Customer Service Growing Pains or No One’s Ever Happy In A Compromise.

Wait, what about the books now?

As many of you know, a while ago I made a shift away from offering PDFs directly and moved it over to Lulu (which also distributes it to Amazon).  I did this for several reasons, but mainly I wanted the customer to be able to order the books and download them instantly.  Sometimes, schedule conflicts held up orders and while people were really cool about it – I know that when you order something you generally want it RIGHT NOW.

So the plus side is that the orders go out immediately.

The down side, and it’s a near insurmountable downside for me, is that while Lulu and Amazon have some analytics about who orders books –  I have no way to contact people to thank them or to talk to them about any aspects of the book that they dug, disliked or just didn’t get.

All I have is this blog and that co-opted Ambrose Bierce (?) reference in the title that reminds me that the nature of service mandates that while you can’t give everyone everything always – you should always give them the best of what they’re asking for.

So a few things then:

1.  If you’ve ordered any of my books in a print or pdf format – THANK YOU! It’s really appreciated and I hope that you’re getting something out of them.

2.  If you’ve ordered any of my books from Amazon or Lulu please feel free to drop me a line at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com with any questions, comments etc.

3.  I’m really trying to get in touch with anyone who’s bought my Pentatonic Visualization book from Lulu or Amazon.  I have dates and sales numbers but no names and I’d really like to get some supplemental material to you!  This also goes for those of you who bought the Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns book who haven’t gotten the free bundle that compliments the book.

4.  While I promote Lulu and Amazon evenly – I should mention that Amazon is currently selling physical copies of my books at a 10% discount from Lulu.  I know that PDFs are convenient, but these books are really designed to be something that you hold (or put on a music stand) and flip to a physical page.

Again, thank you for your support, you indulgence and for your interest in anything that I’m writing about or doing.  I hope that any or all of it helps you in some way shape or form.

-SC

ps – The Devil’s Dictionary was a hugely influential book on me.  I thought Bierce gave me the compromise quote – but I may have cobbled it together from a few other sources.  If anyone knows a source, please drop me a line so I don’t have to be the pompous ass who quotes himself ; )

For those of you interested, Bierce’s actual definition  was,

“Compromise, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.”

 – Ambrose Birece, The Devil’s Dictionary

A New Laptop Guitar Post On Guitar-Muse And Updates

Good morning!

Guitar-Muse just posted a column I wrote on blending dual signal paths to get more definition from your distorted guitar tone. You can check that out here.  You can find the tab (and the theory behind the lick) here.  I have a review of the EHX 8-Step Program coming out soon and another interview in the works for the end of the summer.

There are a few recent posts and podcasts on Get-A-Grip that you may be of interest to you.  You can find all of those here, and a page of all the current podcasts (with fixed links) here.

Some shows are coming up on the horizon which should be pretty cool.  I’ll have more info about those up next week.

More things in the pipeline as well.  Happy 5th of July!

As always, thanks for reading!

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Mas Posts

Hey everyone!

I have a few new posts up that may be of interest to you.

1.  There’s a new podcast on Get-A-Grip (Confessions of a former music school “failure”) You can find that here.  There’s a post on the mindset differences between a professional and an amateur (found here) and a post on the instructional benefits from examining how not to do things (found here).

2.  In Guitar-Muse news –  A review of the Mono M80 hybrid case is up (you can read that here) and the lesson in Odd Time Riff transformation lesson with eX-Girl went up last week as well. You can check that out here.

3.  The edits to the print edition of the Pentatonic Visualization book are almost done and I’m waiting on the updated cover.   I should have the Pentatonic Extraction book out by mid fall.  It’s a book that will work and in hand with the chord scales book and approach the material in a different (and I hope cool/useful way).

4.  I’m in the process of refocusing both sites so there will likely be some dust and disorder here for a while.

More things in the pipeline as well.

As always, thanks for reading!

-SC

Up With Updates

Hey everyone! Just a few very quick updates:

1.  There’s a 10 minute podcast went up on Get-A-Grip last week about developing and nurturing fans.  You can find that here.  A new podcast featuring lessons learned from a small town ice cream shop on the drydocked shores of Johnstown will be up on Friday.

2.  A new interview with guitarist/bassist/composer Eric Klerks is going up on Guitar-Muse.com.  You can check that out here.  Look for an Odd Time Riff transformation lesson with eX-Girl next week.

