For this issue, I’m doing something a bit different to what I usually do. I recently finished recording my debut solo instrumental guitar album. Titled ‘Amelioration’, it should be out by the time this column is published. Owing to this, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take look at one of my own songs. I’ve chosen an excerpt from the title track of the album, specifically, the melody for the second verse of the song. I chose this section because it features a variety of techniques and melodic ideas that I’ve discussed over the years. It uses bending, vibrato, alternate picking, sweep picking, as well as odd time signatures, bluesy phrasing, and fast ‘shred’ style licks. Hopefully, by looking at a completed part of a song (rather than just a series of exercises), it may help you to get a better understanding of how to create your own melodic phrases and incorporate them into your compositions. Note that the song is performed in Eb standard tuning (tune every string down a half step).


This excerpt from ‘Amelioration’ starts off with some repeated bending licks to the E root note in the time signature of 6/4. The melody then moves to another series of bends to the fifth degree on the third string. Bar three features the common blues technique of using both the major and minor third, while bar four switches to 4/4 time and incorporates chromaticism. Still in 4/4 time, for bar five I play an ascending run using alternate picking in sixteenth note triplets. This fast scale lick uses E natural minor, and it functions as a quick fill to link to the next section and build the melody to climactic peak.

The second part of this verse follows a similar melodic and rhythmic contour to the first half, but it is played an octave higher. I begin in bar six by bending the 22nd fret up to the high E and using wide vibrato. The notes and rhythms used here are slightly different from the first bar, although ultimately they have the same effect. Bars seven to nine are essentially the same as bars two to four, but they are an octave higher and use different fingerings. The passage finishes with a series of sweep picked three string arpeggios using major triads (with an augmented fifth on top) that descend chromatically. Have a listen to the final recording on the cover CD. You might like to practice it at a slower tempo and break it into smaller sections before putting it all together.

Hear Exercise 1

The album ‘Amelioration’ was mixed and mastered by Darren ‘Jenk’ Jenkins and also features drumming from Luke Cook (Mortal Sin) and Dom Simpson (Darker Half). If you dig this short excerpt, it would be great if you could check out the full release!