Rock Licks (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Rock Licks

In this lesson, Matt Brown introduces a rock lick and shows how several famous players have modified it. Matt teaches versions of the lick from Jimmy Page, Kirk Hammett, Dave Navarro, and Ace Frehley.

Taught by Matt Brown in Rock Guitar with Matt Brown seriesLength: 19:30Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:34) Musical Introduction Matt Brown wails on some minor pentatonic licks to demonstrate the topic of this lesson. In the scenes that follow, you will learn how sequences can be applied to the pentatonic scale to create exciting new licks.
Chapter 2: (01:14) Lesson Introduction In the previous lessons in this series, Matt introduced some techniques that you can apply to your lead guitar work. These techniques include sweep picking, string rakes, octaves, chromatic escape licks, repeating licks, and bends. In current lesson, he introduces a new musical concept that is frequently used in melodic lines. Many melodies and solos are built from sequences within a particular scale. Most of the scale sequences that you will learn are derived from the minor pentatonic scale. If necessary, check out lesson 4 for a review. These sequences are taught in the keys of E minor and G minor. However, they can be applied to a wide variety of scales such as the minor blues, natural minor, major, and Dorian mode.

The sequences that are taught in this lesson are based on two licks played by Jimmy Page in the song "Good Times, Bad Times." First, Matt teaches these two basic licks. Then, he explains how other famous players such as Ace Frehley, Kirk Hammett, and Dave Navarro have modified them to suit their own purposes.
Chapter 3: (02:19) What Is a Sequence? According to the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, a sequence is "The repetition of a phrase or melody (melodic sequence) and or a harmonic progression (harmonic sequence) at different pitch levels, the succession of pitch levels rising or falling by the same or similar intervals.

All of the examples taught in this lesson are examples of melodic sequences. In simpler terms, a sequence is a melodic pattern that repeats itself within a scale.

Examples of Sequences

Watch closely as Matt performs two examples of sequences within the C major scale.

In the first sequence, Matt begins on the tonic note C, then ascends through the next three notes in the scale. Then, he returns to the second scale degree and proceeds to ascend through the next three notes in the pattern. This sequence can be repeated throughout the entire scale.

The next example features a similar sequence. This time around however, the sequence involves three notes instead of four. Start on the first note and ascend through the next two notes. Then begin the sequence on the second note. This sequence can also be repeated throughout the entire scale.

What do Sequences Accomplish?

Sequences serve many practical purposes. They are easy to play at rapid speeds since they consist of simple repeating patterns. Therefore, there is less to think about. Sequences are conducive to playing techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs. These techniques enable you to kick the tempo up a few extra notches.

Due to their repetitious nature, listeners can't help being drawn to them. This repetitious element can build tension at a climactic point in a solo. For this reason, sequences are typically used at the end of a solo. Check out the ending phrases from the following solos: Sad But True (Metallica), Ocean Size (Jane's Addiction), and Aeroplane (Red Hot Chili Peppers). All of these solos will be discussed in the current and next lesson.

However, sequences are often used at the beginning of a solo to grab the listener's attention. This is the case with Jimmy Page's second solo in "Good Times, Bad Times."
Chapter 4: (06:01) Jimmy Page Lick This lick occurs in Jimmy Pages first solo in "Good Times, Bad Times." A recording of this song can be found on Led Zepellin's debut album. The lick that Matt teaches is not an identical transcription of what Jimmy Page plays in this solo. However, it is very similar.

Key Features

This sequence is applied to the E minor pentatonic scale in 12th position. Jimmy Page begins the sequence on the fifth note of the scale. However, when applying this lick to your own solo, you can start on any note. For the purpose of this explanation, begin the sequence on the note B at the 14th fret of the fifth string. Then, the next note in the scale is played. Finally, the initial note is played again. The sequence then begins with the next note in the scale. The lick features a steady sixteenth note triplet rhythm. Often, sixteenth note triplets are referred to as "sextuplets."

