Chord Tone Ninja Master Part 1
This is a fantastic improvisation exercise and fretboard drill that I recently came up with for my more advanced students.
The drill is inspired by Wayne Krantz‘s approach to improvisation.
I took a semester of private guitar instruction with Wayne when he was a guest lecturer for 1 semester at Berklee College of Music.
It was then that I learned about a major factor that makes Wayne sound the way he sounds.
As you might know, when you learn scale fingerings, many (if not most) of the fingerings of 7-note scales, span over a 5-fret range.
Unlike most any other guitar players, who learn scale fingerings covering all the notes of a scale vertical in one position, Wayne adopted an approach where he plays sticking to 4-fret ranges only.
Since he doesn’t “reach” for the scale notes outside of the 4-fret range, this leads to some notes getting omitted in the scale, giving the soloing a more open sound.
So here’s a really amazing exercise building on that idea.
- Pick any chord, for example G7.
- Figure out what the notes in that chord are. In this case: G B D F
- Get a 1-chord groove G7 backing track to solo over.
- Improvise over that backing track, with the notes G B D F only, keeping your hand covering the first 4 frets. You only solo with the notes G B D F that you have right under your fingers on the first 4 frets.
- Do this for 1 minute, then move up a fret. Same drill on frets 2 3 4 5.
- After 1 minute, do the same drill on the next 4 frets (3 4 5 6)
- Keep going till you covered all 12 positions on the guitar neck. 12-minute drill.
This will do amazing things to your soloing skills and fretboard knowledge. It will also obliterate your dependency upon familiar shapes and patterns.
It is strongly recommended you do this drill with any type of triads, 7th chords, or even advanced interval structures from for example the palette chart, which you can read more about here: Jon Damian’s Genius Palette Chart.
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