022 Get­ting Started With… Po­si­tion Shifts

Get cre­ative with your gui­tar so­los as TG shows you how to cover the far­thest reaches of the fret­board

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS -

“I tend to get stuck play­ing in ‘boxes’ when I’m solo­ing. How can I get out of this habit?”

In gen­eral, gui­tarists learn their first so­los us­ing sim­ple shapes (aka boxes) like the mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale – shapes which are of­ten based in one small area of the fret­board. This is a great way to get started but as you start to progress it can feel a bit lim­it­ing, which brings us to the sub­ject of this les­son: po­si­tion shifts.


That’s right! More im­por­tantly, you’ll be think­ing dif­fer­ently when you come to play a solo. In­stead of start­ing off with a shape or lick you know, you’ll need to start think­ing about play­ing along the length of the strings.

“Eas­ier said than done, right?”

Per­haps. Let’s stick to the A mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale. Take a look at the box­out where you’ll see the scale along the length of the fret­board.

“I get it! We’re cov­er­ing more of the fret­board. Which fingers should I use?”

Of­ten, there’s no ‘cor­rect’ fin­ger­ing – you just have to choose one that feels eas­i­est. It’ll de­pend on how many notes you’ve got to play along the string. If you have, say, four notes played one af­ter the other go­ing up along a string then you might use your first, sec­ond, third then fourth fingers. Or you might pre­fer first, sec­ond and third, be­fore mov­ing po­si­tion and us­ing your first fin­ger again. As we say, there’s rarely a cor­rect an­swer, just lots of dif­fer­ent op­tions.

“Un­der­stood. Let’s play some mu­sic!”

Take a look at the first tab ex­am­ple be­low. It’s a sim­ple rock lick with a twist. You’ll be start­ing in the gui­tar’s open po­si­tion and mov­ing up as far as the 8th fret. To keep things sim­ple we’ve used notes from our scale box on the right.

“It’s quite easy. How about the sec­ond ex­am­ple?”

This one is a bit of a chal­lenge be­cause you’ll be cov­er­ing a full 10 frets. Still, you can play the lick us­ing just your first and third fingers, which makes it eas­ier. Slid­ing from fret to fret also makes those po­si­tion shifts less of a chal­lenge.

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