3.  Pentatonic hook?  No.  Pentatonic book.  In addition to graphic updates on the print edition of the Pentatonic Visualization book (nothing Earth shattering, just some small tweaks that are bugging me) that should be done in the next 2 weeks, I should have the Pentatonic Extraction book out by mid fall.  It’s a book that will work and in hand with the chord scales book and approach the material in a different (and I hope cool/useful way).

4.  Booking studio time for an acoustic session in late June with the hope of a summer ep release.

5.  A number of personal distractions and stressors lately, so output is slowed down here, but don’t worry….nobody’s stopped working here.

More things in the pipeline as well.

As always, thanks for reading!

-SC

New Jimmy Rosenberg Lesson Up, GM Posts And More Books On The Way

Hello everyone!

Sometimes life throws you some curve balls.  I had planned on getting loads of playing and gigging in and instead, I’m in full throttle writing mode!  There are benefits to that though such as:

  • A new lesson for Guitar-Muse is up online.  This player profile covers Jimmy Rosenberg’s solo on the Flintstone’s theme!  If you want an ass kicking chops intensive piece in the Gypsy Jazz style to work on (as played by a then 15 year old Jimmy!) check it out here!
  • In other GM news, player profiles continue with lessons from the works of Ridgely Snow, Vlatko Stefanovski, Jimmy Rosenberg and José Peixoto.  The current plan is to alternate these every other week  with the Chasing Tone Series.  Part three of the  series should be up next week (in the meantime you can read part one here or part 2 here). Interviews with Ken Kantor (ZT Amps) and Marco Oppedisano (Mechanical Uprising, The Ominous Corner) and a cd review are also on the docket.
  • In terms of writing, last week saw some new things of mine drop.  There’s a book out on Kindle about the state of the music industry (thanks to everyone who’s gotten behind that and to Jzzmchn for the kind review!) and a Pentatonic Visualization pdf for sale either here or on Fiverr.  (Thanks for the positive reviews there as well everyone!)  New stuff is also on the way.  I’m currently editing Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse (the time/project management book) and a to be titled book of Music Business Essays.  I’m also working on serializing the Pentatonic Book as a short series of Kindle lessons and then expanding beyond that book into some of the material from the GuitArchitect’s Guide To Pentatonics Book notes that I gathered a while ago.  The graphic editing along on the initial Pentatonic book is tough slogging to try to make it work on the Kindle, but I think I can do it in a way that will be accessible and look good.  The larger GuitArchitecture books will get ported over to Kindle (albeit in a radically altered form) later this fall.
  • Music.  Working on cleaning up tracks on the Rough Hewn Ep, and trying to find the right place to track my acoustic guitar EP.  Work is slated to begin in the next 2-3 weeks for a commissioned soundtrack for Page Of Madness (aka A Page out of Order).  A track of mine is still supposed to come out on Mandorla at some point this fall and Daren Burns told me that he’s releasing the studio Onibaba recording before the end of the year as well.  There should be some other gigs and recording slated over the next few months as well.
  • I’ll be trying to get some of the “other” posts up on GuitArchitecture as well!  I’m aiming for high output before the end of the year!  And I hope to see you there.

As always, thanks for reading!
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Making Sense Of The Pentatonic Scale – Diagonal Forms – Part Two

Hello everyone!!

Here’s part 2 of the diagonal pentatonic lesson..Hopefully you’ve checked out the posts on two string patterns and part one of the diagonal forms post  and have gotten the shapes and  visualizations down and under your fingers.  (if not – just take a moment and check out the other two posts).

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In this lesson, I’m going to continue the process of combining the two approaches into 5-note diagonal shapes.

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 5 Note Diagonal Pentatonics

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Perviously, I took a look at one 5 note pattern on two strings.  This can be done by either putting 2 notes on one string and 3 on another (1.e. a 2-3 pattern):



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or by putting 3 notes on one string and 2 on another (1.e. a 3-2 pattern):

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Note:

Those of you looking at the picking pattern closely may notice that I play the 3-2 pattern with a partial sweep instead of strict alternate picking.  While the 2-3 pattern can be swept as well, you’d have to start it on an upstroke:

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From a picking perspective – I find the 3-2 typically works best when ascending and the 2-3 works best when descending – but from a fingering standpoint – sometimes the reverse of this will be true.  A little experimentation goes a long ways here.

