inversion, I am placing the two inversions
here now. Still, I want our attention directed to the third position C chord, Figure 2.

Figure 3. Here is the 2nd Inversion of the C chord at the sixth position.
Look where it is! The root is way up on the 13th fret.
Note the order of play is 5-1-3-5-1-3 or G-C-E-G-C-E.
Note the resemblance to the open position C chord shown in Figure 1.  Can you see the popular open
position C chord hidden in that pattern?  Just replace the 12th fret with the nut and you  have it.


Figure 4.  This is the 1st Inversion of the C chord at the fourth position.
Note the order of play is 1-5-3-1-5-3, or E-G-C-E-G-C.


So, there you have it. Three chord positions that, when mastered, will allow you to easily comp songs with strums
and arppegiate in in any of the 12 major keys. Later, we will see the minor correlatives.

---end Post #4------

Next: 1st and 2nd Inversions on Position Three

Classic Gospel and Traditional Hymns

Re: Fret Board PositionsThis is guidance for people who want to learn the

Typo in your a minor pentatonic chart. Your d string A is a fret low. smile

6 (edited by e s shaw 2014-05-15 19:25:23)

Re: Fret Board PositionsThis is guidance for people who want to learn the

Oh, thank you. I do appreciate that attention to detail.

Moving right along here, here is Post #5 which describes the three note chords (triads) and their inversions played on the third position.
I also include a special value, a  Public Domain (PD) arrangement of Amazing Grace useful for C scale practice or for anything else one might care to use it.

Post #5

Here we are at another fork in the road. Do we continue to analyze and talk about the common C major chord at Position Three, or do we now go on in detail about the 1st and 2nd inversions at the third position? I would like to talk a bit about that C Major chord at that position, and I would like to talk about how that same shape can be moved up or down the neck to produce accurate chords in other keys.

For example, just like a barre chord is "moveable," so are the triads. With the barre chords, you grab a handful. That becomes a state of mind.

People ask, "How do I move this triad shape? The notes are spread out all over."  The answer is, you don't move the whole shape. You simply approach the concept of a chord, a key, and a scale with a little different viewpoint than you gained from the  Mel Bay book. I'll explain what is meant by that,  later.

For now, we are going to witness the application of two more triad shapes, the first and the second inversions, on the strings of the guitar neck's third position, frets five through eight.  We have made that decision because we announced the intention to draw out of the third position, all the knowledge we possess. Once that has been done, we can leave it to greater minds to expand on our knowledge. At the same time, if we milk the third position for all it is worth, the reader can apply what he now knows about one position to all six.


What do we know now about the third position of the guitar neck?
Well, as we said, we know there are two C major scales in it, in a nice tight easy to learn package.
There are other scales handy, too. On the top E string, you can easily root A, Bb, B, and C. A little nudge up or down, and your hand is right on either C# or Ab. 
Most experienced guitar players will tell you, in the real world, they don't play that low E string very much , anyway. For one thing, when you are in the basement, there is only one direction to go. For another, guitar is a treble instrument. We leave the bass lines to people who specialize in the bass lines.

That leads us to talk about the A string, frets five through eight.
That A string. Again, a little low for leads, perfect for Johnny Cash type Luther rhythm twangs, with a much used D note, E note, and F note.
Especially in the key of C Major, we seem frequently find ourselves landing on the G note, 10th fret. The E and F notes very often precede  the G note, either as walk up or melodic structure. Even though that G note is technically on the fifth position, it is a frequent target of third position A string notes, E and F.

"What about the fourth position?" you may ask, with compassion. "Doesn't it count for anything?"
Well, the sad answer is, "Not much."  Playing in C Major, much of the time we just blow by the fourth position on the way to the fifth.  It's kind of like New Jersey, in that respect. If you are in the keys of G or A, though, it is a different story. In those keys, the fourth is the killer position, one of the best on the neck. In the key of C, though, the fourth position kind of like "the upper third" or "the lower fifth." Sorry.

I digress.

We also learned that there is a great 1-3-5-1-3-5 triad combo of the C chord.  On the bottom four strings, I have gotten so that I can cover the G Note with Finger One, the E note with Finger Four, the G and C notes with Finger three, and ring out a pretty respectable four note C chord.
The bad dog, of course, is that fingering can slide up and down the fretboard like a bottle neck. I am getting ahead of myself, here, talking about technique. The fact is, once these fundamentals are in hand, the challenge, and the fun, it to see just what you can do with them.

So, without further ado, here are two more chord patterns played on the third position of the neck.

The first pattern: The F chord, second inversion 5-1-3-5-1-3 with the root on the sixth fret F note. You have already guessed the order of the notes is going to be C-F-A-C-F-A.  The second inversion has the 5th degree (G note) as the bass.

