Single-Note Runs, Introduction

The examples, all 504 of them (!), are constructed carefully so you ought to make an effort to digest them equally carefully. If you play blindly through each run your knowledge will end up fractured and incoherent. Optimal progress is possible only if you exercise your brain as well as your fingers.

Soloing over chord progressions requires not only that you know which notes fits which chords but also that you know what the next chord is going to sound like. If you are playing over a blues you can probably fake your way through even if you don't understand what you are doing because you have heard the chord sequence hundreds of times. Faking your way through Giant Steps, where the chords descend in major thirds, is a very different matter. Ear training is important so listen closely to the chords, and in particular make yourself familiar with parallel chords (a major chord paired with the minor chord three semitones below). Often the single-note run will sound strange on its own so you need the accompaniment to make sense of it.

For each of the three scales, pentatonic, hexatonic, and pentadominant, the examples are divided into seven groups, numbered from zero to six, depending on the movement of the root note. The sound files are rendered by Guitar Pro 6 and encoded in high-quality mp3 format (192kb/s), and they contain a click track as well as accompaniment that plays the chords on the first beat of every bar. The accompaniment is in the left channel, the guitar is in the right channel, and the click track is in the center. The tablature is available in png, pdf, and gp6 (extension gpx). The notation is described in the section Noteworthy -> Clock Notation (the clock notation is further simplified by removing phrasing, ties, fingerings).

In each group there are 24 examples, with two in each of the twelve keys. Each example is denoted by a number corresponding to the starting key in clock notation as described in the section Noteworthy, and a sign, plus or minus, corresponding to the direction of the first root movement. Thus, the example 1+ starts in A (1 in clock notation) and moves up one semitone to Bb whereas the 1- example moves down one semitone to Ab. If the time signature is not 4/4, or the feel is triplet rather than straight, it is indicated in red in order to draw your attention to it.

The examples are very much pattern-based, and you should always try to picture the visual appearance of the notes on the fretboard. Most of the examples are based on the regular shapes described in the section on Fretmaps. Since the emphasis is on patterns the use of phrasing is modest. There are plenty of slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs but only a few vibratos and not a single bend. The tempos on the recordings are chosen such that each run sounds good musically. They are not intended as performance benchmarks.

I have deliberately chosen the accompaniment on any chord to consist of three notes only in order to avoid a cluttered sound behind the single-note line. There is no text on the pages containing the single-note runs so here is what you need to know about each of the three groups of examples.

Group 6 is different from groups 1-5 since it does not make any difference whether the root movement goes up or down by six semitones. In both cases you end up on the same note. For example, C goes to Gb and then back to C. Consequently, instead of listing the 24 examples individually, they are ordered into pairs that use the same chords.


In order to get plenty of variation into the different runs most of them are constructed around themes. It is not necessary for you to know about this but in the hope that it might inspire you I have listed some themes below.