Lesson 22 – Neo-classical Descending Pedal Tone Lick

This month we will be covering a neo-classical pedal tone lick in the style of Yngwie Malmsteen. A pedal tone usually involves one static note while other notes change alternating between the two. In this case our pedal tone will be the high A note at the seventeenth fret of the high E string, which we will alternate with a descending A harmonic minor scale every eight note.

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We will use strict alternate picking starting on the offbeat just after beat four (four and) starting with an upstroke on the A, then the G at the fifteenth fret, then back to the A. We will continue alternating all the way down the A harmonic minor scale through F, E, D, C, B, A and then G# to give us our harmonic minor sound. We then re-ascend A, B, C, B, twice still keeping alternating between the A every eight note. We then repeat the entire lick but in the ninth bar we hold onto the A at the fourteenth fret of the G string for two beats, then jump up to the G at the fifteenth fret of the high E string and bend up to the A for 2 beats and add vibrato.

This method of playing is found in a lot of classical music and works well using open strings as well as fretted ones. Good notes to use as pedal tones are the root and the fifth (A and E in the key of A minor) and working your way up and down scales around the pedal tone will also give you a good visualisation of where all the intervals within the scale are in relation to each other. This is also a good workout for your alternate picking and string skipping, and starting slowly with a metronome is advisable as you may find you struggle to adjust your fingering when descending this type of pattern on one string. This technique also works well in quick bursts as opposed to extended melody lines such as this, and when it is combined with some sweep picking and some Paganini inspired runs you will be in full neo-classical shred mode!

Some recommended listening for this type of music is Paganini, Bach and Vivaldi, and then anything by Yngwie Malmsteen or Jason Becker will give you more than enough to be learning in this style!

Harry Houghton

About Harry Houghton

Writer and music tutor.