21 Cool 3 Notes-Per-String Exercises to Rock On!

Photo by Jsome1
Playing 3 notes per string exercises is something I do on a regular basis. I use them to warm up, to become a faster guitar player and to spice up my improvisation.

3 notes per string licks and scales are generally used for speed picking. Whenever you hear a guitar player playing these really fast terrifying licks, it’s probably a 3 notes per string lick. Paul Gilbert of Mr.Big is one of many great experts in this field.

If you practice these exercises properly and often enough you will increase your speed. Because of the 3 notes per string technique it will create a particular cool sound once you will start playing faster.

The 3 notes per string exercises are played using the alternate picking technique. There are other techniques as well like sweep picking but alternate picking is the most common one. Alternative picking means you hold the pick between your thumb and index finger with the pointed end facing toward the strings. You strictly use alternating down and up strokes. The first note you play is downstroke, the second an upstroke, the third one a downstroke, the fourth one an upstroke and so on.

Once you get the hang of it, it can become quite addictive, but be careful though. Don’t overdo it when you are soloing or improvising in front of an audience. It can become boring after a while. Use it now and then and you will sound great. For speed practice and improving your alternative picking technique use the 3 notes per string exercises as much as you can.

The one and only reason why these monster guitar players become so incredibly fast is that they practice long hours for days, weeks, months and years. And why do you want to do that? Because it’s fun and because you’ll get better and the better a guitar player you’ll become the more you want to practice.

If you are ready for the challenge practice these 21 cool 3 notes per string licks, scales, exercises and feel the rush!

Practice slow first and then gradually build up speed.
Have fun!

EXERCISE #1 (E minor pattern)
e:-----------------------------------------0-10-12----------------------|
B:---------------------------------0-8-10-------------------------------|
G:-------------------------0-7-9----------------------------------------|
D:-----------------0-5-7------------------------------------------------|
A:---------0-5-7--------------------------------------------------------|
E:--0-3-5---------------------------------------------------------------|
 
and back
e:--12-10-0-------------------------------------------------------------|
B:-----------10-8-0-----------------------------------------------------|
G:--------------------9-7-0---------------------------------------------|
D:-----------------------------7-5-0------------------------------------|
A:--------------------------------------7-5-0---------------------------|
E:-----------------------------------------------5-3-0------------------|
 
EXERCISE #2
e:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
G:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
D:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
A:-------1-2-4-------2-4-5-------3-4-6-------4-6-7-------5-6-8----------|
E:-1-2-4-------2-4-5-------3-4-6-------4-6-7-------5-6-8---------etc.---|
Play exercise #2 also on the A and D strings
and then on D and G strings etc, etc.
 
EXERCISE #3
e:----------------------------------1-3-4---4-3-1-----------------------|
B:----------------------------1-2-4----------------4-2-1----------------|
G:---------------------1-3-4------------------------------4-3-1---------|
D:--------------1-2-4---------------------------------------------etc.--|
A:-------1-3-4----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-1-2-4----------------------------------------------------------------|
Repeat the exercise moving up one fret at a time.
E.g.: The next step would be 2-3-5 on the E-string
and 2-4-5 on the A-string.
 
EXERCISE #4
e:-----------------------------------1-2-4---4-2-1----------------------|
B:----------------------------1-2-4-----------------4-2-1---------------|
G:---------------------1-2-4-------------------------------4-2-1--------|
D:--------------1-2-4---------------------------------------------etc.--|
A:-------1-2-4----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-1-2-4----------------------------------------------------------------|
Repeat the exercise moving up one fret at a time.
E.g.: The next step would be 2-3-5, etc.
 
EXERCISE #5
e:-----------------------------------1-3-4--4-3-1-----------------------|
B:----------------------------1-3-4----------------4-3-1----------------|
G:---------------------1-3-4------------------------------4-3-1---------|
D:---------------1-3-4-------------------------------------------etc.---|
A:--------1-3-4---------------------------------------------------------|
E:-1-3-4----------------------------------------------------------------|
Repeat the exercise moving up one fret at a time.
E.g.: The next step would be 2-4-5, etc.
 
EXERCISE #6 (in the key of G major or E minor)
e:------------------------------------7-8-10--10-8-7--------------------|
B:----------------------------7-8-10-----------------10-8-7-------------|
G:---------------------4-5-7---------------------------------7-5-4------|
D:--------------4-5-7----------------------------------------------etc.-|
A:-------2-3-5----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-2-3-5----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #7 (in the key of G major or E minor)
e:---------------------------------------------5-7-8--8-7-5-------------|
B:--------------------------------------5-7-8----------------8-7-5------|
G:-------------------2-4-5-------4-5-7-----------------------------etc.-|
D:-------------2-4-5-------4-5-7----------------------------------------|
A:-------2-3-5----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-2-3-5----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #8 (diminished scale)
e:--------------------------------10-7-10-7-10-7------------------------|
B:--------------------------6-9-6----------------9-6-9------------------|
G:-------------------7-4-7-----------------------------4-7-4------------|
D:-------------3-6-3-----------------------------------------6-3-6------|
A:-------5-2-5-----------------------------------------------------etc.-|
E:-1-4-1----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #9 (diminished scale)
e:-----------------------------------7-8-10-10-8-7----------------------|
B:----------------------------6-8-9-----------------9-8-6---------------|
G:---------------------4-5-7------------------------------7-5-4---------|
D:--------------3-5-6-------------------------------------------etc.----|
A:-------2-3-5----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-1-3-4----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #10
e:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
G:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
D:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
A:----------------------------------------------------------------------|
E:-1-2-3-4---2-3-4-5---3-4-5-6---4-5-6-7---5-6-7-8---6-7-8-9--etc.------|
Repeat the exercise moving up one string at a time.
 
