Here's a crazy-sounding video game–type lick that requires flexibility and dexterity to execute accurately. The object is to move seamlessly across the fretboard, using a wide-stretch symmetrical diminished arpeggio shape with the fret hand’s first, second and fourth fingers, coupled with a right-hand tap, which makes it a diminished-seven arpeggio.
The thinking behind this run is to get you from the fifth fret all the way up to the 17th fret with a smooth, connected flow of notes. It’s played as if it were in A minor, but I tune down one half step [low to high: Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb], so it sounds in Ab minor. I use alternate picking for the most part, which produces a burning staccato sound and gives your picking hand a great workout.
I start off with an Amaj7 arpeggio, beginning on the seventh, G#. The first three beats incorporate legato phrasing [hammer-ons and pull-offs used in combination]. I play a total of five notes using the "2-2" form [two notes per string]. I then move to a D augmented arpeggio with a #11, again using the 2-2 form but only playing a group of four notes this time.
Next up is a B fully diminished seventh (over E7b9) with notes from the B half-whole scale thrown in for some percussive and melodic flavor. Finally, I end on what I would barely call an altered E dominant seventh, over which I actually play an A whole-half scale, before finally ending the entire thing on E.
The run is built around a progression of sequenced major, minor and diminished-seventh arpeggios performed exclusively with two-hand tapping. As you’ll discover, it has some cool ascending and descending patterns and a jagged melodic contour that includes wide intervals and frequent changes in direction. Also, notice the use of string skipping and varied rhythms throughout.
What I’m essentially doing here is stringing together groups of 16th notes played in four-note shapes, or modules, and playing mostly two notes per string, with a couple of exceptions here and there wherein I stay on the G string and repeat the first two notes instead of crossing over to the D string.
Once I hit the high E string, I switch to legato phrasing, continuing the triplet rhythm and using all four fret-hand fingers, spread out wide, to perform "stacked" hammer-ons and pull-offs, capped off by a pick-hand tap with the middle finger.
When skipping to another string, often the first note is hammered on "from nowhere" by one of the fret-hand fingers [indicated by "H"]. Strive for an even attack and volume note to note, making each hammer-on quick and firm. When pulling off, flick the string slightly sideways, in toward the palm.
This is an alternate-picking run based on an add9 arpeggio shape on the top three strings that’s moved up and down the neck to four different positions and tonal centers, with a slight variation in bar 2. It begins in E, moves down to C with a little twist—more on that in a moment—then up to D and finally A.
This lick is in the key of C# minor and starts off with a C#m(add9) arpeggio [C# D# E G#]. The arpeggio in the first beat is actually just a straight C#m triad [C# E G#] played across all six strings in two octaves, although landing on the high D# note [first string, 11th fret] provides the ninth degree.