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Monster Licks: Shredding in the Familiar Yet Harmonically Beautiful Straight Minor Pentatonic Scale

What I love most about this scale is that tonally there are no surprises for the listener; it is harmonically beautiful whether played fast or slow. Obviously, this particular lick is to be played with some speed, but if you break it down, you could use any line from it and lead into a bend or slide — and it would sound incredible.

Monster Licks: Breaking the Boundaries of the Minor Pentatonic Scale

In this week's Monster Licks, I am — once again — pushing the boundaries of the minor pentatonic scale. The harmonic qualities of this scale really resonate with me. I know this may sound strange because this lick is played at high speed, but for me, the scale never looses its melodic beauty, no matter how fast or slow it’s played.

Monster Licks: Embrace Your Inner-Monster with the Pentatonic Scale!

In the first installment of my new Monster Licks series, I'm going to take you through my extensive pentatonic lick library. These licks are the product of many years of hard work, and I'm glad to be sharing them with you! The straight (minor) pentatonic scale often gets overlooked when soloing. I find that most guitarists tend to head to the blues scale or other variations of the pentatonic because they find the straight scale a little limiting.

Sick Licks: Pushing the Boundaries of the "Pentatonic Feel"

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.

Sick Licks: Shredding-Good Fun With the Diminished 7th Scale

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.

Sick Licks: Get Ready for Some B Minor Ballistics

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.

Sick Licks: A Dark Mix of the Straight Pentatonic and Blues Scales

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.

Sick Licks: The Dark Side of the Pentatonic Scale

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.

Sick Licks: The Pentatonic Scale — a New Dimension

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.

Sick Licks: The Outer Limits of 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.