Guitar Block System: Block 1-1

This week, we start the second group – the three-note blocks! What better way than to start simple. This one is basically a Block 1 and another Block 1 mashed together. On your journey through Block 1-1, you play completely chromatically and only cover one whole step.

Now, is this block useful? Oh yeah. It’s the focal point of the next scale I’m going to talk about, for one thing. The other thing is a lot of people like to use short chromatic runs in their riffs and solos… generally only about three or four notes. Well, here you go! Have fun and experiment away.

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 (side note: there are more than 4 ways to play the three-note blocks. We’ll talk about the others later). 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 1-1 Example 1

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

Block 1-1 Example 2

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

Block 1-1 Example 3

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

Block 1-1 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 (a little trickier now, since every other string will start with a note picked up, but still highly worthwhile). 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 notes.

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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