This Sick Lick is based around the E pentatonic scale and the diminished 7th scale. The more you explore the possibilities tonally with soloing, you slowly come to the realization that you can pretty much use any note on the fretboard as a passing note in any given key. Jazz guitarists are the masters of using passing notes. You can apply the same thinking and technique to rock soloing.
I tend to base the runs around the pentatonic shapes or boxes, so even if I'm not using the pentatonic, I'm constantly thinking what box of the pentatonic I'm passing through (or in) when playing runs. This enables me to switch in and out of different scales very freely. You can apply this thinking to any scale, not just the pentatonic.
As I was learning and discovering the guitar, the pentatonic scale was the tonality I could most relate to. It's no great secret that most blues and rock solos are based around this scale, but I really had to discover this for myself through years of hard work and practice. It's easy to be told or read what to do, but it's practice alone that will give you the ultimate understanding.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the G minor blues scale. It is incredible, the sonic form this scale takes when used higher up the neck. it really creates a sound far from the original blues roots when you apply arpeggios and legato along with some wide intervallic playing.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the E pentatonic scale with the added major 6th. When you add the major 6th to the pentatonic, it creates a dorian-sounding scale, so this is a cool thing to remember if you're chasing that sound but don't want to lose the rock vibe of the pentatonic.
Whenever I'm soloing or improvising — at a show, during recording or at home — this is the scale I tend to base all of my playing around. As I mentioned above, it's extremely versatile, and it's the perfect building block for creating a killer solo or runs to rip your friends' heads off!
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the E pentatonic scale with the added major 3rd. This is one of my favorite scales to use when soloing. It creates such a unique sound and is very noticeable, especially when adapted to rock or metal solos. It's a great way to really throw the listener, as we would predominately use minor scales in rock or metal solo. The listeners aren't really accustomed to hearing the major 3rd.
I believe Shawn Lane was the most technically amazing guitarist to ever grace the earth. He had total command over the guitar in all areas, and his speed and technique were simply out of this world. Most importantly, his sense of melody/songwriting and the way he adapted all of his techniques to soloing were truly amazing.
The main challenge with this technique is the stretches. It's very important when practicing this to make sure you have your thumb right behind the neck and you're holding the guitar in a comfortable position to allow maximum finger stretch. Also, be mindful of any discomfort you may feel in your hands or wrist when practicing this. If you are cramping or experiencing pain, stop and practice again after a break.
The first time I came across this style of picking was in an article by guitarist Shawn Lane. I was totally blown away by his use of the traditional sweep picking while combining the use of his right-hand fingers to pick notes within the arpeggios. This technique works particularly well with major/minor scales or modal playing, as it is very easy to create three-string shapes that flow very nicely and closely together.