Tips & Techniques

Using Slides to Connect Pentatonic Scale Shapes

Lesson #430

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey there, friends! New video today, where I want to share w/ y’all the biggest breakthrough I had in the past few months when it comes to noodling with lead guitar. It has to do with “breaking out” of the conventional scale box shapes, which until recently had always felt quite un-musical to me. In this video, I’ll share the riff I learned that changed everything: it made me realize you can SLIDE between scale positions while playing licks, which makes things more fun to play – on top of sounding better.

I also made a backing track that’s available to y’all if you want to practice this. It loops through a casually paced chord progression over 4-5 minutes, giving you ample chance to put what I teach into action.

Video timestamps:

Backing track

Here’s the 4-minute practice track I created that you can use while practicing this riff! Here’s the chord progression used in each of the two sections. Note that these two sections repeat about 5-6 times, before fading out. You can download the backing track audio, as well as the Garage Band file I used to make it, on my Patreon post for this lesson (available to Song Notes members only).


Here’s the structure of what’s played:

Other notes about this practice track:

  1. I count-off two full measures before the instruments begin playing.
  2. The “combined riff” I teach in my video is played over Part 1 only. During Part 2, you can do whatever you want. e.g. improvise over the D-major pentatonic, strum chords, experiment with triads, etc. But when Part 1 comes around, be ready!
  3. During the first playthrough of Part 1, I play the combined riff within my backing track. This is to help you “hear” what you’re supposed to play, if you follow along as prescribed here.

The song that inspired this lesson

Check out Fourteen Gears by Midland! It has similar riffs to what I show in my video here. Throughout the song you can hear their lead guitarist pepper in different licks n’ fills – keep an ear open for that subtle “slide” sound within riffs, which indicates they’re using this same technique.

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