Watch the Practicing online guitar lesson by Larry Carlton from 335 Blues
We learn a lot of great chords down in the open position, where we have the benefit of open strings ringing against fretted notes. But what happens when we want to recreate that sound somewhere up the neck? Well, you have to find new ways - often difficult ways - to recreate those harmonies without the help of open strings.
Look at the tab to see how I play a few such chords using all fretted notes. Sometimes a finger has to do double-duty to nail those voicings up the neck. One thing I've found useful is to lean my index finger over so that the tip of my finger can play one note while the middle knuckle plays in another fret. Talk about a knucklebuster.
Every player has to figure out which practice techniques work best to improve his or her playing. While a lot of guys like to burn scales, running them up and down in one position doesn't help us learn the neck. Besides, you don't need all the notes of a scale to make music.
As I've said before, I think it's really crucial to be comfortable all over the fretboard. For one thing, it keeps you from being locked into one fixed position when it comes time to solo. You'll also find that each note takes on a very different tone depending on which string and which fret it's played on.
So, one alternative approach to practicing is to just take one or two notes that work over your rhythm track, and see how many places you can find them between the nut and the highest fret. Then see if you can develop a solo using just those one or two notes in all the places you've found them. After a couple tries you can get a really fun-sounding solo going. And once you're accustomed to using all of those notes all over the neck, you'll have a whole set of jumping-off points for your solos.