If you find yourself playing scales and licks in the same position all the time, using quick slides between frets is a great way to develop a more linear style of soloing – as opposed to just going up and down in ‘boxes’. For this column, I’d like to show you a few shred-style licks to demonstrate this idea.


This is a lick in the key of E minor that begins with a descending sequence of ‘fours’ on the first string. Using the E natural minor scale, the first three notes are played with fingers four, two and one (frets 19, 17, and 15 respectively). However, the last note of the pattern is achieved by sliding your first finger down a fret (15 to 14 in this case). This moves you into a new position on the fretboard, and the sequence then continues from the 17th fret. As you move down the string (using the most appropriate/comfortable fingering), the basic finger pattern will be: three notes/slide, three notes/slide, etc. Upon reaching the fifth position, the lick concludes by descending through the E harmonic minor scale, and this is executed once again via first finger slides (on the second and fourth strings). Personally, I prefer to play these types of licks using alternate picking (and have notated it as such). However, you could also play the same lick in a legato style using pull-offs/hammer-ons. You could even use a combination of the two.

Hear Exercise 1


To illustrate my previous point, this lick is similar to Exercise 1, only it’s in the key of A minor and played using hammer-ons and pull-offs. Starting once again with a descending ‘fours’ sequence using natural minor on the first string, the run then switches to harmonic minor and moves across the strings, finishing on the sixth string root note. As you can see, the fast first finger legato slides allow for easy and seamless movement between different positions, and so you can cover a wide range of the fretboard in the one lick.

Hear Exercise 2


This technique can also be used for ascending passages, as demonstrated here in C# minor. On the recordings – which you can hear by going to – I play this lick with alternate picking, and then with hammer-ons/pull-offs (so you can hear the difference). As such, I’ve left off the picking/legato notation. Practice all of these licks slow at first, making sure to keep the rhythm even and steady when performing the slides. You can then aim to gradually increase the speed.

Hear Exercise 3

Using quick slides to change positions is a technique that’s not just suitable for shred and heavy metal guitar soloing. For example, if you’re a rock or blues player, you could apply the same concept to a minor pentatonic or blues scale. It’s a great way to bust out of a rut.