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    You could call Steve Hackett’s new album, Wolflight, a rock record, but it’s so much more than that.

    Besides its healthy doses of rock, R&B and jazz, the album, which will be released April 7, reveals the Influence of 19th-century composers and features some unusual instrumentation, not to mention a healthy dose of Hackett’s inspired guitar work.

    “Love Story to a Vampire” uses tension to describe an unresolved domestic drama, while “The Wheel’s Turning” finds Hackett recalling nostalgic childhood memories.

    Musicians on Wolflight include Hackett’s longtime collaborators Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums) and Nick Beggs (bass), along with Yes bassist (and Squackett bandmate) Chris Squire on “Love Song to a Vampire” and drummer Hugo Dagenhardt on “Dust and Dreams.”

    I recently spoke with Hackett about Wolflight and Genesis, as well as his plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte.

    GUITAR WORLD: It’s been nearly four years since your last solo album, Beyond the Shrouded Horizon. Why such a long wait?

    For the past few years, I've been actively involved in bringing back to the viewing public the Genesis dream that was. It's taken up so much of my time that I had to put new stuff on hold for quite a while. The effect of that allowed me to concentrate my mind on what it was I’d like to do outside the confines of Genesis. I think that helped create a more broad based album than before.

    What can you tell me about Wolflight?

    Although the influence of world music is very strong, it’s essentially a rock album. Having said that, there are many guest appearances of things that go well beyond just the guitar, bass and drums. There's a fair amount of orchestra; instruments such as the tar [from Azerbaijan], in this case played by Malik Mansurov, who kicks off the title track.

    We've also got some duduk played by Rob Townsend, who normally plays sax with me as well as whistles and flutes. Along with Malik, we've twinned the tar with a digeridoo, which is played by Sara Kovacs. All of this is in addition to electric and acoustic guitars. I really wanted to mix things up and felt the genres that normally don't get mentioned would be rich seas to plunder. There are even moments where there are hints of flamenco and French chanson as well as rock, pop, blues and jazz.

    Why the title, "Wolflight"?

    It's really an idea from Homer. In The Odyssey, he talks about Odysseus waking up in the Wolflight, the hour before the dawn when it's still dark but the light is just starting to change. It's a time when wolves like to hunt. I had spent some time with wolves and their friendship and kinship with earlier man became a totem for this album.

    I'd like to ask you a little about your writing process. What inspires you?

    A lot of this album was done on paper, much of it written in the early morning hours. It’s a time when I've still got one foot in the land of dreams. I find that to be a very creative time. That's part of the process. I'm also a fan of other genres of music. So that means I'll be listening to things like Tchaikovsky and Grieg. You can hear those influences on this album as well.

    Let’s discuss a few selections from Wolflight, starting with “Love Story to a Vampire."

    I had the idea for the lyric but no music. It was originally going to be a blues song, but I knew I had to think of it in another way. At the time, I was listening to a lot of music. Everything from the Bellamy Brothers to Grieg to the Carpenters. At the end of the day, it's a song that tells a story, almost like a ballet with ghostly voices fading in the distance at the end. I was also thinking of vampires as being a great metaphor for abusive relationships.

    “The Wheel’s Turning”

    I'm proud of that one. The whole thing was a hugely nostalgic trip down memory lane. I thought about the time when I worked at Fun Fair in a place called Battersea in London. I used to live opposite the Battersea Power Station, which was made famous internationally by Pink Floyd with the flying pig on the front of their album, Animals. That was the view from my bedroom window when I was a child. I wanted to get across the idea of how great it was. How frightening it was to go to the Fun Fair and then how great it became when I eventually got to work there as a kid.

    What are you current tour plans?

    We've got some European shows coming in September as well as some American dates in November. In addition to Wolflilght, we're going to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of my first solo record, Voyage of the Acolyte. We’ve also had a lot of people asking about adding some Genesis songs into the sets as well. It will be a mixture of everything and billed as the total experience!

    Speaking of “Voyage of the Acolyte, what made you decide to separate from Genesis and make a solo album?

