Ex 1a, b, c: Here we have the three main shapes and their fingerings. All major scale / modal shapes have only three main fingerings. Exercise 3a shows the fingering 1, 3 and 4, exercise 3b shows the fingering 1, 2 and 4, and 3c shows the 1, 2 and 4 fingering applied to a wider shape of two consecutive tones. Try to memorise these general scale rules as they target the strongest combinations and are the standard for most of the highly proficient players. Remember the pick direction is accented on the beat and memorised by tapping the foot with it.
Ex 2: This exercise is in sextuplets and takes our three main fingerings and applies them to a repetition fragment which should be practiced continuously for 5 minutes, taking breaks where there is any build up of tension in which case shake out. Mute the string above the one being played with the fleshy tip of the fretting hand index finger. The remaining strings should be muted by the palm-edge of the picking hand. This position will also serve as an anchor of stability from which the wrist can freely move back and forth in an even arc over the string.
Ex 3: Now we have a lick made from the pattern that we have been working on. When repetition exercises are practiced, we improve our timing, tone, accuracy and stamina, but not necessarily our musicality and understanding of the context. Listening to players that use this technique is essential in order to learn how best to place the technique. Also the exercises can be shortened into smaller, more localised bursts which include an exit, or finishing phrase which is often a bend or vibrato. This example is a quick burn up the neck from the 5th degree of A Dorian up to a finishing half step bend from the 9th up to the b3. Check for signs of tension and try to remain relaxed moving from the wrist with no arm motion or signs of muscular movement on the top of the forearm near the elbow. Also check your jaw/facial muscles aren’t moving in sympathy to the exercise and your breathing is normal! –seriously, I see it all the time, watch out!!
Ex 4: This next exercise applies our “outside” the string picking pattern to 3 symmetrical scale shapes in A Dorian (ii in G major). These shapes are great to start off with as they use the three main scale fingerings. On the first beat, we use fingers 1, 3 and 4. On beat two, we use fingers 1, 2 and 4, and on beat three we use fingers 1, 2 and 4. The thumb should be in the upper area of the back of the neck which you may notice yields a slight forward angle on the fingers. The index finger mutes the string above the one being played, the picking hand palm mute takes care of unattended strings on the bass side. With the exception of the index which lays fairly flat on the pad, the remaining fingers should be arched at the pre-knuckle (first small joint below the nail).
Ex 5: This next exercise is using “Inside” the string technique, and you’ll see the motion of the pick, rather than moving around the string as in the “outside” version, remains between the two strings. Many top players have commented that this is a more difficult motion than its “outside” counterpart and as speed starts to develop, may need additional work. Both “inside” and “outside” the string are used in equal amounts in the majority of runs that modern rock players frequently use. At first you should strike the first note per string as an accent, to really feel the distance between the strings. As the speed develops you will need to refine the motion, picking lightly and with even velocity.
Ex 6: This lick is a Paul Gilbert style idea. This time after the same initial fragment, we have a shift on the high E string with the little finger followed by a shift on the B string with the index, which rapidly ascends the 2 string set. The lick finishes with a half step bend from the 9th to the b3 and places our destination within the boundary of Position 3 A minor Pentatonic.
Ex 7: Here we have another Paul Gilbert style run, this time over all 6 strings. Make sure the motion is from the wrist and there is no tension or muscular upwards movement in the area between the upper forearm and crook of the elbow. Aim to lightly mute the bass side, right back at the bridge where the strings pass over the saddles and open the notes as you move to the treble side. As you will want to keep the angle of the pick the same on each new string, be aware that although the individual pick strokes come from the wrist, the arm does move down slightly to maintain consistent pick angle and mute unwanted string noise. The fretting hand index finger mutes the string above the one being played with the fleshy tip. So between the two hands, the runs should be clean and defined.
Ex 8: This next example is a long run which moves from the low F#, across the entire fretboard, through all positions. In bar 1, we have a 12 note interlocking symmetrical shape made from position 6 and 7 A Dorian fragments. This initial 12 note phrase is then repeated an octave higher. In bar 2, the run develops on 2 strings, ascending with a series of shifts before descending with a 6 string run in A Dorian position 4. Then from bar 4, we have two 4 string runs up to the finishing half-step bend from the 9th up to the b3rd in position 1 A Minor (caged). This run is made from concepts used by players like Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci. As well as being a test in accuracy and stamina, long runs like this can then be spliced down into a whole vocabulary of shorter ideas with the addition of an “exit” note.
Ex 9: This next example is a quintuplet six string run down the A Dorian mode in position 4 (A-shape Caged). Try to keep the run at an even velocity of tone by swinging the pick wide over each string with contact right on the tip of the pick. Accent each string, noting the downstrokes on beats 1 and 3, and upstrokes on beats 2 and 4. The exit or finish note, uses “pull downwards” tone-wide rock vibrato. Use the wrist pivoting from the heavily angled index finger/ thumb over clamp and pull downwards using wrist rotation, the fingers themselves should remain rigid.
Ex 10: Here we have a descending septuplet run across all six strings, finishing with tone-wide “pull downwards” rock vibrato. Try to ensure that on the fretting hand, you are aware of the index finger muting the string above the one you are currently playing by stubbing the flesh of the tip of the finger into the string above. The index should also rest flat over any strings underneath the one being played in order to mute off any unwanted string noise.