Welcome! If you're reading this then chances are you're an aspiring shredder who wants to get fast. Even if you've been playing for a few years or more it can still be difficult to get your picking licks up to speed, so in this article I'll give you a few nice ideas that you can use to keep it fun and exciting - even while you continue to practice the same skill.
Through learning the licks you'll also learn how to create your own; you'll see how these are constructed and then you'll learn how to constantly come up with your own shred licks. You'll be able to do this whenever you like, and use your creations to spice up your solos and form your own shred style!
All of the licks I'll show you stay on one string - this removes the challenge of string changes and allows you to play them faster. Don't think this means that they're boring, though. We'll do some great sequences and patterns that are sure to impress!
For simplicity we’ll keep all eleven licks in the same key; the key of A-minor/C-major.
We’ll start by laying out the notes of this scale on the high E string. Learn where all of these notes are and then you’ll understand what’s going on in the licks that follow. The root note is on the 5th fret and then repeats an octave higher on the 17th fret.
You can learn this first lick pretty quickly, because it stays in one position. This is what I call a "building block" lick, because it can be used as the foundation for lots of other cool ideas.
Next, we'll expand it by adding in a stretch every other time we play it. This is an easy way to create a variation on any lick you know. Once you've learned this example, try it with some other licks that you know.
Make sure to play that 10th fret with your little finger; it's a big stretch so it might require a bit of practice.
Now, we can take the same building block lick and play it starting on different scale notes to make different sounds. In this third lick we play the pattern in the 5th, 7th, and 3rd positions and switch between these different positions to make a nice little sequence.
How about making a sequence that goes further up the neck? This fourth lick goes all the way up a full octave!
Try taking some other simple single-string patterns up the neck in this way. Just repeat the lick once starting on each scale tone and move the pattern up or down to create new sequences on the fly.
Moving things around isn't the only way we can create our own shred patterns - how about taking a little pattern and inverting it? This means that we swap the low and high notes around to form the inverse of the previous lick.
This is the inverse of the first building block lick in this article:
You may have heard guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen use that pattern. We can move it around in the same way we moved the first lick around, as shown in this 6th lick.
See how easy it is to create your own little patterns? Try moving that inversion lick up or down in different places to create some of your own patterns. We could even combine both the normal and inverted versions of a lick to create something unique, as is done in this 7th pattern. Notice how when we start the lick on the 5th fret the inverted one is played, then when we move down to the 3rd position the normal version is played. This is very pleasing to the ear, and the lick sounds like it flows better when we combine the inversion with the standard version.
Now try this 8th idea - it shows how you can take a similar idea all the way down the neck, switching between the two licks as you go.
For the 9th lick, I'm going to give you another building block. What I want you to do is go through the steps we went through with the other building block, and create your own licks from it.
Try adding in a stretch, taking it up and down the neck in different positions, playing the inverse, moving the inverse around, and also combining the building block with the inverse in different combinations.
That should give you loads of ideas! The 10th lick is another common building block:
And finally as the 11th lick I’ll give you yet another building block - that's 4 building blocks that you can use to create lots of your own ideas.
You could also try combining different building blocks to create even more patterns. The possibilities really are endless!
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