Practicing the Lick

Note: Tablature and notation to all musical examples presented in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Do not be intimidated by the speed at which Matt plays this lick. It sounds exceptional in a wide variety of tempo ranges. Begin by practicing the lick with your metronome set to a slow tempo. Play in eighth note triplets rather than sixteenth note triplets. Gradually increase the tempo as you feel comfortable. Then, start back at a very slow tempo such as 60 beats per now. Attempt to play the lick in sixteenth note triplets. Once again, begin to increase the tempo as you master the lick at a given metronome setting.


Use alternate picking or economy picking where applicable to ensure that you are playing these sequences with the minimum level of effort. Also, add hammer-ons and pull-offs where possible to create a smooth legato sound. Practice these licks with the clean channel to make sure you are playing perfectly in time with maximum accuracy. When you can play the lick perfectly at tempo, throw on some distortion.

Applying the Lick

At 02:43 Matt demonstrates some pentatonic licks that can be added to the end of the sequence to demonstrate how it can be used in the context of the solo. Once again, these licks aren't identical to what Page plays in the recorded solo, but they are very similar.

Kirk Hammett Variation

Kirk Hammett took the basic idea of this sequence and applied it to a lick of his own. This variation on the Jimmy Page sequence is played at the conclusion of the solo to Metallica's "Sad But True." The "Sad But True" lick begins the same way as the Jimmy Page Lick. Towards the end, Kirk Hammett tags on some material derived from the E natural minor scale.

Second Jimmy Page Sequence

This sequence is the descending version of the Jimmy Page lick that Matt just explained. The end of this lick features a position shift. You can play this lick without shifting positions, but it doesn't sound quite as good. Also, it is easier to play the lick at rapid tempos when the position shift is applied. Use a slur slide when shifting positions. Do not pick the second note written under the curved slur line.
Chapter 5: () Ace Frehley Lick This lick is based on the first Jimmy Page sequence demonstrated in the previous scene. It appears in Ace Frehley's solo to the song "Love Gun." This lick is almost exactly the same as Page's original version. However, the sequence starts on the tonic note this time instead of the fifth scale degree. Also, many position shifts are applied to the lick. A brief E minor pentatonic lick played in quarter note triplets is tagged onto the end of the sequence. Watch carefully at 01:45 as Matt demonstrates where all of the position shifts occur within the sequence. This information is essential to memorizing the lick.
Chapter 6: (03:11) Dave Navarro Lick Dave Navarro is another popular guitarist that exploits pentatonic sequences to great effect. Listen to any Jane's Addiction album to hear some examples. Also, check out the Red Hot Chili Pepper's album One Hot Minute for more pentatonic sequences.

The final example in this lesson comes from the solo to "Aeroplane" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This particular lick demonstrates a variation on the second Jimmy Page sequence. Dave begins the sequence on the fifth of the G minor pentatonic scale. He continues to descend the sequence through the scale. Notice how a position shift occurs in the lick. Finally, he tags some extra material from the G minor pentatonic scale to the end of the lick. Watch carefully as Matt inserts this lick into the context of an improvised solo.

Preview of Next Lesson

Matt continues with the topic of sequences in the following lesson. He covers sequences from Dimebag Darrell and Joe Bonamassa. You will learn how every sequence can be transposed to a different key. Matt will also provide you with some tips on how to use these sequences in your own solos.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

kingpinned89kingpinned89 replied

Hey matt where is the first sequence in the song good times bad times .. ? The first sequence is part of the solo i guess..

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Yep...A lick very similar to the ascending sequence occurs about halfway through the solo. A lick similar to the descending sequence occurs in what you might call the second solo - where Jimmy Paige weaves licks in between Robert Plant's vocal phrases.

bestman1177bestman1177 replied

I've been trying to figure out that lick from good times bad times for forever. THANKS

mattbrownmattbrown replied's an awesome of my favorites for sure. Glad you found this helpful!

timvo123timvo123 replied

Very good lesson Matt, what string gauges do u use?

