Guitar Block System: Block 2

Like last week, this week’s block – Block 2 – is quite simple. This time, pick a note then move up or down a whole step. In fretboard-speak, skip the very next fret and go to the one after it (Example: If you’re on fret 4, the whole step up is on fret 6 and the whole step down is fret 2). Easy to use and great for warmups.

Unlike Block 1, however, Block 2 is widely used. The majority of scales used in popular song rely HEAVILY on whole steps, so most scale patterns I’ve found on guitar use this block at least once. In addition, power chords come from the block’s hand formation. If you want to play a lot of metal, get used to this one (OR you could just detune string 6 a whole step – that would work too. I’ll have a series of posts about alternate tunings later on).

Like last time, there 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 2 Example 1

Next, you start at the string 1 (high E) and return to string 6 (low E):Block 2 Example 2

Now, head back up to string 1, but this time start on the block’s higher note:Block 2 Example 3

Finally, return to string 6 while playing the higher note first in each block.Block 2 Example 4

There are three ways to pick these exercises, if you so choose. First, down-pick every note. After that, 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 for Block 3.

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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