Rutbuster: The "Octave Cage"

This is the third installment of what I'm calling the "Rutbuster" Tuesday Tips. Be sure to check out the first and second Rutbusters if you haven't already.

This week is an introduction to what I call "Octave Cages". Basically, this is a limitation exercise for building fretboard knowledge in a specific part of the neck - one octave to be exact.

The idea is to choose one octave of the chromatic scale anywhere you want on the guitar neck - A on the 3rd string 2nd fret up to A on the 1st string 5th fret, for instance.

Using only the notes between the two "outer walls" of your octave cage, see how much musical information you can dig up. Some examples...

  • All 12 Major 7 Arpeggios. (I did this for you on the diagrams here.)
  • All 12 Dominant 7 Arpeggios
  • All 12 Minor 7 Arpeggios
  • All 12 Half-Diminished Arpeggios
  • All 12 Diminished 7 Arpeggios
  • All 12 Major Scales
  • All 12 Dorian Scales
  • All 12 Minor Pentatonic Scales

    Did you notice the "All 12" theme in the list above? In just one octave of the chromatic scale you can literally find every scale, mode, arpeggio, etc.

    This is pretty mind-bending stuff once you start digging in. And the great thing about this type of exercise is that it benefits everyone from beginners to advanced players. We can all learn new ways to navigate the fretboard using octave cages!

    Pick one item from the list above and work it out using the octave cage idea. Let me know how you get along!


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