In the first installment of my new Monster Licks series, I'm going to take you through my extensive pentatonic lick library.
These licks are the product of many years of hard work, and I'm glad to be sharing them with you!
The straight (minor) pentatonic scale often gets overlooked when soloing. I find that most guitarists tend to head to the blues scale or other variations of the pentatonic because they find the straight scale a little limiting. The reality is that this scale is incredibly powerful and versatile. Tonally, it’s found in all kinds of music, anything from traditional Chinese music to blues, onto modern heavy/hard rock — literally everything.
I've found that part of the issue with this particular scale is the box form it is taught in. It is limiting for guitarists. This is why I approach it with a combination of three and two notes per string to open up the scale and fingerings, while also incorporating arpeggios and legato, etc.
My goal with this scale is to be able to utilize the modern techniques of players such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, but to keep the rock/blues tonality of the pentatonic scale. Shawn Lane was a major influence on my playing in this area; he was a player who knew no limits or boundaries.
The Monster Lick (I suggest breaking down the lick as written below)
01. This lick starts with a series of three-string arpeggios. I'm incorporating legato and some slides into these arpeggios to maintain a nice, even flow and make the transitions smooth. The stretches can be a little tricky to grasp at first; I suggest making sure your left thumb (for you right-handers) is placed right behind the neck in a more classical approach. This immediately creates more separation in your fingers and allows for greater stretches.
02. From here, I move into a long legato/tapping line, all on the high E string. This then leads into two six-string arpeggios, then back into another legato/tapping line. This section is a really great example of how to branch out of the box form of the pentatonic by combining two of the box forms. I suggest you really spend some time understanding this section and mastering it, because it will start to open up a lot of new possibilities for your playing and soloing.
03. This leads us into the section where I swing my hand over the top of the neck and play a six-string arpeggio. Now, this is pure guitar gymnastics. You should view this technique as a challenge only. It is NOT essential; it's there so you can blow the minds of your friends when you're sitting around jamming. Just have some fun with it! The keys to performing this are the notes from which I pivot my hand to swing it over the top. The first pivot point is the 10th fret on the high E; the next is the 12th fret of the low E. Make note of these. It's very clear in the video when played slow.
04. I finish this lick with a legato line starting on the high E and finishing on the low E. I find that legato works so great with the pentatonic scale. It can be a little challenging at times due to the wide intervals, but I'm sure you will agree it creates a very cool sound.
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 glennproudfoot.com.