Getting Out Of The Box
Tutor Richard Barrett | Gear used Knaggs Choptank & Vox AC15 C1 Difficulty | 10 mins per example
IT WOULD BE MISLEADING
to deny how useful the five pentatonic shapes are when mentally mapping out the fretboard. However, as with any shape or scale, there is a risk of feeling ‘boxed’ into a safe zone, both in terms of melody and the physical patterns we come to habitually play. When we’ve played the same licks to the point of over-familiarity (even though they most likely still sound great to others), it can be a good idea to take back the initiative and break some habits.
There are various ways we can approach this: adding in chord tones, extra notes from the major or minor scales, or referencing the CAGED chord/arpeggios that lurk within the pentatonic boxes. The option I’m predominantly taking in this solo is replacing the pentatonic ‘box’ approach with lots of linear movement up and down the fretboard, facilitated by long and short slides. To be clear, the solo does actually not deviate much from the pentatonic at all in terms of
note content – it just uses more linear patterns along the strings.
This ‘horizontal’ approach leads you to think of phrasing and technique in a very different way. There are still some string bends, but with the legato feel coming from the slides, I felt less compelled to rely on bends as automatically as I would playing within the more constricted pentatonic ‘box’ shapes. Though I’ve made occasional use of the whammy bar, this isn’t essential. I’ve gone with a hybrid approach on the picking hand, using fingers more often than a pick, but the reason for this is more to do with stepping outside my own personal habits than any necessity – though it is certainly handy for playing the doublestop phrases clearly. Hope you enjoy and see you next time!