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hi! Back then I was playing with 10 gauge strings. These days I've been playing with 9's. I feel like I have a much more expressive sound when I play with 9's. Before, with aggressive techniques like bends, vibratos, string rakes, etc. I felt like the guitar was controlling me. Now, with 9's, I feel like I'm totally in control.

nrebinknrebink replied

Am really enjoying your lessons cheers m8ey :)

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hey! Thanks a lot! I'm glad that you're enjoying them. A new batch of rock lessons will be arriving in the next couple of months. I covered a good mix of rhythm and lead guitar ideas. Stay tuned!

gwilkin9gwilkin9 replied

Awesome, but NOT skill level II, cool to scare myself though...

andykroogerandykrooger replied

you should think about doing a lesson for the song mr brownstone by guns n roses

snowdadsnowdad replied

Awesome lesson Matt!

andykroogerandykrooger replied

that ace frehley licks from love gun

mattbrownmattbrown replied

You guys are totally right! Thanks! Love Gun it is.

Brad.HeneckeBrad.Henecke replied

Hey Matt I think the kiss Song is LOVE GUN !

flyrerflyrer replied

Great lesson Matt(one of my favorite instructors) Russ

Rock Guitar with Matt Brown

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Chuck Berry among others pioneered the style of rock and roll in the 1950's. Today, rock and roll remains the most popular genre of music. Over the years the genre has progressed & spawned many sub-genres: soft rock, classic rock, punk rock, and more. Dive into this Phase 2 set of lessons to become a master of rock.

Proper PracticingLesson 1

Proper Practicing

Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Introduction to LeadLesson 2

Introduction to Lead

Matt Brown discusses some of the fundamentals to playing lead.

Length: 15:41 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Figuring Out NotesLesson 3

Figuring Out Notes

Matt shows you the basics of figuring out any note on the guitar.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
ScalesLesson 4


Learn the basic minor, natural, and major scales. Quite a few techniques & ideas start with scales - they're an essential building block.

Length: 34:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Major ScalesLesson 5

Major Scales

In this lesson, Matt takes you through the major scales & helps you to understand how they can be used.

Length: 20:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Natural Minor ScalesLesson 6

Natural Minor Scales

Matt teaches the most common natural minor scale patterns.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
BendingLesson 7


Learn & master the most popular types of bends.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweep Picking & RakesLesson 8

Sweep Picking & Rakes

Learn sweep picking and string rakes.

Length: 18:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Solo TechniquesLesson 9

Solo Techniques

Learn various techniques to use when improvising / soloing.

Length: 12:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Tuning DownLesson 10

Tuning Down

Matt explains the most effective way to tune your guitar down.

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Barre ChordsLesson 11

Barre Chords

Learn how to establish finger independence and a few tips and tricks with barre chords.

Length: 37:18 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rock LicksLesson 12

Rock Licks

In this lesson, Matt Brown introduces a rock lick and shows how several famous players have modified it.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock SequencesLesson 13

Rock Sequences

In this lesson Matt teaches some crucial rock sequences. He also explains how these sequences can be integrated in to your playing.

Length: 34:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String SkippingLesson 14

String Skipping

Matt Brown focuses on string skipping technique. He provides several exercises designed to improve this aspect of your playing.

Length: 33:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
IntervalsLesson 15


Lesson 15 in Matt's rock series is all about intervals.

Length: 34:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock Lead GuitarLesson 16

Rock Lead Guitar

Matt Brown demonstrates lead guitar techniques using Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" as an example.

Length: 29:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Solo Using Diatonic ScalesLesson 17

Solo Using Diatonic Scales

Matt Brown explains which scales can be used when playing a solo over a diatonic progression in a major key. As an example, he teaches the solo section to Candlebox's song "Far Behind."

Length: 33:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Diatonic Natural Minor Lesson 18

Diatonic Natural Minor

This lesson covers the natural minor scale and diatonic natural minor progressions. Matt uses the solo section to "Stairway to Heaven" as an example.

Length: 24:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 19

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 19 Matt provides instruction on developing right hand skills including string skipping.