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Working with these forms:

I’ve documented every 2-3 and 3-2 combination here – but in general I don’t recommend spending a lot of time practicing forms that you’re not going to use.

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Instead, try the following:

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  • Take the shapes that you like (or shape if only one works for you)
  • Practice it with a time keeping device like a loop or a metronome
  • Practice it with consistent picking or legato (i.e. using hammer-ons and pull offs) played over a chord to supply a harmonic context.

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You may want to start with an E minor or Em 7 and then try other chords like C Maj 7, G Maj 7,  F Maj 7, D min 7 or A min 7.

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  • Practice the pattern in different rhythms

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“Ceci n’est pas une pipe” or when is  5 – 4?

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In the previous lesson, I talked a little about altering the rhythms of any sequences that you’re playing. Dividing the beat with a different number of notes than the notes in your phrases can add some rhythmic tension and goose the melodic line a little.  For example, here’s the initial 3-2 pattern from above moved in scale wise motion through each note of the E pentatonic minor scale.  I’m playing the phrase below as quintuplets (i.e. 5 notes to the beat). 

(If you have trouble counting the phrase try saying (“here’s a group of five”).  If you do it over and over again in a shopping mall someone will probably call security – so you may want to use your internal voice for this)

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On a more serious note – I’ve notated the phrase as 5/4 to make the rhythmic division clear.  In the mp3 below – I’m playing the phrase over a 4/4 drum groove so there are 3 beats of space (5 beats + 3 beats = 8 beats or 2 bars of 4/4) before the descending line starts.  Here’s the ascending line:

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and here’s the descending line:

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Now I’m going to take the same sequence but play it as 1/16th notes which does a very cool thing over the drum beat.  Where the previous phrase has the first note of each pattern start on a down beat, here the starting note keeps getting displaced.

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Note :

I’ve notated the phrase as 7/4 to make the rhythmic division clear (just like the groups of 5).  In the mp3 below – I’m playing the phrase over the same  4/4 drum groove so there is 1 beats of space (creating a 2-bar phrase of 4/4) before the descending line starts.  Here’s the ascending line:

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And the descending line….

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and here they are back to back


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The Shapes of things….


Now I’m going to go through each of the individual shapes and make some notes.  At the end of the shapes, I’ve included an mp3 of my preferred shapes in groups of 5 and then groups of 4.

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Pattern 1

(Starting on the Root)

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Here’s the 2-3 shape on the bottom 2 strings:

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And played in octaves:

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Note:

The stretch on the D and G strings isn’t very comfortable – so I’d most likely use this fingering only when descending.

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Here it is in a 3-2 shape.  I’m playing the notes on the 3rd fret with the second finger, 2nd fret with the first finger and 5th fret with the pinky.

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Here is the 3-2 shape in octaves.  The same fingering pattern applies just add the 1st finger for the “e”.

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Pattern 2

(Starting on the b3)

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Here’s the 2-3 shape.  It’s not very positional ascending – so again I use it primarily for descending ideas.

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Here is the 2-3 shape in octaves:

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Here’s the 3-2 shape.  The symmetrical fingering of the 2nd and 4th finger in this pattern is interesting to me.  I’m not a big finger exercise guy anymore, but if you’re looking for a fingering pattern to clean up your 2nd and 4th finger, smoothing out the octave runs on this shape will help with synchronization if you’re practicing it correctly. (You can check out the practice posts on my blog for some helpful practice tips – just look on the blueprint page).

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Here’s the 3-2 shape in octaves:

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Pattern 3

(Starting on the 4th)

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Here it is in a 2-3 shape.  I actually prefer this pattern to the 3-2 shape as I find that by using my first and second fingers on the 5th and 7th frets, the pattern is more comfortable to me.

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Here it is 2-3 in octaves.  I play this version primarily with alternate picking, but play two down strokes in a row to get from the G to the A to start every two string pattern on a down stroke.

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Here’s the 3-2 shape.  If the 2nd pattern 3-2 shape is comfortable to you – you may like this one as well.

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Here is the 3-2 shape in octaves:

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Pattern 4

(Starting on the 5th)

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Here’s the  2-3 shape.  I use fingers 1-3-4 for this one.

