Lick of the Week 1: A Sweet Minor Third

This is a really useful minor third based lick, straight out of the pentatonic minor scale. Though come to think of it, we're using one note from the next box pattern as well. 

Here's the tab for the lick:

The minor third is created by those first two notes in the riff. The lower note is an E, and the second one is a G. 

If you're looking for ways to get some more mileage out of this riff, try sliding into both of those notes together, playing them as a double stop. Because that interval sounds so great, there's a lot that can be done with it rhythmically. 

Don't be shy, give it a try over a jam track! 

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  1. Hey Jonathan!
    Nice sounding riff!
    I can’t seem to get my fingers to play the appropriate up/down stroke when it’s required. Like when you’re supposed to slide from 7th fret down to fifth, I do a downstroke! I know this is pattern you have is alternative picking, but my fingers just do the exact opposite! I find this happens with more complicated licks or riffs and my fingers just won’t obey! Even so, I still can play it, even though I’m not doing the required strokes.
    Does it really matter?
    I appreciate your input and thanks for your videos!!!!

    1. Hi Michelle, thanks! At the end of the day, being able to play it is more important than technique, so you’re off to a good start 🙂

      That said, good technique can help you in other areas too, and alternate picking is very valuable, especially when you’re trying to improve your picking speed.

      I’d recommend building a little bit of simple picking practice into your playing time – even spending a few minutes regularly with a scale, and focusing on alternate picking, could yield dividends in the long run. Make sure you pick a scale that has more than two notes per string though, otherwise it won’t trigger the need for alternate picking! The diatonic patterns are really good for this.

  2. Thanks Jonathan

    Ok, so you are in the Key of Am & playing the Am scale from the 5th Fret.
    Question: the notes yuo chose sound great playing over an Am Chord.
    How did you choose them & How did you choose the sequence in which to play them

    1. Hi Brendan, that’s a good question.

      There are different ways of approaching solos – playing over each chord is one of them, but it’s also legitimate to simply play out of the pentatonic scale. The pentatonic scale is built up of ONLY notes that ALL sound good in the key, so you have no conflicts. This means you can literally do anything you want with those notes, and it will not sound bad. Are there more optimal choices, depending on where you’re at in the progression? Yeah, possibly. But the point is this kind of lick ought to work just about anywhere.

      In terms of the sequence, I simply picked something that sounded good to my ear. You don’t have to overthink this stuff too much. I hope that helps!

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