8 Octopus Licks: Fresh Guitar Scale Ideas With Wide Scales

Tab For Licks 1-4

Read Time 3 Minutes

Hi again! After my last lesson on the methods of writing an instrumental guitar song, now I’ll show you some interesting wide scale ideas. This lesson is called “8 Octopus Licks”, because the left hand’s movements will resemble an octopus. I’ve created 8 licks in the following video, and today we’ll discuss the first 4 licks.

The video with all the 8 licks:

These licks are based upon the idea that if we create wider scale boxes, then we’ll get more interesting intervals and sounds.

The backing track in the video is in the key of F sharp major. The first few licks are played between frets 9 and 14, so the width of the scales is 5 frets, or a perfect fourth. Make sure to warm up properly before practicing these scales, because it can be quite a stretch!

The scale pattern is really simple: on all 6 strings, the notes of fret 9 and fret 14 are within the key, so if you play these notes string by string (so playing 2 notes per string), you’ll get a pretty interesting sound, as opposed to the all-too-familiar minor pentatonic sound. It is especially interesting to have an ascending moment (due to the tuning of the B string) between the fret 9 of the B string, and fret 14 of the G string, even if you are descending towards the lower strings. Also, the many perfect prime intervals (between fret 9 of almost any string and fret 14 of the next string) are providing an unusual melody line.

And if we add a third note to each string, then we’ll get a beautiful melody. This extra note can be fret 12 on the E and B strings, and fret 13 on the G string, and so on. You can add embellishments as well, e.g. using slides, as you will see in the examples.

Lick 1 (at 0:15 on the video):

As you can see, the first 7 notes can be part of the “normal” minor pentatonic, except for the fact that I haven’t used my little finger (this finger is saved for playing fret 14). After the initial pentatonic feel, the bigger intervals sound fresh (pull-off between frets 14 and 9), and so does the perfect prime on the last beat of the bar. At the end of the lick I use a slide (11–>13) to create a more conventional ending.

Lick 2 (at 0:42 on the video):

In this lick, there are even more perfect fourth and perfect prime intervals. I have also used the minor second I’ve mentioned above, between the fret 9 of the B string, and fret 14 of the G string.

Lick 3 (at 1:09 on the video):

This is a “fireworks of 14-9”, because I have used frets 14 and 9 almost exclusively throughout this lick, except for the very last note, which was fret 12. So this lick is based almost entirely on perfect fourths and perfect primes (and of course a single minor second due to the tuning of the B string. So it is far away from the claustrophobic sound of a regular scale box – it gives a fresh and open sound.

Lick 4 (at 1:35 on the video):

In this lick I have used many slides besides of the above fresh intervals. I did four slides, and therefore more scale degrees have appeared. This results in more moods, because each scale degree has its own unmistakable mood. On the other hand, using slides we get a more fluid sound as well.

Finally, two remarks:

1) I’m glad to give you the backing track of this video. Just like the page http://facebook.com/jonastamas and then send me a message there.

2) In the case of all these licks, I’ve made sure that I won’t use regular patterns using 4 notes. For example, in lick 1, the seventh note of the lick (fret 9 on the E string) loosens up the pattern. If I hadn’t played this note, then the melody would be too mechanical: many 12-9 steps, and then a 14-9. In lick 2, the sixteenth rest’s purpose was also to loose up the pattern.

Next time we’ll take a look at licks No.5-8.

The TAB of licks No. 1-4:

Tab For Licks 1-4
Click to Enlarge

Jonas Tamas

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Jonas Tamas

With two critically acclaimed guitar albums, a seat on Steve Vai's Digital Nations label, and a unique style that includes rock, metal and progressive elements, Jonas's lessons are sure to be beneficial to any guitarist.

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