Lick of the Day: Rock Climbing in A — Sponsored by Marshall

This is a climbing legato run that moves across all six strings and up the fretboard, mostly through the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G).

During the first beat, I add an extra "color tone," the flat-five "blue note" in the key of A, E♭, on the A string's sixth fret. From that point on, it's straight A minor pentatonic.

I start out by moving across the bottom four strings in the fifth-position "box" pattern. When I get to the G string, I begin incorporating ascending legato finger slides, first with my ring finger, sliding from the seventh fret up to the ninth. I then cross over to the B string, with my index finger at the eight fret, hammer-on to the 10th fret with my ring finger, and then slide that finger up to the 13th-fret C note.

The ascent concludes with a hammer-on and pull-off at the high E string's 10th and 12th frets. I follow this with another pull-off on the B string, and, finally, one last ascending slide, from the G string's 12th fret up to the 14th, which I perform with my ring finger. I end the lick with a nice, smooth vibrato, performed by pulling the G string in toward my palm repeatedly.

Regarding the pick hand, I'm only picking the first note on each string and using legato techniques--hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides--to sound the subsequent notes on each string. I begin with a downstroke and after that use upstrokes exclusively. The goal should be to have all the notes sound even, smooth and at the same volume.

As you move across the strings, make a point of palm muting the lower strings that you're not playing on in order to keep them quiet. The tempo is 100 beats per minute, 70 for slow practice.

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.