Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 10-26-2010

Posted by Michael Mueller on October 27, 2010 at 8:35 AM

It's one of the great clichés of the rock guitar solo: the adrenaline-fueled ascending crescendo. Typically, it's achieved with gobs of gain applied to a speedy three-notes-per-string sequence (as in Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again"), or perhaps a fiery pentatonic phrase (like Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer"). But leave it to one of the most inventive barn-burning shredders of the 21st century, John 5, to offer up a different take on it.

John 5 guitar tabs

This week's lick, which John showed to me in a lesson a few years ago, utilizes two common country guitar devices: forward rolls and open strings. Set in E major, it's an incredibly fast—and easy—way to climb three octaves in almost no time at all. Each beat is its own phrase, starting with an open string and hammering onto the subsequent note, following that with the next diatonic 3rd, and then ending on the next open string. You may notice that the open D and G strings do not belong to the key of E major, but those two strings represent the dominant 7th and minor 3rd, respectively, and their inclusion gives the lick just the right dose of bluesy tension heard in most great country licks and solos.

The video below shows the lick played fingerstyle. You can also play it with hybrid picking, using your pick for the lower two strings of each beat and snapping the final open string with your middle finger. Also, you may—and probably should—choose to end the lick with a fretted, staccato high E note on the 12th fret. One of my favorite options is to let my index finger, which is fretting the 12-fret B note in the fourth beat, to lightly touch the open E, to sound the natural harmonic. Take some time to explore your own variations.

For more, be sure to check out our online video lessons with John 5!

Lick of the Week John 5

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