Position Shifting and Scale Shape Choices in Soloing

Question by Serge

Hello Marc-Andre,

Thank you for your jazz guitar educational web site effort and clear ideas presented. If you have a spare minute (or two!) can you please share your ideas on how to efficiently shift positions/move from one scale shape in mind to the next when soloing?

A beginner improviser can at some point in time of his learning process find himself knowing major 5 CAGED scale boxes well but it’s easy and comfortable to stay in a box and not to explore wider range of the fretboard.

Is there a common logical way of connecting shapes and more importantly when is it best to connect shapes?

I understand there are countless ways of doing this but what would you suggest as a starting point?

I found in your articles that you have a talent of explaining complex things simple. I also see you can suggest a good starting point for a complex subject.

I know your opinion on using the diagonal scales and I see your point but for people with smaller hands it would be easier not to reach for the fifth fret too often and that’s why I think it’s not for everyone. Thus, four fret shapes come to mind and they have to be connected in some convenient way.

Thank you,

Hello Serge,

Thank you for the nice words about my teaching and website; I’m glad I can help you improve your jazz guitar playing.

Positions and Connections

The starting point for shifting positions lies in the half-steps present in the scale , (ie where you get one fret distance between two notes.)

In the major scale, you have that semitone happening between degrees 3-4 and 7-8. It’s logical to use half-steps to connect shapes because you can easily “slide” into the next position.

If you know five CAGED positions really well, you can find a few good “one fret” spots where the index or the pinky can slide up/down to the next familiar position in the same key.

See for yourself! Take some time and find the smoothest connecting points for your left hand.

Positions Demonstration

I already explained some of the principles for connecting and shifting positions on JazzGuitarLessons.net (but not for the CAGED system unfortunately).

You can watch me playing through seven positions of G major scale using half-steps to connect each one :

And finally, read those articles “that explain it all” in my own words. The position shifting/connecting is in the third article near the end. You can also play directly through that PDF of 7 Positions of G major Connected.

-1- How to Have Six Fingers and Control the Universe

-2- Top Must-Know Positions for Jazz Guitar

-3- Scales Polishing and Connecting

-4- Complete Arps

-5- Triads and Seventh Chords

I hope it helps. If not, let me know by leaving a comment here and I’ll try my best to help you further.

Practice Well,
Marc-Andre Seguin


Don’t forget to check out A Modern Method for Guitar at some point; it WILL help your positions/scales playing in no time.

Old Comments for Position Shifting and Scale Shape Choices in Soloing

Apr 16, 2013
by: Gustavo

I liked your good job,its great for teach us how play this cool amazing style called jazz!!!!

Jan 17, 2010
by: Grunt

Very good explanation and video demo. Thank you!

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