Betcha Can't Play This! with John5

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“THIS IS A VIOLIN-STYLE Em arpeggio lick, inspired by Paul Gilbert and W.A. Mozart, that traverses all six strings and covers three-and-a-half octaves. It’s actually not very hard to play slowly, but as you speed it up you’ll find that the biggest technical challenge is keeping up with all the required position shifts and diagonal movement, both up and down and across the neck.

“The entire phrase is based on a descending three-note Em arpeggio shape; it’s initially played on the middle two strings as a 16th-note triplet, with the pinkie and index and middle fingers. I then play the same three-note sequence an octave higher on the top two strings, using the same fingering, then work my way over to the bottom two strings, substituting the open low E note for the 12th-fret E to create a wider range and a more emphatic pitch dip. Try to mute the low E with the fingers of either hand immediately after picking it to prevent it from ringing into the subsequent notes.

“The pinkie pulls off to the index finger on the first and second note of each triplet, which makes things somewhat easier for the picking hand, although it still has to move quickly across the strings. I use all downstrokes, but you may want to try picking each E note with an upstroke and see what works best for you. Practice each three-note module separately at first, then string them together into an even flow of notes.”