Third Lines. Part III: Ideas To Work On

This is part III of a Three Part Series on Third Lines. Looking at all the notes, every other note at a time. Caught playing the same scale two solos in a row. This will help break those scales into building blocks. Build your modes and chords from stacked third lines.

Ultimate Guitar
This is part III of a Three Part Series on Third Lines. If you have not completed Parts I and II, please do so now. Some points have been clarified in the comments. Part I, Third Lines, one note per string, can be found here. Part II, Third Lines CAGED position, can be found here. Have your completed neck charts ready for this lesson. There are cheat sheets and hints in the pictures on my profile. Make your own! Doing it is part of the lesson! Along with having fast fingers and a trained ear, you need to have instrument knowledge. Making your own charts will help you gain this knowledge. You should already know the information in these Mode charts. I'm including them here for quick reference.
MODE      |      SCALE DEGREES        ||      RELATIVE to IONIAN   |
          |                           ||                           |
Ionian    | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 || 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
Dorian    | 1 | 2 |b3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |b7 || 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 1 |
Phrygian  | 1 |b2 |b3 | 4 | 5 |b6 |b7 || 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 1 | 2 |
Lydian    | 1 | 2 | 4 |#4 | 5 | 6 | 7 || 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 1 | 2 | 3 |
Mixolydian| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |b7 || 5 | 6 | 7 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
Aeolian   | 1 | 2 |b3 | 4 | 5 |b6 |b7 || 6 | 7 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
Locrian   | 1 |b2 |b3 | 4 |b5 |b6 |b7 || 7 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
          |        Modes in C         ||   Relative to C Ionian    |
Ionian    | C | D | E | F | G | A | B || C | D | E | F | G | A | B |
Dorian    | C | D |bE | F | G | A |bB || D | E | F | G | A | B | C |
Phrygian  | C |bD |bE | F | G |bA |bB || E | F | G | A | B | C | D |
Lydian    | C | D | F |#F | G | A | B || F | G | A | B | C | D | E |
Mixolydian| C | D | E | F | G | A |bB || G | A | B | C | D | E | F |
Aeolian   | C | D |bE | F | G |bA |bB || A | B | C | D | E | F | G |
Locrian   | C |bD |bE | F |bG |bA |bB || B | C | D | E | F | G | A |
                       WHICH MODES HAVE WHAT DEGREES                |
DEGREE    | 1 | b2 | 2 | b3 | 3 | 4 |#4/b5| 5 | b6 | 6 | b7 | 7 | 8 |
Ionian    | X |    | X |    | X | X |     | X |    | X |    | X | X |
Dorian    | X |    | X |  X |   | X |     | X |    | X |  X |   | X |
Phrygian  | X |  X |   |  X |   | X |     | X |  X |   |  X |   | X |
Lydian    | X |    | X |    | X |   | X   | X |    | X |    | X | X |
Mixolydian| X |    | X |    | X | X |     | X |    | X |  X |   | X |
Aeolian   | X |    | X |  X |   | X |     | X |  X |   |  X |   | X |
Locrian   | X |  X |   |  X |   | X |   X |   |  X |   |  X |   | X |
Parts I & II were about introducing you to third lines, or stacked Thirds, where they are on the guitar and getting you to make charts of them. This part will get you working with the charts and seeing scales, modes, chords and chord tones. IDEA 1 Let's get started with the first One Note Per String Third Line. (1NPS3rdL) I
Starting with T on the low E string we get: T,3,5 a major triad T,3,5,M7 Major 7th T,3,5,M7,2 Major 9th T,3,5,M7,2,4 Major 11th In this case T = C so we get: C, Cmaj7, Cmaj9, CMaj11 chords or Arpeggios. If you sweep the CMaj11 and hammer on a third,(6 or A) above the 4 you would be making it CMaj13. Noteworthy, it includes one each C,D,E,F,G,A,and B; every note from the scale; a circle of thirds. Starting with 3 on the A string we get: 3,5,M7 3,5,M7,2 3,5,M7,2,4 In this case 3 = E if we make it the 1 we get: (Remember: the degree letter attribute will match the mode formula 3 insinuates Phrygian mode, 2,3,6 and 7 will be flat. b2,b3,b6,b7.) 1,b3,5 1,b3,5,b7 1,b3,5,b7,b9 or Em, Em7, Emb9 chords or Arpeggios. The hammer on note A is 11 Starting on 5 on the D string we get: 5,M7,2 5,M7,2,4 In this case 5 = G if we make it the 1 we get: 1,3,5 1,3,5,b7 or G, G7 chords or Arpeggios. Starting on M7 on the G string we get M7,2,4 In this case M7 = B so we get 1,b3,b5 or Bdim triad, chord or arpeggio. Work this out for the remaining 6 lines. IDEA 2 Now let's add a second line. (1NPS3rdL) II