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Here is the 2-3 shape in octaves.  I use the same picking pattern I described in pattern 3 for this pattern as well.

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Here’s the 3-2 shape.  The focus here is the 3-4 finger shift.

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Here it is in octaves.

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Pattern 5

(Starting on the b7 th)

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Here’s the 2-3 shape.  This sits under the fingers very comfortably.

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Here it is in octaves.  This is a great shape to repeat a few times before moving to the next octave.

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Here’s the 3-2 shape.  This is a form I abandoned almost instantly – especially because the 2-3 form is so much easier.

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Here it is in octaves.  On the high B and E strings – this form can be useful when descending.  I use 3-1-4-2-1 for the fingering pattern. On the ascending 5s and 4s phrase, I played all the patterns in the 3-2 shapes to keep the picking consistent – so if you’re going to be playing the patterns on just  2-strings, you may want to familiarize your self with both divisions.

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Finally here’s an mp3 of each group in order.  I recorded the patterns that I marked out as preferred patterns.  Typically I wouldn’t switch between phrases (and picking patterns) like this.   The same rhythmic idea as above (i.e. patterns notated for clarity but played over  2 bar 4/4 phrases).

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Note:

These shapes are all adaptable to the blues scale as well by just adding an A#/Bb to the patterns.

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“Ceci n’est pas une pipe” II or when is  five  six?

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So here’s another way to manipulate the patterns into something more fluid.  Both pattern 3 and pattern 4 have symmetrical fingerings.  In pattern 3 for example, if I double the d between the 2 shapes I get a 6 note pattern with the same fingering.  This works best as a descending line to my ears:

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Here’s the same idea with pattern 4 using a doubled E.

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( 8/7/11 -Note:  the wrong graphic was posted here previously but this has now been fixed – SC)

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By understanding patterns, it becomes possible to manipulate them and make them work for you.  The key is to take one idea or approach and put it through the paces and try to get something out of it that works for you.

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I hope this helps!  In the meantime, if you like this approach, I have a book that includes this material you may be interested in

My Pentatonic Visualization Book

Minor Pent Front

is 100 + pages of licks and instruction and includes demonstrations and breakdowns of two-string fingerings, diagonal pentatonics, sweep picking pentatonics, pentatonic harmony and much more!  It’s available here.

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Thanks for reading!

-SC

Making Sense Of The Pentatonic Scale – Diagonal Forms – Part One

Hello everyone!! After a lengthy delay – I’m posting this pentatonic lesson.  The amount of information over the next few posts will keep some of you busy for a while.

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A general online lesson note:

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The lessons I post here typically go into quite a bit of detail with the rationale that the reader (i.e. you) can take bite sized pieces of information and return to the material as needed.  If this more information than you will probably be able to process in a single setting, simply take one or two things that sound cool to you and apply them to what you’re currently playing (songs, solos, etc).

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One idea applied well is worth more than a dozen ideas applied poorly.

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In this lesson I’m going to combine 2-string pentatonic patterns into a diagonal approach.

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Note: For those of you who want to adapt these ideas to the blues scale just add in the A#/Bb to the patterns listed below.

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Diagonal Pentatonics

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Playing two-string patterns in octaves moves the fretboard shape both horizontally and vertically (i.e. diagonally). Two-string diagonal playing can help with visualization as the same pattern is simply moved to the octave of the starting pitch.

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To illustrate this – I’ll start with the following four-note shapes.  Use alternate picking for all of the following exercises.  With the exception of the first four notes which use open position, the rest of the patterns use the same fingering.

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All of the following examples should be practiced with strict alternate picking or legato (i.e. using hammer-ons and pull offs) and (ideally) played over a chord to supply a harmonic context.

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Some chords to try:

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  • E minor or Em 7 chord 
  • C Major 7
  • G Major 7
  • F Major 7 
  • D minor 7 
  • A minor 7 or
  • whatever sounds good to you!

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Here’s the 1st pattern moved in octaves.

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Pattern # 2

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Pattern # 3

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Pattern # 4

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Pattern # 5

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Working with patterns

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Note:

Pentatonic scales, or any kind of scale in general, are simply a tool in making music, but are not music in and of themselves.  The goal of this process is to use these shapes as a way to visualize sounds and then to be able to manipulate them in real-time.

