Quick Licks in the Style of Joe Pass, Frank Gambale, and More!

May 30, 2014

“This lick is influenced by Frank Gambale and Jimi Hendrix and is based on the E minor pentatonic scale,” says Three Degrees guitarist Nick Kellie. “It contains a healthy dose of sweep picking, slides, and hammer-ons and pull-offs. If we count sixteenth-notes ‘one-e-and-a, two-e-and-a,’ etc., the pickup bar starts on the ‘e’ of beat four. The first note starts with an upstroke in order to facilitate the downward sweep of the following three notes. Bar 1 has more sweeping, like on beat three, where we combine an upward sweep with a pull-off. The final bar is very Hendrix inspired, making use of double-stops with hammer-ons and pull-offs, position shifts, and the classic Jimi E7#9 chord. I like to add some vibrato to the final chord and then finish off by sliding it down the neck.”

Curtis Fornadley spins this knowledge: “As part of my ‘independent study’ and practice routine,” he says, “I have been transcribing the Joe Pass version of ‘Round Midnight’ from his Virtuoso album. This is quite a challenging piece, which is also good for restoring one’s humility. Below is an excerpt that I think can serve as a great source of inspiration for lead lines in a rock or jazz context. The run outlines the following progression: D, C, Bb, E7#9, Gm, to A7 alt. The right-hand technique I have notated below is a combination of alternate, sweep, and hybrid picking all mixed together. Take it one chord at a time and then string them together.”

I like using open strings in riffs whenever I can, and this lick creates some big interval jumps and outlines some cool chords by doing just that. After you hit the E harmonic and let it ring, it’s a super-simple series of right-hand moves. I use finger and thumb but you can pick it anyway you want. Pull off to the open string, hammer onto the adjacent one, bounce around a bit, and then move to seventh- position B and fifth-position D bass notes. You can suggest a bunch of different chords depending on what notes you put under these licks and, like everything I play, this sounds great if you slather a bunch of delay on it.

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