If you take some of the greatest guitarists of our time, the one thing they have in common is that they know their fretboard like the back of their hand. If you look at a guitarist like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen, you’ll notice how their hands just seem to dance across the fretboard without looking at it.
If I had to pick one thing I place highest in importance when it comes to guitar playing, it would be originality. I am not a fan of the tried-and-true cliché licks that have been used forever by so many guitarists. To me, it’s simply a cop out to mimic fast phrases or standard rock licks that we’ve all heard a million times before. I think it’s much more interesting and appealing to strive for originality through spontaneity and invention.
In its most basic form, the lick is a sequence of six notes played as a sextuplet or two sets of triplets (depending on the tempo). The notes are played on the same string, which makes it very easy to alternate-pick and build speed. Once you have mastered the basic pattern, you can apply the lick to different scales and positions to give an almost endless amount of variations.
In this lesson, I’ll be taking one of the most common sweep picking patterns (EXAMPLE 1) and showing you how to slightly alter it, creating several different arpeggios. It’s a cool way to take something ordinary and give it a more unique sound and vibe.
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.
Guitarist Troy Grady hosts a web series called "Cracking the Code." In each episode, he breaks down a phrase — or something he has learned — and then explains it in a detail-packed way that includes an information- and graphics-packed video.
Being a guitarist involves pushing your boundaries with the instrument. Many players find themselves struggling to develop the physical abilities needed to play like their heroes, and they never settle on a consistent set of exercises because they find themselves drowning in so many different suggestions. In this column, I discuss some essential practice techniques you can work into a simple, short daily routine.
When soloing, I try to use a balanced mix of scales, intervals and arpeggios. Something I always struggle with is trying to incorporate arpeggios into my solos without having them sound too generic. A lot of the common arpeggio shapes are difficult to use without sounding "cliche" or like a bad Yngwie Malmsteen clone.