Let's take the pentatonic scale. This scale has 5 positions (5 boxes). I can play each box and i can imrovise on it.

But, how do i improvise on all the boxes? How do i traverse from one box to another?

This is common to see on videos, guys playing the pentatonic scale up and down the whole neck of the guitar...

My question is, how do i do that?

A friend of mine suggested to learn where the root note on each box is... Then traverse from one box to another by playing the next note from the root note you just pressed, to the other box's root note plus one note later...

Is this valid? And is this it? Or there's more?

  • The "root note of each box" on the low-e is going to be from one of the chord forms (barre to the proper place on the fretboard). Two boxes that root on the 5th fret (for A) are the G-barre and E-barre patterns. The so-called BB-box is basically the D-barre position for that chord. For A, you can start at open-A and swing from chord box to chord box all the way up and repeat at 12. This is the CAGED system.
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 16:08

2 Answers 2

  • Practice connections among boxes. I used to slide a finger and develop ideas on the new box. Eventually you will be able to connect all boxes, and find several connections between each pair. That's subconscious to experienced guitarists.
  • Other method is to create a chord for each box and learn the chord sequence, forward and backwards. Chords will give you ideas about possible lines and connections among boxes.
  • Other method, as you said, is to learn the roots, this is a simplification of the chord sequence idea.
  • Other, develop licks that allow switch between boxes. Remember that it seems a lot of work, but every learning is done only once, if you don't stop practicing.
  • +1 Welcome to music.se I was about to write my own answer about sliding into a new box, but you covered that already. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:17

Of course learn the roots for each box. Realise that the higher notes of each two on each string is the lower of each two in the next box up, and vice versa. Thus, to move from one box to the next, initially, slide from the higher note in one box up to the next note in the scale, which will be the lower of the two in the next box up. You can go the opposite way by sliding down, too. It'll put your hand and fingers right into the next box.Keep it simple to start with by using only one octave of the pent.scale.

Also bear in mind that hammers, pull offs and slides work between different notes in different boxes. Not going into that now, though...

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