50 rock licks you need to know: Part 3 of 5


brian may

brian may

Brian May (far right) took Eric Clapton's tone and Jimi Hendrix's fire to create a genuine rock monster! © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

Welcome to part three of our special feature showing you how to dramatically increase your rock soloing potential, and boost your fingerboard knowledge at the same time. If it's your first time here, please check out part one for background information and the first 10 licks, then part two for licks 11-20. If you've already mastered those, let's go...

Playing tips: area three

Shape three

Shape three

Listen: licks 21-30

Example 3.1: Phrasing

Ritchie Blackmore inspired this arpeggio/scale combination phrase, utilising the minor triad, the flattened 5th interval, and the minor pentatonic add 2 scale (A B C D E G), with elements of blues phrasing in the final bar.


Example 3.2: Bends

We're in Jimmy Page territory here, with a Herculean bend between the minor 3rd (C) and the perfect 5th (E) of our intended A minor chord. That's four frets! The reduced tension of the second string (and using support fi ngers) makes this perfectly feasible.


Example 3.3: Repetition

This nifty move between a bent note and rapid pull-off requires both precision and stamina, so be patient when building it up to both the necessary speed and duration.


Example 3.4: Slides/Double-stops

The interval of a 6th is effective within all styles of music, implying a great sense of sophistication, and rock is no exception. This idea switches between articulate intervallic skipped single-notes and harmonically dense double-stops.


Example 3.5: Sequential (Descending)

This idea is based around a descending sequence of four. While it's a great idea to move these ideas through a complete scale in its entire range, you may find it more effective to use just a short fragment of each pattern.

sequential descending

Next: playing tips and example tab for sequential (ascending), triadic/arpeggio, double-stop, scalar and horizontal

Example 3.6: Sequential (Ascending)

Once again, here's the mirror-image ascending version of the previous pattern.

sequential ascending

Example 3.7: Triadic/Arpeggio

This Iron Maiden inspired idea superimposes the triads of A minor, G and F against a static root note. It works because all of these chords can be found within the harmonised A minor scale, on degrees I (Am), flattened 7th (G), and flattened 6th (F).


Example 3.8: Double-Stop

Here's a Blackmore-inspired riff . The pentatonic scale works great when played in double-stops, as this phrase demonstrates. Needless to say, you should get to work with ideas of this nature throughout all of the remaining positions.


Example 3.9: Scalar

Here we're using the 5th degree (E) as a pivot, ascending through various degrees of A minor scale but always returning to the E 'pedal-tone' after each new note.


Example 3.10: Horizontal

Most players have 'standard' devices that they often use when creating solos. These go some way to establishing the personal identity or signature sound of the artist. This idea comes from Tony Iommi, and can be found all over the place in his soloing.


Stay tuned next week for area four…