The Ultimate Stretching Exercise
Lesson by: Kirk Lorange
Stretch your fingers, stretch your brain, stretch your knowledge ... this is the Ultimate Stretching Exercise.
My old buddy and fantastic player James Kelly showed me this in about 1976 ... I was gobsmacked. I was thirsty for all knowledge then, as I am now, and I was still practicing scales in the hope I'd figure out how to use them. As you must know by now, I never did, but I never forgot this all-important lesson.
It had never occurred to me until then that all scales are everywhere at once ... I knew a few positions but I still sort of figured that you had to move your hand up and down the neck to manage to play all the different scales. I thought that keeping the hand anchored to one position would limit the number of notes you could access ... wrong!
I do explain the premise in the video, but I'll do again here in text form:
The idea is to pick two frets that will become the 'anchor frets'. In this video, I picked the 7th and 8th frets. They're about midway up the fretboard and are neither really wide nor really narrow ... they're about average width apart. It's a good place to start. As you feel your tendons start to stretch out, move the whole thing down toward the nut, where it gets wider, and you'll increase the stretching until there's nothing too wide for your hand to handle.
I put some colored paper right under the strings to help demonstrate the lesson and it might be a good idea to do the same (if you decide to give this a go) so that it's easy to stick to the rules.
The Rules: middle finger and ring finger are anchored to the two frets you've chosen. They can't play any other frets; the index and pinkie are allowed to move up and down on the outside of the anchor frets. That's all ... no other rules.
I've used the Major Scale for this demo, but of course all scales and all melody lines apply. I play all 12 Major scales, starting at B ... so I play B, then C, then C#, then D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A# and back to B one actave higher. I end it all by playing down through two octaves of B back to the original starting note. Just remember that I keep playing the same sequence of intervals: Tone Tone semitone, Tone Tone Tone semitone. Because I'm anchored, every time I change scale, I must change pattern. That's the tricky bit. I could, of course, keep playing the one pattern and moving it up the fretboard, but I'd run out of room, and anyway, the point of this lesson is not to do that.
In this example, I've only played one octave of scale each time. It makes it easier to understand what I'm doing.
I've included the tab, I've even color coded like the frets in the movie, but I think to try and make sense of the tab will do more harm than good. I recommend you just use your ear and your brain to practice this. Color coding your fretboard as I've done in the movie will probably help keep you on track. Remember that if you can't reach the note you want on one string, move to the next string and stretch for it there, in the opposite direction. You'll notice looking at the numbers in the tab that everything is confined to frets 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Keep in mind that the same 5 fret span will apply anywhere on the fretboard ... that all scales will be found in any 5 fret span of the fretboard.
The most important lesson to learn from this, I think anyway, is that all music is everywhere at once on a fretboard. You can apply this to all scales if you want (why would you, though?) and hopefully you will see that there are countless ways to play the very same thing on a guitar. We twangers are blessed in that way. Because there are repeats of the same notes, there are repeats of the same melodies, chords, double stops, scales, riffs, licks ... you name, you can play it everywhere.
Have fun with this one!!! Don't let it drive you insane ...