August 2012 Quick Licks

January 30, 2014


“It’s sometimes easy to forget how many cool, refreshing sounds you can get out of the good ol’ pentatonic scale,” says Eric Vandenberg. “This lick is based on something I heard Paul Gilbert do in a few Mr. Big songs. The idea is to use three-note-per-string patterns of the Em pentatonic on the E and B strings, and then do position shifts. You use two pull-offs for the notes on the E string, then pick all three notes on the B string. The shift always happens when you go to the second string, then you stay in position on the E string before shifting again. Be careful about the stretches in this one—slow it down big time at first, then speed it up and try different keys and string combinations.”


Matt Aub submitted this choice nugget. “Composing licks that evoke a visual image is one of my favorite things to do,” he says. “Steve Vai is a master at using sound to imply a mental picture. This Steve Vai/Ron Jarzombek-inspired lick was composed to an imaginary silent movie scene featuring a mischievous black kitten tumbling out of a tall pine tree. The lick, which employs an E whole-tone scale tonality, involves sweep picking and some strategic plucking on the second and third downbeats in bar 2. Try playing it over a C7#5 chord. The cat’s frenzied fall ends abruptly with some staccato E whole-tone scale “clusters” à la Allan Holdsworth. Try to conjure up some sonic scenes of your own. Imagination instigates creativity.” [Ed. note: No kittens were harmed in the making of this Quick Lick.]


In my never-ending quest to be more like Allen Hinds, I did a twist on a lick of his that I stole and used in the November 2011 issue. Well, what goes up must come down, so I kind of reversed it here, but kept the cool, clangy minor and major seconds that rub against one another in alluring ways. This works with both clean and dirty tones and is a definite attention grabber.

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