Randy Rhoads: Rhoads to Success
As shown in FIGURE 3, Rhoads used the previously illustrated A minor pentatonic scale as a means to demonstrate alternate picking. These exercises are based on a steady rhythm of eighth-note triplets (one-and-a two-and-a three-and-a four-and-a). Be sure to alternate pick consistently throughout this exercise and to start out slowly, progressivelybuilding up speed while maintaining good technique and a clean articulation.
As a means of teaching students how to play scales and riffs that traverse the entire fretboard, Rhoads presented a very clear way to connect scale patterns in different positions by alternating between sixth-string and fifth-string root positions, using a hybrid scale that combines the five-note minor pentatonic with the seven-note Dorian mode, which is intervallically spelled 1 2 f3 4 5 6 f7. FIGURE 4 begins with a scale position that starts on a sixth-string root note with the F minor pentatonic scale (F Af Bf C Ef) and then switches to the F Dorian mode (F G Af Bf C D Ef) for the top two strings.
The first scale position ends with the pinkie at the sixth fret on the high E string, at which point you shift the index finger over to the fifth string at the same fret in order to begin a fifth-string-root scale position, again starting with F minor pentatonic and switching to F Dorian on the top two strings. Likewise, this scale position ends with the pinkie on the high E string, in this case at the11th fret, at which point you shift the index finger to the 11th fret on the low E string to start the next sixth-string-root scale position. This technique is then demonstrated in the key of G minor, with the G minor pentatonic scale switching to the G Dorian mode (G A Bf C D E F) for the top two strings.
In teaching minor pentatonic scale patterns and riffs, Rhoads liked to make reference to certain visual aids that reflect the way the notes fall on the fretboard; he called these “Z” and “triangle” shapes. He also used this as an opportunity to get into a bit of music theory.
FIGURE 5 begins with four notes of the A minor pentatonic scale played in third position, starting on the low E string with the index finger on G, third fret, followed by A, with the ring finger at the fifth fret; imagine a straight line between these two notes. The third note is C, fretted with the index finger on the fifth string, third fret; imagine a diagonal line from A to C. The last note is D, fifth string/fifth fret, fretted with the ring finger; imagine a straight line from C to D. Putting the three lines together forms a “Z.” In LaFond’s words, “Randy used this as a way to identify where you are most likely to find the notes of your signature riffs.” These “Z” patterns can be moved to other notes found in this minor pentatonic scale position on the bottom three strings, as demonstrated in bars 2 and 3 of FIGURE 5. Notice that the scale degree of each note is indicated.
Bar 4 of FIGURE 5 illustrates the “triangle” shape formed when playing the A minor pentatonic scale in 12th position on the G and B strings, which are tuned a major third apart, unlike the other adjacent strings, which are tuned a perfect fourth apart. Notice the visual outline of the triangle shape formed by the notes G, A and C.
When demonstrating other scale patterns and ways to connect scale positions, Rhoadsthe presence of the various “Z” and “triangle” shapes that occur. In FIGURE 6, the concept of connecting scale positions is moved over to a scale pattern that begins with a fifth-string root, played in the key of B minor and utilizing a hybrid scale that once again combines the notes of the minor pentatonic scale and the Dorian mode, in this case B minor pentatonic (B D E Fs A) and B Dorian (B Cs D E Fs Gs A). The initial pattern then shifts over to a sixth-string-root position, followed once again by a shift back to a fifth-string-root position.
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