Polyphoneek Lesson 7: Open String Lick In G Minor

This month’s lesson is an open string lick using the G harmonic minor scale. The difference between the natural and harmonic minor scales is the seventh note of the scale; […]

This month’s lesson is an open string lick using the G harmonic minor scale. The difference between the natural and harmonic minor scales is the seventh note of the scale; in the natural minor it is a minor seventh, and in the harmonic minor it is a major seventh. In this case, it’s an F or an F#.

lesson 7 - open string lick in g minor

The lick itself is based around a sort of pedal tone lick utilising the open G string, outlining the chords in the G minor scale using dyads (A two note chord). We begin with a downstroke on the B flat on the third fret of the G string using our first finger, then pulling off to the open G note. We then play another G note at the fifth fret of the D string using our third finger before playing another open G note using an upstroke. These two notes at the root and minor third of G minor, we are only missing D (The fifth) so the implied chord is G minor. These are all sixteenth notes and we repeat this lick 8 times for the first two bars using some palm muting throughout.

We then begin to move up and down the fretboard using different chords but keeping the same pull off and picking pattern as well as the open G note. Bar three begins with the same G minor chord for beat one before moving up to a B flat chord with a downstroke on the D at the seventh fret and pulling off to the open G. We then continue with a downstroke on the B flat at the eighth fret of the D string, and a final upstroke again on the open G. Next, we move down to an A minor chord using the C and A notes at the fifth fret of the G string and the seventh fret of the D string, and then a C minor chord at the eighth fret of the G string and tenth fret of the D string still using the same pull off and picking patterns as used previously.

We repeat this bar three times and then use the same pull off and picking pattern for a D chord using the F# at the eleventh fret of the G string and twelfth fret of the D string. We finish the lick with a short descending sequence again in sixteenth notes down the G harmonic minor scale starting at the G fifteenth fret of the high E string, down to the F# at the fourteenth fret. We then change string and run down through the E flat, D and C at the sixteenth, fifteenth and thirteenth frets of the B string. We again go down a string to the G running down through the B flat, A and G at the fifteenth, fourteenth and twelfth frets. We then re-descend from the E flat at the sixteenth fret of the B string down the same notes, and this time we carry on down to the F# at the sixteenth fret of the D string, down to the D at the twelfth fret and finally finishing on the G at the twelfth fret and adding a healthy dose of vibrato.

Spending some time practising the pull off and picking pattern just using bars one and two will make learning the rest of this lick easier to learn, and as always start slow and add speed over time. The final descending sequence is a good alternate picking workout and again should be practised slowly first.

Harry Houghton

About Harry Houghton

Writer and music tutor.