Monster Licks: A Different Spin on the Pentatonic Scale — Create Arpeggios and More Modern-Sounding Runs

by Glenn Proudfoot
Posted Jan 17, 2014 at 12:17pm

In this Monster Lick, I'm using the E major 3rd pentatonic scale.

What I actually do with this scale is add the major 3rd, but I don't substitute it for the minor 3rd. I keep the minor 3rd in the scale. So the notes in the scale are as follows: E, G, G#, A, B, D.

This is nothing new; all the blues greats have done it. I just give it a different spin by using the extra note to create arpeggios and more modern-sounding runs.

Although I refer everything back to the pentatonic scale, if you're more inclined to the modal approach, this scale is essentially the E Mixolydian scale.

I tend to steer clear of the modal approach because I like the tonality and shapes of the pentatonic scale more than the major- or minor-scale approach. Although it may seem strange to some, for me the pentatonic is much more expressive and better for the rock/blues/heavy-guitar approach.

Although I'm using the major 3rd in this scale, it's still something I use when I'm soloing over a very heavy riff or progression. It adds a little bit of character or cheek to the sound. It reminds me of Steve Vai’s tonality from time to time. It adds great character!

The Lick

I start this lick with a five-string arpeggio starting on the 11th fret of the A string. This note is the major 3rd. You will see I am tapping a note on the 19th fret of the high E, then moving back down the arpeggio. This is a great lick you can have some fun with. You can take this idea and move it all around the neck and add different notes and create your own shapes.

From here, I slide into a standard E major arpeggio shape. I play up and then back down this shape and slide back into the starting position of the lick. I finish with a series of different variations of three-string arpeggio shapes.

My suggestion here is to dissect the lick into parts and practice them separately. This way you can focus in and build some speed and get confident with it.

I hope you enjoy this Monster Lick! Please join me on YouTube right here! Or contact me at glennproudfoot.com or my Facebook page.

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Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It is available on iTunes and at glennproudfoot.com.