Advanced Fretboard Movement

As you get more comfortable with the fretboard it's easy to do movements which reduce hand movement by staying in a single position, this causes bias in your playing. In this article we'll talk about things that will help reduce this bias.

Traversing ai Collections

Let's say we are playing in 6* harmonic minor, so we're using the ai collection 0 2 3 5 7 8 11 0. Restricting ourselves to those ais then as we play anything in some way we are traversing that ai collection.

Becoming aware of how you traverse is quite useful, since you can add structure or lack of structure to your movement.

For example, lets say we want to traverse the collection in a linear manner, we could simply do 0 2 3 5 7 8 11 0, now let's traverse it in a jumping manner, so we have 0 3, 2 5, 3 7, 5 8, 7 11, 8 0, 11 2, 0, we could also increase the jump size to be 0 5, 2 7, 3 8, 5 11, 7 0, 8 2, 11 3, 0.

If you play that you'll see that they give off an enjoyable sound as there is a lot of structure in the way you're playing through the ai collection. By being aware of what you're doing to traverse these collections you can bring certain feelings to your playing.

By practicing these movements your movement along the fretboard will improve a lot and you won't go up and down ai collections linearly as much.


A great way to get up and down the neck without just moving your whole hand there at once is to do it incrementally.

One idea for getting up the neck is to move diagonally up it. When you move like this you're forcing your hand out of a position to a new one and figuring out how you can connect between them.

For example let's say with the harmonic minor example, so we have the ai collection 0 2 3 5 7 8 11 0, and you're starting on 3 low on the neck. Since we've decided to move diagonally that means that when we move we are going to be adding at least 7 to our current ai each time, so first lets do some analysis on what we can do to stay within the harmonic minor while adding at least 7 each time.

3 + 8 = 11, 11 + 8 = 7, 7 + 7 = 2, 2 + 9 = 11. Meaning that if we start on three and then go up in jumps of 8 8 7 2 we'll have gone up the neck and also stayed within the harmonic minor the whole time. In terms of the fretboard, we can get these larger intervals by moving over one string and then 2 to 4 frets upward.

Diagonal movement is a good medium between direct vertical movement and horizontal and being comfortable with this type of movement will aid you in moving on the fretboard.

Using Fret Numbers

Fret numbers (e.g. the 5th fret) are especially useful for vertical movement. The reason why its useful is that it allows us to break out of vertical movement habits that have been gained because we don't like moving our hand so much, for moving a great distance vertically is probably less easy for you to do than a step of 2 or 3.

Sticking to harmonic again and assuming we have a finger on 8 on the 3rd fret, then making a great leap up the neck may be frightening, but we'll make it easy. Since an increase in one by the fret number increases our ai by one as well, then moving up say 8 frets also adds 8 to our current note, but how do we know which fret is 8 up from our current?

Well all we have to do is take our current fret number which is 3 and add 8 to it which gives us the 11th fret. This type of calculation is useful for when you want to move up a lot and you don't have the muscle memory yet for moving up that much.

Note: Talking about the 18th fret seems harder than talking about the 6th fret an octave up, especially since the second octave on the guitar is identical to the first. Thinking like this also allows us to use tricks that we've built up in the past, so now 10 frets up from the 5th fret is just 5 - 2 = 3 (using the equivalent in the cyclic number system) so it's the 3rd fret in the second octave.


Harmonics are found on the 12th fret (0th fret of the second octave) of the guitar. It represents the midpoint of the nut and the bridge and therefore the part of the string which vibrates. Every note we play rings all harmonics above it, and by pressing in the middle of the string it deadens the original note leaving only the harmonics which have fixed points in the center of the string to ring.

The sound produced by a harmonic is quite nice and has a certain ethereal feeling to it. The harmonic of a string firstly represents the note which is associated with that string, so if we play the harmonic of the lowest string it still represents 4*. But it also represents the note which is 7 steps above it, and so it can be played in place of 11*, to understand why read the article on harmonics.

So therefore on the fretboard, whenever you're going to play an open string, you can use the harmonic by pressing lightly on the twelfth fret to get the same note with an airy feeling.

Artificial Harmonics

Artificial Harmonics are real harmonics, but are produced in a manner which is not by playing the string directly at one of the harmonic nodes. If we were fretting a note, we can think of the lenght of the string we're about to vibrate being reduced to the length between the bridge and this fret, and therefore the halfway point of the string is now in a new location.

If we press lightly on that location with our plucking hand and pluck underneath that with another finger we can also get harmonics again. To fully understand that, watch this video


Tapping is a method of playing the guitar where you don't sound the note by using your plucking hand, but instead the force of your finger hitting the fret rings the note itself. When trying to learn this you should probably use an electric guitar which has a lot of gain so it's loud.

Once you've figured out how to tap, you can also tap with both hands and play chords and lines which would be impossible with just one.

Learn the technique by watching videos of tapping