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.
As the Black Label Society's leader (and Ozzy's guitarist for more years than anyone else), Zakk Wylde has become infamous for his brew-tal riffage and lethal lead style. Remarkably, though, he also has a soul-stirring softer side.
Paul Gilbert combines technical proficiency with incredible musicianship and a deep knowledge of theory. Because he derives most of his tone from his hands and highly refined approach, he requires superbly balanced and quiet pickups that won’t present any barriers to his musical expression.
Fender and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have been working together since the blues artist was a 17-year-old phenom and heir apparent to the SRV throne. Since then, Shepherd has established himself as both a singular contemporary blues guitarist and a master of the genre’s established forms and tones. His signature Fender Strat is made of the same stuff, combining modern components with features inspired by some of Shepherd’s favorite vintage Strats. The result is a powerhouse blues guitar at a wallet-friendly price.
Artist Jeff Ritzmann always dreamed of owning an extravagant custom guitar like George Lynch’s Skull and Bones or Eddie Van Halen’s Dragon. That desire stayed with Ritzmann until 2006, when the cover of Iron Maiden’s A Matter of Life and Death album inspired him to build a guitar that looks like a tank. He did it, he says, by modifying an off-the-shelf guitar “beyond all reasonable comprehension.”
This month, we look at five classic repetition licks that incorporate string bends.These kinds of licks have been a key element of rock soloing since the mid Fifties, with pioneering players like Chuck Berry creating iconic licks that generations of guitarist have built upon since.
When Line 6 introduced its Variax technology back in 2003, guitarists were immediately knocked out by its ability to produce the sounds of various guitars and stringed instruments in numerous alternate tunings. However, many players were somewhat lukewarm about the solidbody guitars that housed the technology, which were decent and playable but not particularly sexy.
Fast, bright, sleek, accurate and polyphonic, the TC Electronic PolyTune chromatic tuner is pretty hard to top. Even so, TC refused to rest on its laurels. First, it developed the ultracool PolyTune iPhone app; now it’s introducing the PolyTune Mini, which provides many of the PolyTune pedal’s features in a box that’s about half the size of the already compact original.
While software developers have created some cool guitar apps for the iPad, they’re not exactly easy to use onstage due to the lack of foot controls and the fragility of the typical guitar-to-iPad audio interface. However, DigiTech’s new iPB-10 elevates the iPad’s live performance functionality to professional quality by using the device as a processing engine and command center for DigiTech’s impressive effects, amp and cabinet modeling software and placing it in a durable, roadworthy floor-mounted controller with heavy-duty footswitches, a sweepable control pedal and numerous output options.
In last month’s column, I demonstrated a variety of ways to transform standard A minor pentatonic-based licks into modal runs and patterns using the A Aeolian mode (a.k.a. the A natural minor scale: A B C D E F G). This month, I will expand on the concept by applying a slight rhythmic variation to a standard A minor pentatonic pattern, again transforming it to A natural minor, and then examine these newly realized melodic shapes in different areas of the fretboard. We will then transpose the new melodic ideas to another very commonly used mode: A Dorian (A B C D E Fs G).