In this Sick Lick, I'm using the diminished 7th arpeggio. I combine a few different techniques to create what I call an “alien" sound. This lick is very heavily influenced buy one of my favorite guitarists, Shawn Lane. Lane really pushed the boundaries of guitar playing. He had flawless technique and speed, and he used this technical prowess to write some incredible music.
It was because of my experimenting with major scales and modes that I originally came up with the “Thumb Technique”; I was searching for ways to play descending arpeggio patterns while keeping an even flow and rhythmic pattern. What I eventually came up with is the pattern played in this lick.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the Whole Tone Scale. You have to be careful with this scale when adapting it to rock, as tonally it is way outside what the listener would normally be used to -- so it's important not to get lost in this scale! Make sure you are always mindful of where you are on the neck and that you are thinking about what other scales you can switch in and out of if you start to get too far outside the tonal core.
I'm using a pretty crazy combination of scales in this Sick Lick. We start with the whole tone scale then move into the diminished and finish with the pentatonic. When I'm combining scales, I always base it around the pentatonic scale. As in, even though I might be using many different scales, I tend to focus the solo or lick around the pentatonic. Basically, I use it like my road map!
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the E Pentatonic Blues Scale (Pentatonic Flat 5). Whenever I'm soloing, this is the scale I naturally gravitate toward because I love its aggressive sound and power! For me, Stevie Ray Vaughan used this scale better than anyone, and he was my inspiration to explore the possibilities with this scale and sound.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using a combination of the “Natural E Minor Pentatonic," Flat 5 (blues scale) and Major 3rd Pentatonic. Many players forget there is a difference between these scales, and the “Natural Pentatonic” often gets overlooked and replaced by these other variations. There is a significant difference between them, and they should all be given the same respect and attention.
For a long time when I was younger, I felt trapped with the pentatonic scale. Most players only use the scale in the box form or two-note-per-string technique. Now, while I absolutely love the sound this creates, I was searching for ways to create runs that were tonally similar to my personal favorites such as Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix but utilize techniques that Steve Vai or Satch would use in their soloing.
One of my favorite ways to expand on the typical blues/rock/metal vocabulary is to introduce fast melodic bursts based on diminished-seven arpeggios. In this month's column, the focus will be on the E diminished-seven arpeggio, which consists of the notes E, G, Bb and C#. I like to challenge myself to find all possible ways to utilize this arpeggio up and down the fretboard in as seamless a way as possible.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the A Minor blues scale. In its traditional form, we would tend to use the Flat 5 note as a passing note (to slide in and out of or bend from) to get that real bluesy sound. What I do here is, rather than using the Flat 5 (D#) as a passing note, I tend to base the scale around this note. What this does is create an extremely aggressive sound, and it makes the scale awesome to use for heavier styles of music.
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.