IN SEPTEMBER’S QUICK LICKS,
Matt Blackett schooled us on how to revoice a first position E minor pentatonic
scale as a combination of open stings and
fretted notes higher up the neck for a
unique tonal effect. To fully understand
and further exploit this note-repositioning
technique, first conceptualize your scales
as a collection of notes that relate to one
another and not just as a set pattern to be
played in position by rote. Then, factor in
those open strings. Since all five notes of
the E minor pentatonic scale can be played
as open strings, the opportunity for note
reassignment is practically endless.
Ex. 1 is a swaggering series of descending pull-offs. Every other note is articulated twice—first, as an open string, then as a fretted note on the next
string—providing a propulsive rhythmic roll. Here,
I’ve resolved it to E, but
if you target a B chord
instead, you’ve got a righ-
teously rollicking blues turnaround.
Ex. 2 is a “Baby Please Don’t Go”- style
phrase that pairs seventh position fretted
notes with open E and B strings, and concludes on an A tonality. This full-sounding lick (and similar-sounding ones that
you’ll likely discover on your own) provides major overtone nirvana when improvising in a solo acoustic context.
Ex. 3, let’s inhabit G minor penta-
tonic terrain. Here, adding the open E and
B strings against fretted notes produces the exotic sounding major 3rd and major
6th scale tones.
The guitar has open strings, and it
allows you to grab the same note in multiple places, so you might as well take
advantage of these two inherently unique
features when playing scales!