Breaking Out of the Box: Runs in Octaves

Many younger guitarist quickly get the hang of the pentatonic box.  The trouble is that once you get stuck in the box it’s tough to break out and begin to use the whole length of the fretboard. One easy way to do this is to play an easy lick and repeat it in different octaves.  The guitar is set up great to do something like this.  To begin, create a simple run of a couple notes USING ONLY THE 5th and 6th string.  Then play the run up an octave by moving to the next group of two strings(4th and 3rd), and moving up 2 frets.  Then play the run yet again, up another octave by moving to the next group of strings (2nd and 1st), and moving up 3 frets.  I’ve provided an example below:

 Initial Run


Run in Three Octaves


As you can see, using this technique you can move around the fretboard very quickly.  Make up some of your own licks and try applying this technique.  Remember to try both ascending and decending.

If you have any questions or comments please email me at

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2 Responses

  1. Nice lesson with good explanation. Do you have any harder lessons with the same idea or a way wich this lesson could be made more advanced? Thanks
    BTW the lesson sounds like the Jetsons :D

  2. Great concept. This has a wide range of applications too. Thanks for sharing this. I’m a guitar teacher too, and learned something new and cool from this. :)

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