One of the most mind-bending Marty Friedman licks of all time can be found on the track "Eleven Blue Egyptians" from Jason Becker's 1988 album, Perpetual Burn.
Listening to the studio version, the lick in question starts around 3:03 and lasts until 3:08 before moving to a classic Friedman-style descending sequence.
The chords underneath are a repeating movement of A5 / A#5 / A5 x 3 / A#5 / C5, which lends itself best to an A Phrygian or an A Phrygian Dominant sound.
Although this scale isn’t used during the verses, for this particular solo section, Friedman adheres to this scale for this brief moment.
The way this lick is laid out may seem unusual, but we have to bear in mind the way Friedman picks.
You can’t approach this lick with traditional three-string arpeggio shapes and with a typical down/up sweep approach. So let’s look at Friedman's picking technique in the song.
His hand is tilted in an extreme downward pick slant and when he crosses strings during an ascending lick, he favors sweep picking or economy picking.
For licks which cross strings when descending, he wants to hit a lower string with a downstroke so he will either pick an upstroke on the high E, for example, and then pick a downstroke on the B string. This is an outside picking motion.
Or he will play a pull-off on the preceding string which allows him to get his pick in position for a downstroke on any lower string.
At any time, Friedman can add notes to the same string which may be picked or played with hammer-ons or pull-offs. The picking pattern can be resumed after that.
When combined with hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides, you can create some incredible sounding arpeggio ideas, without necessarily having to pick every note.
Memorize the notes involved first and then focus on the pick strokes. When that becomes more automatic, focus on the timing. The best way to understand the timing is to listen to the original and focus on positioning the highest notes of the lick—the A, the G and then the A#5—at the same place in the beat that Friedman does.
Those three notes will be played with an upstroke so that will help you focus in on those notes to nail them in place.
If you get those target notes in the right place it will help direct the rest of the lick.
Ben Higgins started playing guitar at age 10. He’s released five solo albums and continues to teach guitarists from around the world. In 2012, he released the YouTube video “30 Shredders in One Solo,” in which he emulated the style of 30 of the world’s greatest guitarists. He topped this in 2017 with “101 Shredders in One Solo.” In 2016, Ben developed his “Badass…” online courses, which are aimed at improving people’s technique in picking, sweeping and hand synchronization.