Guitar Block System: Block 1

This first block is by far the simplest. Pick a note, then move up or down a half step. That’s it! Just go to the next fret in whichever direction you feel like traveling and there you have it. This block doesn’t have much use in scales – not by itself, anyway – but it’s great for moving around on the fretboard, warmups, and for recovering from the wrong note you just hit (Am I speaking from experience here? You better believe it). I’m sure we’ll find other uses for it, too!

Here are four ways to play this block as a simple exercise, all of which are written to start on fret 5. If you need a bit of direction on how to read these, see the Handy Dandy Little Reading Guide at the end of this post.

First, go from string 6 (low E) to string 1 (high E):

Block 1 Example 1

Next, you start at the string 1 (high E) and return to string 6 (low E):

Block 1 Example 2

Now, head back up to string 1, but this time start on the block’s higher note: Block 1 Example 3

Finally, return to string 6 while playing the higher note first in each block. Block 1 Example 4

There are also three ways to pick these exercises, if you so choose. First, down-pick every note. After that, you might want to try alternate picking – down then up. Lastly, as a real test of your fretting abilities, only pick the first note of each block then either hammer-on (first two examples) or pull-off (last two) to the other note.

Exercises are great, but feel free to have some fun with these, too. Experimentation is highly encouraged. And above all, pay attention to what you’re doing – sometimes the best ideas emerge from mistakes and accidents. See you next week.

Handy Dandy Little Reading Guide: String 1 = E, 2 = B, 3 = G, 4 = D, 5 = A, 6 = E. In tablature, string 6 is at the bottom of the staff while string 1 is at the top. The numbers on the lines tell you what fret to play and the lines themselves tell you what string to play.

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