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Sick Licks: Getting Aggressive With the A Minor Blues Scale

In this Sick Lick, I'm using the A Minor blues scale.

In its traditional form, we would tend to use the Flat 5 note as a passing note (to slide in and out of or to bend from) to get a real bluesy sound.

What I do here is, rather than using the Flat 5 (D#) as a passing note, I tend to base the scale around this note. What this does is create an extremely aggressive sound, and it makes the scale awesome to use in heavier styles of music.

This is apparent straight away from the first arpeggio sweep that I do. Rather than fret the E note on the 12th fret of the high E, I fret the D# (flat 5), which really sets up the lick as a super-aggressive-sounding run.

The first section of this lick is one of my favorite runs! I love how it creates a really alien-like sound. One of the keys to getting this right is making sure you're double picking the G string (19th fret) on the transition on the way back down the guitar to the first arpeggio position, as this sets up the picking pattern and creates and even flow with the sweeping.

It's very important to focus hard on your picking hand. You need to have perfect control over the sweeping sections, even though, in principle, all we are doing when sweep picking is dragging the pick across the strings in one direction as if we were strumming a chord. We still need to have control of that motion and make sure your left and right hands are syncing up. This is the secret to playing this type of technique, so, like anything else, practice slowly and focus on the timing and syncopation between your hands.

The next section where I tap the note on the 20th fret is a very cool way of creating a very fast sounding arpeggio. It's important when tapping this note that you are picking the notes before as close as possible to the spot where you will actually be tapping so you don't have to move your right hand too far. This might not seem so important, but believe me, once you get this lick up to speed, it is essential! It’s little things like this that can make the difference!

Please feel free to join me on Youtube here.

Rock on!

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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