Monster Licks: Shredding in the Familiar Yet Harmonically Beautiful Straight Minor Pentatonic Scale
In this edition of Monster Licks, I'm using the straight minor pentatonic scale in the key of B.
The straight pentatonic sonically is an incredibly powerful scale when used melodically and fast. This lick is a great representation of how far you can take the straight pentatonic scale and move it all over the neck.
What I love most about this scale is that tonally there are no surprises for the listener; it is harmonically beautiful whether played fast or slow. Obviously, this particular lick is to be played with some speed, but if you break it down, you could use any line from it and lead into a bend or slide — and it would sound incredible.
You find the pentatonic scale in all kinds of music from all over the world; it knows no boundaries! It was my goal from very early on in my career to be able to use this beautiful scale to its full shredding potential! I'm still searching for new ways to sonically deliver this scale. I just love the sound of it; it really resonates with my being.
I know a lot of people think guitar players who play fast have no feeling. Well, this is completely untrue. A lot of thought, practice and feeling goes into all of my runs. Music, for me, is a great healer. Playing fast really lets me switch off from everything and connect to a greater source, just as playing a slow melody may do for some other guitarists. Everyone is different. I admire all levels of technicality and musicality. There's something to learn from everyone!
This lick is a combination of arpeggios, single-note lines, hammers, pulls and slides.
It is very important to focus in hard on the hammers/pulls and slides in this lick. They are the key to making the transitions smooth, and more importantly they keep the sweep patterns flowing in the right directions. A lot of thought goes into creating a lick of this complexity. First you have the fingerings and transitions, but then you need to work out ways of keeping the picking pattern flowing evenly and quickly. This is why every slide, hammer and pull is so essential in this lick.
If you are unsure of the picking pattern, then watch the slow part of the lick and focus in on my picking hand. You will notice that although I am sweeping the arpeggios, my technique remains controlled even at a slow tempo. This is essential to mastering this approach. Your goal should be to play runs like this at any speed and with any sound.
Never be discouraged by any guitar techniques you see or hear. You don’t need to be able to play a million miles an hour to write music or enjoy playing music, but I would encourage any musician to practice hard and challenge themselves as much as possible, as this is a sure way to becoming a better player. The more you can do, the more opportunities will come your way!
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 glennproudfoot.com.