Length: 26:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Non-Diatonic ProgressionsLesson 20

Non-Diatonic Progressions

In lesson 20, Matt discusses chord progressions that don't follow a diatonic tonality.

Length: 29:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonic MinorLesson 21

Harmonic Minor

Matt begins to discuss and demonstrate the harmonic minor scale.

Length: 29:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Improvising Over Harmonic MinorLesson 22

Improvising Over Harmonic Minor

In lesson 22, Matt continues his discussion of the harmonic minor tonality.

Length: 14:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweet Child O' MineLesson 23

Sweet Child O' Mine

In lesson 23, Matt takes a look at the solo section for the song "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 19:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
TodayLesson 24


Matt will be taking a look at the solo section from the live version of the Smashing Pumpkins song "Today".

Length: 7:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Back In Black SoloLesson 25

Back In Black Solo

Matt Brown reviews and discusses the solo section to AC/DC's hit "Back In Black".

Length: 9:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
BrotherLesson 26


In lesson 26, Matt covers the solo section from the Alice in Chains song "Brother".

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt's Rock ManifestoLesson 27

Matt's Rock Manifesto

Matt Brown discusses lead guitarists, what makes a good solo, and tips for your own lead playing.

Length: 41:06 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Legato Playing ExercisesLesson 28

Legato Playing Exercises

Matt Brown teaches a number of exercises aimed at improving your legato playing technique.

Length: 37:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Right Hand ExercisesLesson 29

Right Hand Exercises

Matt Brown demonstrates a few exercises to build skill and speed in your right hand.

Length: 15:06 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
String Skipping EtudeLesson 30

String Skipping Etude

Matt Brown teaches Heitor Villa-Lobos' 1st Etude as a lesson in string skipping.

Length: 38:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Three Octave ScalesLesson 31

Three Octave Scales

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play three octave versions of the minor pentatonic and the major scales in all 12 keys.

Length: 16:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Diatonic IntervalsLesson 32

Diatonic Intervals

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play all seven of the diatonic intervals within the framework of a horizontal major scale.

Length: 23:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7th ArpeggiosLesson 33

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Matt Brown discuss diatonic arpeggios as a theory lesson as well as demonstrating the technique.

Length: 9:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7ths Across the NeckLesson 34

Diatonic 7ths Across the Neck

Matt Brown explains how to play the diatonic seventh chords of the major scale. Similar to lesson 32, this lesson takes a horizontal approach to the fretboard.

Length: 10:46 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Solo Ideas #1Lesson 35

Solo Ideas #1

Matt Brown teaches a progression and accompanying solo to demonstrate ideas for creating your own.

Length: 21:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Solo Ideas #2Lesson 36

Solo Ideas #2

Matt Brown takes a look at another chord progression and solo.

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Legato Playing IdeasLesson 37

Legato Playing Ideas

In lesson 37 of the Rock Series, Matt Brown demonstrates and talks about legato playing ideas.

Length: 21:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rhythm ConceptsLesson 38

Rhythm Concepts

Matt Brown switches gears in lesson 38 to start talking about rhythm concepts for rock playing.

Length: 27:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Compositional TechniquesLesson 39

Compositional Techniques

Matt Brown discusses some often used techniques to build effective rock compositions.

Length: 17:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Creative Chord VoicingsLesson 40

Creative Chord Voicings

Matt Brown shows off some ways to add some creativity and originality to your rock chord voicings.

Length: 11:59 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Lead ApproachLesson 41

Lead Approach

Matt Brown takes another look at his approach to soloing. He demonstrates ideas you can use in your own playing.

Length: 12:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #2Lesson 42

Lead Approach #2

Matt Brown adds practice to his lead approach by giving you another chord progression to solo over.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #3Lesson 43

Lead Approach #3

Matt Brown has another chord progression and solo exercise to go over in this lesson on lead approach.

Length: 10:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String Skipping RevisitedLesson 44

String Skipping Revisited

Matt Brown takes another look at string skipping. He breaks down some key areas of Matteo Carcassi's Allegro as an exercise.

Length: 16:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt Brown

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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