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Let’s generate a musical line using this approach. Here’s an idea in the style of Paul Gilbert.  I’m picking every note in the example – but you could use hammer-ons or pull offs for a more legato feel.  It’s played first with sextuplets and then slower at 16th notes to make the notes easier easier to hear.

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The drums on this track are just a simple loop I pulled together for a song I was working on called Raga Jam.

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While recorded at 105 bpm – the  mp3 can be downloaded and then slowed down or sped up to accommodate your tempo needs.  A number of applications will do this but if you’re looking for a recommendation –  I recommend Transcribe! by Seventh String Software.

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There are several ideas here worth exploiting.

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  • The initial pattern consisting of four notes, is played as sextuplets (groups of six).  Rhythmically, this adds a sense of tension that is absent in phrasing the group of four notes into a 1/16 note pattern.  This idea will be covered more in part two of this lesson.

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In general, practice playing patterns in a variety of rhythms as you may find ideas you can use later.


  • The B on beat three breaks up the predictable note order a little.  It’s a small variation on the pattern that makes it sound a little less “patternish”.
  • The last five notes of the sextuplet break the four note melodic pattern.  This idea will be explored more in part 2. But in the meantime, here’s an initial fingering to get you going.  I’ve notated it as a group of 5 – But rhythmically it’s part of the sextuplet pattern above.

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The use of the open E and A strings changes the overall fingering shape on the bottom, middle and top two strings which may make the lick more challenging to play.  

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If you are having difficulty playing something melodically, take a close look at the fingering you’re using and see if it’s the most efficient one.

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In the example below, I’ve taken the same notes and broken them up into melodic shapes that use the G, A and B pitches on the same string.  You will probably find this much easier to play.

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Here’s a fingering variation of the above idea (watch the skip from G to B on the D string!)

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Going a little further:

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Sometimes patterns can lead us to unexpected melodic places.  Here,  in this approximation of an improvisation for example,

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  • I’ve taken the initial E, G, A and B pattern shape and instead of moving it up a 1/2 step, (to accommodate the B/G string 3rds tuning), I kept the fingering shape the same.  This produces a whole tone shape on the B string that adds a melodic surprise.
  • I’ve then continued the whole tone idea to the high E string  – bringing in a C and then resolving it to B (The 7th fret B is missing in the tab but is on the notation line). The whole steps in the F#, G# and A# passage and the C, D and E passage have the same intervals as the G, A, B of the pentatonic scale.  Even though the G# clashes with the G in E minor – the line has enough of a melodic drive that it can work (as long as you resolve the idea  – in this case to a chord tone).

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By understanding patterns, it becomes possible to  manipulate them and make them work for you.  In the next lesson we’ll play full pentatonic patterns on 2 string sets and bring in a few other ideas that will spice up your approaches

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Tones:

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Finally, for  those of you interested in the technical side of what I’m doing here are some screen shots of my set up. First the AU Lab rig:

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Something that may be of  interest to you – I set Audio MIDI Setup to 88.2k for the DUET  – but run the LA Convolver speaker cabs at 44.1.  That way the audio conversion rate for the guitar signal stays higher but I can use things that run at 44.1 (like the audio player on the Generator 1 strip).

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I’ve mentioned the AUAUDIO File Player on my AU lab posts – but it’s a cool plug-in.  Using it, I can bring in all kinds of samples or tracks and run them live with the guitar signal and record them with the click of the record button.  (It’s how all of these tracks are recorded btw – live into AU Lab).

There are two dirty sounds (I didn’t like my first tones so I re-recorded everything.  When I couldn’t find the first 5 audio files while typing this – I just went with the initial recordings since I didn’t have access to my guitar.)

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Here’s the dirty side of the main tone (Tube screamer is set at 9%, 53% and 9% – BTW)

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and the clean side:

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Tracks 1-4 are just my standard Marshall Who? settings

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Part two will be up soon!! In the meantime,  if you like this approach, I have a book that includes this material you may be interested in that features this material and much more!

Minor Pent Front

is 100 + pages of licks and instruction and includes demonstrations and breakdowns of two-string fingerings, diagonal pentatonics, sweep picking pentatonics, pentatonic harmony and much more!  It’s available here.

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Thanks for reading!

-SC