From Tom Morello's MasterClass

Theory: Unlocking the Fretboard

In the next step on your soloing journey, Tom teaches you his methods for soloing in any key, anywhere on the neck.

Topics include: Minor Scales: Solo in Any Key • Incorporate These Scales in Your Jamming • Same Notes, Different Key • The Phrygian Mode • Apply Your Personality to Technique • Modes: Putting Names to Feelings • Use Modes and Scales to Write


In the next step on your soloing journey, Tom teaches you his methods for soloing in any key, anywhere on the neck.

Topics include: Minor Scales: Solo in Any Key • Incorporate These Scales in Your Jamming • Same Notes, Different Key • The Phrygian Mode • Apply Your Personality to Technique • Modes: Putting Names to Feelings • Use Modes and Scales to Write

Tom Morello

Teaches Electric Guitar

Learn More


And now the time has come at last to unlock the neck, to unlock the fretboard, to learn how to solo all over the fretboard in any key. The way that I came to it was this. We've learned how to solo in A pentatonic. We've learned how to solo with an A blues scale. So now, let's do the first step to unlocking the neck-- let's learn how to solo with an A minor scale, what I call first position. Here it is here. I'm going to play it. It should be up on the screen. You play it along with me. It's going to play the-- it's also the Aeolian mode. We're not going to worry about modes right now. We're just going to call it the first position for now, the A minor scale. [PLAYING NOTES] And then back to the root note of A. [PLAYING NOTES] What we're going to do now is learn those notes all over the neck. So it starts here. We've already played it. [PLAYING NOTES] They begin again. [PLAYING NOTES] All right. So check it out. Here's the first position of the A minor scale. It says Aeolian there, which is the mode, but don't worry about that right now. That will all come later. These are the notes. The notes that are circled are the root note, in this case A. So everywhere you see the circle, that is a note that's A. That's the scale. We play it across and back. These are the notes. When we start at A and we hear A minor with a chord progression, play these notes, and they should fit snugly and sound like you're soloing like a fledgling genius on the guitar. All right? We're going to now play the second position of the A minor scale. [PLAYING NOTES] And now the third position. Again, these are the same notes, just we're moving up the neck. In the third position, the identical notes, just a little bit higher in pitch. [PLAYING NOTES] The fourth position. [PLAYING NOTES] The fifth position. [PLAYING NOTES] Sixth position. [PLAYING NOTES] Seventh position. [PLAYING NOTES] And what would be eighth position is back to first position, one octave higher than we began. First position, again, one octave up. [PLAYING NOTES] So just as we used the notes in first position to solo along with our chord progression, and it fits snugly, those are the same notes up and down the neck. So what I've done is I've memorized those seven positions. So I know where each of those positions and each of those note groupings are of the same notes are all over the neck. So we're going to use the notes of the A minor scale, no longer just in first position, but using all the positions to play a solo over the same chord progression. Let's go. [METRONOME TICKING] [MUSIC PLAYING] So what you're seeing is the same sequence of notes all the way up and down the neck, starting at different points. Each of the positions teaches us where they are at that particular part of the neck. The relative positions always remain the same. That's how you solo up and down the...

Strike a Chord

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Tom is just amazing. I've always really loved his style and looked up to him. I'm very grateful he's done this class.

I found exactly what I was looking for in this course- an overview and map to navigate the way forward. Not just the overall but also the very useful specifics, these lessons will save me a lot of time and make my practice very efficient.

Tom is a great educator. Thought provoking, entertaining and full of practical tips I will actually use. Excellent class!

What I liked is that it wasn't all about guitar but rather about the aspects of being unique individual honest artists, which we all are.


Michael S.

Hi dear masterclass , you have a mistake showing in the tab on the screen which Tom calls the " A minor sixth position". The 17th note on the higher e-string is an A not an E !

Matthew T.

Hi, The workbooks won't seem to download. Error message:ccessDeniedRequest has expired36002019-03-11T18:13:24Z2019-03-11T22:10:35Z5A75FDF02C836091zQZFzJX3z2kDwumFpYQ06O1sy0viDLhhLQLxgET/qdVVZrWr4+jw0tsSAnNyVDoz9pv6J9qONHs=

Simon G.

Tom Morello: They'll post the Phrygian scale on the video for you. Video: *Phrygian scale shows on frets 1-5* Tom Morello: *solos really high on frets, nowhere near the frets shown on screen*


Well done! A lot of information explained in a very simple way. Master the fretboard takes months of practice and I have seen several methods. I recommend to complement with the CAGED system to quickly find same note across the fretboard , no matter which string or fret you are at.

Tom B.

It was said of Abraham Lincoln that his greatest talent was to bring the most complex of situations to the simplest of terms so all could understand. So.....should we call you Abe? This was well done and can accelerate a lot of people forward in their understanding and playing!!! Well done Sir!

Tory H.

This is a tricky one, however I don't think I've ever seen someone who has ever been able to make theory so accessible to people. It took me a few watches and research in the workbook to get the jist of it but now that I do it's like the blinders have been taken off my guitar playing. I never understood theory or could find a way to wrap my head around it. This made it so simple and comprehensive. Thanks Professor Morello!

Timothy K.

You're pretty Lame Wayne form Vancouver to try to sell your crap here at someone else's masterclass. . .how totally disrespectful.


I'm one of those people who started guitar lesson many years ago but bore of playing cords and didn't want to read note yet! I have tried to learn on Youtube. Trouble is a lot of videos I came across have very little understand what I need to build on. Even my private lesson wanting me to read note but again you can't teach an adult with a child lessons which adults get bore easily! Reading note is not important at this stage NOT until I have the basic understand how the fretboard work. I came across Howard Morgan (See link below). It is so clear understand for the first three lessons that I wish I have him as a teacher years back and saved my time. The video is not HD but hell the guy can teach (Dont say this is a Jazz course because it is all we need to learn to start). I'm learning the 2nd Inversion on lesson 10. Believe me after learning how Major Triad is build with this understand, you quickly learn Minor, Augmented, Diminished, Major 7th, Dom7th, 1st Inversion, 2nd is so easy. Now, I can find any Octave note on the fretboard that is on Chapters Four. The course is the best investment I ever own, under $30, You will see the link. Youtube does have a link to the Truefire,com Sign up and they will give you a discount code to your email therefore don't buy the lesson until you get the discount code first. I'm still learning something new after rewatching. Read the comments in Youtube and you will see why he is so good. After you have taken the lessons, do come back and tell me what you think! I'm so glad I have found him.

Ryan G.

Definitely starting to notice an improvement in my playing already. Some of this stuff I kinda already knew, but to have it explained is really helping me to understand it finally. But mostly these lessons are keeping up my motivation to practice. Also, I'm a little disappointed Tom. All the guitars on stands in the background, but no chili pepper red Saint V? Lol!

Jonathan S.

You'll see quite a bit of criticism of Tom's terminology below. Read those comments, since that can be helpful. But keep in mind that he said, "This is my understanding," and that it unlocked a lot of music to him. You can go as deep as you want. I've done pretty well not understanding much of it, and he points out that some punk players did amazing work on intuition. You take the course and get to decide for yourself.