Hi, I’m Andy James - welcome to my regular column for Guitar Interactive. This month we’re looking at ten licks in the key of E minor, utilising the humble five note pentatonic scale. Quite often I’m asked about how I go about writing long lead lines and phrases, and the description I give mainly revolves around the pentatonic scale and the way it maps out the fretboard. The licks I’ve demonstrated should hopefully give you a different perspective of how the pentatonic scale can be used in a more conventional way than the standard blues licks that are normally the mainstay for this type of scale.
I think as their technique develops to incorporate more speed, guitar players tend to use more of the three note per string style of playing. Quite recently I’ve been looking more at developing this use of speed into the pentatonic scale, which ends-up combining two positions together at the same time. Other examples include fundamental techniques such as legato and alternate picking technique and there are also some ideas about how you can come up with melody lines not normally associated with the traditional pentatonic sound.
Each one of these licks is designed to help you create some of your own style lead lines and ideas to use in your own playing - and some or all of these licks back to back can give you an idea of how to string different licks and ideas into a solo section of a song or improvisation.