Skip to content →

The Key to Breaking Out of Scale Boxes

Last updated on October 16, 2018

You’ll find a lot of stuff on the internet about breaking out of scale boxes; some players suggest learning the modes (more boxes?) or throwing other intervals into the mix (still a box), playing horizontally up and down one string (not practical), and even learning arpeggios (yet more patterns). These approaches are all well and good, but don’t really get to the crux of why it’s so hard for guitarists to break away from those incredibly comfortable box positions, especially those of the minor pentatonic variety. Let me just say that there’s nothing wrong with playing in boxes; many guitarists have made lifelong careers out of it, and it might just be that you’re not melodic enough, and you need a more melodic approach to scales such as this one. If that doesn’t do it for you, you might want to consider the following…

IN ORDER TO BREAK OUT OF SCALE BOXES, YOU NEED TO STOP THINKING IN SCALE BOXES.

Think about that for a second. What’s more, if you feel the need to break out of scale patterns and boxes, it most likely means that you’re ready to take your playing to the next level and see all the possibilities on the fretboard, rather than a few box patterns – some more discernible than others.

How do you stop thinking in scale boxes?
Good question. Up until this point, you may have reduced everything you know on the guitar to a pattern, which is somewhat like painting by numbers. What we need to do is wipe the slate clean and come up with a different approach that a) doesn’t involve boxes, and b) serves as a mental workout for us to find the notes we want without relying on a pattern to get there.

Let’s see what we can do with the A Minor Pentatonic scale to replace those boxes with some other way of finding the notes. The first thing we need to do is make sure we know where all the A notes are on the fretboard. Here’s a diagram to help you:
breaking out of scale boxes
The next step is to play the root, the minor third and the minor seven on the same string all over the fretboard as follows:
how to break out of scale boxes
As you can see, this is just enough of the scale to be dangerous but not enough to fall back into pattern playing. There are two things you can do here: 1) come up with a riff or lick and play it on every string, and 2) try moving around the fretboard using only the intervals above – the idea here being to force yourself into different parts of the fretboard without using a pattern or ending up in another box. Play around with this for a good while until you know what intervals you’re playing. Part of not thinking in boxes is stopping relying on boxes to find notes; here we’re locating notes by their interval name or distance in frets from the root. Once you’re ready to move on, add in the remaining two notes from the scale; practice finding them first using the following diagram:
how to break out of scale patterns
The four and the five from a minor pentatonic scale are the ‘weakest’ notes, and once you know where they are, you’ll be itching to combine them with the other intervals. The key here is to keep on choosing what to play rather than reverting to boxes; in any case, you should see the huge difference in your perception of the scale.

READ NEXT  10 Game-Changing Soloing Tips for Guitarists

There are in fact two favorable outcomes from this exercise; the first is that even if you drift back into boxes, you’ll have a much better idea of what you’re playing rather than having the scale box dictate it to you, the second is that you’ve hopefully opened your mind’s eye view of the fretboard to possibilities other than a box shape.

This works with pretty much any scale, so feel free to try it out with any other patterns you feel trapped in.

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Xrp
  • Bitcoin cash
  • Litecoin
  • Tether
  • Cardano
  • Dash
  • Monero
  • Stellar
  • Neo
  • Nano
Scan to Donate Bitcoin to 3QMnkUCnDpurBQhgawmnnJWXhmjBrRdWCH

Support us by donating some Bitcoin to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Bitcoin

Scan to Donate Ethereum to 0xce9ddc43f3fd81074652991d161be37cc641da66

Support us by donating some Ethereum to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Ethereum

Scan to Donate Xrp to rLSn6Z3T8uCxbcd1oxwfGQN1Fdn5CyGujK

Support us by donating some Xrp to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Xrp

Tag/Note:- 72456821
Scan to Donate Bitcoin cash to 35DvF8RMKbKnufPd4yKdAAKNt3quCvn4GK

Support us by donating some Bitcoin cash to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Bitcoin cash

Scan to Donate Litecoin to MMxEJDz5MWiw2WGftJLPApTSjSoXnJtXtM

Support us by donating some Litecoin to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Litecoin

Scan to Donate Tether to 0x23c7A7985a9Bc3d0320839CA75b7ec7ABA1C66d9

Support us by donating some Tether to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Tether

Scan to Donate Cardano to Ae2tdPwUPEZMtA193syAR9pCFPdFtv9HKQNfdCLcQphVZEV2uhFhTnLMGtj

Support us by donating some Cardano to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Cardano

Scan to Donate Dash to XvuQfhUWV2WXAvtda5Ya2645Tu2ZCzDEU2

Support us by donating some Dash to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Dash

Scan to Donate Monero to 47s7YYjJJb9GVL6USvT4M59ovwRvZbwruMdDJGhuG5m23V9vsm9SCy59obfkbEd5S9cWiV2WJ3Zt2T8dKbCoFQmdUX7byy5

Support us by donating some Monero to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Monero

Scan to Donate Stellar to GBRX6VYQHH3KHHTLNO2JMVP6UWJURIA6NDFP4HZ73UG6MTVWSLOYJANP

Support us by donating some Stellar to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Stellar

Scan to Donate Neo to AX6xhcjej6nkc4HBNJ2Aiu473zm5q1XEEz

Support us by donating some Neo to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Neo

Scan to Donate Nano to nano_391jywfffefzwhtkmmedshparnejrnpfq9gjbyuafdfqsoxdkedb1hah4x8w

Support us by donating some Nano to this site

Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Nano

Published in Guitar Hacks Improvisation Intervals Mental Stuff Scale Patterns Scales Soloing

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *