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Sam Bell Extreme Shredding Part 6: Melodic Minor Guitar Licks

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 46 **

Hello and welcome to the final instalment of my extreme shred column. For regular viewers of this section of the magazine I hope you have been enjoying the series so far and for newcomers, please enjoy this instalment and be sure to check out the previous five to check you aren’t missing out on any juicy details! So far we have been delving into the wonderful and slightly terrifying world of extreme legato techniques and with the addition of two finger tapping. We have been looking into diatonic arpeggio lines, super imposition and even some lines that dip their tone outside of the diatonic major scale into melodic minor territory.

Today we are going to take a look at some more scary melodic minor lines that sound very mystical and we are going to be visualising them with some more traditional arpeggio shapes. As with all the columns in this series please be sure to check out the video and accompanying tab for fingerings and line details.

Here in the written section I would like to talk about how I came up with the lines and maybe more about the concepts behind them that you could take from these lines and insert into your own playing style. This way you will be able to build your own unique vocabulary of extreme legato lines and phrases whilst also having a deeper understanding of what makes them work for your own style, this means you can use them much more naturally in your improvisation, writing and day to day playing styles.

Something I must address before taking a look at our first line is how versatile some of these phrases really are… For this column I have been playing with a crunchy/overdrive sound, however these lines take a different vibe completely when played with a clean tone or even a more fusion/sax style tone with less treble and gain. Be sure to experiment - each tone brings its challenges, but I am a big believer in being versatile with our techniques for different playing situations at all times. A line might be physically easer with more gain and compression, but is the muting holding tight? Always check, maybe it’s easier to play with less string noise with less gain but maybe it also highlights timing issues. Practising with different tones is going to help solidify your technique and hopefully make your extreme legato playing indestructible! That’s enough with the speech, let’s take a look at our first line.

This line highlights an Am triad, the shape I am using is a ‘C’ shape however we are filling in some notes from the A Melodic Minor scale (A, B, C, D, E, F#, G#). We start with an ascending phrase on the high E which is topped off with a two finger tapped 16th and 17th fret with the middle and ring finger on the picking hand highlighting the major7th degree and the route note. If you’re not totally comfortable with the two finger tapping technique still, be sure to check out the 3rd instalment of this column where I break down the two finger tapping technique in a bit more detail. My main advice for it would be to practice implementing it ensuring you have even and smooth timing between the notes, keep relaxed and the muscle memory should kick in and speed will be on its way to you in due course! This line continues down our Am triad shape with a 3-1-3 pattern (as we have been looking at in these columns) the tapped notes on the G string this time highlight the route note and the 9th degree of our melodic minor scale. The lick then descends the rest of the triad arpeggio to the A string finishing on the 9th fret A string highlighting the natural 6th degree of the Melodic Minor scale.

This next line is an example of how we can change between different tonalities using the 3-1-3 legato technique with two finger tapping. The chord progression I am thinking about highlighting in this phrase is Bm to F#7 altered. For the first half of the phrase we ascend a Bm7th arpeggio using triad shapes in octaves to move the line up to just above the 12th fret before we descend an F# altered arpeggio line which uses notes from the F# altered scale. The altered scale that I am using can be found as the 7th mode of the melodic minor, due to its nature I find it handy to think of F# Altered as G Melodic Minor a half step up from the route of the F# chord I am playing over. This is a very common scale for playing over altered chords with scale degrees that highlight the b9 and #9 (in this case F#7#9 otherwise known as the Hendrix chord!)

So there we have it, two more terrifying 3-1-3 lines to add to your playing! Be sure to study the lines in the tab and see how many different arpeggios you can outline using similar twists and turns. Be sure to dig deep and find your own lines within these patterns. We have come to the end of this 3-1-3 segment, but not to worry as I will be back with some Modern Advanced Techniques to add to your playing that are super versatile for many professional playing situations. We will be looking deep into chord embellishment, liquid legato lines, hybrid picking, sequences and much, much more. I shall see you soon with a brand new series, until then, happy shredding!

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