Strength and Accuracy for the Guitarist


Your Weekly Dexterity and Stamina Exercise

Updated February 3, 2005


Don't Go Anywhere Else!

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx



Playing in the Box

in a Major Place

(Nothing General, Private, we's talkin' Majors!)

Blues/Rock Improvisation


You've seen this first box twice before now and I recycle it here yet again just for the sake of continuity for those who may cruise past this page first. This is the basic minor pentatonic box with the addition of passing tones and other chromaticisms. I may have said this before, but the guitarist should experiment with other notes surrounding the 'pattern' as the guitarist's own aesthetics and musicality -- and creativity -- may find other sonic gems outside my little diagrams.

To the right is a new wrinkle. I call this a major box. Starting on second fret, you will see two black dots and a red dot on the fourth, third and second string. This is an a major chord that every guitarist uses on a daily basis, and is the locator point for the diagram. In other words, if I wished to use this pattern in the key of C major, I would move that entire pattern up to the fifth fret. I reluctantly say that you can tie this box to the "A" position barre chord (which it truly does) but confusion may arise since although the three notes on the fifth fret indicated by the black dots on the fourth and second string and the red dot the third string outline the triad, the guitarist most often cues this chord by the position of his first finger on the third fret. Once again, looking at this diagram, black dots indicate pattern notes, the red dots are tonic and blue dots are what I consider to be good passing and color tones.

To the left is the 'transitional' d major box that I used as a suggestion of a place to run when the I, IV, V progression move to the IV chord. It can be also moved up two frets when the progression swings to the V chord. Not always, and not always necessary, but it is available in certain circumstances. Analyze the three diagrams, overlaying the diagrams in your mind. It is easier (though more confusing) to plot out the notes that can't be used in the key of A major and minor. Think about it though. There really aren't any 'wrong' notes. Even a strong dissonance is musical and useable if it is prepared and resolved correctly!

Okay, here's your freedom from the box: Use these box patterns when the pressure is on and you have almost no ideas flooding into your head. Don't get all condescending and sneer, every real guitarist will tell you they've had brain-fade at the wrong moment--like at the start of a long ad-lib section of a tune. On stage.

Take these diagrams as very sketchy roadmaps and use them to help work out your own signature riffs and licks that you can then use as building blocks to craft an interesting, tasty and apparently spontaneous 'ad-lib' solo.

Learning the box is a necessary discipline to help the guitarist play around the box, through the box and ultimately totally outside the box.

Next week's session will be once again geared towards the classical guitarist. Topic? Stamina and avoiding physical problems such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

That's it!

  LOW END  By Harry George Pellegrin.  The first in the Gary Morrissey series of mysteries.  Dealing with modern subject matter in the classic style of the 1940's Mystery Noire masters--think Raymond Chandler in New York in the 1980's...  LOW END is the story of a drug addict who is murdered after he believes he has found evidence of a major government conspiracy.  Is it only drug-induced paranoia?  Might be, except his paranoia could be considered justified: he was murdered, after all.  Friend Gary Morrissey takes it upon himself to find out just what happened and lands himself in the crosshairs.
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Classic Guitar Method  Composed, written, transcribed, edited and arranged by Harry G. Pellegrin: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.
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DEEP END: The Wreck of the Eddie Fitz  By Harry George Pellegrin. A mystery novel. Involving a semi-professional musician and a Kreyol death cult, DEEP END takes the reader from the bottom of Long Island Sound to the steamy streets and Blues clubs of New Orleans. Alternative spirituality does battle with the common working man.  Published by PAB Entertainment Group in association with
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Reflecting Pools    Original Music by Harry G. Pellegrin:
Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track...

"...Reflecting Pools is a notable first album [for Mr. Pellegrin]. A dramatic sense of tonality and mood are propelled by exemplary musicianship and exciting compositional exploits."

Available through

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or

In That Zone, is now out! Please visit for details and to order.

See the info page on this site...

Enjoy these sessions of technique builders! Come back next week for more.

Hey, if you feel you've benefited by these pages, please consider buying my novel LOW END through

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