Remember Figure Three? That was the second inversion of the C major chord with the root at the 13th fret. Here it is again, top refresh the memory.

Figure 3. The 2nd Inversion of the C chord at the sixth position.
Note the order of play is 5-1-3-5-1-3 or G-C-E-G-C-E.
Note the resemblance to the open position C chord shown in Figure 1.


Figure 5. The 2nd inversion of the F major chord, played with the root (F) at fret number six.
Note the order of play is 5-1-3-5-1-3, of C-F-A-C-F-A.  Same order as the C chord above. It is moveable.
Here's what the pattern looks like:


Remember our old friend the C note at Fret Eight?  Here she is again, kicking off this mini scale that is the second inversion of the F Major Chord. Hello, there! Also, our work horse C note at the fifth fret.  When the band is in the key of C major, or F major, you will be constantly letting that fret five C note ring. The A minor and D minor pentatonic relies on the C note. In the A minor Pentatonic, the C Note is the flatted third, the heart and soul of the Delta blues sound.

OK, one more to go. That is going to be Figure 6, and it is going to be what I feel is the most flexible fingering pattern of the four we will have discussed. It is the first inversion, and it is the 3-5-1-3-5-1  One of the reasons I feel this inversion is so useful is that the root is on the very highest string, the bottom E string. When you see the pattern, you will see right away that this pattern is a hitch hiker when playing scales of C, F, or G, which is the usual when playing key of C Major. But, for the sake of consistency, and after all, this is the third positions turn in the spot light, I will picture the second inversion as the A major chord, A-C#-E. But remember, we are inverting it and playing the third degree as the base and the root at the top, so it is played C#-E-A.

Figure 6. The second inversion of the A major chord. The Root (A) is played at the fifth fret.
The order of play is 3-5-1-3-5-1, or C#-E-A-C#-E-A
Here is what it looks like:


Look what you can do with this? Can you dig this? For experienced guitar players, I would be preaching to the choir, because right away this pattern is recognized as the F Major barre (when barred at the first fret.)   And, oh, yes, this is an inversion that can be played by the handful, although I have never mastered it beyond a four or five note chord. Still, the potential is huge. I absolutely love it when I can
base a melody on the D string. Don't ask me why, but I will tell you it is just that the heart of the melody hangs around the middle positions of the D and the G strings. Think about it. In that territory, you have the C, the D, the G and the A landing notes right at your fingertips.
For my money it doesn't get any better.

So, there they are, The triads and their inversions.

I have another post in mind, while we are digging into the third position. That has to do with chord progressions and intervals.  I'll work it up and while readers practice up on scales and inversions. I mastered the inversions by playing along with records. Later I advanced to making my own custom backing track to the progression or scale I was interested in mastering. That way, I got to tell the backing track what chords I wanted to play. I am at a certain level with scales, but much further than if I never practiced one.
That is something you will probably want to be doing. There are plenty of backing tracks out there.


Here is a link to a C major lead sheet for Amazing Grace taken from the Public Domain I just posted on Wiki Commons. If you use it for scale practice,play the top note of the duplexes.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File … _Sheet.pdf

(Download it, open it with a browser or reader, and print it.)

Here is the Wiki  legalese for Chordie Mods:

[[File:Amazing Grace Cmaj Lead Sheet.pdf|thumb|Amazing Grace transposed and arranged by Edward S. Shaw, 2014, working from John Newton and R. M. McIntosh original sheet music reprinted in 1922 by Hall - Mack, Philadelphia, New Songs of Praise and Power, now in Public Domain.Original verses by John Newton,  "Olney Hymns" Oliver (London) 1779]]

Notation software generously provided by "Crescendo," of NCH Media, Inc. www.nch.com.au/notation/index.html
Source music from www.pdinfo.com
Thanks, you guys!

I'll post a backing track for Amazing Grace as soon as possible. This is to jump start your practice routine and get it into the Digital Age.  This supplements your playing along with records.

Next: The interval from the root to the fourth and from  the root to the fifth degrees map the common chord progressions.

Anyone bored, yet?

Classic Gospel and Traditional Hymns

7 (edited by e s shaw 2014-05-17 14:47:49)

Re: Fret Board PositionsThis is guidance for people who want to learn the

I made use of the cabin time called for by that May blizzard to compile
these posts and some graphics made over the past couple of years
to produce an eBook on the subject. It is on Scribid, where it can be
freely downloaded and freely used. I placed it it the Public Domain,
more specifically, Creative Commons Fair Use.  Find it here:



Classic Gospel and Traditional Hymns