You are here

Monster Licks: My Pentatonic Obsession — Breaking Out of the "Box"

Monster Licks: My Pentatonic Obsession — Breaking Out of the

In this Monster Lick, I'm using the E pentatonic flat 5 scale, also known as the E blues scale.

What I wanted to break away from with my soloing and playing was the box form of the pentatonic scale and the repeated licks you hear everybody play. The sound in my head was very clear, but the challenge of making it a reality was huge.

I started by combining two of the boxes and creating three-string arpeggios. From there, I started working on the transitions to combine them.

The other big challenge was adapting new picking techniques to suit this style of playing. Up until this point, all of my playing had been with alternate picking. I was obsessed with Eric Johnson and his tonality but was equally obsessed with the modern techniques of players like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

This is the obsession that led me to where I am. Along the journey, I discovered Shawn Lane. His playing changed my life. Seeing him play gave me the inspiration to keep going. As totally untouchable as Shawn’s Lane's was, I understood it. If you're looking for a guitar guru, look no further than Shawn Lane. He had it all.

The Lick:

I start this lick with two groupings of four notes (the first eight notes of the lick). This pattern helps set the feel and timing of the lick. From the last note of the second grouping of four notes (that being the 13th fret of the A string), this is where the arpeggios begin.

From here, the there are two three-string arpeggios that lead into a six-string arpeggio that crosses all of the strings on the fretboard, so one note per string. This leads into a five-string, then a four-string arpeggio. From here, I make the transition to "over the top" by fretting the 12th fret of the low E with my thumb and bringing my hand over the top to fret the guitar.

To pull off this section, it's important to note that the transitions are the key. The finish of this lick is another series of three- and five-string arpeggios.

The arpeggio sections are tricky to get a grip on. I suggest you identify the arpeggios within the transcript. This can be done easily, as the notes run diagonally across the page. Once you've identified them, dissect them and practice them on their own to fully memorize the shapes. This will help you immensely.

I hope you enjoy it! Please join me on YouTube right here! Or contact me at or my Facebook page.


Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It is available on iTunes and at

Seven Contemporary Jazz Guitarists Worth Checking Out