Quick Licks: Jan 2009

ADVANCED HALF/WHOLE HIJINKSJeff Kalmbach, the versatile guitarist for Rubbersidedown and the World Famous Afrodisiacs, knows that one of the more compelling sounds in the history of scales is the fully-diminished pattern consisting entirely of alternating half- and whole-steps. Kalmbach’s sequenced descent (above) draws on the half/whole scale’s perfect symmetry, allowing it to suit dominant 13b9 chords rooted on F# , D# , C, and A (useful for resolving to the keys of B, Ab, F, and E, respectfully). For sharing a cool texture we can use on everything from fuzoid blues jams to multi-tonic progressions such as “Giant Steps,” Kalmbach wins a Planet Waves CT-O9 tuner and Custom Pro cable, and more than $100 worth of D’Addario strings!


Certain repeating guitar parts have enough intrinsic beauty that even when the bar lines are shifted so that the notes land at the “wrong” times, the lick doesn’t suffer. Instead, like a Reich-ian phased melody, it morphs into a new beautiful lick. Shown above are two rhythmically displaced interpretations of a famous Paul Simon (pictured above) guitar part (think The Graduate) capoed at the 7th fret that shimmers from rhythmic vantage point, whether displaced by two full beats or a mere eighth-note.


Just when you think you’ve seen every possible tapping lick imaginable, Los Angeles guitar coach par excellence Jean-Marc Belkadi comes through with this refreshing two-handed texture. And yes, like all great tapping licks, it’s easy to play once the moves are memorized. Start by slowly looping the lick’s first two beats, launching from the sixteenth-note pickup (8th fret, sixth string) hammered by the fretting hand, and revel in the multi-octave C major flurry that fills the air. Bar 2 shifts the same fingering up a string to sound F major. (Extra credit: Can you change the harmony to minor? Dominant 7?)



Yngwie Malmsteen’s Paganinistic fretboard virtuosity certainly merits him a spot alongside Hendrix, Holdsworth, and other great names on the Top Ten list of the world’s most inimitable electric guitarists. That being said, there’s one move the Swedish shred deity employs during some of his cadenzas that is within the capabilities of many a mortal guitarist—if it’s practiced a couple zillion times. It’s the simple one-string descending sequence shown above in E minor. With each new downbeat, slide your 1st finger down one scale tone. Once you’re comfortable with the four-notes-per-downbeat approach notated here, practice the same sequence sextuplet-style—six notes per downbeat. Tricky at first, this is worth the effort, as it yields a satisfyingly unpredictable sound.



Many students of jazz guitar focus so much on their genre’s holy trinity—single-note soloing, octave-melody playing, and the ultimate challenge, chord melody—that they neglect one of the most effective soloing strategies: plain ol’ parallel thirds. But as Las Vegas jazz kingpin Robert Conti shares in the first bar of this example (borrowed from his Smoking Lineman book/DVD series, available at robertconti.com), sometimes a few thirds go a long way. In the key of C, use this phrase to splash the recurring Dm7-G7 sections of “Satin Doll” with juicy altered harmonies.



Looking for a snazzy, jazzy way to wrap up a tune in A major? Consider a page from the Stevie Wonder playbook. After two innocuous bars of A major, this curious ending tag, inspired by the prologue to the Wonder classic “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” (off Talking Book), utilizes thirds rising up a whole-tone scale (E, F# , G# , A# , B# , D), a gradual ritard, and a fermata (hold that last chord!) to effect a dreamy E7# 5 vibe that closes your song with intrigue and unresolved energy.



Got a fun, educational, and quick (four bars or less) lick you want to share with GP readers? Email it to jgold@musicplayer.com or snail-mail it to Quick Licks, Guitar Player Magazine, 1111 Bayhill Drive, Suite 125, San Bruno, CA 94066. Submissions won’t be returned, but all will be considered.