Symmetrical Patterns for Lead Guitar

author: Thurisaz date: 01/07/2014 category: guitar techniques
rating: 8.3 / votes: 19 
Symmetrical Patterns for Lead Guitar
While most people spend hours and hours a day memorizing scales and every box pattern, not to mention ways to break out of those box patterns, there are very simple things they could do to make simple licks more exciting. One of those methods is using symmetrical runs. They are easy to do and are great at making you sound more "outside" of the box.

Symmetrical runs basically mean that the frets you play on one string you must play on all six strings, as opposed to the notes. Here's an example, these two similar to two Dimebag used to use.
 
e|-----------------------------------------------11-12-15--|
B|--------------------------------------11-12-15-----------|
G|-----------------------------11-12-15--------------------|
D|--------------------11-12-15-----------------------------|
A|-----------11-12-15--------------------------------------|
E|--11-12-15-----------------------------------------------|
 
e|--------------------12-15-19/20\19p15p12-----------------|
B|-----------12-15-19----------------------19p15p12-19b----|
G|--12-15-19-----------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

The first symmetrical run we'll look at is sort of based on the E minor pentatonic scale, as it includes all of the notes, plus some.

E|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------12-14-15--|
D|--------------------12-14-15----------12-14-15-----------|
A|-----------12-14-15----------12-14-15--------------------|
E|--12-14-15-----------------------------------------------|
PM .............................................

E|-----------------------------------------------12-14-15--|
G|--------------------12-14-15----------12-14-15-----------|
B|-----------12-14-15----------12-14-15--------------------|
D|--12-14-15-----------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
PM ........

E|--14-12----12-14-15-14-12----12-15p14p12-12--------------|
G|--------15----------------15-----------------15b---(17)--|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
You'll notice I palm mute the E, A and D strings. This is because I find it easier to control the low strings higher up the neck. It also helps the lick sound more articulate. You'll want to slide your hand down the bridge a little as you palm mute the low E, A and D strings to keep the picking at an optimal angle.

As far as the lick itself goes, it's an interesting sequencing idea with a 3 notes-per-string symmetrical pattern involving the 12th, 14th and 15th frets. This is a pretty typical lick, I think, as it's sorta reminiscent of something Zakk Wylde might do. The way to make it less typical, I think, would be to play it more like this, but both are lovely ideas and have their place.

E|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------15-14-12--|
D|--------------------15-14-12----------15-14-12-----------|
A|-----------15-14-12----------15-14-12--------------------|
E|--15-14-12-----------------------------------------------|
PM .............................................

E|-----------------------------------------------15-14-12--|
G|--------------------15-14-12----------15-14-12-----------|
B|-----------15-14-12----------15-14-12--------------------|
D|--15-14-12-----------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
PM ........

E|--14p12----12-14-15-14p12----12-15p14p12-12--------------|
G|--------15----------------15-----------------15b~--------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Playing the two back to back, you'll notice how much the changes affect the feel of the lick. The interesting thing in the second lick, I think, is the notes descend on each string, but overall, you're ascending in pitch. I refer to this as "contrary motion" but I haven't the slightest clue what the technical term is for it.

Before we move on, I'd just like to say that these riffs would also work in other positions depending on what you're soloing over. In addition to the two identical licks shown already, you can also do these licks an octave down in the open position, as well as 3rd/15th position, and 8th/20th position. I'll let you guys tab them out in these other positions if you so choose, as they'd pretty much be similar to those above. Basically anywhere you can use your index, ring and pinky in a 'closed' position [ie, no stretching], these licks will work.

Next, is similar to something Marty Friedman used to play. It's a pick-hammer-roll sequence, and can be used to great effect. This is also a great lick to get you around the board to facilitate position shifts, like EVH used to do with his single note trem picking in the 70s and 80s, but I think this is a little more interesting after awhile. Once you get it down, you should be able to get it pretty fast like that one Paul Gilbert lick everyone knows from his Intense Rock 1 DVD. Btw, I'd probably play this over A5 or A Major, as well as some jazz chords if you're into that.

d.......... u d............. u d........... u d.....
e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------14p12-------------12p10------------10p8----------|
G|--12h14-------14-12\10h12-------12-10\8h10------10-8\6h8-|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

d.. u d........ u d
e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|--8p6---------6p4----------------------------------------|
G|------8-6\4h6-----6-4\2~---------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Here's a similar idea, but this one ends with a lick that isn't symmetrical, and helps get someone more comfortable with being more flexible with the notes as well as making them work. This is probably more familiar for jazz players than rock/metal players as far as being flexible with the notes. While it breaks out of the symmetrical pattern at the end, I thought it was still worth going over.

