Extending Your Reach

author: Sir_Taffey date: 06/19/2014 category: correct practice

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Extending Your Reach
Welcome UG readers to this lesson on how to take your box and make it sound interesting. Often times it's the simple things that sound the best. A tasteful lick or riff that takes place on two adjacent strings. Sure beats mindless shred sure. But what if we took this concept and made it mindful shred?

This is something that Guthrie Govan or Paul Gilbert would use to their advantage. Along with the likes of most awesome shredders and guitarists (including your favorite). It is taking a lick or an arpeggio and jumping it up through octaves. Something probably overlooked by a load of guitarists and something that was only really highlighted when I went about trying to learn keyboard.

Keyboard players only have to memorize a simple shape and run it up through easy to navigate and identify octaves. They get some impressive range and sounds from such a simple trick. We want to do that too! We want to use our octave positions for cool runs. So first the spacing for the octaves on guitar:

Fig. 1
There we have A in 3 octaves. If you don't understand this so far just take my word for it. Now take a simple arpeggio shape and jump it across octaves. It works easy enough for piano players so it should do well for us right? Let's start with a tapping example just to get the concept under our fingers.

Fig. 2

T (T means tapped with picking hand finger)
String skipping too? Man we are starting this on a high note. The bracketed bit is for the daring among you to try, but it also might be easier to hit from a reference point of 5th fret. I started us off with tapping because you are forced to be mindful about where your fingers are going and it helps to internalize jumps in position. So we played an A minor arpeggio through 3 octaves. Not going to see that with sweep picked arpeggios. But don't unlearn sweeps now! Those still are super cool.

How should I play this you ask yourself. Well as smoothly as possible. Even timing with no breaks or bleeding between notes. Actually pick up your guitar and work on this for 2 minutes. With a metronome set to 60bpm. I'll be here when you're done.

Ok. Now that that's done we can look at this for our scale licks. This can be used for any scale or any kind of lick. Let's start off pentatonic

Fig. 3
What happened? moved the top bit of a pentatonic through 3 octaves. How cool is that now? It's not just an ascending trick of running up the scale in the positions we know like the example below:

Fig. 4
Put your own phrasing in there, I don't mind. It's an A minor pentatonic like before, just running up randomly through the scale and ending on a G for no real reason. This makes my octave jumping sound too simple now. We are complicated guitarists after all. But let's spice things up. I liked how the little run at the end sounded. So I'm going to take that and run it through some octaves:

Fig. 5


This pentatonic thing has gotten way out of hand. But you get the point? We can take little licks, and not expand them and make them pointless but give them a wider sonic range. We can do this with scales as well

Fig. 6

Extra marks if you can figure out what scale that is (hint: it's a scale in F with a #4). Play each root with your middle finger and now we have something worth bragging about to improvise with.

This trick only really works when jumping between the string groups E-A, D-G, B-e. That G-B 3rd tuning throws out symmetry out a little bit. Do this with any scale or arpeggio over 2 strings, taking the fundamental notes that make it what it is (like with our above mystery scale).

Fig. 7
Looks are deceiving. This is a B minor 7 flat 5 arpeggio. I stuck to 2 strings and used the lower b7 for my starting note. 7 string guitar players, you could probably take this concept to the next level.

That's all for today. I hope you guys take something away from this lesson. Tapping or picking. Legato, vibrato, don't be afraid to experiment. And that metronome! Use it to make sure you are playing everything evenly and as smooth as you can muster. Download the UG Guitar Tools app to your phone if you can. It has a great metronome and other cool stuff. 

Until next time.
Keep Rocking
More Sir_Taffey lessons:
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+ Fingers of Flying Fury Correct Practice 12/02/2014
+ Tetrachords Scales 01/08/2014
+ What Is an Arpeggio? Guitar Techniques 12/26/2013
+ How Versatile Is Your Picking Hand? Guitar Techniques 11/10/2013
+ Hands and Brain Correct Practice 11/07/2013
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