This month, we’ll be looking at some of my favorite classical rock licks – these patterns are widely used by players like Malmsteen, Stach, Vai, and Gilbert.

Hey fellow guitarists and welcome to another edition of Surf Rock. I hope you’ve been working hard on my previous lessons and improving your chops. This month, we’ll be looking at some of my favorite classical rock licks – these patterns are widely used by players like Malmsteen, Stach, Vai, and Gilbert. These exercises are very important in developing your picking skills and they sound great thrown into a solo. Classical music is built on diatonic scales and arpeggios, and players commonly add pedal tones to anchor the riffs.

The study of classical music can greatly expand your scale work and build your technique to virtuosic levels. Classical musicians must have flawless technique to play in an orchestra; they get one chance to get it right. They practice in a very disciplined manner by playing small-scale fragments and arpeggios. They also play the same patterns over and over, building speed through a period of hours. When they start to get sloppy, they stop and begin a new pattern at a slow speed and build it back up.

Even if you are not a classical music fan you should still get the benefits of this great music. So fire up your metronome and get your shred on. Remember to start slow and build a solid foundation.

Example 1)
Example 1
This example plays over the chords A minor, G major, F major, E major and finishes with a fast 16th note triplet scale pattern. It outlines the chords and keeps a constant pedal tone going. You should roll your fourth finger for the E and B string notes that share frets. Remember to use alternate picking.

Example 2)
Example 2
This utilizes a cool pedal tone lick in A minor that moves up the neck while keeping the pedal tone going and staying in the scale pattern. It’s a bit tricky at first – take your time, go slow and build speed gradually.

Example 3)
Example 3
In this pattern, we’ll use an F diminished pattern that moves up the neck from the 13th to the 20th fret. Diminished patterns are common in classical music – they move in minor thirds, meaning that every three frets the pattern starts over. They are often played over the V chord of the key center.

Example 4)
Example 4
No classical lesson would be complete without the harmonic minor scale. This can be played over E major to F major. Try recording E to F major and play the A harmonic minor scale over it.

Hopefully this gives you some new ideas to add to your bag of tricks. The more you know, the more you grow. For musicians, when it comes to theory and technique, knowledge truly is power. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions or comments. We’ll see you next month.

Gary Hoey
you can email Gary at:

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