d...... u...... d...... u...... d..... u......
e|-------12--------------10--------------------------------|
B|--9h12----12p9----9h10----10p9---------9-10p9------------|
D|---------------10--------------10-9h10--------10---------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|--10-9---------------------------------------------------|
G|-------10-9------10-9------------------------------------|
D|------------10-9------10-9-------------------------------|
A|---------------------------12-11-8\7----8p7--------------|
E|-------------------------------------10------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|-------------------7--\--4-/-10---\---1~-----------------|
D|-----------------6---------------------------------------|
A|---------------5-----------------------------------------|
E|--10-8-7\5--\4-------------------------------------------|

The interest in this lick builds in the second half of the second bar and continues until the end. The reason is because you build a pattern of 9th and 10th fret notes, and then start to avoid those two notes. Also of note, while it may seem like it follows no rules, the lick starts on G# and ends on G#. Just to add to the craziness, at times the 3rd is minor [B in this case] and major [C]... and then back to minor. I gave picking recommendations in places where alt picking wasn't implied.

If these ideas are too jazzy for you, you can always try this out. It's more of a C minor blues lick, but also has a little "Dorian" thrown in.

e|--------8------------------------------8------10p8-------|
B|------8---11p8----8------------------8---11p8------11p8--|
G|--10b----------11---11\10p8----8-10b---------------------|
D|----------------------------10---------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|--------8------10p8-11p10p8-------8-------8--------------|
B|------8---11p8--------------11-10---11-10---11-10-8------|
G|--10b----------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|--11-10-8-------8-------8--------------------------------|
G|----------11-10---11-10---11-10-8-11-10-8-------8--------|
D|------------------------------------------11-10---11-10--|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|--8------------------------------------------------------|
D|----11-10-8-11-10-8-10~----------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Quite a long lick, but has lots of symmetrical goodness. The lick begins with a typical blues Chuck Berry lick with some embellishments and then starts to morph in order to set up for the alternate picked sequencing that finishes off the lick. Even though the bends on the 3rd string are full step bends from F to G, which would be the 12th fret and not fit the pattern, still works because the 8th fret note on the B string is G. The end [bar 4] could also finish on the 5th like it starts off with, but I opted to end on the root, C. Here's what the ending would be if you wanted to end on the 5th. This would replace the fourth bar in the previous example.

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|--8-10b--(12)~-------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Kirk Hammett also seems interested in some symmetrical runs, but I'm not exactly sure where if ever he used this lick. Love the pattern twist and string skip at the end. Just remember, use these sparingly and interestingly to grab attention and make yourself different, even if you're playing most of the same old shit.

e|--17p12----12--------------------------------------------|
B|--------17----17p12-17p12----12--------------------------|
G|--------------------------17----17p12-17p12----12--------|
D|--------------------------------------------17----17p12--|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------12--------|
D|--17p12----12-------------------------------------14~----|
A|--------17----17p12-17p12\10-12p10----10/12-14-----------|
E|-----------------------------------12--------------------|

I find it hard for whatever reason to come up with good licks to play in open positions, so when I do, I always make sure and keep them handy in case I need them. This is a run that Ace Frehley uses in "Dark Light," one of two songs he had involvement with on KISS's "Music From The Elder."

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|--4p2p0h4p2p0-4p2p0h4p2p0-4p2p0h4p2p0-4p2p0h4p2p0--------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|--4p2p0h4p2p0--------------------------------------------|
D|--------------4p2p0h4p2p0--------------------------------|
A|--------------------------4p2p0h4p2p0--------------------|
E|--------------------------------------4p2p0h4p2p0--------|

e|--------------------0------------------------------------|
B|--------------------0------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|--3b--(4)--p-0-----(0)-----------------------------------|

And if you have a floyd rose or kahler unit, why not vibrato the open low and high E and B strings as they ring out.

The second of three symmetrical runs I'll show from Ace is from the same solo and based on E dorian/blues minor, which was a typical scale of Ace's repertoire.

e|--0-----12-14-15-14-12-----------------------------------|
B|-----------------------15-14-12--------------------------|
G|--------------------------------15-14-12~----------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|--15p14p12-15p14p12-15p14p12-15p14p12-15-15p14p12--------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
" = trem pick

e|--15-15p14p12-15-15p14p12-15-15p14p12-15"------15p14p12--|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|--15"------15p14p12-15"------15p14p12-15"------15p14p12--|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|--15p14p12---15b---(17)---~~~~~~-------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Some good old fashioned 12th position E minor wanking, but still worth using if it's needed in a song.

