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> Gateways To Shred: Moving Sideways
Ben Higgins
post Feb 11 2015, 11:26 AM
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One thing I notice a lot when viewing the playing of guitarists asking for help in coming up with more interesting licks is that they usually feel limited to the few box positions that they know. For most players, this will mean the minor pentatonic box shapes.

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Being able to appreciate and make us of the pentatonic (minor and major) is a necessary part of evolving into lead guitar and, in my opinion, the humble pentatonic can be as exciting as anything. Before rushing off into the world of exotic scales all players should at least feel comfortable with kicking out a few tasty phrases using the pentatonic. After all, if you're struggling to build any satisfying phrases that you like in that scale then you're going to encounter the same issue whatever scale you're using.

This isn't about the scales themselves though. This is about ending that feeling of constriction. So, whether it's the pentatonic or the minor scale, the way to break out of the box is to change the pattern. One way of doing that is adding more notes on the same string. In other words, moving sideways. This won't add different intervals to the scale. You'll still be using the same notes. But what it does is open you up to creating different finger movements which can link you up to other box positions further up (or down) the neck.

Take a look at this A Minor Pentatonic lick:

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Attached File  Penta_Lick_1.gp5 ( 1.75K ) Number of downloads: 28

The lick makes use of the standard box position that we all know. It spans only 2 frets.

Now take a look at this lick, using the same scale:

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Attached File  Penta_Lick_2.gp5 ( 1.84K ) Number of downloads: 33

There's more position shifting going on. The key thing to take away from this lick is that you're still in the same scale, using the same notes. You're just shifting further up the neck using a combination of hammering on and sliding. By the end of the lick you've moved up to the 15th fret - all from starting at the 5th fret ! Learning how to link up different box positions is key if you want to avoid repeating the same licks and sounding like you're just running up and down the standard box position. Not only that but by moving sideways as well as up and down you can span greater distances.

Here's some homework for you to help you remember that you can use the pentatonic scale all over the neck. Start memorising the scale positions that DON'T begin on a root note. Everybody knows the A Minor Pentatonic that begins at the 5th fret, low E string. But what about all the positions in between ? How about the next position up that starts on the note of B ? The one after that ? They can all be played as 2 note per string patterns but they will just look different to the position that you're used to. You'll have to use a combo of different fingers. But you'll soon start to realise how you can link all these positions up.

Use the GMC Scale Generator is you need to. Or, if you fancy a picking workout, learn my Wylde Penta Shifts lesson. You don't have to learn it full speed, just use the tab.

Hopefully you'll begin to see how it's important to be able to think laterally as well as up / down the box positions. It's all about unlocking the Gateways to Shred !

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post Feb 11 2015, 04:04 PM
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Awesome post Ben , thanks for sharing it. I was looking for something like this. A couple of years ago(yes I've been around for years @ GMC) I made a Student Instructor lesson because I wanted to learn the different pentatonic lessons, so I made a lesson and shared it, of course it is not remotely as good as yours.

Here is the lesson

Here's the main video.

The only thing yo can do, is what you love!

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