The topic of my video tutorial on the cover CD is learning short repeated patterns to build speed, and then moving those licks through different scale fingerings. For this column I’m going to show you how you can take a few of those simple motifs and combine them in different positions to create the one long extended scale run. When you see guys like Yngwie Malmsteen and Michael Angelo Batio shred up and down the neck, this is invariably what they’re doing.


The scale I’ll be using for these licks is E natural minor. If you play a lot of metal, the natural minor is the foremost scale you should learn. I’ve included two common fingerings here, and there are more in the supporting tab for the video tutorial. Exercise 1a is a three note-per-string form at the 12th fret. Practice it ascending and descending and use your pinky for the wide stretches. Exercise 1b is E natural minor on one string. Just use one finger and memorize the pattern of tones (two frets) and semi-tones (one fret.)

Hear Exercise 1


The extended lick we’re going to construct will be based on just two simple melodic patterns. The first, Lick 1, is a simple ascending triplet (three notes per beat) using the fingering in exercise 1a. I’ve notated it on the first string, but you should try it on all six strings. You can also run this lick through fingering 1b – by playing it on each group of three notes using three fingers. Lick 2 is a six note phrase of two ascending triplets on two strings. Try it on each two-string group within the scale. You can also play both licks in descending fashion (high note to low note.) Use alternate picking (down/up) for these licks, as well as all the others.

Hear Exercise 2


Now we’re going to combine the scale fingerings and the two licks to construct a long extended lick - I’ve broken this into three sections. The first begins on the low E string and, using Lick 1 climbs up the neck sequentially on each group of three notes. Upon reaching the seventh fret with the first finger, it simply ascends through the E natural minor scale in that position.

Hear Exercise 3


Now on the third string, exercise 4 returns to using Lick 1 before quickly ascending through the scale across the strings. Lick 2 is then used to climb up the neck in two different positions of E natural minor.

Hear Exercise 4


The last section adds some variation by using Lick 2 in reverse and playing descending triplets. We finish with a bend at the 22nd fret up to the high E. The most important part of exercise 5 is the bend. It’s all well and good to play fast licks, but if you can’t bend in tune and you don’t have your vibrato down, the fast stuff really means nothing. I’ll talk more about this next issue.

Hear Exercise 5


For the sake of space I won’t include the tab here, but exercise 6 will just be joining 3-5 together to create our finished extended run. The end result is an E natural minor lick - based on two simple motifs - that covers four octaves. The key to getting the whole thing down will be to practice it slowly and evenly, gradually increasing in speed.

Hear Exercise 6

Use this example as a guide to coming up with some cooler and more interesting  extended licks – try different melodic patterns, scales, keys, fingerings, melodic contour’s (descending/ascending),  rhythms, etc. There are an infinite number of possibilities!