You are here

Sick Licks: Go Over the Top With the A Minor Pentatonic Scale

Sick Licks: Go Over the Top With the A Minor Pentatonic Scale

In this Sick Lick, I'm using the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

The lick is played high on the neck, which makes some of the transitions very difficult, but the results are worth it.

We start this lick with a five-string arpeggio, then slide up to the 22nd fret and start moving back down the neck. You'll notice most of the really fast sections are created with three- and five-string arpeggios. I love this technique as it gives a really dynamic sound to your soloing and enables you to move up and down the neck freely and at high speed.

It's important to focus on the first note, which we fret with our thumb on the low E string. It's from this point that we make the transition and bring our left hand over the top to start fretting the guitar over the top of the neck. The note we fret with our thumb creates the pivot point to swing our left hand over the neck. It's important to focus on this part of this lick so you can master this transition (bringing your hand over the top).

Once my hand is over the top, notice that I pick a six-string arpeggio moving down the neck; then I pick another six-string arpeggio with the last note, which is, again, fretted with the thumb to enable the transition back to fretting the guitar the traditional way.

I tend to practice the over-the-top sections separately to strengthen my fretting hand as you actually depend on some different muscles once you bring our hand over the top of the fretboard, and it needs a lot of work to master.

This is very tricky, but like anything else, practice it slowly and be sure to sound out all the notes. The part that's the most difficult for you is the part you should focus on.

I like to work on techniques like this purely because I like to challenge myself. I believe that every technique you master, whether or not you use it in your music, will make you a better artist/guitarist.

I finish this lick by using three-string arpeggios and legato while moving up the neck. This is one of my favorite ways to move up the scale as a lead in to a bend, as you will hear it is a cool way to finish a solo or to simply use as a passage to lead in to a bend. You can break any section of this Sick Lick apart and simply take from it what you like. There are so many ideas and techniques in here that require a lot of work, so if you feel it may be beyond your level for the moment, choose a small section and work on that. Just have some fun with the idea!

As with any of these licks, your goal should be to have fun and try and take something out of it to add to your playing -- no matter how small!


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 Glenn was featured in the October 2010 issue of Guitar World and now creates "Betcha Can’t Play This" segments and lessons for GW. Glenn also has a monthly GW column, "Loud & Proud," which offers insight into his style and approach to the guitar. Glenn is working on a project with Ezekiel Ox (ex Mammal) and Lucius Borich (Cog), which is managed by Ted Gardner, ex-Tool and Jane's Addiction manager. The band has done pre-production on 22 tracks and is set to hit the studio and finish their first studio album. The album is set for release in 2012. Glenn also is working on the followup to his debut album; it, too, will be released in 2012.

Blazing "Betcha Can't Play This" Supports Jason Becker's New Album Project