In this Sick Lick, I'm in the key of D minor, using a combination of scales: the pentatonic blues scale, diminished 7th scale and an augmented scale. I'm constantly searching for ways to convey power and aggressiveness while not straying too far from the tonal core of my playing. It’s not easy, and it's something I'm continually developing.
The diminished 7th scale is a great way to maneuver around the the guitar, especially when you adapt three string arpeggios. The shapes you can create have a fantastic flow and make it easy to move up and down the neck freely.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the B diminished/augmented and B minor pentatonic flat 5 (blues) scales. This lick is based around the wide intervalic shapes that are created when combining the diminished and pentatonic. This style is very heavily influenced by Shawn Lane and his use of wide intervals to create runs.
For this Sick Lick, I'm using the A minor pentatonic and the A minor blues scale. I tend to find that the straight pentatonic gets forgotten about or is often substituted for the blues scale. Why? Because the blues scale sounds darker and more aggressive and is a common sound for rock and blues soloing. Having said this, the straight pentatonic scale is totally killer when used in the right way.
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!