For the majority of Slash's rock playing he is using the minor pentatonic scales, which we all know and love! However, as we've seen in the first solo he does like to bring in other elements as well. We will take you through how he uses major pentatonics, full scales and blues scales alongside the usual pentatonics... and put it all into practice with 3 key Slash licks.
When Slash talks about the 'Rock scale', he is simply referring to the minor pentatonic shape. Slash is fluent across the neck using all 5 pentatonic shapes, so if you aren't then this is the first place you need to start. Everything he then does is layered and built from these, as we will see in the next few lessons. The 5 pentatonic scales in the key of G minor are shown below, but if you haven't get these mastered yet we would highly recommend tackling the , starting here.
The first common addition to the minor pentatonic is the blues note. This is where we add the flattened 5th note to the minor pentatonic. This note is considered an 'out' note as you don't really want to hang about on it! You tend to use it more as a quirky, bluesy sound which is quickly resolved to the pentatonic notes. We would highly recommend learning all 5 shapes for the Blues scale which isn't as hard as it sounds... All you need to do is take your 5 pentatonic shapes and add the extra note, like so:
Our example lick uses the E Blues scale shape 1, which is your classic rock position! The lick uses a lot of legato playing to create a very quick sounding rock lick. The scale shape is below:
Use the tab below to slow down the lick and get it played through perfectly before speeding it up. Remember to attribute this lick to the Shape 1!
Another common, 'go to', sound for Slah is the major pentatonic. The good news is that the major pentatonic has the exact same shapes as the minor, you just start in a different place. Working with the key of G major (As we did the G minor pentatonic before) you get the scale shapes shown below. A nice simply way to think of it is that all the shapes have moved back by three frets from the G minor pentatonics. This is a very typical 'trick' to use when playing over rock or blues tracks.
Our example lick uses the , as shown above. The only difference is that the shape 2 is played up the octave. This scale gives you a re far more melodic sound than the minor pentatonic and is therefore very often used for the first solo, followed by the more intense and aggressive second or third solos in Slash tracks!
Use the tab below to slow down the lick and get it played through perfectly before speeding it up. Remember to attribute this lick to shape 4 , 1 & 2 positions of the pentatonic!
The final scale we will be looking at is the full scale, more commonly known as the major or minor scale. The reason we call it the full scale is because we are building up from the pentatonic scale. The pentatonic has 5 notes, whilst the full scale has 7... hence it is a more 'full' scale! If you have never done this before and would like more info on the scale then we would recommend checking out the 'More Notes More Fun' Unit within the Lead Guitar Beginners course. That will give you a better understanding of these scales. For now, here are the 5 shapes in G minor:
The good news is that the rhythm is exactly the same as in the first half of the tab, so you simply apply that groove to these new chord shapes!
Our example lick uses the full scale shape 4 in the key of C major / A minor. The hammer ons and pull offs to the extra scale notes are a great way to use the scale as it can sound a bit basic when you just run up and down the scale. After all, no rock guitarist wants to sound like they are playing through "do re mi fa so la ti do"! Here is the shape:
Use the tab below to slow down the lick and get it played through perfectly before speeding it up. Remember to attribute this lick to shape 4 positions of the pentatonic & full scale!
We will now take you through how to use the licks within your own improvising, and bring them all together in one key! This method works with every single lick you learn based within a shape. This part of the learning process is actually more important than the mastering of the lick itself as it means you can absorb the lick into your own playing and use it in your own improvising.
We have provided all three backing tracks, plus a few extra ones so you have a chance to try the licks in a variety of keys and across different styles of music. Have fun!