One thing that has been evolving through the years recently is the application of wider intervals in lead guitar solos. This territory has been explored from fusion jazz artists like John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale, and John Scofield to studio rats like Carl Verheyen, to rock instrumentalists like Eric Johnson, John Petrucci and Steve Vai. All the examples here will work nicely over an Emin7 chord (E G B D). All these lines will be utilizing 4ths and 5ths methodically in different ways.

In the 1st example we have a very pianistic oriented way of soloing over Emin7 using quartal harmony (chords or arpeggios built on 4ths). Jazz pianists from McCoy Tyner to Chick Corea have used ideas much similar to this example in their virtuosic solos. On the electric guitar, I have heard fretboard wizard Frank Gambale utilize this concept on a good chunk of his fastest playing with his sweep picking style. The harmony in this line is modal and is climbing up systematically in E Dorian (E F# G A B C# D).


The 2nd example has 5ths used in a way that guitarists like Carl Verheyen or Eric Johnson would do in a solo except with a little jazz twist. This idea is using Bm pentatonic scale harmony (B D E F# A) and resolving to the 9th (F#) of an Emin9 Chord (E G B D F#).


The 3rd example is an idea that I used long ago as a warmup to get myself into playing Allan Holdsworth and Bill Connors stretch 4ths with string skips that are commonly found in their fluid legato lines. All the tones played in this lick give hints of an Emin11 (E G B D F# A) sound.


The 4th example is using quintal harmony (chords or arpeggios built on 5ths). Once again this idea resolves on the 9th (F#) giving it a jazz flavor. This idea was inspired by Steve Vai’s intervallic bag of tricks.


The 5th example is once again using 5ths, but this time the 5ths are mixed up all about the fingerboard. The result gives a lick that sounds very much like LA session man Carl Verheyen’s early intervallic fret work.


The final and 6th example is not for the faint of heart, this one requires some huge hands like those found on jazz fusion pioneer Allan Holdsworth. This lick has both 4ths and 5ths done in legato form, and believe it or not, can be done quite effortlessly by Allan without a hint of a grimace on his face. Trust me, I’ve seen it up close and personal! If you cannot stretch that far, it is perfectly fine to just tap the highest fret (14th fret) in the lick with your right hand.


Learn from Maurice Arenas at TrueFire

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