Guitar Block System: Block 3

This week, we’re on to the third block. This one spans a minor third, though. Done with the normal steps – now we’re dealing with bigger intervals! If you forgot what a minor third is, don’t worry – this interval can be found by traveling three half steps. For example, if you were to start on fret 4, you would go up to 7 or down to 1 in order to find the minor thirds.

Like Block 2, Block 3 is widely used. In fact, Block 3 and Block 2 go together quite well – you can combine those two blocks together and find both Pentatonic scales. In addition, Block 3 is heavily involved in playing the blues scale. I’ll discuss the pentatonic scales later this week and will get to the blues scale in the very near future.

As with the preceding blocks, 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 3 Example 1

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

Block 3 Example 2

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

Block 3 Example 3

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

Block 3 Example 4

Before now, I haven’t talked about what fingers to use on the fretboard. The reason is the fretting is pretty clear-cut in the first two blocks. However, this one isn’t so clear-cut. Some people might not like that, but I actually like the fact that we have options on fretting this one. Ultimately, you have two choices here: You can either stay fully locked in position and play fret 8 with your pinky finger OR you can stretch out a bit and play fret 8 with your ring finger. Take your pick… or try both!

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 4… and later this week for our first actual scales.

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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