Watch the Voice Leading online guitar lesson by Kenny Wessel from Shades of Jazz
In order to improvise fluently, we need to be familiar with the whole fretboard of the guitar. This section deals with breaking down the fretboard into sections so we can cover the whole neck without any holes or dark areas.
I like to divide the neck into 5 positions, as it allows for us to deal with a segment of the neck at a time, and is a bit more attainable if we're trying to learn the fretboard. 5 positions will cover the whole fingerboard (after that the positions repeat). I'll demonstrate this with major scales, specifically the G major scale. Each of these positions doesn't necessarily begin and end on the root, it is our responsibility to know where those roots are (the Gs), and to be able to target them in each of the 5 scale positions. These scale positions are included in the course material, so you can immediately start to dig in.
We also want to be able to target and isolate the chord tones or arpeggios in each of these scale positions - the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th (G major 7 chord). After we are somewhat familiar with the 5 scale positions, then start to attack grabbing the chord tones as they fall in each of the positions. As improvisers, we need to ability to outline the harmony that we're playing over, and this involves being able to play the chord tones, or resolved notes over the chords that we're connecting with (in this case, the G maj7 notes - G, B, D and F#).
In order to change keys we can move these scale positions up or down the fretboard (as long as there are no open strings) and transpose by position. We do eventually need to still find the pitches to be a more complete player, though!