This week we’re looking at a very short lick that can used in anything from blues-rock to thrash metal. This example is in E minor and uses the Em pentatonic scale. If you know your pentatonic scales, we’re using the first shape in 12th position- you should experiment with it in different keys to fit what you’re playing.
First, here’s the tab to the lick. At the start of the video, I suggest using three fingers to play the initial bend on the 14th fret. However, later on I comment that it might be easier (and faster) to use your second finger. You’ll have to find a fingering pattern that’s right for you.
You almost definitely want to be using your third finger for the bend on the 15th fret, though. Your pinky might be too weak, and there’s no other finger that can make the stretch (you need your second finger for the 14th fret, anyway!).
And here is the video lesson on how to play this lick:
How to Play the Lick
We start the lick with a full bend on the G string at tenth fret. A full bend is 2 frets, so we’re bending the 14th fret up to the pitch of the 16th. Make sure you have your target note in mind before starting the bend.
It might help to play the 16th fret on the G string before bending the 14th. This is an exercise that I like to use to work on string bending accuracy. If you play your target note first, you can get it into your head before playing the bend.
This also helps you to compare your bent note with your target.
You can use either your third finger- as I do at the start of the video- or your second. Third finger is easier if your hands are smaller or not so good at stretching. However, in real life it might be faster to use your second, because then you can use your third finger for the next part…
Hammer-ons on the B String
For the next part of the lick, you fret the B (12th fret; B string) with your first finger and pick it with the pick. Then you need to hammer-on with your third finger to the 15th fret on the same string.
Again, I’m suggesting you use your third finger because I find that easier to get the bend at the end of the lick. You may prefer to use your pinky to get this note for the stretch (or because you find the bend easy with this finger…).
After hammering on the D (15th fret; B string), pull off back to the B on the 12th fret. The whole sequence is: hammer-on, pull-off, hammer-on, pull-off. Although feel free to adjust this section to last however long you want (or need) in your solo.
Trills like this are a great way to add speed to a lick that would otherwise be pretty plain.
Ending with a Bend
The end of the lick features a bend from the D (15th fret; B string) up to the root note (E). This is a two fret (“full”) bend, and you can play it with either a hammer-on, or re-pick the note.
Just make sure you get the pitch of the bend accurately! This is important as you’re aiming for an E, which is the root note of our scale.