Take a look at them together. (1NPS3rdL) I and II
If you play this ascending from the T on the 6th string you are now playing an Ionian mode scale. Now check first column of the chart above labeled relative to Ionian. You should see the numbers in the column 1 to 7. The note degree you start on corresponds to the Mode name in the far left column. Without resorting to the asterisk notes, an octave or more of 5 Modes can be played on 2 notes per string fingerings by starting on the correct note. This of coarse can be done with any 2 adjacent 1NPS3rdL. Look at your 1NPS3rdL chart now and play the modes 2 notes per string, moving up one line at a time. With only two notes per string, these runs are very easy to build up speed on. IDEA 3 Visualize to memorize. There are 7 basic triads in each scale. Our example here the key of C, has C,Dm,Em,F,G,Am,Bdim. Looking at the 1NPS3rdL chart starting with the C on the 6th sting we should all automatically see the C,E,G 1,3,5 C chord on the E,A,D strings. As we move up the neck one line at a time, the chords follow the harmonized scale with the appropriate chords. Now lets look at the rest of the first line, strings GBe. While the line started with a C chord, the G string B or M7 of the C chord starts a new triad Bdim. If the Low 6,5,4 strings have an Ionian 1 triad the High 3,2,1 strings have a triad built off the Ionian 7th degree B. This is how they pair up.
Line |6 5 4 |3 2 1
1    | C    | Bdim
2    | Dm   | C
3    | Em   | Dm
4    | F    | Em
5    | G    | F
6    | Am   | G 
7    | Bdim | Am
IDEA 4 Two Octave (proper) Arpeggio. With this idea, after playing the EAD strings move up one line to get the same notes an octave higher on the GBe strings. Note that with the exception of the dim chord which has a b5, the first note of the second half falls in the same fret. IDEA 5 Two Octave Arpeggios with 7th degree. Similar to IDEA 4, only add the seventh degree. Play the lines on the EADG strings and then the GBe stings and add the appropriate 7th on the last string. Note that on the I and IV chords the seventh is a Major and a Major 3rd above the fifth. The dim chord has a b5 so it also gets a note added a major 3rd above the b5. The remaining chords all get a note a minor 3rd above the 5th. IDEA 6 Playing the scales in thirds. Let's take a look at the Caged E Shape. CAGED E SHAPE Major Scale
                               Fret in C    7    8    9    10
E|                                      --|-M7-|-T--|----|-2--|--  
B|                                      --|----|-5--|----|-6--|--  
G|                                      --|-2--|----|-3--|-4--|--  
D|                                      --|-6--|----|-M7-|-T--|--  
A|                                      --|-3--|-4--|----|-5--|--  
E|                                      --|-M7-|-T--|----|-2--|--  
E|                                      --|-M7-|----|----|-2--|--  
B|                                      --|----|-5--|----|----|--  
G|                                      --|----|----|-3--|----|--  
D|                                      --|-6--|----|----|-T--|--  
A|                                      --|----|-4--|----|----|--  
E|                                      --|-M7-|----|----|-2--|--  
E|                                      --|----|-T--|----|----|--  
B|                                      --|----|----|----|-6--|--  
G|                                      --|-2--|----|----|-4--|--  
D|                                      --|----|----|-M7-|----|--  
A|                                      --|-3--|----|----|-5--|--    
E|                                      --|----|-T--|----|----|-- 
If we go back and forth between the two lines, we are simply playing the scale, the idea here, is to play two notes in order from one line, then alternate back and forth. Here is a TAB to get you started.
