Monster Licks: A Trip Down Shawn Lane —Sweep Picking with Groupings of Four, Five and Six Notes

In this Monster Lick, I'm using a combination of sweep picking and groupings of four, five and six notes, along with arpeggios.

The grouping of notes is very heavily inspired by Shawn Lane. When I first heard Shawn play, it was so blisteringly fast, it really excited and scared the hell out of me at the same time. I could hear that a lot of his tonality was with the pentatonic scale, but I couldn’t understand how anyone could play this scale so fast.

I slowly started to work it out. Still, Shawn’s speed and accuracy is something very few will ever achieve. He was in a league of his own, a true master.

His use of groupings within the pentatonic scale were totally incredible. Prior to this, everything I did with the pentatonic scale had been with alternate picking. Shawn totally expanded my playing and mindset with his unique and innovative style. (He used a lot of odd groupings, like 5’s, to really throw the rhythm; it creates a very intense-sounding run.)

There's a lot to be said here about the possibilities with one scale. People often get bogged down and feel they are running out of options with scales. Well, if you need inspiration, buy a Shawn Lane album. There will be enough information and licks on there to keep even the most advanced guitar player busy for the next 20 years!

The Lick:

This lick is in the key of A minor using the straight pentatonic scale. The thing to focus on here is the groupings. The first grouping is four notes, the second is six notes, then five, six, five and four.

The secret to building speed with this style of lick is the picking pattern. I use economy picking. Given the nature of the pentatonic and the wide intervals, the economy picking pattern is not your usual formation, meaning it doesn't follow a set pattern as in down up, down down, etc. This you will find when you use this style of picking with a three-note-per-string approach. The pattern remains constant. Here it constantly changes!

The pattern is as follows:

  • First grouping, 4 notes: Down, up, down, up
  • Second, 6 notes: Up, down, up, down, down, up,
  • Third, 5 notes: Up, down, up, down, up
  • Fourth, 6 notes: Up, down, up, down, down, up
  • Fifth, 5 notes: Up, down, up, down, up

It's a lot to take in, but just work through it slowly with the transcript below. Once you have this down, you will blow your friends' minds!

Thanks and I hope you enjoy,

I hope you enjoy! Please join me on YouTube right here! Or just contact me at

Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It is available on iTunes and at

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