This final Ace Frehley symmetrical run is from "Rock Soldiers," from his first post-KISS solo album. Notice the "twist" at the end to make it work with E minor.

e|------------------------------------------------------0--|
B|------------------------------------------------------0--|
G|--4p2p0-4p2p0--------------------------------------------|
D|--------------4p2p0-4p2p0--------------------------------|
A|--------------------------4p2p0-4p2p0--------------2-----|
E|--------------------------------------3p2p0-3p2p0--0-----|

Similar to "Dark Light," but would be usable at the end of a solo to segue from the solo back to the rhythm with a single guitar approach.

Now for something that'd work in a diminished context. The second one might be recognizable as coming from a common EVH symmetrical stretch, and the third from a common Dimebag thing, however, it does not relate to a dimished tonality. This if what you'd use if the EVH wide stretch lick doesn't work for you. Gotta love the one and a half step bend at the end of the variation.

e|--------10h13/16p13----------13h16/19p16-----------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|--10h13-------------16-13h16-------------19-16h19--------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
or
e|--16h19/22p19------------|--16h19/22p19-22b(25)~---------|
B|-------------------------|-------------------------------|
G|--------------22-~-------|-------------------------------|
D|-------------------------|-------------------------------|
A|-------------------------|-------------------------------|
E|-------------------------|-------------------------------|

This is the one based off of the EVH wide stretch.

e|----------9h12h15---------9h12h15----------12h15h18------|
B|--9h12h15---------9h12h15---------12h15h18---------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|-----------12h15h18----------15h18h21----------15h18h21--|
B|--12h15h18----------15h18h21----------15h18h21-----------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|--15h18h21p18p15----15h18h21p18p15----15-----------------|
B|-----------------21----------------21----21~-------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

I know Eddie used the 9-12-15 stretch, and I just moved it up the neck.

Last but not least is one from Dimebag. While the previous two were diminished, this one is minor.

e|--19p12h15h19p15p12--------------------------------------|
B|--------------------19p12h15h19p15p12--------------------|
G|--------------------------------------19p12h15h19p15p12--|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|--19p12h15h19p15p12--------------------------------------|
A|--------------------19~----------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Here's a variation including the notes at the 20th fret.

e|--19/20\19p15p12----12-----------------------------------|
B|-----------------19----19/20\19p15p12----12--------------|
G|--------------------------------------19-----------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|--19/20\19p15p12----12-----------------------------------|
D|-----------------19----19/20\19p15p12----12--------------|
A|--------------------------------------19----19~----------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

This last example, for now anyways, is kind of a diminished arpeggio idea. Enjoy!

e|---------------------------------------------10h13-------|
B|-----------------------------------10h13--12-------------|
G|-------------------------10h13--12-----------------------|
D|---------------10h13--12---------------------------------|
A|-----10h13--12-------------------------------------------|
E|--12-----------------------------------------------------|

e|--12~----------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Now for a full solo involving symmetrical runs. For this, I've decided to dissect this solo from KISS's "Not From the Innocent" off of the "Lick It Up" album. Pretty sure this song has Vinnie Vincent playing on it.

Just to outline the symmetrical pattern used, here it is below. In case I haven't mentioned it yet, it's still a symmetrical pattern if it ventures outside or don't always use the note. Just because it's there doesn't mean it needs to be used.

e|--------------------------------12-14-15-17-18-22--------|
B|--------------------12-14-15-17--------------------------|
G|-----------12-14-15--------------------------------------|
D|--12-14-15-----------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

With the fade in, just slowly roll your volume up like in the song while holding the D note on the B string at the 15th fret. The (\) means you dive the whammy bar if you have one, or you can just slide down the string.

E|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|--15------------15--12--15--12--15-12(\)-----------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
Fade in


For the next bar, play the chord bend at the 14th and 15th frets using your middle finger for the 14 and ring finger for the 15. Use your index finger with your middle finger to help with the bend and vibrato. This is known as reinforced bending.

