I, like many of you, spent much of my life playing blues influenced rock n roll on the guitar, stuck in the pentatonics, and never paying much mind to the chord changes of a song.
Those of us with this experience have struggled with the gypsy jazz mindset of following chord changes.
We try arpeggio etude practice, where we play the arps over the song as an exercise... But sometimes, I find that takes quite a while to get you better and better.
in the last few days, I have made a breakthrough that dramatically improves the efficiency of arpeggio etudes exercises and therefore dramatically helps increase your familiarity with the fretboard.
What I realized is that I take for granted that, because I can play an arpeggio shape, that I know it very well, and know enough to smoothly transition from one arp to another, but then I realized a few things -
1) It's not entirely easy to play the arpeggio up and down, and then move it chromatically one step up on the fretboard and play it again...now that I started doing that, I've improved at playing the arpeggios themselves...AND
2)MOST IMPORTANTLY - when I teach kids new chords, not only do I have them practice making the chord over and over with their chord hand to build muscle memory, I ALSO have them practice switching from one chord to another.. THIS WAS THE KEY !
SO NOW - When I practice a play along arpeggio based etude, for example - All of me, I start by taking the first 2 chords - C and E7, and play their basic Arp going back and forth between JUST THOSE 2 CHORDS. Up and down in one and then the other, up in one, and down in the other, and vice versa....
Bickity BANG - after doing that with all the chord changes in the song, two at a time, suddenly, with far less practice, I can fly through the arpeggios for all of me better than ever before, making it much easier to execute my "licks" and a jamming session.
Cheers, and I hope this helps someone out there