Polyphoneek Lesson 5: Alternate Picking Pentatonic Lick

A nice quick alternate picked pentatonic lick this month with some blues and dorian notes thrown in for good measure. It could be played as either eighth or sixteenth notes […]

A nice quick alternate picked pentatonic lick this month with some blues and dorian notes thrown in for good measure. It could be played as either eighth or sixteenth notes depending on your picking speed, but I have tabbed it as eighth notes for simplicity. The lick basically descends four notes at a time then goes back to the second note of the pattern before descending another four notes and so on.

lesson 5 - alternate picking pentatonic lick - page 1

The lick is again based around pentatonic box 1 in E minor at the twelfth fret, but this time we come in on beat 4 of the first bar on the B and D notes at the twelfth and fifteenth frets of the B String. The lick can then be broken down in groups of four notes that descend down the scale after an initial rise from the E to the F# at the twelfth and fourteenth frets of the E string, and then back down to the E and then the D at the fifteenth fret of the B string to complete our first group of four.

Our next group of four goes back up to the E at the twelfth fret of the E string down to the D at the fifteenth fret of the B string, down to the B at the twelfth fret then down again to the B flat at the fifteenth fret of the G string. The third group of four goes back up to the D a the fifteenth fret of the B string, and again down to the B, B flat and then the G at the twelfth fret of the G string. We then continue the pattern by starting on the B at the twelfth fret of the B string, down through B flat, G and finally down to the E at the fourteenth fret of the D string.
The penultimate bar begins on the B flat at the fifteenth fret of the G string, again descending down to the G, E and finally D at the twelfth fret of the D string. The final group of four goes from the G at the twelfth fret of the G string down to the E, D and finally the B at the fourteenth fret of the A string before we go back up to the D and E at the twelfth and fourteenth frets of the D string, and adding vibrato.

This lick can be quite tricky to play fast, so practising it slow and building up the speed is a must. However it is a great way to break out of playing straight up and down the pentatonic scale.

Harry Houghton

About Harry Houghton

Writer and music tutor.