Bent Out of Shape: Back to Basics with Pentatonics, Part 4 — Building Repetitive Patterns

by Will Wallner
Posted Feb 5, 2014 at 11:05am

Here's something for guitarists of any level, beginner to advanced.

In virtually any rock/metal solo, there's always room for pentatonic licks. Even if you prefer to solo with neoclassical or exotic scales, throwing in the occasional pentatonic lick will beef up your solos and make them more interesting.

As an example, think about Yngwie Malmsteen. He basically defined the neoclassical shred style of guitar playing, but he often incorporates pentatonic patterns into his solos.

For me, as a listener, these would always jump out at me as a pleasant dynamic. Whenever I'm soloing, if I want to inject some energy or excitement I'll always play some sort of repetitive pentatonic pattern (played fast, of course)!

So here are some ideas for you. Some of you might've seen them before, but they're still very effective. In fact, for beginner guitarists, these licks are a great way to start developing speed. Each one is based on a simple pattern I repeat as often as needed, and all of them are based around shape 1 of the pentatonic scale. For this lesson, every lick will be in D minor, but you can move these to any key you wish very easily.

Example 1 is one of the most classic pentatonic rock patterns. It's a pattern of four notes played with a hammer-on and pull-off. Most of the work is done with the fretting hand so you can build speed easily. The key is to relax your fingers so when you execute the legato you don't tense up.

For this lick, I suggest you use only two fingers. Use your first finger anchored on the 10th fret on the high E. Then use your second or third finger to play all the other notes. Mastering this basic lick will open up a lot of other opportunities to play faster licks.

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This second example is like the first but alternates the third note of each pattern between the 13th and 15th frets. This wide stretch can be tricky, but it's an example of how you can expand the idea once you have become tired of playing Example 1.

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This is very similar to Example 1, using the same notes but in a different order and played differently. For this lick, you should anchor your first finger and follow the picking directions on the tab exactly. In bar 1 I play the basic pattern, then in bar 2 I expand the idea similar to Example 2.

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Example 4 is a variation on last weeks 'quick licks' where I've substituted Pentatonic notes for diatonic notes. This is a bit harder but as long you can stretch and stay relaxed your fingers should execute the lick at great speed fairly easily.

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Once you've mastered these four ideas, experiment with your own patterns. I'm sure you've seen these before in one form or another, but even if you only have a spare 10 minutes, why not give them a quick review? Cheers!

Will Wallner is a guitarist from England who now lives in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and toured Japan, the US and Canada in 2012. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.