Sick Licks: Getting Insane with the E Minor Blues Scale

In this Sick Lick, I'm using the E minor blues scale. I particularly love this scale for its aggressive sound and versatility.

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!

A big part of my love for this scale came from my influences, although I've adapted it to a heavier style of guitar. If you slow down these ideas and add bends, you can immediately hear the blues sound come back into it. So no matter what style of guitar you're into, you can take a lot from this lick and approach.

There's no need to play it at a blistering pace; you can break each arpeggio down and use them as a lead into a bend or a slide, etc. I still do that myself, but I'm always curious to see how far I can push the boundaries of my playing. This lick is a result of that curiosity!

It's important to remember these licks are a demonstration of how far you can take an idea. They are, in no way, an essential part of creating or writing great solos or music. Having said this, I'm a firm believer that the more you push yourself, the more tools you'll have at your disposal to execute your ideas when writing and performing. There's nothing to loose and everything to gain, so have a go!

I start this lick with a combination of three-string arpeggios and legato to create a big run that's moving up the scale. I use this particular technique a lot to move up and down the neck. From here, I move into a combination of arpeggios, getting ready for the transition of bringing my hand “over the top” to play the five-string, then six-string arpeggio.

Be aware of the note marked “T” as this is the note I fret with my left thumb; it creates the pivot that enables me to make the transition for fretting the guitar “over the top.”

I finish this lick with a combination of three-string arpeggios. You'll notice that I skip some notes in the scale; I do this as it creates an "outside" sound with the wider intervals and sounds super-aggressive! This is an approach I take a lot when soloing to create a different flavor to the sound and dynamics.

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy! Please join me on YouTube here.

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 Glenn was featured in the October 2010 issue of Guitar World and now creates "Betcha Can’t Play This" segments and lessons for GW. Glenn also has a monthly GW column, "Loud & Proud," which offers insight into his style and approach to the guitar. Glenn is working on a project with Ezekiel Ox (ex Mammal) and Lucius Borich (Cog), which is managed by Ted Gardner, ex-Tool and Jane's Addiction manager. The band has done pre-production on 22 tracks and is set to hit the studio and finish their first studio album. The album is set for release in 2012. Glenn also is working on the followup to his debut album; it, too, will be released in 2012.

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