Make sure you hit the dead note indicated as the x on the G string below with the full step bend with vibrato at the 15th fret on the B string. Use your ring finger with your middle and index finger as reinforcement to control the bend better. You could play the alternate picked part like Vinnie Vincent, but since I doubt the majority of you use hybrid picking at all, I'll just go over this with normal alt picking, though I'm sure you could use economoy picking if that's more your thing. I'd start with a down stroke for the B note, and use inside picking from there. For the E note on the D string and the double pull-off on the G string, use down strokes. The D note at the 12th fret, use an upstroke.

E|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|--15------------15b~------12-----------------------------|
G|--14b~--------x--------------15-14-12-------15p14p12-----|
D|--------------------------------------14-12--------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
W/ bar

For this part, assuming no one [or very few of you] hybrid pick, I'd play this next part with another down stroke for the double pull-off on the G string, up stroke for the 14th fret E note, down stroke for the 12th fret D note, and another down stroke for the bent A note at the 14th fret. The (\/) indicate a dive and release, while the (/) before the vibrato'd 14th fret A at the end indicates you articulate it as you are releasing the bar and add vibrato, finger or bar. You choose.

Oh, and make sure you palm mute the E and D note as indicated in the tab below.

E|---------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|--15p14p12--------14b~---(\/)(\/)(\/)----(/)14~----------|
D|-----------14-12-----------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|
P.M.

With the G note at the 12th fret at the beginning of this bar, similar thing as the one in the previous bar. Starting with the bend and vibrato at the 15th fret, you can decide whether to stretch at use your index, middle and ring fingers to play the 12th, 14th and 15th fret notes respectively or play in a more "closed" position using your index, ring and pinky fingers.

By the way, for this bar and the next, I'd suggest barreing the 12th fret like a capo to play this faster, though some might be more comfortable playing this more like a spider and adjusting your hand as you walk your fingers on the fretboard.

E|-------------15b~-----15-12------------------------------|
B|---------------------------15-12--------15-12------------|
G|--(/)12-------------------------15-14-12-----15-14-12----|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

For the first two notes, don't adjust the barre from the previous bar if you decided to do so. When you need to hit the full step bends, adjust your fretting hand to reinforce the bend. Make sure you articulate with the dead notes as in the tab. The "r15" at the end is just a simple release.

E|--------15b~-----x-15b---15b---15b---x-15b~----r15-------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----12--------------------------------------------------|
D|--14-----------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Here, if you choose to do so, barre the 12th fret for the G, B and high e strings, and as before, articulate the 15th fret and 12th fret notes at the end of the bar - as well as the following bar - as you are releasing a pre-dived whammy bar.

E|--14-12----15-12---------------------(/)15---(/)12-------|
B|--------15------15-12-------15-14-12---------------------|
G|----------------------14-12------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

E|--(/)15-----(/)12------(/)15------(/)12----15b~----------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Release the bend at the end of the previous bar and pull off to the 12th fret. This should be pretty easy for your picking hand as most of the stress is on the fretting hand rather than the picking hand.

E|--r15p12-------------------------------------------------|
B|---------15p12----------15p12----15p12----------15b~-----|
G|---------------15p14p12-------15-------15-14-12----------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

For this part, I really suggest hybrid picking, but it should be simple enough to get into for the first time. If you didn't use a stretch to play the 12th, 14th, and 15th frets before when I brought it up, I'd suggest doing so now to make the position shift easier a little later on.

E|--12-------12----------12--------------------------------|
B|-----15b------15b--------15b-----------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------14-15p14-12-14-15p14--|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

As mentioned before, you might want to use a stretch for fretting these next few bars. Hit the 17th fret notes with your pinky. For the 17p15 in the second bar, scrunch your fingers just for that part, and then go back to the index, middle and ring finger fretting format used for the previous pattern. For the slide at the end solo up to the 22nd fret with the full step bend, use you ring finger with reinforced bending and make sure you articulate the dead note to add to the feel of the lick.

E|--------12-------------------------17b~---------17--17b--|
B|--12-14----15p14-12----12-14-15-14-----------------------|
G|--------------------15-----------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

E|--17--17b--17--17b--17-17b-17-17b-17-17b~-----17p15------|
B|----------------------------------------------------17---|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

E|--15-17p15-18-17-15----15-17-18-17-15----15-x-/22b~------|
B|--------------------17----------------17-----------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------|

Anyways, enjoy the lesson and if I come up with any other interesting symmetrical licks, I might do a second part.
More Thurisaz lessons:
+ A Few Licks in the Style of Dimebag Darrell Guitar Gurus 01/08/2014
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