Brad Bailey

Fretboard Freedom by Troy Nelson

I'm always looking for something new to motivate me to improve my playing. So on my latest trip to the guitar store, I was happy to come across Fretboard Freedom, a new book from Troy Nelson.

This will mainly be for my guitar people.

I've been playing guitar for about 25 years. Much of that time, I was stuck in boxes. I learned the standard pentatonic (greek for "five note") scale box, and used almost only that for several years. (Think the first phrase of Jimmy Page's solo from "Stairway to Heaven.") Sometimes I'd break out of it, but that was always home base. Even when I had to play jazz, I'd almost always rely on the minor pentatonic scale pattern.

I had difficulty visualizing the fretboard as a whole. I tried a bunch of different tricks. But I still see it in boxes.

Troy Nelson, former editor of my favorite guitar magazines, has come up with a method to get out of that rut. In Fretboard Freedom, he's come up with a daily practice regimen to help us box-imprisoned pickers to get out of the box, and also to see how the patterns relate to different chords.

Nelson takes a chord-based approach, rather than scalar. The reasoning being that chord tone focused playing enables us to outline the chord changes of the music we're playing.

For me, one of the best parts of the book is its organization. Something new to work on every day. I'm one of those who needs a methodical approach, and Nelson delivers here. Each week focuses on a new key center. First up, he gives the chord voicings, arpeggio, and scale pattern that everything will be built from. Then there's a lick based off of a chord voicing. The next few lessons are the same lick reworked in different fretboard positions, built off of different chord voicings. Towards the end of the week he changes things up.

I'm already finding Fretboard Freedom to be very helpful. The set schedule has motivated me to be more consistent in my practicing, and I'm already making connections that had escaped me the last 20 odd years.

Here's the Amazon link.

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