Paul Gilbert: 3 note-per-string major scale patterns

Paul Gilbert playing in patterns
Paul Gilbert playing in patterns

Three-note-per-string licks (we'll call them 3 n-p-s, for short) are great for navigating comfortably around the neck because of the natural arrangement of a lot of notes and scales on guitar.

Many scale shapes can be repeated across the neck using a simple fingering pattern. Paul's examples play upon this idea, where each two-string idea uses exactly the same frets and fingering on each string. This approach will really benefit your speed because you'll only have to memorise a few simple geometric shapes.

Unfortunately, these licks sound best when played at high speed, and this can be very difficult when every note is picked. Practising slowly and repetitively is the only way to master this technique-driven lick.

Ideally, you should use a metronome, starting slowly and gradually building speed, because this will help you perfect your timing.

Next page: video examples tabbed

Example 1: 3 n-p-s pattern on two strings

(Click tab to enlarge)

Simply practising the first six notes is a great way to start before building up to the full example. Most guitarists encounter problems moving comfortably between strings, but this is often due to tension. If you completely relax your hands when playing this ferocious lick, you'll produce better results!

Example 2: 3 n-p-s pattern across six strings

(Click tab to enlarge)

This idea takes the first 12-note lick from Example 1 and moves it across all six strings. Notice how each set of two strings (sixth and fifth, fourth and third, etc) uses the same fingering pattern. Keep this in mind as you practise because it'll help you remember the fingering as you come to play the next string.

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