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The ‘Back-Track’ Scale
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The ‘Back-Track’ Scale

This is a fun and rewarding exercise that will help you get a lot more out of your pentatonic scales. By “back track” I essentially mean that the next-to- last note of each run then becomes the starting note for the following run, and on and on. In other words, a scale of 12 notes can literally become a smooth run consisting of approximately 24 or more notes. It also will help you develop a more sophisticated way of phrasing, and help you to create many more useful licks.

This is a technique that is equally at home with open-string positions as well as closed, and we will work on both during this lesson. I also emphasize that flatpicking or hybrid picking can be used successfully for this particular kind of run and, in fact, it’s a great way to begin to learn a very subtle use of hybrid picking.

Combined with some of the pull-offs I’ll also be illustrating, these will become licks and scales that really “speak,” and are great for all genres of guitar playing — blues, R&B, country, rockabilly or even Jazz!—Arlen Roth

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Arlen Roth
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Arlen Roth

Music lesson pioneer Arlen Roth is the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar. Read More...

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