Sick Licks: Developing Rapid Position Changes on the Fretboard

In this Sick Lick, I'm using the diminished 7th scale to create rapid position changes on the fretboard.

I use this technique a lot when soloing and improvising because it's a great way to move around the fretboard. This technique works particularly well with the diminished 7th scale, especially in conjunction with the pentatonic.

The lick I play here is something I'd actually use in a solo as a run; it's not an exercise. In every Sick Lick, I demonstrate ideas I would actually use -- or have used -- in solos. I'm not one for creating pointless exercises. I believe you're better off spending time practicing things you can actually use rather than playing through repetitious, unusable trills.

By no means am I saying this is how I solo; rather, these are licks I will sometimes add or use as a lead into a bend, etc. It's great to have as many ideas as possible at your disposal at all times, so when it comes time to solo, your possibilities are endless!

I start this lick with a six-string arpeggio starting on the low E moving down to the high E. This is all swept with down strokes. From there I start the three-string arpeggio rapid position change. The rapid position change combines the use of hammers and slides to help keep a rhythmic flow when moving up and down the neck at speed. It is very important when practicing this at a slow pace that you keep an even flow and have the lick sounding smooth. From here, when you take it up to speed, you will have it sounding great.

You will notice I start the three-string sections with a hammer and at the end of every three-string section. I use a slide to move into the next position. Then, once again when I have moved up the scale, I end on a slide to get back down to the starting position. The hammers, pulls and the slides are the key element in this lick, so be sure to look over the transcription carefully and focus on this section.

The slide in and out of these sections is a very fast slide; it's almost like I'm picking the note mid-slide -- at least that's the effect it gives when played at speed. Just be mindful of this when practicing; don't hang onto the slide, it must be instant.

The thing I love about this lick is that you can move the pattern all over the fretboard by simply staying within the diminished 7th shape. The patterns and fingerings all remain the same. All we need to do is change the position. So for instance, instead of sliding up to the 21st on the high E, you could slide into the 18th fret or the 15th fret on the high E and play the exact same shape. You also can do the same thing but move down the neck into a lower position. This is why the diminished 7th scale is so great to work with; it's always the same fingerings all over the neck!

Like any lick, make sure you get used to the shapes and the sweep-picking patterns before you work at speed. The actual patterns in this lick, once broken down, are quite simple. But still, if you're new to this kind of playing or sweep-picking, take your time with it and practice slowly -- then work it up. I know sometimes it can be frustrating listening to and watching licks like this, but remember that all guitarists where beginners once!

Practice hard and I hope you enjoy!

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy! Please 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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