So you’ve nailed all the arps in your A Minor position and you drop two frets down. You’re in a well-worn pentatonic box, but you’re also in G Mixolydian, which has the nice feature of connecting the two tried and true pentatonics. Having the underlying arpeggios at hand makes navigating across the fretboard more comfortable, and it allows you to explore all of the upper structure sounds (Cmaj7 over Am [3,5,7,9] for instance) that let you colorfully solo without even touching the root.
Working out the 7th arpeggios by position is proving quite useful. Let’s kick off with Aeolian using A for simplicity’s sake.
Major Add 9’s are great chords without being overly complex. The triad on strings 2/3/4 plus the 9 on the top string is a personal favorite, as is the movable form of the open C (add9). The root-3 version is really more of an inverted Mu (1/2/3/5) chord which I’ll dig into later.
This one is quite uncommon in rock or pop but easy to find in jazz where it’s usually used as a more interesting tonic chord. The only obvious place I could find this in the rock world was America’s Horse With no Name where the second chord of the main vamp is a 6/9. Interestingly, this chord contains the entire major pentatonic scale and is also a set of stacked fourth intervals, meaning you can play a whole barred figure at any fret and technically be playing a 6/9 chord with the root on the third string. I’d think you’d want a strong bass note behind the guitar to make that work. I haven’t tried it, but I thought it was interesting enough to include.
I’ve spent a lot of time working on chords and harmony lately, and I’ve concluded that I really need a good roadmap to move up and down or across the neck to speed the up the composition process. The most obvious place to start that wasn’t the 6th-string bar chords we all know was the 5th-string-root shape that seems to come up first for dominant 7th chords or the Hendrix chord. There are a few fantastic voicings in here.
The m9’s of the second and sixth degree are a chord I’ve highlighted before, and the m7 of the seventh was frankly a surprise. It never occurred to me to drop the flattened 5th to create a less tense seventh chord of the major scale, but it seems more useful than just avoiding the seven altogether. I also really like the maj7(add9) and maj7(add13) you get in the root and fourth positions. There’s a load of color on tap in this template. I’m looking forward to connecting seamlessly it across strings and to a larger set of voicings.
I’ve had trouble finding good simple charts of spread triads. Rick Beato did a great video on them recently, but I had trouble finding a simple reference for spread triads in his book (which I’d highly recommend here, as it is freakishly comprehensive). I figured it was worth working out my own reference to share on Pedal On. Here are the major spread triads with their bass note on the lowest string. They aren’t all easy to play, but they sound great. I’ll work across the strings and then into minor and maybe beyond.
Thirds are a lot more useful as double stops than seconds, and obviously they’re key building blocks of most chords. Luckily, no stretching or string skipping is required to grab major or minor thirds across the neck. They work nicely hammered on to/from fourths or from major seconds as well.
This may be the least useful individual diagram I ever post, but for the sake of completeness, I am starting my run through of intervals with major/minor 2nds. I worked through Truefire’s Interval Insights course, and I now feel even more confident that knowing where to grab all of the intervals on the neck is a worthwhile skill to have. I can’t demonstrate how to use them in context here, as Rich does, but it should be pretty simple to lay out the locations of each set to refer to for your own experiments.
Seconds are neither particularly consonant nor comfortable to grab. I kept stretches to a three fret minimum in this diagram, as going out of your way to grab either of these doesn’t seem necessary.
Diving back to triads in all positions. I don’t naturally grab these triads up the neck, but now is as good a time as any to start.
On to the top three strings. I’ve personally never spent enough time on the shapes on these strings, so this is a useful learning exercise, and hopefully sharing these proves helpful more broadly. I’ve certainly never noticed that barring the top three strings gives you a major sixth or that you have a useful, easy sus2 in most pentatonic boxes.