Approach the Guitar Another Way
Moveable shapes make the guitar easy to learn to play, and no other instrument can be learned this way. When a sax player wants to learn a scale, he or she learns what notes make up that scale and applies it to the fingerings on the instrument. Since every scale has different notes and different fingerings, sax players don't have the convenience of moveable shapes.
But moveable shapes can also inhibit learning on the guitar. In the early stages, guitar students get a certain amount of freedom using them. The ability to play in all twelve keys from the beginning is a huge advantage. While guitar players are jamming away mindlessly, the other instrumentalists are learning key by key what to play and what sounds good based on note names, not just fingerings. Guitar players tend to learn fingerings and forget about notes, so they never learn every note on the neck of their instrument. Not knowing the neck doesn't prevent you from playing in the early stages, but it will catch up with you later.
There is a real sense of liberation when you can play without having to think about it. But beware: Once you become a better player, you may find yourself locked into patterns, always playing the same thing. This is a natural byproduct of shape learning. Your ears and brain equate certain repeating finger movements with sounds, and you get stuck in licks. To break out of this, it's sometimes helpful to go back and study the guitar the way students of other instruments study theirs.
The piano is a wonderful instrument. If you know how the keyboard is set up, you can look down and easily name any note on the instrument with ease. Try that on the guitar! The piano is a visual instrument laid out in a straight line; its relationships and intervals are very easy to see. Remember in Chapter 7 where you learned scale shapes across one single string—no box shapes, no position, just pure notes in a straight line? This is very reminiscent of the piano.
The piano also has black and white keys, which make seeing the notes very easy. The guitar has just strings and frets, and they all look the same! The ability to see the guitar like a piano is very difficult and requires tremendous discipline. Is it really that hard? No. At first you may be flustered, because this will put you back to being a beginner player, but after a while it will start to make sense and you'll “get it.” The good news is that there are only twelve keys, and in reality only a few of them are used.
You'll be amazed at how looking at the guitar this way changes your playing. When you eliminate patterns and shapes, you will immediately stop the mindless licks and become more focused on playing musically. By removing these conveniences you'll start to think about music in a purer way. In time you will establish your own vocabulary that you can start to learn all over the neck. Eventually you will again find uses for the positions and scale shapes, but now you will see the guitar as a whole. Using shapes is fine, as long as it isn't the only way you play. You can take this many steps further by studying how other instruments work and trying to incorporate that knowledge into your playing.