Up to this point, we've been diving into great rock tracks and working through all the skills, techniques and theories behind all of them. In this unit, we're going to take a break from learning full tracks and focus instead on building your technique, especially working on building speed and strength in the fingers. We'll use rotating licks and fun exercises to build this up. It's guitar gym at its best!
We'll kick off this unit with our first rotating lick. These are very common licks in rock, as you take a small passage of notes and build speed with them by repeating them over and over again! You'll hear it everywhere from early Clapton (Cream especially) to Slash to more modern rock players! Our first lick can be found in the Guitar Tabs section.
The lick is based in the E minor pentatonic box 1, and is simply this one bar looped over and over again! You'll notice that Claire picks the whole lick, but you can also use pull-offs on the B string if you prefer. That is your choice.
We'll up the difficulty with a winder stretch for our second rotating lick. This lick is potentially more fiddly than the last as well, so please do take it slow. Remember that the lick is designed to play at speed, so there are only a few notes. Once you get the loop in your fingers, it's easy to start getting into that flow! Check it out in the Guitar Tabs section.
The lick is based in the E minor pentatonic box 1 as well as box 2, which you can see in the Fretboard Diagrams. We would recommend trying to flatten your thumb on the back of the neck for this lick, as it takes a good amount of stretching. The thumb over the top feel will make this a bit harder (although the advice is always to do what feels best for you!).
Let's move away from the scale-based ideas and work on a pure exercise for getting your legato strength absolutely rock solid. This is not a particularly musical exercise, but it really does do the job!
Remember that we only pick the string once per 2 bars! So as we start the E string, we pick the string once. As we start the B string we pick the string once. The rest of the notes are generated using only your finger strength! Epic!
You can extend this exercise to all 6 strings if you'd like to!
Now, let's take the same idea as in the previous lesson, but apply it to a scale shape. There is no better scale shape to use in rock than the E minor shape in the open position! You'll be using this shape so many times that you need to be able to quickly navigate it!
Once again, we must only pick the string when we change the string. The rest is all generated using your legato skills! Experiment using different fingers to ensure you practice all the finger positions and get them all strong!
Our final task in this unit is to have a bit of improvisational fun. Claire will talk you through her process of getting these revolving licks and legato playing into her jamming and songwriting. This is an important step whenever you learn licks and riffs, as only by doing this can you start to mould the licks to work for you.
There we have it guys! 2 cool new licks and plenty of technical exercises to build your strength and speed. Keep this in your daily warm-ups and jamming sessions, as they will gradually build the muscle strength you need to tackle any rock solo and riff!
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