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Sick Licks: Combining the Natural E Minor Pentatonic, Flat 5 and Major 3rd Pentatonic Scales

In this Sick Lick, I’m using a combination of the “Natural E Minor Pentatonic,” Flat 5 (blues scale) and Major 3rd Pentatonic.

Many players forget there is a difference between these scales, and the “Natural Pentatonic” often gets overlooked and replaced by these other variations. There is a significant difference between them, and they should all be given the same respect and attention.

The straight pentatonic scale is fantastic for runs, and I particularly love it when it’s applied with arpeggios and legato. I’ve always been one for making sure I’m using the whole fretboard and not getting stuck in one position. This is obviously easier said than done. And, like anything else, it requires a lot of practice, but it’s definitely worth it!

There’s nothing like the feeling that you have complete mastery over your instrument.

I start this lick with a combination of three-string arpeggios and legato while moving up the neck to the first position of the pentatonic scale (at the 12th fret). The secret to this first run is the hammers and pulls.

When practicing this, it’s important to make sure everything is flowing evenly and you’re not rushing any part, so practice slowly to a metronome or drum groove and then bring the lick up to speed. Once again, we have some very wide stretches that come into play. If some of these are too much for you at the moment, simply move the idea to a higher position on the neck and practice there.

Your finger stretch is something that can be worked on — like all things on the guitar! But do not strain yourself. It’s very important that you have your thumb behind the neck correctly and that you’re not causing any discomfort to your wrist.

The next section of the lick I’m fretting a note with my right hand to create a long legato line. As I move down the neck, I bring my left hand over the top of the fretboard to fret the six-string arpeggio. From here I use my thumb as the pivot to swing my left hand back into the normal fretting position and finish the lick with a combination of the Major 3rd Pentatonic and the Flat 5 Pentatonic.

I like the sound of these scales on their own; combining them gives a it really manic “outside” sound! But like I said, it’s important to to respect these as individual scales as it gives you a lot more scope when soloing and writing.

I hope you enjoy!

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Rock on!

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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. Glenn was featured in the October 2010 issue of Guitar World and now creates “Betcha Can’t Play This” segments and lessons for GW. Glenn also has a monthly GW column, “Loud & Proud,” which offers insight into his style and approach to the guitar. Glenn is working on a project with Ezekiel Ox (ex Mammal) and Lucius Borich (Cog), which is managed by Ted Gardner, ex-Tool and Jane’s Addiction manager. The band has done pre-production on 22 tracks and is set to hit the studio and finish their first studio album. The album is set for release in 2012. Glenn also is working on the followup to his debut album; it, too, will be released in 2012.

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