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.
The lick I play here is something I'd actually use in a solo as a run; it's not an exercise. In every Sick Lick, I demonstrate ideas I would actually use -- or have used -- in solos. I'm not one for creating pointless exercises. I believe you're better off spending time practicing things you can actually use rather than playing through repetitious, unusable trills.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the Diminished 7th scale. I refer to this technique as the “Spider Technique." My friends came up with this name, and I thought that it was kind of cool, so it stuck! I'm forever searching for ideas and ways to push the boundaries of my playing. It's one thing to have an idea, but to actually follow through with it and get it up to a level where you can just rip it out is something else.
These arpeggios are one note per string. I love this technique because it allows me to cover the neck very quickly while freely changing positions on the fretboard. My inspiration for this kind of playing came from listening to piano players. I would hear the way they played arpeggios and try to mimic it on the guitar. Because piano players have both hands on the keys, they are able to create some monstrous-sounding arpeggios and runs.
I remember listening to Holdsworth play when I was a kid -- with complete disbelief at what I was hearing. It almost didn’t sound like a guitar. The speed and the wide intervalic playing was simply amazing. It wasn’t until I saw live footage of him playing that I began to understand how he created that amazing sound.