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> Stuck On Triplets ?
Ben Higgins
post Dec 8 2014, 12:28 PM
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Many of us guitarists routinely use the 3 note per string patterns as a way of putting lick and runs together. For us, it's natural to navigate the neck in this way. Tons of picking and legato exercises are based upon these 3nps shapes so it is ingrained in many players from their early days of practise.

There can be a downside to this, though. Reliance on these shapes mean that we spend so much time playing in triplets that we are stumped when we're presented with the idea of playing straight 16th notes. Some people's immediate response is to go full Zakk Wylde with the 2 note per string pentatonics. Why ? Because it's easy to place those licks over a tempo that requires rapid 16th notes. They're easy to keep track of. Not necessarily easy to play at speed but the idea of them is easy.

So, how is it that we have loads of licks for when the tempo allows us to go crazy with multiples of 3 but we have very few ideas when triplets are not an option ? Mainly because we haven't used those 3nps patterns in a way to express licks that are in straight 16th notes. So, whatever type of player you are, whether you're a tapper, picker or... legato-er (?), you can take these 3nps patterns and start making some new licks with them. That was the premise behind my latest lesson

In this lesson I have used some patterns which are very unfamiliar. Instead of just ascending or descending, some of these licks do both. They also combine picking and legato because...well, because I wrote them. If you wrote some similar licks you may play them differently. You can combine whatever techniques you want in order to achieve a burst of 16th notes. But whatever you create, the chances are that it won't be instantly playable because it's not familiar to you yet. The same thing applied to me with the licks in this lesson. I had to learn them and practise them before I felt comfortable with them. But now that I do, I have some different options for tearing it up when the tempo says "No triplets here, Higgins !"

This will come in handy for anyone who plays music that calls for fast 16th notes at anything from 170-200bpm and over. Some people might pick everything like Petrucci, Impellitteri, Gilbert or Yngwie (although we know he doesn't pick everything) but most of those lines are very linear and go one way or the other. One of the most unique players who approaches fast 16th notes in his own way is Chris Poland. Go listen to the first 2 Megadeth albums and see how he blazes away over those thrash beats. It's totally different to his contemporaries, most of who were using the typical fast pentatonic approach to wail away over all those tracks that were on the high end of 190bpm+

Check out Chris's solo from 5:02

Why am I being a bit specific about genre and bpms ? Because for a lot of players out there, you'll be encountering those kind of soloing opportunities and if you have an idea vacuum during these moments it's going to suck for you. Being able to shred triplets over some neoclassical track is totally different to laying down the shred over a track like Rattlehead or Black Friday. You have to mentally be in a different place and so that means you want to have the chops ready. And that means expanding your repertoire so that you have plenty of evil 16th note ideas at your disposal !

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