Next, let’s explore these three fragments in different octaves. As you play through the line, notice which note the fragment begins on. As you descend in Fig. 5, look for opportunities to interchange some of the building blocks. I’ve altered each fragment by adding a couple of notes to make it more challenging to play.

The point of Fig. 5 is to construct a longer phrase from a batch of short motifs. Like most technical exercises, it is not the most musical. If I were to actually work these into a line, it would be something more like Fig. 6.

Fig. 7 moves even further away from our initial framework, yet still maintains the basic foundation we began with.

The idea of creating lines from shapes and patterns can inspire you to look at the fretboard in new ways and even get you out of a creative rut. But remember: You’ll lose the listener if you use devices like this with little regard for the musical aspect of your line. The key is to let your ears guide your fingers.