Hello, and welcome to my new Guitar World instructional column. In the coming months, I’ll share with you some of the guitar-playing concepts and approaches that have helped me develop my technique and overall playing style. I’d like to start off with an examination of ascending scalar shapes that, by design, cover the majority of the fretboard.
As I have discussed in previous columns, I often use triadic arpeggio forms within my riffs and solos as a tool to create rich-sounding, poly-chordal sounds. I’d like to continue in that vein in this month’s column by presenting different ways in which to move from one arpeggio form to another.
I often get asked about my chord work, particularly about the voicings I use. My chord style initially developed as a result of my dissatisfaction with the way traditional guitar voicings, particularly triads, sounded.
This month, I’m going to demonstrate how one can utilize simple triadic shapes and patterns in order to imply more complex and varied chord qualities. I find this to be a very cool and useful improvisational tool, because you can apply it to playing over either a chord progression that you want to outline melodically or over a static pedal tone.
Over the years, people have noticed that when I play certain runs, my fingers move in the opposite direction of the notes that they hear. For example, as my fret hand moves up the fretboard, the sequence of notes that is heard descends (and vice versa).
This month, I’d like to delve deeper into concepts for expanding scalar ideas across the fretboard. As in the previous columns, I’ll demonstrate how to move diagonally across the fretboard to connect scale positions, an approach that I employ to a great extent to play melodic phrases and solos.
Let’s continue with a topic that I addressed in last month’s column: focusing on the formation of specific scalar patterns, or “shapes,” and how to connect them while traversing the fretboard. To me, this concept and approach offer a sensible way to practice these ideas/patterns in order to build up one’s chops while also increasing overall fretboard awareness and mastery of scales.
I always get frustrated when I hear someone talking about sweep arpeggios. Though there are plenty of licks and examples out there, no one has ever really broken down the mechanics of the technique. As a result, guitarists have had to figure them out by trial and error.
In order to become a well-rounded musician, you have to master the three major aspects of guitar playing: the technical side, the musical side and the creative side. The technical side comprises the actual physical components you need to have under your belt in order to get around your instrument.
As I was walking around, I heard a violinist playing these wild exercises-he was wailing! I thought it would be really cool to adapt those licks to the guitar. Since the violinist didn't speak any English, I had to gesture for him to show me what he was doing. He gladly did, and then he showed me a bunch of variations, too. It was great; though we didn't speak, we nonetheless communicated very easily.