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How to Use Octaves to Unlock the Fretboard

Everybody likes a bargain, especially when the deal you’re getting is on something as valuable as guitar knowledge. That’s right, there’s a fire sale going on in today's lesson: you can get five licks for the price of one!

Using octaves is the secret ingredient to getting the most out of the fewest notes and phrases. Simply by taking one of your go-to licks and transposing it up or down various octaves across the neck, you unlock hidden pathways to new, more cohesive improvising.

More precisely, connecting the dots in this fashion will grant you access to various positions in a given scale that you might be using to construct a solo, and what’s more, you’ll achieve this feat without sounding like you’re running through your modes like you would in a practice session with a metronome.

This concept is derived from a lesson in my course Guitar Super System on “Home Riffs,” which creates a foundation to return to as you venture outside your comfort zone during an improvisation.

Identifying a given set of notes all over the neck acts as an ear-training exercise and a way to improve your fretboard vision. As you dive deeper into this idea, you’ll begin to see your phrasing take on new embellishments while you subconsciously concentrate on making the transitions between octaves more expressive in a musical context.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.