Fretboard Visualization Methods


Satriani had his students do this, too.


Hey @gometh, I like that!

Good layout. Is that your sheet or from a book of sorts? If it is yours I would like to hold on to it and possibly share it with students, but should have authors name on it either way.


Hey @JakeEstner , thanks a lot! :slight_smile:
This is a sheet of mine, which I use for my students. It’s a part of a fretboard navigation Workshop.
For a while, I thought of making a book, at the moment I use single pdf in lists in a software named Trello.
Feel free to use it as you like! If you want to use authors name: Sebastian Albert.
Thanks again and greets from Hamburg!


I use this for students too. I wish you could automate copying a board—it’s the only part of my system that’s not automated and it can’t be done from a phone.

For later courses I switched from Kanban style in Trello to simple checkboxes in Google Sheets.


I think in terms of pentatonic shapes for better or worse. Lol

I can add notes to them like a 2 or 6 of a mode to the minor shapes.
Or a 4 or 7 of some sort to the major
That’s an over simplification

This dictates that I also know intervals as well as note names.

I also see mode shapes all over the neck in 3nps shapes. Fairly new to me

I can build arpeggios

Have played with chord scale thinking.
As In seeing the chord, scale and arpeggio all in a position.

If I want to I can go off the grid and create musical ideas with the ears only but if you break them down they can still be described in context of one of the above concepts.

But in general, arps n pentatonic shapes are the basis of my improv.

Note, Im not great at it but that wasn’t the question

If asked which method to try I would say spend time with them all eventually.

For me each has added a bit to the big picture.


Sounds great, thanks!


You are absolutely right that one can adjust for the B string (and I’ll upload that picture), but my personal problem is that I don’t want to have the irregular patterns in the middle of the fretboard for the benefit of having two E strings. For example, I look at a grand barre chord, and it’s something like 1, 5, 1, 3, 5, 1, and do I really need three root notes, particularly when hooked up to all kinds of digital effects? No, I limit myself to four strings for a chord (in practice), so 4ths is OK for my needs. But I must say, it’s certainly not for everybody!


vs. 4ths,


Hi patternblue. I’ve been looking at this pic for quite the time now trying to understand it but I’m not getting there.

1.) What do you mean by ‘‘seeing them as ONE pattern’’ ? The first 3 patterns are w-w (whole step-whole step), 4 and 5 are H-W (half step-whole step) and nr 6 and 7 (?) are W-H (whole step-half step).

Are you saying you look at the first 7 as one pattern?

2.) If the first pattern is the deep E string and the pattern nr 6 is the high E string and you’re playing on a 6-string guitar, where do you play pattern number 7? (2–3-4) Where do you repeat it?

3.) ‘‘I hope everyone finds this helpful because it blew my mind when I first saw it.’’ In what way does seeing this 7-pattern 3nps (one big pattern) help you? In what kind of scenarios do you find you using it most?

I’m not trying to be rude at all. Just trying to understand both how it works and it what ways it’s best to utilize this :smiley:

I’ve been looking at this and trying to make sense of it =




ahaha I’m actually dying


I’m talking about the whole visual shape. The 3nps system has 7 huge shapes, whereas my diagram is just one picture. Easier to memorize one thing instead of 7 things, right?

You can’t play the 2-3-4 row because your guitar has run out of strings. Your only option is to move horizontally (I think I posted a diagram of a horizontal shape in another thread)… or you can move downwards.

Say you want to play a random Dorian scale somewhere on the fretboard. For example, F# Dorian. I would just pick a random F# on the fretboard (like say A-string, 9th fret). Then I play through the shape starting from the 2-3-4 row… Or I might start from 11th fret on G string and move downwards instead.

Of course, you have to adjust for the damn G-B string border, which means you still have to memorize 7 different transitions when crossing over that border. Or you can just do what I do now - switch to P4 tuning :wink:


I can’t understand why you advocate 4ths and yet also advocate “modes,” e.g., saying “F# dorian” is massive unnecessary complexity. I think it’s much easier to think of the problem as “2=F#,” and still focus on where the 1 is in terms of navigation.


You can just replace “dorian” with “2” if you like. I just happen to think “2” sounds Dorian to me. Putting names and sound associations makes it easier to remember instead of just “2”.

So you can just quote this instead:
“Say you want to play a random ‘2’ scale somewhere on the fretboard. For example, ‘F# - 2’. I would just pick a random F# on the fretboard (like say A-string, 9th fret). Then I play through the shape starting from the 2-3-4 row… Or I might start from 11th fret on G string and move downwards instead.”


Perfect, for a minute I was worried that you memorized lots of “modes,” but it is obvious that you don’t! :slight_smile:


I’ve “memorized” them, in the sense that I can play any mode I want: just play the shape but emphasize note “2” if I want the “dorian” sound, or emphasize the note “5” if I want a “Mixolydian” sound, etc.

If you mean the mode scale formulas, I’ve memorized those too. But yeah the shape is more helpful imo. You get a visual and tactile sense of when something is gonna sound Mixolydian as soon as your fingers move over the red shape in my diagram. It’s a good way to link all the senses together: how the modes look, feel, and sound.