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-------|
E:-1-2-4-------2-4-5-------3-4-6-------4-6-7-------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--------------------------etc.-|
D:-------------1-2-4-------------------------------------|
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--------------------------etc.-|
D:-------------1-2-4-------------------------------------|
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--------------------------etc.-|
D:-------------1-3-4-------------------------------------|
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--and-back---|
B:----------------------------7-8-10---------------------|
G:---------------------4-5-7-----------------------------|
D:--------------4-5-7------------------------------------|
A:-------2-3-5-------------------------------------------|
E:-2-3-5-------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #7 (in the key of G major or E minor)
e:---------------------------------------------5-7-8-----|
B:--------------------------------------5-7-8------------|
G:-------------------2-4-5-------4-5-7-------------------|
D:-------------2-4-5-------4-5-7-------------------------|
A:-------2-3-5-------------------------------------------|
E:-2-3-5-------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #8 (diminished scale)
e:--------------------------------10-7-10--and-back------|
B:--------------------------6-9-6------------------------|
G:-------------------7-4-7-------------------------------|
D:-------------3-6-3-------------------------------------|
A:-------5-2-5-------------------------------------------|
E:-1-4-1-------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #9 (diminished scale)
e:-----------------------------------7-8-10-and-back-----|
B:----------------------------6-8-9----------------------|
G:---------------------4-5-7-----------------------------|
D:--------------3-5-6------------------------------------|
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--etc.-|
Repeat the exercise moving up one string at a time.
 
EXERCISE #11 (F Lydian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:-----------------------------------3-5-7--and-back-----|
B:----------------------------3-5-6----------------------|
G:---------------------2-4-5-----------------------------|
D:--------------2-3-5------------------------------------|
A:-------2-3-5-------------------------------------------|
E:-1-3-5-------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #12 (G Mixolydian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:-----------------------------------5-7-8--and-back-----|
B:----------------------------5-6-8----------------------|
G:---------------------4-5-7-----------------------------|
D:--------------3-5-7------------------------------------|
A:-------3-5-7-------------------------------------------|
E:-3-5-7-------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #13 (A Aeolian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:---------------------------------7-8-10--and-back------|
B:--------------------------6-8-10-----------------------|
G:-------------------5-7-9-------------------------------|
D:-------------5-7-9-------------------------------------|
A:-------5-7-8-------------------------------------------|
E:-5-7-8-------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #14 (B Locrian mode - 3 notes per string)
e:-------------------------------------8-10-12-and-back--|
B:-----------------------------8-10-12-------------------|
G:----------------------7-9-10---------------------------|
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-----|
B:---------------------------------10-12-13--------------|
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-|
B:-------------------------------------12-13-15----------|
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-|
B:-------------------------------------13-15-17----------|
G:----------------------------12-14-16-------------------|
D:-------------------12-14-15----------------------------|
A:----------12-14-15-------------------------------------|
E:-12-13-15----------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #18 (stretch exercise)
e:---------------------------------1-3-5--and-back-------|
B:---------------------------1-3-5-----------------------|
G:--------------------1-3-5------------------------------|
D:--------------1-3-5------------------------------------|
A:-------1-3-5-------------------------------------------|
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----|
B:---------------------------------3-5-7-----------------|
G:--------------------3-5-7--------------3-5-7-----------|
D:-------3-5-7--------------3-5-7------------------------|
A:--------------3-5-7------------------------------------|
E:-3-5-7-------------------------------------------------|
 
EXERCISE #21 ( A pentatonic )
e:---------------------------------------11-12-15--------|
B:------------------------------10-13-15-----------------|
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.

Leave a comment anytime you want. I appreciate it.
You can also subscribe to be updated on new posts via Email or RSS

Thanks,
Klaus

Comments

  1. Brando says

    Thanks for the post, I look forward to trying this out. Just started guitar about a month and a half ago.

    I was curious though, should I be practicing these with one finger, sliding it into place – Or should I be using multiple fingers, going from (3-5-7) 3 with index, 5 with middle, and 7 with pinkie, for example?

