1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

how do you view the fretboard?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ics1974, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. ics1974


    Apr 13, 2012
    Just wondering how everyone views the fretboard.
    Do you see box shapes, note names, intervals, scales etc.?

    I see a dynamic fretboard that is always changing based off the chord of the moment. What I mean is when the chord changes my fretboard visulization shifts to this new chord shape.
    The only note name I see is the root note of the chord, all the other notes are intervals. I build my chord shapes off a standard triad. So for example if I need a minor chord I see a major chord but flatten the 3. If I need a dominant 7th I can just add in the b7 note that is two frets left of the 1 etc..
    I can also visualize all the other scale note intervals surrounding the major triad shape simply by knowing the interval values in relation to the triad shapes.
    So yes I guess I know my scales but I create them on the fly using chord tones. I don't see scales like the diagram you see on the internet, I create my own and only use them as a guide not a rule. All notes in the chromatic scale can be played if timing is right.
    To sum it up the major triad shape is my fretboard map.

    How do you see the fretboard?
  2. bongostealth

    bongostealth Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    I see shapes, people, places, colors, ever-shifting shapes, and shape-shifting objects. I see whatever my mind makes me see in order to play creatively.
  3. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    With my eyes :rolleyes:

    Seriously though I usually just view it to find out if I'm in the right spot and let my fingers do the talking. After decades of working on my guitar/bass skills I just kind of think of where I want the melody to go and the fingers handle the rest. Do I mess it up? Of course, but more often than not I can go on "auto pilot" worrying more about making the changes on time than embellishing the progression.

    I am by no means the greatest player ever, but I guess I'm doing ok. Maybe I need to challenge my self more often than I do. I'm not a jazz cat where thinking about the intervals and such is a way of life, but I can work my way through Dream Theater songs well enough. :D

    When I do think about it though I guess I see it as more of a "grid" so boxes would be my answer.
  4. KarlK


    Jan 11, 2013
    Well, this thread pushed me to register just so I could reply.

    I see the fretboard as a maze. Of course, I've only been trying to navigate it since Christmas! I'm hoping that over time that perspective on the fretboard will change. It's been a blast so far, and I'm finding myself smiling when I notice the callouses that have already formed on the fingers of my left hand. Think I may be getting hooked.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I have been playing so long I can't remember the last time I even looked at the fretboard. (Does that make me good, or just old?)

    But to answer your question, I generally "see" the root of where I am, and the root of what's coming next. The rest is a blur but I know my way around so well it seems to work.

    This, of course, is unless I'm singing at the same time. Then I just play by muscle memory and sing my butt off the best I can.
  6. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I'm more of an "on the dots" or "between the dots" kinda guy.
  7. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    I see the fretboard more as shapes, but they're woefully incomplete.

    Octave shape, major scale shape, root to major 3rd, root to 5th, 7/flat 7 to root. I am trying to view the fretboard in the framework of harmonic relationships - IE II-V-I from various keys. Going through keys and using the various shapes is really helping me to "see" the fretboard but I have a looooong way to go.
  8. Geroi Asfalta

    Geroi Asfalta

    Aug 23, 2011
  9. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    To be honest, I have never thought about it. I learn the song and play what is right for it. You can drive yourself crazy if you try to over think things.
  10. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I see notes and sometime intervals
  11. I see notes.
  12. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Notes, intervals, arpeggios, scales, etc.... After 23 years, I still can't claim to be a virtuoso, but I can look at that fretboard just about any old way I want/need to.
  13. I see frets and the spaces between them. I HEAR where all the notes are located, and I play them accordingly. It's not a visual thing with me, it's more of a feel and hearing thing.
  14. This for me as well, and I generally go into a "zone" and play almost unconsciously (unless I'm singing). After 25+ years and hundreds of gigs, though, I I had to go and buy a fiver. Now I actually have to think again. Oh the horror!!!
  15. 66Atlas


    May 19, 2012
    Everybody does it differently i guess. I just "view" it with my ears.
  16. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    As intervals based on the note just played. This allows me to use a scalar approach, a chordal approach, and for non-root notes (i.e., inversions or color tones) to be treated equally rather than as departures from root-based playing.
  17. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    I havent yet memorized the note names, so I translate intervallic content to the shapes on the fretboard. First I create a mental grid of the root notes throughout the tune. Then relative to each root, I map out the shape of each chord.

    Works for me, for now...
  18. lavaxtris


    Feb 3, 2009
    shapes and numbers. mostly triangles. sometimes I imagine the dots on scale tab.
  19. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    This is actually a great topic. I view the fretboard as a set of a few different geometric shapes. The shapes always remain the same, only the locations change depending on what key and where I'm playing. Learning to look at the fretboard that way really simplified things and got my mind off the scalar/modal approach and now I have more control over what I'm playing, meaning I can connect with my instrument better vs. just playing a scale or mode when the chords change.

    It's basically the arpeggios of every chord starting from the 2nd or 4th fingers with all the chord extensions added in 9ths, 11ths and 13ths, play those on the strong beats, the 1 and the 3 and then I can add in passing tones on the weak beats which are the 2 and the 4.

    I've done the modal/scalar approach, I have them down cold but this way is simpler and gives more flexibility IMHO.
  20. I'd say that's how I view a fretboard too (though I'm primarily a guitarist - my apologizes). When I was starting out, it was all "scale boxes", but that has changed a lot, and these days I also tend to think and see in terms of chord tones.

    It's an interesting question - I often wonder how others "see" their fretboard.