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Betcha Can't Play This: Doug Aldrich's Three-Octave Pentatonic Ascent

Betcha Can't Play This: Doug Aldrich's Three-Octave Pentatonic Ascent

This is a triplet-based run in A minor that starts out in the low register and moves up and across the fretboard, spanning three octaves before settling into a single position and moving back across the strings.

I’m using hammer-ons and pull-offs in combination with picking to achieve a fast stream of notes that "pops" and flows. Each pair of triplets in bar 1 is played within a compact four-note shape that I fret with my index and ring fingers.

When I get to the top two strings in bar 2, I continue the same phrasing approach and bring the pinkie into play to incorporate wide intervals and big fret-hand stretches and use quick position shifts to ascend the neck. On beat three of bar 2 I melodically outline a Gadd2 chord [G A B D], which creates a nice sense of harmonic movement in an otherwise A minor pentatonic [A C D E G] tonality.

Once I get to the high A note at the 17th fret at the end of bar 2, I stay in the 14th-position A minor pentatonic box pattern for the remainder of the lick and work my way back over to the low E string, using double pull-offs in conjunction with chromatic passing tones at the 16th fret on the top two strings.

At the end of bar 3, I play a Jeff Beck–inspired move, picking the C note at the 17th fret on the G string followed by a big, one-and-one-half-step "over-bend" up to that same pitch from A, three frets lower, pulling the string downward with my index finger.


I also do a little bit of string skipping to disguise the sound of the scale pattern, and I finish the lick by adding the ninth, B, to the scale to suggest an A natural minor [A B C D E F G] sound. As I did with the bend, I add vibrato to the final note by pulling the string down, which is the only way to bend the low E string.


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