  2. says

    Hi Brando,

    Yes indeed,

    You should play 3-5-7 with

    3 index, 5 middle and 7 pinkie or
    3 index, 5 ring and 7 pinkie.

    You can choose what suits you best.

    Good luck!

    Klaus Crow

  3. says

    Hi Carter,

    Some of the exercise which are played over a certain key can be used for improvisation.
    For example Exercise #6 can be played over a chord progression or a song in the key of G major or E minor.

    You can play the lick just like it is and play it really fast along with your pentatonic/blues soling or major/minor phrasing.
    You can play random notes or use parts of the lick to create your own melodies,
    You can build your own smaller licks from these exercises,
    You can play patterns like 3rds, 4ths, etc to create less scale-like licks for your soloing,
    and you can make it sound more fluid by using hammer ons, pull offs and slides between the notes.

    Klaus

  4. Mark says

    been playing for 11 mo. Those exercises are great. Thank you. I’d add pentatonics in threes and fours all five positions, and arpeggios. Clarity exercise 21 A pentatonic major or minor? 1st I thought you were skipping pent positions in a minor, but some of those notes aren’t in A minor(ACDEG) or A major pent(A B C# E F#)? please help me out. Thank you and once again keep rocking! Mark from Las Vegas

  5. Jomar says

    This is cool stuff!

    Now I know when and where to use those 1-2-4, 1-3-4, and 1-3-5s…
    I think…
    I dunno what I’m talking about back there…

    See, I think this is actually my first guitar theory. Before, I was only improvising on the Aeolian scale as I’m used to jamming with some guitar instrumentals (buckethead songs shh…) and growing up not knowing even basic fretboard maneuvering…

    So yeah, thanks for your work man! so cool exercises too!

    PS. I’ll use ’em for everyday practice

  6. Kruno says

    Thanks for this!

    I have made a PDF out of this to make it printable. Would like to upload it here or a Link to somwhere else. Are You agreed Klaus?
    Kruno

  7. Alex says

    Hi! Good stuff :D

    Which is the most recommendable picking technique to play this exercise?

    Thanks in advance!

  8. says

    Hi Alex,

    You could do both. Sweet picking works really well with 3 notes per string licks,
    but I personally prefer alternate picking because of the sound.
    It sounds more impressive once you get it up to speed (at least to my ears) and sometimes I like impressive.

    Klaus

  9. Jack Meoff says

    Me likey dis stuffs because it makes me feel like im shwimming in ice creams. The fasters i play the harder my rod gets. YES.

  10. Elina says

    I like it! :) I’m too tired to look through all of them right nw, but so far #2 is my favorite :) I like playing it.

  11. SAJ! says

    Alright, now these seems some awesome exercises. Can’t wait to try them.

    Thanks man, this is really helpful for a begginer like me!

  12. daarjey says

    really awesome stuff… i like the way you keep it simple and indeed very effective … godbless you klaus..

  13. James N. Turner says

    I feel like I have just struck gold with this website and lessons!

    I have been looking for something like this website for months!!
    I can’t wait till tomorrow!! (It’s 2:30 am) I will literally be playing for about 3-5 hours tomorrow and that’s not including the hours I will spend reading the awesome wealth of knowledge found on this website!

  14. patrice aubry says

    Hi Klaus,

    Love your site (just discovered it :-).

    Very inspirational with great ideas to do what’s right.
    Wonderful stuff as I am just starting, and determined not to be a three chord wonder or a CAGED animal !

    Cheers,
    Patrice

  15. says

    Hi Patrice,

    That’s the spirit. Go for it!

    It’s just a matter of getting started each and every day. If only for ten minutes.

    Best regards,
    Klaus Crow

  16. Nica says

    Glad I found this website. Now I have lots of work to do and plan to have fun doing it

  17. Leigh says

    oh my gosh…i actually sound kinda good…thanks for this..wow …i’m not gonnqa get ANY sleep tonight…hahaha

  18. says

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after reading through some of the
    post I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m
    definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  19. Joe LP says

    Please let me know where the numbers, say in Exercise #1, the first 3 notes were 0-10-12, where are they on the guitar frets?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>