Behind the Pack: Fretboard Navgation
JTC has many incredible artists on its roster, but few match the attention to detail and clarity of thought that Jake Willson manages.
His Fretboard Navigation Masterclass is yet another example of a guitarist willing to tackle a difficult subject, with an end result that is as helpful as it is blimmin’ massive!
So to lift the lid on this behemoth of a release is the man himself!
Where did the idea for this Masterclass come from?
Fretboard Navigation was put together because I observed a gap between ‘fretboard knowledge’ and ‘fretboard practice’; it’s one thing to know where the notes are but it’s another thing to have practical access to them with the left hand when improvising and creating lines. This course consolidates fretboard visualisation while offering a systematic approach to left-hand fingering strategies, especially in relation to transition.
Who do you think it is going to be most beneficial to?
People who would like to ‘break out of the box’, as it were, and get more creative with their line creation. The use of transition offers many opportunities (rhythmic, melodic and textural) that positional playing doesn’t, so I think it’d be a really powerful resource for people who struggle to break out of positional playing.
As someone who has released an album of their own, do you feel this kind of knowledge is essential when creating new music?
I think the ‘etudes and challenges’ at the end of the Masterclass offer an interesting creative strategy; I call it the ‘available finger theory’. Something like that, though simple, can force you to approach things in a new way, well outside of your comfort zone. It definitely encourages creativity, and that point at which you’re at the edge of your knowledge and abilities is often where some of the best art comes from. Spend time there!
People love gear! So may as well ask what your set up was for this Masterclass…
My Fibenare signature model (Roadmaster ‘JW’) into the Kemper - keeping it simple!
You’re known for an in-depth approach with your content, do you feel that’s down to taking on big topics, or does it just reflect you as a person...or both?
I try to find gaps in what’s out there in “guitar space” and then aim to fill those gaps. In the process, I usually discover why those gaps exist: because they are daunting amounts of work to do properly! I don’t mind though - I’d rather put the hours in and create something that I feel is important in the long term.
Also, I’ve spent a lot of time in education and I know how important clear and accurate thinking is (and how misconceptions can create long-term misconceptions). While I’m by no means perfect, I do strive to have a positive contribution to the way these things are done.
What’s the biggest takeaway from this release?
Feed your hands with this stuff and you’ll radically expand the number of ways you can generate lines, all over the neck.
Any ideas on your next Masterclass?
Nothing set in stone yet, but a ‘Fretboard Navigation Vol. 2’ might be in the cards (but applying the system and method to Melodic Minor tonality). I’m also thinking about putting something together about managing changes. We’ll see…