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Guitar Related Book Reviews

3 Shape Fretboard
Guitar Scales and arpeggios as variants of 3 shapes of the Major scale

Gareth Evans
ISBN 978-0-9576506-9-5
Copywrite © 2014 by Intuition Publications

Intended Audience
Intermediate to advanced guitarist.

One - really long - Sentence Synopsis

A very detailed, innovative presentation of scales, arpeggios, and 'so much musically more' collected in predictable, linkable and moveable patterns that are clearly explained, diagrammed, and immediately applicable.

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…just an additional note on Gareth.
He is an extremely proficient guitarist and supports an YouTube channel that has excellent tutorials.
Well worth your time to check these lessons out.

  • "This book is primarily about the geometry of the fret-board, guitar scales and arpeggios." - quoted from the author's introduction.
  • Scale and fretboard integration as foundation and point of lift-off
  • Unlimited opportunities for application of content
  • Fretboard mapping and navigation
  • CAGED and Modal concepts, theory and application
  • Scale, Arpeggios, and chords - oh my!
  • Clear presentation of concepts presented
  • Some technically challenging areas
  • Detailed fretboard and other b/w illustrations throughout
  • Downloadable audio examples
  • Solid reference material and tables
  • Although intended for the intermediate and advanced guitarists there is lots o' good stuff for a beginning guitarist


There is clear evidence of many hours of dedication, organization, and piece-by-piece construction resulting in a detailed and extremely practical guitar instruction / reference manual. Be forewarned – you will not digest this in a day or two. There is a wealth of theory presented in digestible bits and pieces that are immediately applicable to your day-to-day practice routines and those soul-satisfying spurts of musical improvisation. There are also some areas that will require additional levels of concentration to fully grasp and integrate the concepts presented. The potential return on your investment is more than reciprocated.

The book begins with an overview of the fundamental structure of the fretboard and the positional relationship among the frets, strings, and notes. As the title indicates, the foundation of the book is based on 3 shapes (a fixed note pattern) on the fretboard that contain the notes of a Major or other scale classifications. These shapes are positional in nature and referred to as Low, Mid, or Upper. The positioning of the anchored root note remains constant but the remaining scale notes either cluster toward the nut (Low), beneath the anchored root (Mid), or drift toward the bridge (Upper). My description may be somewhat fuzzy, but the concept is easily grasped with the aid of the illustrations within the book.

The book explains how to move these shapes both vertically and horizontally on the fretboard and provides methods of shape connections that eliminate any obstacles to full fretboard navigation. The linkage between scales, notes, intervals, and the fretboard is fully self-contained and presented as a single entity. I have not seen the scales specifically presented in this fashion but can immediately appreciate the practical application opportunities. You will understand scale construction and theory if you take the time to understand the concepts reviewed. The ability to play any particular scale, any place on the fretboard, right when you need to, is not only powerful fun but also quite comforting. Enjoy your arrogance, well earned.

The CAGED system is also reviewed and presented in a fashion that – with study – will allow you to see the scale patterns lurking among the chord shapes. The additional concept presented in this section is the application of the 3-fretboard patterns that serve as the foundation for this manual. Recognizing the 3-fretboard, scale patterns beneath the chord shapes can be a playing revelation. Please note that this is a vast simplification of the material in this section.

This is followed with some suggestions and practice regiments that can be an aid in acquisition of fretboard knowledge. The suggested exercise will take some time but the return on the investment seems more than a fair exchange. Dig in, as this will contribute significantly to your musical repertoire. Beginning guitarists take note; it is never too late or too early to add to your musical knowledge and enhance your playing abilities.  

The modes of the Major and minor scale are presented, and this section will need to be reviewed slowly and with a sense of purpose. This book is intended for intermediate and advanced guitarist and many within that community may already have a conceptual or detailed knowledge of modal theory. For the modal uninitiated – and there are many – this section is well worth spending some time to ensure full comprehension and the gradual development of the ability to practically apply the lessons presented. All of the information presented is supported with detailed fretboard diagrams. This is a challenging section but also one that will significantly expand your ability to express yourself through your instrument.  

Honestly, allocating the one paragraph above to the Mode coverage in the book does not do the section justice. You can choose to wade waist deep into the modal coverage provided here.  

The remainder of the book is comprised of deep dives – deep dive emphasized - into scale harmonization, arpeggio construction, and alternate scale exploration. Each of these areas is thoroughly explained, diagrammed and equally as applicable as the earlier sections. Great diagrams of all of the primary Major and minor scales - all of the building block notes - all of the modes - all of the intervals - all of the triads - all of the full chords. Whew! Give yourself some time.

There are multiple, comprehensive, illustrations and tables sprinkled throughout the book that are essential for understanding and exploration of the guitar.

    Conclusion: This book was not easily assembled. Labor of love stamped all over it.

      Although intended for the intermediate and advanced this is not to be ignored by the beginning guitarist. Obviously, a book of 130+ pages is not easily distilled down to the length of this review. There is a wealth of information and a unique, pattern-based key that will open the door to endless musical possibilities. You only have to invest the time in order to earn the key that will allow passage. 

      Oh, and, of course, you have to buy the book.

      • Unique perspective.

      • Requires commitment for full value.

      • Excellent reference source.

      • Just so much good stuff.

      • Highly recommended.