Roy Ziv: Masterclass Q&A
Some guitarists exhibit a more unique style than others, guitarists such as Roy Ziv.
Hear him play, and you’ll never forget his signature style. See him play and you get the proof. Luckily, not only does his Masterclass series allow you to treat both your visual and auditory senses, but it also gives you some of the secrets to unlock Mr Ziv’s war chest of tricks.
We spoke to Roy himself, to give you the lowdown on this unique Masterclass.
Q: What is the hexatonic scale?
The hexatonic scale is just a fancy name for a 6 note scale. By definition, any scale made up of six notes per octave is a hexatonic scale, because hexa equals six. A few examples you may be familiar with are the whole tone scale and the blues scale.
But in this Masterclass, we’ll be working with the A minor hexatonic scale, which consists of the root, 2nd, minor 3rd, 4th, 5th, and minor 7th.
You can think of it as just a minor scale without the 6th note, or the way I visualize it, is just a pentatonic scale, with the added 2nd. If you’re familiar with any of the five pentatonic shapes, all you need to do is add that one extra note in each shape.
Adding that second interval, or as I like to call it - the 9th (which is just an octave plus the 2nd) will give your solos more of a jazzy fusion sound, but can also work in a blues setting for more unique licks. Eric Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan are a few of the players that use this extra note in their blues licks.
Q: Why do you think it is important to learn it?
It provides the player with a simple way to spice up their playing and achieve a fresh, unique, modern sound, in the simplest possible way. Just add one note to a scale every guitar player is already familiar with!
A lot of players want to break out of that overplayed pentatonic sound, but when they read up online or watch YouTube videos, they immediately get overwhelmed with all the scales out there and end up giving up too early. This scale takes a scale everyone already knows (the pentatonic), and by adding just one note, gives them endless possibilities for cool licks and phrases.
Q: You can certainly hear the hexatonic scale in your playing, is that something you stumbled on naturally or did it come from some kind of influence?
Growing up, I was always chasing that jazzy fusion sound but was either too overwhelmed with jazz theory or just couldn’t make these crazy scales sound musical. So I tried to fake that sound I kept hearing in my head and noticed that whenever I add the 9th tension, it gave my solos a jazzier flavour. I loved the way it sounded and tried to implement that extra note whenever I could. Eventually, it became a staple part of my playing, as my fingers got used to adding that note all over the fretboard.
As my playing matured I began using that note in more interesting ways by adding jazzy enclosure techniques, chromaticism, and arpeggios, and when I had a closer look at these licks and phrases, I realized that all I'm doing is playing over the pentatonic scale shapes, and sticking in that one extra note!
I started showing my students this idea and their solos and improv instantly improved. That's when I realized I was on to something here, and this could seriously help so many guitarists who are stuck playing the same exact thing over and over.
Q: Apart from learning the scale and all it offers, what else can this Masterclass give a player?
This Masterclass shows you how to take this scale and make it sound musical. Learning the scale is simple. But if you don’t know how to make it sound musical and just run the scale up and down the neck, you'll be missing out on all that it has to offer. That's why the exercises I've presented in this Masterclass are designed to fully maximize the musical potential of this scale, not to mention the 20 licks and final solo that reveal my personal approach of how I use this scale in a modern and fusion style of playing.
But aside from all of that, this Masterclass will give you the confidence to play with more advanced players, drastically improve your technique, take your playing to another level, and finally get you out of that up and down pentatonic box mentality and playing in a more linear and fluid style.
Q: How do you go about creating content like this?
It starts by deconstructing my favourite licks to fully understand what's happening under my fingers and building an exercise to develop a specific technique or flow of motion that will allow you to play those specific licks. It’s all about reverse engineering.
For these three Masterclasses (beginner, intermediate and advanced) I developed over 100 exercises that provide the player with immediate results, and help familiarize and adapt the scale concepts to their playing.
I then used these exercises with my private students and refined each one over and over until they were as beneficial as they could possibly be.
Then it was just a matter of putting it all together in the proper order, writing 3 solos in varying levels of difficulty, styles, and tempos, and writing out the theory booklet that thoroughly explains each concept.
It was a long process, but it was fun. The best part is getting all the emails and Instagram DM’s from players telling me how much this Masterclass helped change and improve their playing.
Q: Any plans for future JTC releases? The heptatonic scale? Octatonic?
Maybe a tetratonic scale! Haha. Just kidding, my next JTC release will most likely be on my phrasing. I get asked about my phrasing all the time, and I've been teaching these phrasing ideas to my students for quite some time. So once I have a good outline, I'll start recording and writing this next Masterclass.