A Must-Learn, Rapid Fire Rock Lick

I started getting serious about playing guitar in the late 80s and early 90s, at the height of the shred era. And I definitely put long hours in getting my picking, tapping and sweeping etc. up to warp speed. My style and musical interests have long since moved elsewhere, but I still have a bit of a secret weakness for some technical widdling. In that spirit, here's a speedy scale-based sequence lick, that would be a great addition to anyone's rock soloing vocabulary.

  • The lick is based on a three-note-per-string mixolydian scale shape which I've written out below. Like with all difficult, technical phrases, the only way to play it fast is to start slowly, make sure your picking and fingering is super accurate, and then gradually pick up speed over a period of days and weeks. 
  • I don't go into this in the video, but good right and left-hand muting is crucial if you want the lick to stay clean, particularly when you start piling on the distortion. Use your left hand fingers to mute adjacent strings where possible, and use the heel of your picking hand to stop any other unwanted string noise. I think I'm using some light palm muting for most of this lick, particularly on the lower strings - it keeps things clean and also gives the notes a bit more definition.
  • The lick is based on a repeated sequence of 9 notes, which I've indicated with a bracket over the tab. Try not to pause or hesitate at the end of each 9 note grouping - maintain a steady 16th note rhythm so you get that interesting rhythmic displacement effect. 
  • Once you've mastered the lick as written, try adapting it to any of the other 3 note-per-string scale shapes. Not sure of your 3 note-per-string scale patterns? Find them here. 

Below, I've written out the lick, together with the related mixolydian scale fingering. Download a high-quality, printable PDF here, if you wish.