|Mick Priestley's Axe Attack 2|
|Written by Mick Priestley|
|Sunday, 24 June 2012 04:00|
Okay Uberrockers, it's time for some more super-gnarly guitar mayhem! I trust you've already tied your fingers in knots with last month's helping ... so let's continue!
We're gonna continue this month along the arpeggio-fest theme ... put it this way - if you're wanting to play anything that sounds fairly insane you're inevitably gonna have to get your fingers (and your brain!) around the arpeggios at some point. If you managed to get to grips with last month's lick, you shouldn't be too terrified at the arpeggio we're doing here though - we're gonna stick to a (relatively) sensible three-string pattern here, as opposed to five strings like last month. This entire lick is gonna be played entirely on your top three strings.
*NOTE* All the examples here are gonna be made up of notes from the A minor scale, that you absolutely, 100% need to get your brain around! Here it is again in case you missed it last month:
Now I'm assuming you're relatively familiar with what an arpeggio is ... but if you have no clue, fear ye not! It's very straight forward - to play an arpeggio is simply to play the notes of the chord one after the other - as opposed to all at the same time, if you were playing a chord. Make sense? Here's a three string arpeggio:
Now what you're gonna do here is hit the top note, pull off onto the second note, then 'sweep' the pick down through the notes until you hit the bottom one. After that, simply hit the B string (with an upstroke), 'sweep' up onto the E string in one smooth motion, and hammer on back to the top note. Easy-peasy! Let's make it a little more awkward:
This is deliberately a pain - and deliberately weird! To make these arpeggios fit into standard 4/4 timing, I tend to play them something like this. Basically you're gonna play these arpeggios just like the one we just did, but each arpeggio leads immediately onto the next one, and you're gonna need to hit the last note of the arpeggio you've just played again, as the first note of the next. Phew! Did that make any sense? Check out the tab, and make sure you can hear every note clearly. Any bozo can play arpeggios and have them sound like a giant din - get that metronome out and don't stop practicing until you can hear every note clearly and it sounds badass, Malmsteen-style! Set it nice and slow, and start with a clean sound. If you can get it to sound cool on a clean sound, it'll kick cheeks when you whack the drive up.
Now here's where it gets difficult. I like (as you should too) trying to make my own licks sound a bit different from the last guy. It's cool to have influences ... but it's pretty lame when you see a dude playing guitar and he sounds EXACTLY like *insert guitar hero here*. If you're gonna put all that practice in, learn from your favourite guitar heroes but then put your own twist on it! Personally, I'm a Malmsteen fan, and sweep arpeggios are definitely my cup of tea! But I don't wanna do it then have some guy go "wow that was cool - sounded like Malmsteen was on stage!" That would be supremely lame after you've spent all those hours getting your technique down. So here's what you do - take your lick and whack something weird in it. Like ... hmmm .... What should we have? A tap slide?! Damn right - here's what one is gonna look like, and they're awkward, so try a couple by themselves before we stick it in the lick.
Playing them like this, by themselves, isn't really gonna sound particularly fantastic. But give em a go anyway just so you know what you're doing here - tap the first note with your SECOND finger on your fretting hand (try to avoid the habit of tapping with your first finger - it'll just mean holding onto your pick is awkward, and nobody looks cool with it in their teeth!), then keep the pressure on it as you slide it to the second note, which should ring as clearly as the first. You wanna pay particular attention to make sure that you're tapping and sliding from and to the correct notes - obviously not too big a deal when we're just doing this example, but when we've cranked the speed up and there's a tap-slide in there, bum notes are gonna stand out a mile. Let's stick the two of them together:
That's probably gonna take a little bit of getting used to, but start slow and when you can hear every note clearly, and each is the same length and volume as the last (no dead notes allowed!), only THEN can you start to turn the speed up a little. It's always tempting to blitz a new lick out at warp speed, but there's no sense doing that unless you can hear every note clearly and it sounds killer! When you're playing fast, it'll either sound super-cool if you nail it, or absolutely hideous if it's just a sloppy blur of missed notes and string noise - make sure you avoid being that deluded guy who thinks he sounds like Steve Vai, but reeks!
The last part of this lick is all alternate picked, and follows a more traditional neo-classical metal sorta vibe. I'm pretty sure you're not really gonna need any more explanation on it - just check out the tab. Make sure that you're picking this part with an up-down-up-down picking motion though - pay attention to that! Falling into a habit of playing everything as a downstroke, for example, is just kinda amateur. Don't let people tell you that "metal guitarists downpick everything!" It's nonsense, and would sound crappy even if you could somehow downpick everything at this sorta speed!
And the final thing ... make sure that bend sounds cool at the end. It's all in your vibrato ... at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how good your run is if you ruin it with a stinker of a bend as you finish it! If your bends sound dodgy, makes sure you're bending it the right amount (a full-tone bend of 15th fret, for example, will result in EXACTLY the same pitch as the note at 17th fret. A half-tone bend will bend the note until it sounds like the one one-fret above) ... and work on your vibrato. Vibrato makes or breaks a cool guitar player - so get it whoopin' ass! Next month we're gonna look at some nightmare legato playing - so get practicing!
Download the tab here - http://www.mickpriestley.net/lessons/theory/licks-from-hell.html