Metal Guitar Licks: #5 Sequencing the Exotic

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This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!

Video Guitar Lesson:

Over the last several years we have been treated to a veritable feast of beastly six and seven stringers. Rock and Metal guitar hasn’t had it this good since the golden era of shred in the eighties. And among this group is a bunch of technically superior shredders that take chops to a level that is flat out ludicrous! Guys like Rusty Cooley, Jeff Loomis, Chris Broderick, and Oli Herbert have really brought technique to another level. These guys posses chops that a nearly super human. One of the tricks to developing such chops is the judicious use of scales sequences, an empty house and a metronome. One of the other secrets is the use of more exotic scales and wide intervallic stretching.

In this example we will start with the familiar diatonic scale, and then move on to the harmonic minor scale, and the symmetrical diminished scale (OK its not really a scale but a long diminished seventh arpeggio that we will think of as a scale). These will be applied with the help of the doubled sixteenth note triplet sequence, the standard sixteenth note triplet sequence, and the 32nd note sequence. The key to getting up to the crazy fast speeds is to start out very slowly, and then incrementally build the tempo up. There are no shortcuts so take your time and make sure you have complete command of the tempo before you increase the speed. Remember, garbage in garbage out, sloppy practicing leads to sloppy playing. Good luck!

This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!



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Metal Guitar Licks: #4 Bring In The Brooms

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This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!

Video Guitar Lesson:

I am keen on looking at the history of rock guitar as we learn new tools to add to our arsenal, and this week’s tool was popularized by a certain Swede with a penchant for scalloped fret boards and Bach. Yngwie brought sweep picking to the masses and it can be argued that no one has done it better since he arrived on North American shores in the early eighties. That being said this sweep arpeggio example owes more to the brilliance of two modern day monsters, Chris Broderick and Jeff Loomis. These two fire breathers have raised the bar for technical playing considerably over the last few years as their bands Nevermore and Megadeth (which by the way also featured Marty Friedman another guy who knows his way around an arpeggio) have risen in the public spotlight.. This is all thanks to the modern revival of metal that has taken place in the last few years.

This example is an A major triad arpeggio that uses hammer ons to shift positions and also includes some tapping. It is critical to play this slow and gradually build up speed. Make sure to watch your picking hand and be sure to let the pick fall from string to string as you ascend and drag across the strings on the way back down. As always mute everything that you are not playing with a combination of your left and right hands. Remember one of the most critical aspects of playing rock and metal is taming the wild beast that is a loud and heavily distorted amp. Think of it as trying to tame a bucking bronco of destruction! Or is it distortion, hmm?!

This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!



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Metal Guitar Licks: #3 Next Level Tapping

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This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!

Video Guitar Lesson:

This week we’re taking tapping to the next level! Now that we have seen what tapping sounded like with the pentatonic scale it is now time to up the ante and see how this technique works with the diatonic scale. Not only are we making the scale more sophisticated, we are also adding a ton of position shifts to the mix. We will be playing this example in E minor and playing a run that covers the entire neck in next to no time flat.

The three challenges with this lick are your comfort with the tapping technique, your ability to visualize the scales quickly, and your agility in shifting positions smoothly. The main issue with the tapping is making sure your tapped note is just as loud as the other hammered notes, and that your are smoothly plucking with your ring finger as you ascend through the scale. The challenges of the visualization and position shifting will be greatly helped by going slowly through the example and taking each shift one at a time.

While these techniques were mainly popularized by master shredders like Reb Beach, Steve Vai, and George Lynch when you get them up to speed they seem to have just in much in common with Allan Holdsworth, except we mortals don’t have to have fingers that can stretch for a mile. There is no better or smother way to do a long ascending run than to incorporate tapping in this manner. Work this into your repertoire and you will be glad that you did!

This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!



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Metal Guitar Licks: #2 Tapping Pentatonic

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This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!

Video Guitar Lesson:

In 1978 a skinny kid from Holland with a funny last name turned the guitar world on its ear. He rewrote the rule book for what a rock guitar player was supposed to be able to do with a guitar. He instantly changed not only how guitars are played, but how they are built, what kinds of amps they are played through, what kinds of pickups are used in them, and he helped popularize the Floyd Rose tremolo system which in turn freed guitarist’s creativity to conjure sounds that only existed in our imaginations. Eddie Van Halen’s contributions to rock guitar are almost too numerous to count but one of the most obvious things he brought to the forefront is two handed tapping. EVH didn’t invent the technique, but everybody and their brother sure did jump on the bandwagon once they saw what Eddie could do with it!

For this example we will look at the basics of tapping on one string as well as cross string tapping. I would recommend using your middle finger to tap, and be sure to use your ring finger to pluck the adjacent string as you ascend. As always when playing a loud distorted guitar it is very important to mute everything that you are not playing by using a combination of the left and right hand. Like any new lick this should be played very slowly until the visualization of the scale patterns are comfortable and the mechanics of tapping become more natural. This lick is a blazing example that would be at home over any hard rock track in the key of A minor (What else!!!!).

This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!



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Metal Licks: #1 Mixing Pentatonic & Diatonic Scales

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This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!

Video Guitar Lesson:

If you are like most self respecting rock guitar players you started out playing blues inspired solos. And why not, it seemed to work just fine for many of the greats like Clapton, Hendrix, Page, Blackmore, Iommi, Beck, Young, and Stevie Ray. But at a certain point the comfortable confines of our good ole pentatonic box begin to feel a little constricting. We see the magic that players like Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani can squeeze out of the blues box when they mix it with a slightly more sophisticated scale like the natural minor or Dorian. Just by adding a couple of notes you can open up a lot of doors that you didn’t even know where there in the first place!

For this example we will be using the venerable A minor pentatonic box and combine it with nearby notes from the A natural minor scale and the A Dorian scale. By combining some bends, hammer ons and pull offs and some diatonic sequences we take this lick to a place where it would be equally at home on an Allman Brothers record or an Ozzy record. This also functions as a stepping stone to using the diatonic scale for improvisation for those who maybe aren’t as comfortable with stepping out of the box. And on top of all that it doesn’t sound so darned traditional. Much like putting a GPS into a 67 Mustang it brings this classic into the modern age in style!

This Metal Licks free weekly guitar lesson series is by Scott Allen, who currently has an interactive TrueFire classroom called the “Metal Shop.” Tune in there for more from Scott, or subscribe to this series for more!