Ok so I can no improvise pretty good, even create variations of what I play on the spot. Take breaks, fills no problem, know plenty of tunes and have a pretty good arsenal of licks and intros and endings muscle memorized.
Everything coming along "swimmingly" well (always wanted to use that phrase! LOL). I am an OK intermediate player. Some might even call me an advanced intermediate but I still refer myself as a "backporch picker"
The ONLY area where I seem to still struggle with is "playing up the neck"
I watch the really great pickers, the one's I admire ... Dawg, Thile, McCoury and even a lot of lesser known professionals locally around me and all seem to play up the neck almost MORE than playing in first position.
I can play up the neck some and have a few tunes figured up there in that elusive area but I notice that the people who can play up there easily can just seem to play up and down the neck with ease nothing really memorized just all the areas they can play in and stay in the same key.
I have Niles Hokkannen's "Bluegrass up the Neck" book and a few other books pertaining to playing up the neck and while it IS a great read and a good book to learn some fundamentals of playing up the neck they just don't really "TEACH" you how to do it it all the way.
I am starting to think that playing all up and down the neck in different positions, octaves, improvising etc. it just something you cannot learn from a book or teacher you just have to PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!
Is it just a learning process that if you continually push yourself to play out of the positions that are the easiest (first position with open strings is the easiest for me) that eventually you all these memorized pathways up the neck?
Also one last question... is using the pinky essential for playing up the neck?
I think it is this last area of study that I need to understand to REALLY understand how to understand mandolin playing comepletely.
Any thoughts on this elusive talent of being able to play "up the neck" at will???