Sweep/Tapping Lick Using The Hirajoshi Scale

Hey everyone, welcome to my first column at CFH! I'm gonna be showing you a pretty cool lick/sequence that I came up with that utilizes the Hirajoshi Japanese scale. If you aren't familiar with the Hirajoshi, it is a pentatonic scale that includes the 1, 2, b3, 5, and b6. The following is the scale shape we'll be using in the lick. We're in the key of E, although I tune my guitar down 1 whole step (DGCFAD low to high):

Guys like Marty Friedman and Jason Becker often used this scale. It's a great alternative to the Aeolian or Minor Pentatonic scale when you're looking for something a bit more fresh and exotic sounding.

Now on to the sequence:

slow normal

As you can see there's quite a few different things going on here, technique wise, so lets break this lick down. I'm starting at the 12th fret and hammering my 3rd finger onto the 14th, followed by a RH tap at the 15th fret (I use my middle finger so I can still hold the pick) before descending back down to the 12th fret using pull-offs. Next, I hammer my 2nd finger onto the C at the 13th fret of the B string (make sure to practice this kind of movement slowly so the transition from string to string is seamless), followed by a pull-off to my first finger at the 12th fret, then hammering back to the 13th followed by a RH tap at the 17th fret, and then pulling-off back to the 12th fret. The sequence then follows a similar movement in the following two octaves on the D and G strings, and E and A strings.

Next I start an ascending pattern (3rd beat, 2nd measure) on the 7th fret of the low E, hammering my 2nd finger to the 8th, and then hammering my 1st finger to the 7th fret of the A string. Then I hammer my 3rd finger to the 9th fret, my 4th finger to the 10th, and then a RH tap at the 14th fret. I descend and ascend back up this pattern, and then hammer my 2nd finger onto the 10th fret of the D before starting this ascending pattern again on the G string (once again, there is no picking whatsoever, so be sure to practice the string crosses slowly to ensure you get a smooth, seamless sound).

At the end of the 4th measure I start a 5-string E minor sweep picking shape, 2nd inversion. To ensure a smooth transition from tapping to sweeping, I actually perform the sweep “on the neck” of the guitar. That is, I'm sweeping the strings over the frets, as opposed to between the pickups where we would normally pick. For this reason, I find using the bridge pickup sounds best, since the strings sound too muddy to my ears when picked “on the neck” if I'm using the neck pickup. After ascending the 5-string shape, I perform a 3-string 2nd inversion E minor sweep shape, while tapping notes within the E Aeolian scale (once again sweeping “on the neck”) until I end with a tap at the 24th fret (add vibrato to the tapped note by holding the tap while shaking the string with your left, as you would normally).

You'll also notice that I wrote the lick out using straight 16th notes. I did this so that if you wish, you can apply any sort of note groupings you'd like to any part of the lick on your own, although it sounds ripping when played as written, and will put an extra challenge on making each note duration even, as the melodic rhythm does not fall evenly on the beat.

That's all for now. Be sure to check out the debut album from my progressive metal projectband “Matt Moliti's Dark Empire” out on April 25th 2006 (available through all major online retailers). You can stream two full songs at Also be sure to check out in March for a downloadable free web single. I am also available for private lessons in the Hampton Bays/Riverhead area of Long Island, NY. You can reach me with any questions at

See ya!