I use this particular variation of the scale a lot, especially when Im creating melodies that need to have a bit of "cheek" about them. This sound reminds me of something Steve Vai would use. The character Steve injects into his playing is genius, and this is a way (tonally) that I've found that helps me capture a bit of that.
In this Monster Lick, I'm using a variation of the G pentatonic scale. The scales used are the flat five (or blues scale), major 3rd and major 6th pentatonic. This is achieved simply by adding the above scale tones to the standard minor pentatonic. The notes in the G minor pentatonic are G, Bb (or A#), C, D, F. The flat five is a Db (or C#), the major 3rd is a B and the major 6th is an E.
The title of this month’s column refers to the standard minor pentatonic “box” patterns that so many guitar players rely upon when soloing. While they are valuable, they can be restricting if they represent the primary way in which one utilizes these scale patterns on the fretboard. When playing in the standard box pattern, we generally play two notes per string.
For some of the really fast passages, I could hear that they were using a legato approach—incorporating an abundance of hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides—but I had absolutely no idea how to play the guitar in that way or achieve anywhere near their speed and precision. It sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before, so I always referred to it as “alien guitar.”
The interesting thing here is that I'm using a combination of the major 3rd (C#) and the flat 5 (D#). When you analyze this, you see this creates a chromatic run starting from the C note moving through to the E. This is a valuable thing to note, especially if you're applying this kind if approach to fusion, blues or jazz.
There's nothing new to this approach. Blues players have been adding these notes to the basic pentatonic for eons. But the difference here is that I apply this system to a heavy/hard-rock style of playing. I do this with a combination of sweeps and legato, which creates a very hard-edge modern sound while still keeping the blues tonality.
On beat three of bar 2, I flip my fret hand over the neck and perform the arpeggios on top of the fretboard. Here, I use my thumb [indicated by the t in the finger prompts below the tab] to fret the low E [sixth string, 12th fret] so I can make the fret-hand transition over the neck without skipping a beat.
In this Monster Lick, I'm using the E major 3rd pentatonic. The notes in this scale are E, G#, A, B, D. As you can see from the notes, I'm substituting the G minor 3rd with the G# major 3rd. This particular variation of the scale gives a less aggressive sound and is a great way to inject a little character into your runs and melodies. This also happens to be one of my favorite scales.