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Sick Licks: Fretting with Five Fingers in Pentatonic and Diminished Scales

In this Sick Lick, I use a combination of the blues scale (Pentatonic flat 5) and the Diminished Scale in the key of E Minor.

These two scales are, by far, my favorites. They create very aggressive sounds and are adaptable to all kinds of music.

I'm incorporating the use of my left thumb to actually fret notes on the neck. Now I'm not doing this in the traditional form where we may use our thumb to play bass notes; rather, I'm bringing my thumb from around the back of the neck to fret on top of the fretboard.

The thumb technique is a great way to expand your stretch over the fretboard. It also enables you to create some really wide-voiced arpeggios that have a very unique sound and an incredible effect. Not to mention it looks totally bad ass!

I start this Sick Lick with an arpeggio played over the top then quickly switch my hand back and start moving up the neck. You will notice that whenever I fret a note with my thumb, once fretted, I quickly move my thumb back around the neck into the normal position then again bring it around in the same fashion.

Whenever I fret a note with my thumb, my right arm comes into to play by securing the guitar into my body, because once we remove our thumb from behind the guitar, we loose the force our thumb normally gives behind the neck. So I create that by pushing the guitar into my body with my right arm. Although this is only a minor amount of pressure, it really helps in maintaining full control of this technique.

The whole idea with this technique is to create a sound like you have five fingers fretting the guitar.

The technique of bringing your thumb around the back of the neck can be very challenging to get the hang of, now I do this not only in soloing but also to create wide voiced chords, you can see from this video here,
It is very important to make sure you are not straining your wrist or causing yourself any discomfort when attempting this.

Thanks and have fun!

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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