Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 09-14-2010
Posted by Michael Mueller on September 14, 2010 at 5:23 PM
Because the minor pentatonic scale is so ubiquitous in all styles of music, one key to using it effectively is to construct interesting twists and turns that force you to leave the "stock lick" comfort zone. Few guitarists do that better than Jeff Beck, who crafted this week's spotlight lick.
Beck is one of if not the greatest music interpreters of all time. He most deservedly won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental for his version of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" in February 2010. But his affinity for covering the Beatles goes all the way back to his landmark 1975 rock-fusion release Blow By Blow, on which he famously let loose on the Fab Four's "She's a Woman." In bar 16 of the solo, we're treated to an ascending minor pentatonic phrase that is pure Beck—with bends in the most unexpected places.
If you look just at the pure mechanics of this lick, the first thing you'll notice is full-step bends on the 5th and 4th strings—a very unusual phrasing tool, particularly in the upper register of the neck. Because of the physical layout of the fretboard, you'll need to bend those two strings "down," that is, toward the floor, as opposed to the more common approach in which you bend strings up, toward the ceiling.
The lick also has an interesting rhythmic motif. You may want to try clapping out the rhythm before to get a good feel for it, before you incorporate bends and releases into it.
Finally, although the fingering lays out comfortably in box 1 of the minor pentatonic scale, the bent notes actually turn this into an A Dorian lick (A-B-C-D-E-F#-G). All good fun, really.