In this lesson, I’ll be taking the most common pentatonic positions and showing you how to string them together to create ripping-fast riffs and runs. It’s a great way to break out of typical pentatonic licks and is easy to visualize all over the neck.
Next up is a B fully diminished seventh (over E7b9) with notes from the B half-whole scale thrown in for some percussive and melodic flavor. Finally, I end on what I would barely call an altered E dominant seventh, over which I actually play an A whole-half scale, before finally ending the entire thing on E.
The notion of sweeping (or raking) the pick across the strings to produce a quick succession of notes has been around since the invention of the pick itself. Jazz players from the Fifties would use the approach in their improvisations, and Chet Atkins was known to eschew his signature fingerstyle hybrid-picking technique from time to time and rip out sweep-picked arpeggios.
The run is built around a progression of sequenced major, minor and diminished-seventh arpeggios performed exclusively with two-hand tapping. As you’ll discover, it has some cool ascending and descending patterns and a jagged melodic contour that includes wide intervals and frequent changes in direction. Also, notice the use of string skipping and varied rhythms throughout.
Another great thing about this spread-fingering shape is that, from a theoretical perspective, it makes it much easier to visualize your scale intervals and to navigate across them. Say, for instance, you want to figure out how your I, III and V intervals sound when played together. You can do so easily by using this spread fingering position.
What I’m essentially doing here is stringing together groups of 16th notes played in four-note shapes, or modules, and playing mostly two notes per string, with a couple of exceptions here and there wherein I stay on the G string and repeat the first two notes instead of crossing over to the D string.
Once I hit the high E string, I switch to legato phrasing, continuing the triplet rhythm and using all four fret-hand fingers, spread out wide, to perform "stacked" hammer-ons and pull-offs, capped off by a pick-hand tap with the middle finger.
Around the release of his eponymous debut solo album, Slash took the time out to show us how to play some of his favorite riffs, both new and old. In the Guitar World video below, Slash talks about writing the classic Guns N' Roses tune "Paradise City." He also shows you how to play the key parts of the Appetite for Destruction track.
I wrote the song’s main theme by adding a melodic element to an arpeggio idea I was exploring, borrowed from guitarists Steve Morse and Eric Johnson. The idea is to arpeggiate barre chords whose roots are on the fifth string, but only play the root, fifth and third — leaving out the octave.
When skipping to another string, often the first note is hammered on "from nowhere" by one of the fret-hand fingers [indicated by "H"]. Strive for an even attack and volume note to note, making each hammer-on quick and firm. When pulling off, flick the string slightly sideways, in toward the palm.