Zakk Wylde's Brewtality: Pentatonics — Connecting the Dots and Climbing the Neck

In another entry from his classic Guitar World column, "Brewtality," Zakk Wylde shows you how to connect the dots and move up the neck while playing pentatonic patterns.

Welcome to Brewtality No. 3. I’m writing this month’s installment while out on the road on the Merry Mayhem tour, with Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie, and I’m having a total blast. Ozzy is singing his ass off and the band is slamming so goddamned hard it’s beyond brewtal!

Last time we started playing “connect the dots” by checking out some licks that combine notes from the first three of the five A minor pentatonic scale patterns we learned in Brewtality No. 1. In this lesson we’re gonna connect all five scale patterns together. Once again, we’re gonna be utilizing strict alternate picking (down, up, down, up, etc.) on every run, so grab a pick and let’s get to it.

FIGURE 1 illustrates the five A minor pentatonic scale patterns we’ve been working with in the last two lessons, with the notes on the top two strings circled. This will serve as a visual reference for the following exercises. Now check out the first bar of FIGURE 2, which shows a repeated picking sequence of 16th notes on the top two strings in scale pattern 1.

What we’re going to do is continue this picking sequence while moving up the neck through the other four scale patterns, as depicted in the remaining six bars of the run. Start off playing this figure slowly, then build up speed as you see fit. As you’ll hear, the faster you play it, the cooler it sounds. FIGURE 3 is basically the same deal as FIGURE 2, but here you just play the picking sequence once in each scale position and then move up to the next one until you get to the 17th position.

FIGURE 4 uses the same picking pattern as FIGURES 2 and 3 but with different rhythmic phrasing, which gives the run a completely fresh vibe.

FIGURES 5 and 6 are more phrasing variations based on this picking sequence. They both sound pretty rippin’ when played fast. FIGURE 5 is an especially good alternate picking exercise.

Like I said earlier, all we’re doing here is connecting the A minor pentatonic notes on the B and high E strings and using them to climb up the neck. This is a pretty simple concept, but as you’ve probably just realized, when these kinds of licks are played at a fast tempo, they sound pretty fuckin’ kick-ass! Being able to quickly shift positions from one scale pattern to another like this is also a great way of moving up or down the neck without leaving any “holes” in your lines.

Now that I’ve shown you a few examples of this concept, try experimenting with it on your own by finding a picking pattern you dig and then moving it up the neck through the scale patterns we’ve learned. It’s also good to practice this in different keys. I’m sure you’ll come up with a million different combinations of patterns before you know it. Time for a brew…see ya next time.

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