In this Monster Lick, I'm using a variation of the G pentatonic scale. The scales used are the flat five (or blues scale), major 3rd and major 6th pentatonic. This is achieved simply by adding the above scale tones to the standard minor pentatonic.
The notes in the G minor pentatonic are G, Bb (or A#), C, D, F. The flat five is a Db (or C#), the major 3rd is a B and the major 6th is an E.
You simply add these notes to the minor pentatonic to get the sound. You don't substitute any note; you add one of the above notes to the straight minor pentatonic.
It's very important to practice every variation individually, as every scale has a very specific sound and requires a lot of practice to master. Bunching up these scales, as I've done in this lick, has only been achievable by understanding each scale by itself first. This took an incredible amount of study and was something I've developed over years of practice.
Today, this style of playing comes naturally to me. I'm able to add these notes randomly at any time as I know each individual scale inside and out — all over the fretboard.
For players who are just starting out or have only been playing for a while, I suggest you use this lick as a guide to how far you can take the idea. Practice the actual scale in the first position (Box 1). Once comfortable, start adding the other notes. First practice the straight minor pentatonic, then add the flat 5, then the major 3rd and finally the major 6th. Once you feel confident and understand the individual scales, start to have some fun with your improvising.
This tonality works great with blues, rock, jazz and even metal. The pentatonic scale is found through all styles of music.
When played at speed, the added notes are less dissonant but certainly create a very intense-sounding run. What's interesting, though, is that when played slow, you can really start to hear the dissonance between the major and minor notes. This is a great thing to remember when improvising over a more mellow blues or jazz piece or even when wanting to create a fusion outside side with your rock playing.
As with all of these licks the important thing is to understand the idea behind the lick, as the goal should be to take this idea and create your own style.
The pentatonic scale is a key ingredient for all guitar players; it's the most-used scale for soloing. My advice is to practice and understand as much as possible when it comes to these scales.
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. His latest album — a still-untitled all-instrumental release — will be available in March 2014.