Your Attention Please!

Hi all and welcome to my latest trip to guitar-land. In this excursion we will focus on licks that grab attention of the listener, particularly if you play shred guitar or metal. I don't know if you have noticed but there seems to be more and more shredders out there (check out YouTube if you don't believe me), and with this glut of technical players it is getting harder and harder to stand out from the pack. Obviously one way to stand apart is to write great original and emotive music that allows you to play what the composition requires and keep the over the top shredding to the appropriate sections. But since this not and article on composition, I will focus on how to make said shredding licks interesting and attention grabbing. Read on for the first trio of finger twisters.

String Skipping Tapping Arpeggio Lick

One thing that I have noticed is that licks that have string skips in them tend to grab the listener. This one involves some arpeggios, eight finger tapping, and alternate picked arpeggios. The addition of the wider intervals of the tapped notes as well as the wide intervals of the descending arpeggio run really scream stop what you are doing and listen! This example is in E minor (what else did you expect!) This concept can be used to outline chords or simply used as a run. Feel free to change keys however you see fit. Check out the MP3 and then the tab to see this lick.

MP3 - Arpeggio Lick


Diminished Lick

Did I mention that wider intervals tend to grab the listeners attention? In this case we are dealing with two minor third intervals on each string moving up in tritones with some string skipping at the end of the lick. This particular lick happens to come from the title track of my last CD "From the Blindside". Ahh, you gotta love diminished licks for their wow factor!

MP3 - Diminished Lick



3 Note Per String Pentatonic Legato and Picking Lick

Another thing that is sure to grab attention is blending picking with legato. My favorite examples of this idea all come from the great Eddie Van Halen on his masterpieces Eruption, Ice Cream Man, and Spanish Fly. This particular lick is using 3 notes per string Pentatonic scales blending legato and alternate picking as well as, wait for it, wait for it, string skipping. Check it out!

MP3 - Legato and Picking Lick


Have fun kids and if you like these licks please check out my albums "What Lies Beyond Words", and "From The Blindside", or the new Mad Guitar Records compilation "Melodic Soloists" to hear more of these ideas in action. Be back next time with more Ear ticklers!

Scott Allen is a 1996 graduate of the Musician's Institute, G.I.T. He currently teaches guitar to 65 to 70 students weekly at Northridge Music Center.

His latest CD is entitled "III", featuring his impressively fluid playing, with a style marked by an incendiary sense of phrasing.

Scott Allen