The thinking behind this run is to get you from the fifth fret all the way up to the 17th fret with a smooth, connected flow of notes.
It’s played as if it were in A minor, but I tune down one half step [low to high: Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb], so it sounds in Ab minor. I use alternate picking for the most part, which produces a burning staccato sound and gives your picking hand a great workout.
Bars 1 and 2 are based on the A natural minor scale [A B C D E F G], which is also known as the pure minor scale and the Aeolian mode. What I’m doing here is picking three notes per string and chaining together three-note groups in a 16th-note-triplet rhythm, using quick position shifts as the line ascends the fretboard. Notice that the picking pattern alternates between down-up-down and updown-up on each successive string.
In bar 3 I begin a pedal-tone line that descends the A natural minor scale on the first string, with the high A note at the 17th fret fretted with the pinkie and picked twice between each lower scale tone. In bar 4, I move the same pattern over to the B string. One neat thing about this bar is that the notes are common to both A natural minor and E natural minor [E F# G A B C D].
In bar 5, things ‘cool down’ a bit as the rhythm shifts to slower eighth-note triplets and I play a one-octave A minor arpeggio [A C E] up and down. I follow this in bar 6 with a descending E major arpeggio [E G# B] that covers nearly three octaves and takes you across all six strings before resolving to an A minor chord.
Notice that I incorporate a few hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides into the arpeggios to create a legato sound and a nice contrast to the first part of the run.