I could never overstate the importance of a musician’s need to develop his or her ear. Actually, I believe that developing a good “inner ear” — the art of being able to decipher musical components solely through listening — is the most important element in becoming a good musician.
I had taught at this annual workshop a number of times and always looked forward to my week there, not only because I was able to teach a class of students who really wanted to learn guitar, but also for more selfish reasons. I liked meeting and learning from some of the other instructors and clinicians.
Sweep picking was invented a long time ago, and it's been used in many amazing solos. Where would the Eighties be without sweep picking? Where would metal be without it? Sweep picking isn't a very surprising sound anymore. So when you're crafting a solo and trying to make a lick that will give the same wonderful feel of sweeping, try these “2-1's” instead. They'll make you jump.
For these licks, I employ fretboard tapping in conjunction with string skipping to achieve a very smooth and even sound throughout. I know many guitarists prefer to use sweep picking when playing arpeggios, but to me, the sound of dragging the pick up and down across the strings is a little too abrasive and percussive.
Recently, I've been experimenting with five-note patterns, or quintuplets. A quintuplet is when you fit five notes where usually you'd fit four. For example, you can fit 20 16th-note quintuplets in a normal bar where you'd play five evenly spaced notes for each beat. These rhythms can be challenging, so I wanted to give you some simple exercises and licks that will help you develop a "feel" for them.
I am often asked how I incorporate chromatic notes into my solos and how I approach playing “outside” the given key center of a
song. If you have ever used the blues scale, then you have already employed chromatic notes in some of the most musical ways possible.
Today we’re going to pick things up where we left off by tackling the notes on the fourth string. And remember, we’re going to be focusing on the prime pitches — that is A, B, C, D, E, F, G — like we did with the fifth and sixth strings. I do this because I’ve learned that simplifying the notes across the fretboard can make things easier for students to master them.
This lick is a real showcase of how you can create legato runs using the pentatonic. Predominantly, legato patterns within the pentatonic consist of two-note-per-string pulls and hammers. I like to adopt a combination of this with a wide intervalic approach to add an extra note to the patterns.
These videos are bonus content related to the April 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 our online store.