Sick Licks: Achieving That "Alien" Sound With a Shawn Lane-Inspired Lick

In this Sick Lick, I'm using the diminished 7th arpeggio. I combine a few different techniques to create what I call an “alien" sound.

This lick is very heavily influenced buy one of my favorite guitarists, Shawn Lane.

Lane really pushed the boundaries of guitar playing. He had flawless technique and speed, and he used this technical prowess to write some incredible music.

The three techniques I'm using here are:

  • 1.Five-string arpeggios
  • 2.Tapping arpeggios
  • 3.Wide-voiced legato

The combination of all of these techniques creates a very unique and alien sound. To come up with licks like this requires some thought, but obviously the more you do, it the easier and more natural it gets.

1.I start this lick with five-string arpeggios, the first starting on the low E string. From here, the following arpeggios start from the A string. You will notice in the transcription how I combine these five-string patterns and switch the starting notes to enable myself to cover the neck and lead into other runs. What I mean by this is, I only look at arpeggios as passing runs, either to a bend or a another technique. It's very important to be able to switch in and out of these different techniques easily as there is nothing worse than “getting stuck” in one technique. I tend to practice the transitions between different techniques a lot to make sure I can move in and out of them very freely. This is essential for total mastery of your instrument.

2.Tapping arpeggios. This section is a little tricky, especially as we have fast runs on either side of this tapping section. It is very important that the action on your guitar is low to enable you to sound the notes -- and also that you focus on muting the other strings when tapping these arpeggios. As we tend to use high-gain settings when applying these kind of techniques, muting is a huge part of making licks like these sound great. I use a combination of my left and right hands to mute. It sounds complicated, but it's actually something you will do naturally anyway. Just make sure you are aware of it.

3.Wide-voiced arpeggios. This is one of my favorite sounds on the guitar. I use this technique a lot when soloing as it is great for creating that outside sound. It's also a fantastic way to move up and down the fretboard with speed. As we are applying this technique to the diminished 7th arpeggio, you will notice that the patterns repeat, so what we play on the G string we have the same fingering for on the high E string. The stretches required to pull off this section are a little challenging, so I suggest that if you find the stretches a little too much for you at the moment, simply move the idea up to a higher position on the neck and practice there. Once you're comfortable in the higher position, move it back down.

Thanks very much and I hope you enjoy!

Please feel free to join me on YouTube here.

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 Glenn was featured in the October 2010 issue of Guitar World and now creates "Betcha Can’t Play This" segments and lessons for GW. Glenn also has a monthly GW column, "Loud & Proud," which offers insight into his style and approach to the guitar. Glenn is working on a project with Ezekiel Ox (ex Mammal) and Lucius Borich (Cog), which is managed by Ted Gardner, ex-Tool and Jane's Addiction manager. The band has done pre-production on 22 tracks and is set to hit the studio and finish their first studio album. The album is set for release in 2012. Glenn also is working on the followup to his debut album; it, too, will be released in 2012.

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