Post on 20-Jul-2016
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Steve Vai Style Lick
Here we've got a Steve Vai style lick based in E Minor but using notes from C Lydian and A Dorian. This is
one of Vai's more blistering licks that can utilize a number of techniques. For the first bar of the lick I like
to use a sweep/economy motion with my picking hand while my left hand is just doing hammer on's and
pull off's. You could do that or do the alternate picking approach which I have seen Steve do many times
as well. For th second bar of the lick I use a combination of legato and picking. You could do that or
alternate picking. And the third and final bar we end with a full bend on the 20th fret. If you want to add
more "Vai" mojo to that bend, just abuse your whammy bar while bending. But keep it in tune of course.
You can align your fingers one per fretindex finger first fret, middle finger second fret, that kind of
thingand do trills. I used to do that a lot, fluttering between index and middle, index and ring, index and
Then I'd maybe trilled using my index and middle, middle and ring, ring and pinky fingers [hear Fig. 3B].
You can spend all day coming up with all the alternative versions of this. And don't worry about notes, so
that you can turn off certain anxieties about: What key am I in? Just blindly from up with every finger
shape you can think of and vary the amount of stretching.
But I had to make sure that this didn't take up too much of a students time, so I would go through two-
and three-octave major scales. I would have them do the scales on one string, and then I would have
them play the scales without any set fingeringas high and as low as you can on the guitar. And the
easiest way to introduce the idea seemed to be doing a three-octave-plus scale, playing it four-notes-per-
string [hear Fig. 4].
characteristic Satriani run from Motorcycle Driver:
One of Satriani's trademarks is his complex and carefully built themes. See this one from Circles:
Satriani also makes use of fast and reccurent slides. From Summer Song:
And an example of slides in the context of a more extended solo, Borg Sex:
And a combination of tapping and free strings from Not Of This Earth:
And a look of how Satriani plays arpeggios. In Mind Storm:
An extended series of arpeggios from The Power Cosmic
Petrucci often uses fast chromatic runs like the 3-finger one from As I Am:
And a 4-finger run from Beyond This Life:
And again in Under a Glass Moon:
Another ornamentation used by Petrucci is the DiMeola-style palm-mute. From Status Speaker:
Tapping is a must for all "guitar virtuosos". Some small ones from The Root Of All Evil
And a more extended tapped run from A Fortune In Lies:
et's see now a few of Petrucci's sweeping arpeggios. We'll start with a simple triad from A Change Of Seasons:
And two sequences from After Life:
warm up with a run from Down To Mexico
Hammer-ons and Pull-offs from Pablo Wablo:
An interesting technique in Gilbert's work is strings skips. From Pablo Wablo:
Superheroes- Racer X
This is a really basic lick to get this going. Yet it demonstrates one of the greatest things string skipping has to offer: an
alternative to sweep picking. String skipping allows us another way to play arpeggios very quickly. This is shown in
the example below which is an arpeggiated full diminished 7th chord.
Scit Scat Wah- Racer X
This next lick takes string skipping a little further and moves it around the fretboard a little bit.
King of the Monsters- Racer X
This is the same kind of thing as the last lick but it adds a little flurry of notes to the pattern.
Scarified- Racer X
This linal lick is double the fun. In his one you make two skips
Example 1 (this is a repeating pattern to be cycled over and over):
Example 2 (also a repeating pattern to be cycled over and over):
Make sure that your accents are totally accurate and precise (as I play in the video and
as shown in the tab above). The most important thing is the picking/articulation used
here. It is NOT all legato, nor is every note picked. The key is combining the two
techniques in a seamless way that produces a very "snappy" sound of the accents when
they are emphasized with the pick in the midst of the legato notes rushing by.
To step things up, here is a new lick that builds from the previous 2 patterns. If you are familiar
with Paul Gilberts playing, you will probably recognize the sound of one of his classic licks.
Again, pay very close attention to the picking markings indicated, so that you know which notes to pick and which ones to play legato.
You need to keep your fretting hand very relaxed while you play it, and at the same time focus on making the pull offs loud and forceful (more about this below).
The next lick is one I came up with that combines picking and legato techniques using the basic ideas from the 3 examples above and some small position shifts
Long sequence (example 4)
Make sure that your accents are precise to achieve the right sound (watch the free guitar shred video on my site to hear it played correctly slowly and fast). Also, practice a longer lick like this one by breaking it into manageable sections before putting it together.
It may look very difficult, but if you practice it only a few notes at a time, you will get through it without too much trouble.
Arpeggio with string skipping.
This particular method of playing arpeggios was also made popular by the great Paul Gilbert. Rather than using sweep picking, he used string skipping to achieve a more precise and rhythmic effect.
The technique is quite challenging at first, so make sure to practice the regular scalar fragments shown above.
I will show you one of my favorite licks to play that will be used in one of my songs in my upcoming album. It shows some more musical applications to this cool technique.
This is a tapping lick from Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo from the song "Sea of Lies".