Two-bar 16th-note lines

Shaun Baxter con­tin­ues in his quest to have you con­quer­ing the fret­board with this chal­leng­ing Mixoly­dian work­out through dif­fer­ent keys.

Guitar Techniques - - Lesson: Creative Rock -

In this cur­rent se­ries of lessons, we are look­ing at de­vel­op­ing a vo­cab­u­lary of lines for each shape of the Mixoly­dian mode, and ap­ply­ing that reper­toire in a sys­tem­atic way in dif­fer­ent keys in each area of the neck. So far, we’ve looked at triplet lines: now it’s time to switch our at­ten­tion to 16th notes (four notes per click). The idea is not just to build your lick and line reper­toire so that you have got things to play, but also to be able to have in­stant ac­cess to that vo­cab­u­lary when im­pro­vis­ing. To start with, Di­a­gram 1 shows the five CAGED shapes of the A Mixoly­dian mode.

Once you have learnt one scale in all ar­eas of the neck, it is pos­si­ble to trans­pose this in­for­ma­tion to al­low you to play from any other root note in the same man­ner. Ul­ti­mately, this leads to you be­ing able to ac­cess any scale un­der your fin­gers at any time, wher­ever you are on the neck, purely by se­lect­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate shape for the oc­ca­sion.

The back­ing track for this par­tic­u­lar les­son is de­voted to a pro­gres­sion com­pris­ing a re­peated se­quence of A7 to C7 to D7 to F7 to G7 (two bars each chord). Ba­si­cally, we go through the al­pha­bet, but have taken away the first chord each time there is only a semi­tone be­tween two chords (there is very lit­tle you learn about C if you’ve sim­ply moved up a semi­tone from B, and the same goes for E and F). By re­mov­ing B and E, you still have to men­tally ac­knowl­edge where they are in or­der to get to C and F re­spec­tively but, of equal im­por­tance, by omit­ting th­ese two chords, we’ve ended up with a five-chord se­quence that al­lows us to prac­tise all five shapes of the CAGED sys­tem in each area of the neck in a very stream­lined and ef­fi­cient man­ner.

Di­a­gram 2 shows how the CAGED sys­tem can be used for each chord type in or­der to play in just one area of the neck. Gen­er­ally, the neck ar­eas or po­si­tions shown cor­re­spond to the ones de­lin­eated by the var­i­ous dots on the fret­board.

Try build­ing up your ap­proach to play­ing the full ver­sion of the ex­er­cise shown in the tran­scrip­tion (along with the back­ing track) by do­ing the fol­low­ing:

Start by play­ing each A Mixoly­dian line: A7 Shape #1 (bar 1); A7 Shape #2 (bar 11); A7 Shape #3 (bar 21); A7 Shape #4 (bar 31); and A7 Shape #5 (bar 41).

Then, take each A7 line and trans­pose it (lat­er­ally) to another part of the gui­tar neck for C7 D7 F7 and G7 (note that you can use the back­ing track to prac­tise this). Shift each A7 line up three frets for C7, then up another two frets for D7, then up another three frets for F7, then up another two frets for G7, and fi­nally, up another two frets to get back to A7.

Note, as you as­cend the fret­board, you may have to dou­ble back an oc­tave (play the same things 12 frets lower) if you find that you are run­ning out of neck. Next, use the back­ing track to work in just one area/po­si­tion of the neck us­ing a dif­fer­ent CAGED shape (and as­so­ci­ated Mixoly­dian line) for each chord.

Then work through the length of the neck (again with the back­ing track) play­ing a dif­fer­ent line for each chord as you shift up through the po­si­tions in the same man­ner as shown in the tran­scrip­tion and demon­strated on the les­son audio.

Fi­nally, you can also use the back­ing track to prac­tise your own licks and lines for each of the five CAGED shapes of Mixoly­dian.

If you just learn each line par­rot-fash­ion with­out see­ing how it re­lates to the scale, you will not be able to truly un­der­stand it or adapt it to dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions.

I’ll be keep­ing to a mod­er­ate blues-rock fu­sion tone for this se­ries. I use a Fen­der Strat, so I al­ways use a dis­tor­tion pedal to boost the sig­nal be­fore it gets to the amp. Gen­er­ally, try to go for 25% of your dis­tor­tion from the pedal and 75% from the amp. You’ll find that the re­sults are sweeter and more com­pressed (even and tighter sound­ing) than when get­ting 100% of the dis­tor­tion from the amp. Typ­i­cally, most am­pli­fiers should be set as above (less dis­tor­tion than when play­ing metal). Note that I have cho­sen the ‘in-be­tween’ po­si­tion be­tween the neck and mid­dle pick­ups: this helps to give the gui­tar a sweeter sound with more mid­dle honk.

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