Bent Out of Shape: Back to Basics with Pentatonics, Part 3

Welcome to the third installment of my pentatonics series. These lessons are designed to give you a quick 15-to-20-minute practice.

Each lick is relatively simple and easy to learn. If you're a player whose practice time is limited, these lessons are ideal for you. In fact, you can check out Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

This week I'm going to focus on open-position pentatonic licks utilizing open strings. Although open-position licks limit the keys in which you can solo, the option to incorporate open strings gives you some extra room for creativity.

I also like the tonal qualities of playing low on the neck. People generally expect you to solo up high, so by getting used to playing down in the open position, you can create some unexpected dynamics in your solos.

To start, I'd like to demonstrate the tonal qualities I mentioned by showing you how a single-string bend can be used to create a tasty-sounding phrase by using a picking harmonic technique.

This lick is similar to a lick I showed you in Part 1 of this series but played in the open position. These are two examples of how to incorporate open strings into simple bluesy licks in E-minor.

This is a simple repetitive lick that comes from one of my own solos. Looping a short sequence of notes is a good way for beginners to build speed. On its own, the lick is a bit "stock," so I use picking harmonics to add an extra element and make it more interesting.

This is a similar idea in the key of A minor but spread across three strings. John Sykes plays a similar lick in the Whitesnake song "Bad Boys." Again, I use picking harmonics to make the lick more interesting.

To finish, here's more of an exercise playing E minor pentatonics as three notes per string by combining two shapes into one. You play the same pattern on each string and move up and down through the scale.

Will Wallner is a guitarist from England who now lives in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and toured Japan, the US and Canada in 2012. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.

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