Skip to main content

Classic guest lesson: Joe Satriani shows you two exotic scale practice licks

(Image credit: Future)

Throughout Joe Satriani's career, he’s had a fascination with exotic scales and modes, and the unusual intervals and harmonic possibilities that they present. 

Developing a new scale to the point where you can compose killer lead lines can be a challenge. Joe suggests exploring scales that are new to you, using your open sixth-string E as a droning bass note. 

Play your scale in E so the bass note provides a root note. It’s best to start with the scale in one octave so you can learn the character of the scale and develop some basic ideas.

Once you’re confident playing within one octave, start venturing into the next octave. Keep building up in this fashion until you’ve covered the whole fretboard. This is the exact approach Joe took to write the song The Enigmatic from Not Of This Earth.

Exotic scale lick 1 [click on the top right icon to enlarge]

Here Joe demonstrates a lick using one octave in the E half / whole diminished scale. Most of the lick is picked, but pay attention to where Joe uses hammer-ons and pull-offs. Also pay attention to the slides; these help you stay in position where you have to play four scale notes on a single string.  

(Image credit: Future)

Exotic scale lick 2 [click on the top right icon to enlarge]

(Image credit: Future)

In this lick, Joe uses the same scale but also ventures into the next fretboard position. Focus on the picking pattern, Joe’s use of hammer-ons and pull offs, and the transition into a higher octave in bar 3. Use this lick to get familiar with both octaves and then create your own phrases in each position.

(Image credit: Joe Satriani)

Joe's new album Shapeshifting, is set for release on April 10 via Sony Music/Legacy Recordings.

He will tour Europe in April 2021 after his original tour dates had to be postponed due to the restrictions posed by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. 

For more information visit satriani.com