Skip to main content

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.

The challenge has been to keep the feel and sound of the pentatonic while branching into to other tonal scopes. This requires thought and a lot of practice, but most importantly, it's the fingerings and mindfulness of how to switch in and out of scales and techniques that requires the most attention.

I tend to visualize a lot of my techniques before putting them into practice. From there I spend a lot of time on the fingerings and figuring out the best way to apply these ideas and techniques to my soloing and playing.

A lot of this stuff is just flash; it's not essential, but I really dig the challenge of pushing myself and I'm a firm believer in the fact that the more you push yourself, the greater you will become.

This attitude is something that shouldn’t be applied only to the technical side of your playing; it should be applied to every aspect of being a guitar player. I'm fully aware that some players don't like spending time on technique; a lot of them prefer to spend time on mastering their sound or tone. This is something I respect greatly. But my advice to young guitar players is to challenge yourself daily! Whether or not you end up using the techniques you're working on is irrelevant; it's the time and practice you put into to learning it that is the key. This is what will set you apart from the rest.

So whether or not you like the sound that this particular lick creates doesn’t matter. Have a go for the challenge of it!

The Lick

I start on the 11th fret of the A string. I'm using the diminished 7th scale and a combination of three-string arpeggios to move down to the high E string.

Once on the high E string, I start the augmented pattern. This is a legato pattern that is simply repeated. You can apply this legato pattern to any scale as long as you are using three notes per string (It sounds fantastic with modes).

After the legato pattern, I move into a six-string arpeggio that starts on the high E and ends on the low E. From here, I switch my hand to fret the guitar “over the top." This section starts with the note marked “T” on the transcript; this is the note I fret with my left thumb to create the pivot to swing my hand around the guitar. Once my hand is over the top, I play a five-string arpeggio down and back up the guitar, then switch back to the traditional fretting position and finish with a diminished 7th lick.

Don’t let the technique scare you. Let it inspire and drive you!

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.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49