50 rock licks you need to know: Part 4 of 5

9th Mar 2011 | 14:25

Welcome to part four of our special feature showing you how to dramatically increase your rock soloing potential, and boost your fingerboard knowledge at the same time.

Steve morse

Steve Morse adds country to his rock phrasing for added sophistication... © Matthias Waeckerlin/epa/Corbis

Welcome to part four of our special feature showing you how to dramatically increase your rock soloing potential, and boost your fingerboard knowledge at the same time. If it's your first time here, please check out part one for background information and the first 10 licks, part two for licks 11-20, then part three for licks 21-30. If you've already mastered those, let's go...

Playing tips: area four

shape four

Listen: licks 31-40

Example 4.1: Phrasing

This bending idea demonstrates that the rhythm of a phrase is as important as the note selection. Rock requires conviction, so be bold and play with authority.


Example 4.2: Bends

The trick to this finger twister is to bend the first string at the 15th fret and allow your finger to push the second string at the same time, without sounding it. Once the bend is up to pitch, shift the weight of this finger (try the third) over to the second string, which should be already bent up a tone. Sound this note and then return the string to its unbent pitch. Jimi Hendrix and Joe Walsh have used this idea.


Example 4.3: Repetition

We're taking the liberty of exploiting open strings with this example, so the idea is not easily transposable. Restrictions aside, it's still a useful and musically effective pull-off lick that will put your fretting-hand stamina and accuracy to the test. Aim for as much volume as possible and remember that the best way to make sustainable progress is to increase speed a little bit at a time.


Example 4.4: Slides

Again, we're making great use of all the tone gaps present within the pentatonic scale, although in the second bar we're upping the ante with a minor 3rd slide. Streams of 16th notes can be exciting to listen to, but your timing precision is crucial. Don't be afraid to start slow (and I mean SLOW) and build up speed gradually when everything is under complete control.


Example 4.5: Sequential (Descending)

This idea utilises an ascending intervallic pattern that shifts through the minor pentatonic scale from each degree in a descending direction. We're also rhythmically displacing four-against-three, and these two factors combine to produce a jaunty, jagged and rhythmically propulsive musical phrase. Take time to consolidate your picking though - no slides or legato to hide behind here!

Sequential (descending)

Next: playing tips and example tab for sequential (ascending), triadic/arpeggio, double-stop, scalar and horizontal

Example 4.6: Sequential (Ascending)

Back to our sequences of three, this time the direction has been switched around so that each three-note group descends, but then the entire 'cell' ascends through each scale degree. Feel free to try any numeric permutation you see fit.

Sequential (ascending)

Example 4.7: Triadic/Arpeggio

I'm coming over all nostalgic as I present to you my first sweep-picked lick. It still sounds great after all these years, although I've got a dim recollection that I used to play it at least a couple of times in every single solo, much to everyone else's disgust! This lick morphs from Blackmore to Clapton. You may find that alternate picking is the way to go for the final bar.


Example 4.8: Double-stop

We begin this lick with a crunchy oblique bend - one note remains stationary whilst another moves. In bars 2 and 3 we're mixing things up, with some diatonic thirds and chord tones, ending on yet another oblique double-stop bend in a higher register.


Example 4.9: Arpeggio/Scalar

Here we're seamlessly making the transition from a minor triad arpeggio to a connecting fragment based around the associated diatonic minor scale. See if you can come up with a selection of variations based around this idea. Once again, the rhythm and flow of each phrase is a crucial factor in determining the eff ectiveness of each new musical idea.


Example 4.10: Horizontal

Although Slash is a modern rock player, his style belongs to the 'classic' era. This Slash-style lick moves predominantly along the length of a single string and it is derived from the exotic sounding Harmonic minor scale (R 2 b3 4 5 b6 7). Be careful with the rapid position shifts and slides. Build up speed gradually with the assistance of the advancing guitarist's best friend: the metronome.


Stay tuned next week for the fifth and final playing area…

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