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Practice Journal: Gambale-Style Minor Pentatonic Run

Players like Frank Gambale, who base their playing largely on economy (sweep) picking, often reconfigure common left hand fingerings to accommodate right hand sweeping. This requires an odd number of notes per string when moving in one direction, and an even number of notes per string when reversing direction (here’s Frank explaining the technique).

In this exercise (link below), notice how two pentatonic “boxes” are used at a time to allow three notes per string to be played on every other string when ascending or descending.

G Minor Pentatonic Sweeps (one position across all strings)

The intent of the above exercise is to practice transitioning between every moveable position of minor pentatonic on the neck. For another exercise that has you moving as far as possible in one direction at a time, check this out:

F Minor Pentatonic Sweeps (shifting position on each string)

Remember, as with all technique drills, to look for opportunities to use the material in real musical situations. Long runs like this tend to sound good when broken into chunks. Spend too long playing up and down a scale, and your solos will become dry and meaningless. Use little segments of the run where appropriate — for example, as a pickup to the downbeat of a passage, or to connect two other ideas. But most importantly, use it somewhere. Otherwise it’s just calisthenics.

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