Play this ascending and descending. Reverse the order of the pairs of notes. Learn this for all of the CAGED shapes. With the charts you made, this should be very easy to visualize. IDEA 7 This one is similar to the last one, only this time play three notes per line. Now try four notes per line. Now mix it up, try four and two. Now try one Ascending and the other descending. On a bit of a side track here, I'm going to recommend another lesson. What I want you to get out of it is how to work on all the ideas in this lesson to really "GET IT." If you want to reach new heights with your playing you have to set high standards. Ripping through a scale or lick at 100mph does not mean you have mastered it. Taking it apart and being able to play it inside out and backwards at 50 will make you a better guitar player. You have to aim high to hit your mark. Take a look at this lesson. "Learning A Hard Run? Overshoot!" It can be found here. Learn to apply that kind of thinking to these ideas. IDEA 8 Looking at your (1NPS3rdL) chart. The examples I will show you will be on the G,B and High E strings. By now you know that I expect you to work this out on all the different strings. Let's start with this C triad. XXX553. C on the 5th fret of the G string, E on the 5th fret of the B string and G on the 3rd fret of the high E. Now we will add a run to it taking a note from the line below and line above. Then we will move up to the Dm triad, XXX765 and add the notes etc. Here is the TAB.
See how easy that is with the chart. The triad of coarse can be played ascending descending or all at once. The run can also be played up or down and you can add the run on any string. The variations are endless. If you look at the (1NPS3rdL) chart in groups of three strings, you will notice that there are only 3 unique shapes per group. Major, minor and diminished first inversion triads. Three Major, three minor and one diminished, before repeating past the twelfth fret. What is important when doing drills with this idea, is to pay attention to what notes relative to the triad that you are adding. There is commonality between the modes. Ionian, Mixolydian and Lydian all have a 1,2,3,5 and 6 degrees. Aeolian, Dorian and Phrygian all have 1,b3,4,5 and b7 degrees. These are in fact the formulas for the Pentatonic major and minor scales. Here is a variation of this exercise a la Peaches en Regalia,
IDEA 9 Make charts for every Mode. They will all look the same, only the scale degrees need changing. If you used my double blank Ionian picture as a template, you could just white out the degrees and change them appropriately. Notice there is no nut since this is all movable. You can do them all modes the C modes if you want. The important thing will be the degrees relative to your CAGED shapes and lines. Doing this will help you see and play chords you have never played before, just by knowing the formulas. Remember there are only 5 basic chord shapes, everything else is a, modified by formula chord fingering. If you know where all the degrees are for every mode, you will be able to play the chord you want without ever having had to memorize it. Think of that. Now that is something. Once you have the degrees memorized, grab one of those chord books with thousands of guitar chords. Sit down and reverse engineer a bunch of chords that look really wild. First figure out what position it's in and then look at the degrees of all the notes. After you do enough of them the patterns will become obvious. You will start to see that some fingerings could have several names. You will also start to see in your playing that you can alter extensions on any shape without looking up that chord name in a book. OK I'm done! I spent way more time on this than I had planned. If you made it this far and did the work, I'm sure you came up with several ideas all on your own. This is a long lesson but in all honesty what you can get out of your third charts could fill several books. No pain no gain. Make it fun and keep pickin and a grinnin.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Very good, I thought. I'm curious as to why this is in the category for beginners though, especially with the others being under scales. Still, you did a good job explaining and showing the work.
    This one belonged in scales too. It is not for beginners. I'll see if I can get it moved.
    Moved- Thanks. If there is any doubt in your mind as to the importance of thirds try this. Grab the sheet music for some of your favorite songs. You don't have to know how to read music to do this. Look at the notes, the things that look like golf clubs on a barbed wire fence, and find a section with series of single notes, like a melody line or solo. For those of you who can't read. Notes, club heads, go on either lines or space. If a note is on a line and another note is on a space next to that line, the interval between the notes is a second. If they are on any two adjacent line or any two adjacent spaces, they are thirds. Keeping in mind that I don't know what your favorite song is, I am confident that you are noticing that from one note to the next, most of the intervals are, seconds and thirds. The seconds you learned when you learned your scale, one note to the next. Here with this series we focus on the thirds, you should be playing a lot of them as you can see.