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High position work

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Why go up the neck?

As we play higher up the neck, we don't only gain new, higher notes, and lose a corresponding number of deep bass notes... notes of the same pitch are found on different, thicker strings. The combination of extra thickness and reduced length changes the note appreciably, giving it a much warmer sound, with a reduced harmonic content and a less pungent "attack".

But there are other gains and losses too - let's explore some of them.

On the upside

On the downside

Somewhere else

What position should I be in?

Now if we knew the answer to that, fingering a guitar piece would be so easy we wouldn't need editors!

Certainly, some positions suit some keys - in the IX position, every diatonic note in the key of D is under the fingers.

Yet curiously, VII position is often used for D - the top octave is under the fingers, but the bottom octave is less so.

As you can see, it's not obvious! A little experimentation, however, will soon show whether, for example, the position you've chosen requires lots of low notes with the 4th finger (not the easiest finger to reach a long way with), or whether the "strong" fingers take the lion's share of the work.

One thing is clear - facility all over the neck opens up a greater palette of tone and, indirectly, lyricism. Just as a cook can serve one type of meat in many ways, so we, by position work, can serve up a phrase in an almost infinite variety of colour...

See also

The seventh position teach-in

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Download an e-book of all the teach-ins

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