The Major Scale: Part 13: Looping Positions

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We hinted last week that string shifting can sometimes look like a 3NPS. When we string shift using the second string it does indeed look this way. Take a look at last weeks sample in Bb. We moved from the 5th position to the 6th position using the 2nd string as a pathway (both positions being originally 7BPs).

String Shifting 002b

When we compare that ascending movement into the 6th Position you will seed that its the same position as that of the 5th position 3NPS.

String Shifting 002c

Looping Positions

The whole purpose of string shifting was to explore how we can navigate around the neck. You could say that when we want to stay in one part of the fretboard we can just use the 7BPs (this will be explored in a future article specifically about position playing).

Yet, if you were to ask yourself “is there a standardized way to move around the fretboard?”. I really don’t know. But, let me suggest a beginners first step in the right direction.

One basic approach to get us familiar to this idea of fretboard movement is to move between two positions. We talked about this last week with simple (yet complex) string shifting. 

A more basic way is to do something that I call “looping”. This involves the combination of using the 7BP and the 3NPS. Lets take a look on how we can do this.

So to make a loop we can use the fretboard and the key that we are working in as our guide. So, the first loop in the key of Bb is going from the 5th position to the 6th position. The starting position will always be a 3NPS. The second position will be a 7BP. We ascend the 3NPS into the 7BP. Then we descend into the 7BP. When we reach the 6th string in the 7BP, we just string shift back into the 3NPS position. If we do this continually we create a loop. 

Constructing a Loop: The rules

Lets apply the rules again to illustrate this by using the next two degree “markers” in the key of Bb: 6th and the 7th degree positions.

1. Pick two positions that are next to each other (6th and 7th degrees)

looping rule 01

2. Make the first position a 3NPS and the second one a 7BP.

looping rule 02

3. Ascend the 3NPS into the 7BP. Once you reach the first string descend into the 7BP until you reach the 6th string.

looping rule 03

4. Shift on the sixth string back into the begining of the 3NPS and repeat.

Looping positions in this way helps you to start seeing the fretboard in a more systematic way. By combining our knowledge of 7BP and 3NPS we can systematically go from one position to the next.


So, when we ascend to move to the next postion, we use the 3NPS to get into the next position. Then we descend into the new position which will be a 7BP. Once we get to the bottom of the 7BP we just slide back to the original starting position and start all over again. You can do this for each degree position.

Next week, we will review what pivoting is and how to use what we know to link the fretboard positions. Linking is where we put everything together to “lock” into total fretboard awareness.

 Next week is a big deal. Don’t hestitate and think about it too much.

Practice Session

This week its the C Major Loops. All positions. Don’t talk just play. Let’s practice.

C Major Scale Position Loops

© John Culjak 2016-2017