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Am I a genius or just stupid?

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Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 186
Topic starter  

Ok, so I just picked up a legal version of the illegal real book, and after looking through and finding alot of tunes I had heard and knew I liked, I tried to play a few, just sight reading through them, no stopping. I am really only proficient at reading in first position right now, so that's how I read all of them. I know that alot of times it makes more sense to read in a different position, but I couldn't do it yet. But I also started to notice that I HATED the sound of open strings. It just sucks. So I was trying to figure out a way for my dumb brain to put it into a diffferent position so I could simply fret all the notes. I then had a revelation. If you know how to read in first position, you pretty much already know how to read in ALL positions. For example:

Playing the standard "Bluesette" (one of my favorites btw) in the key of G major, it is easily playable in first position. Everything fits all nice and pretty right there in the first 4 frets. But like I said I hate open strings. The first note is open d, so I said to myself, what if I play that d on the 5th fret of the A string, and then follow the SAME FINGERING PATTERNS from there? Low and behold, with some minor tweaking due to the b string being tuned how it is in relation to the other strings, I played the same notes, only in a different position! I just thought of my first finger as being the nut of the guitar and seing everything in first postion, only I was fretting all the notes. Essentially I made all the notes that lie below two frets from my first finger "dissapear" and just thought of how it would be played in first position, only instead of just playing an open string, I'd fret the note with my first finger. Purrty cool huh? And it WORKED!

I didn't have time to try it out all over the neck with different tunes becuase it was late, but I spent the next hour working out scenarios in my head trying to disprove my theory of sight reading not being as difficult as it looks, but I couldn't. So, have I stumbled across something that will truly make it way easier for me, or am I just being lazy and not wanting to memorize all different patterns across the neck? Cuz' if this really works like I think it is going to, all that remains to do really is to know the names of all the notes on the fretboard cold, and I'm already good at that on 3 of ther strings! Am I a genius or just stupid?

The meaning of life? I've never heard a simpler question! Music.

Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1196

You are neither a genius or stupid. You have however just made a huge leap in your long journey of playing guitar. Congratulations to you for getting further down the path. Keep it up, but remember there will be many crossroads and plateaus. You just have to keep going, no matter how hard the journey.

It is a small world for metal fanatics. I welcome you fellow musicians, especially the metalheads!

Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 530

Aren't those lightbulb moments great? I know exactly what you are talking about. :D I second the comment on plateaus and crossroads, however. Its a journey, thats for sure.

congrats, good luck, have fun.

"Contrary to popular belief, Clapton is NOT God. The prospect that he is God probably had a large hand in driving him to drugs and booze. Thanks everyone."

-Guitar World :lol:

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921

You've figured out almost all of the logic of position play - that the same notes are in more than one place. There's one more key,and it'll all come together for ya (the fingerboard, that is): the 'kink' in moving patterns across the 3rd and 2nd strings.

If you've got a note on the first or second string, it'll be one fret lower than you'd expect when you move it to the 3rd-6th strings.... and notes from those strings will become one fret higher on the neck when you go to the 1st/2nd strings.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 289

Sort of related - it's been a good long while since I've played out of the Real Book, but I always played the tunes an octave higher than written (in a higher position up the neck, the actual position depending on the tune).

Standard guitar notation is written an octave higher than it sounds (that is, the C on the first fret of the B string is notated on the third space of the treble clef, but the actual pitch is an octave lower at middle C), while the Real Book is "concert" pitch. Johnny Smith had a set of books that was actually written in concert pitch, using two staffs (bass/treble) IIRC.

Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 329

Great discovery Kyle.

Sounds like a good idea for an article for GN.

Sight reading is all too over looked, and this is a question I've bounced around the empty spaces of my brain a few times also.

Time for me to give it a try. Thanks for the leg up.


Playing an instrument is good for your soul

Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8184

Kyle, congratulations,
You have made a major breakthrough. There is no stopping you now.
I just played a couple of songs from my copy of "the Real Book"
For those of you in the Reading Notation thread HERE is proof of the advantage of being able to read.