EXERCISE #11 (F Lydian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:-----------------------------------3-5-7--7-5-3-----------------------|
B:----------------------------3-5-6----------------6-5-3----------------|
G:---------------------2-4-5------------------------------5-4-2---------|
D:--------------2-3-5--------------------------------------------etc.---|
A:-------2-3-5----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-1-3-5----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #12 (G Mixolydian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:-----------------------------------5-7-8--8-7-5-----------------------|
B:----------------------------5-6-8----------------8-6-5----------------|
G:---------------------4-5-7------------------------------7-5-4---------|
D:--------------3-5-7--------------------------------------------etc.---|
A:-------3-5-7----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-3-5-7----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #13 (A Aeolian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:---------------------------------7-8-10--10-8-7-----------------------|
B:--------------------------6-8-10----------------10-8-6----------------|
G:-------------------5-7-9-------------------------------9-7-5----------|
D:-------------5-7-9-------------------------------------------etc.-----|
A:-------5-7-8----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-5-7-8----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #14 (B Locrian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:---------------------------------------8-10-12--12-10-8---------------|
B:------------------------------8-10-12-------------------12-10-8-------|
G:----------------------7-9-10------------------------------------etc.--|
D:---------------7-9-10-------------------------------------------------|
A:--------7-8-10--------------------------------------------------------|
E:-7-8-10---------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #15 (C Ionian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:-------------------------------------------10-12-13--13-12-10---------|
B:----------------------------------10-12-13---------------------etc.---|
G:-------------------------9-10-12--------------------------------------|
D:-----------------9-10-12----------------------------------------------|
A:---------8-10-12------------------------------------------------------|
E:-8-10-12--------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #16 (D Dorian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:----------------------------------------------12-13-15--15-13-12------|
B:-------------------------------------12-13-15--------------------etc.-|
G:----------------------------10-12-14----------------------------------|
D:-------------------10-12-14-------------------------------------------|
A:----------10-12-14----------------------------------------------------|
E:-10-12-13-------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #17 (E Phrygian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:----------------------------------------------13-15-17--17-15-13------|
B:-------------------------------------13-15-17--------------------etc.-|
G:----------------------------12-14-16----------------------------------|
D:-------------------12-14-15-------------------------------------------|
A:----------12-14-15----------------------------------------------------|
E:-12-13-15-------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #18 (stretch exercise)
e:---------------------------------1-3-5--5-3-1-------------------------|
B:---------------------------1-3-5---------------5-3-1------------------|
G:--------------------1-3-5----------------------------5-3-1------------|
D:--------------1-3-5----------------------------------------5-3-1------|
A:-------1-3-5-----------------------------------------------------etc.-|
E:-1-3-5----------------------------------------------------------------|
Repeat the exercise moving up one fret at a time.
E.g.: The next step would be 2-4-6, 2-4-6, 2-4-6, etc.
 
EXERCISE #19
e:----------------------------------5-7-8-------------------------------|
B:----------------------------5-7-8-------------------------------------|
G:---------------------2-4-5--------------7-9-10------------------------|
D:--------------2-4-5-----------------------------7-9-10----------------|
A:-------5-7-8----------------------------------------------------------|
E:-5-7-8----------------------------------------------------------------|
Repeat the same exercise over and over again. Go in circles.
 
EXERCISE #20 (string skipping)
e:----------------------------------------------3-5-7--7-5-3------------|
B:---------------------------------3-5-7---------------------------etc.-|
G:--------------------3-5-7--------------3-5-7---------------7-5-3------|
D:-------3-5-7--------------3-5-7---------------------------------------|
A:--------------3-5-7---------------------------------------------------|
E:-3-5-7----------------------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #21 ( A pentatonic )
e:---------------------------------------11-12-15--15-12-11-------------|
B:------------------------------10-13-15--------------------15-13-etc.--|
G:-----------------------8-9-12-----------------------------------------|
D:---------------7-10-12------------------------------------------------|
A:--------6-7-10--------------------------------------------------------|
E:-5-8-10---------------------------------------------------------------|
 

If you liked this post, also check out:
10 Smoking 2 Notes-Per-String Licks to Rock On!
12 Cool 3 Notes-Per-String Exercises to Rock On! Part II.

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Thanks,
Klaus

Please share. I'd appreciate it.

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