Guitar Essentials: How to Use Octaves to Unlock the Fretboard

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Everybody likes a bargain, especially when the deal you’re getting is on something as valuable as guitar knowledge. That’s right, there’s a fire sale going on in today's lesson: you can get five licks for the price of one!

Using octaves is the secret ingredient to getting the most out of the fewest notes and phrases. Simply by taking one of your go-to licks and transposing it up or down various octaves across the neck, you unlock hidden pathways to new, more cohesive improvising.

More precisely, connecting the dots in this fashion will grant you access to various positions in a given scale that you might be using to construct a solo, and what’s more, you’ll achieve this feat without sounding like you’re running through your modes like you would in a practice session with a metronome.

This concept is derived from a lesson in my course Guitar Super System on “Home Riffs,” which creates a foundation to return to as you venture outside your comfort zone during an improvisation.

Identifying a given set of notes all over the neck acts as an ear-training exercise and a way to improve your fretboard vision. As you dive deeper into this idea, you’ll begin to see your phrasing take on new embellishments while you subconsciously concentrate on making the transitions between octaves more expressive in a musical context.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music Is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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