    When I first did Acolyte, the band's future was looking extremely iffy. You have to remember Peter Gabriel was leaving and no one really knew if the band was going to survive the loss of its lead singer. A number of us had already been working on our own projects at the time. For me, it was the beginning of starting to fend for myself. Of course, I did have the help of Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford on that album. But I enjoyed the process very much and liked working without relying on the "composition by committee" aspect. I found it much easier to get my ideas through without having to do any political tap dance.

    Do you think that experience played a role in your desire to eventually leave the band a few years later?

    Oh yes. At the time, I felt like my role in the band was becoming marginalized and if I really wanted to maintain my self-respect, the only way forward was to stretch out on my own.

    Form more about Hackett, visit hackettsongs.com.

    Photo: Tina Korhonen

    James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.


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    People often ask me to define the biggest mistake I see songwriters making as they chase that first cut.

    If I had to pick one BIG one, I would say that it is using out-dated language.

    Anyone who is over 30 years old has to continually be aware of the "slang" that they are using in their song. Using the wrong words can INSTANTLY get your song thrown out and get you labeled as an out-dated and out of touch writer.

    We have to remember that audiences at concerts are very young. Lots of teenagers. So, artists want songs that appeal to that young crowd. The artist's longevity depends on being able to stay relevant and "cool.”

    An artist who is in their 40s is extremely concerned about staying cool. I googled "outdated slang" and found a wealth of information regarding words that are no longer "in.”

    As you write, be aware that your slang may date you in a way you don't want. If you are unsure whether a word is still cool, google it and check it out. Or check with a teenager you know. I run things by my kids if I'm unsure.

    Slang words can also be so specific to one location that other people won't get them. Some of my Canadian friends have used words that they use regularly, but I have never heard.
    When I critique songs, I often hear songs that are well written but feel so out of date that I know no artist would touch it. Don't ruin a great song by giving away your age.

    Recently, I wrote with two 20 something writers. I kept throwing out lines that they said were "Not cool enough". I finally asked them to tell me what a cool line would be. They threw out something that made no sense at all.

    We made a deal. I told them that they could work at making my lines cooler all day if I could work at making theirs make sense. We struck a deal and we wrote some great songs. Drop the pride. Get help if you need to up the "cool" factor in your songs.

    There's nothing wrong with admitting that you might be a little behind the times. There is a LOT wrong with being content to stay there as a writer if you hope to achieve commercial success.

    Stay cool and write on.

    Marty Dodson
    Songwriter/Producer/Seeker of Coolness

    Marty Dodson blogs daily on Facebook at www.facebook/songtownusa and on www.songtown.com. You can check out his music at www.martydodson.com. Marty plays Taylor Guitars and Batson Guitars.


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    How do you reason with two guys who once went to court over the artistic ownership of a big rubber pig?

    That was Bob Ezrin’s mission when he agreed to co-produce Pink Floyd’s The Wall with guitarist David Gilmour and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters. The legendary tensions between the two feuding Floyds came to a head during sessions for The Wall in 1979 — which was why Ezrin was called in.

    “My job was to mediate between two dominant personalities,” recalls Ezrin. However, the producer turned out to be no mere referee, but contributed plenty ideas of his own.

    “I fought for the introduction of the orchestra on that record,” says Ezrin. “This became a big issue on ‘Comfortably Numb,’ which Dave saw as a more bare-bones track. Roger sided with me. So the song became a true collaboration—it’s David’s music, Roger’s lyric and my orchestral chart.”

    Gilmour’s classic guitar solo was cut using a combination of the guitarist’s Hiwatt amps and Yamaha rotating speaker cabinets, Ezrin recalls. But with Gilmour, he adds, equipment is secondary to touch; “You can give him a ukulele and he’ll make it sound like a Stradivarius.”

    Which doesn’t mean Gilmour didn’t fiddle around in the studio when he laid down the song’s unforgettable lead guitar part.

    “I banged out five or six solos,” Gilmour says. “From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen back to each solo and make a chart, noting which bits are good. Then, by following the chart, I create one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’”

    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" BY DAVID GILMOUR, LIVE IN GDANSK




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" GUITAR SOLO BY TINA S.




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" GUITAR SOLO BY EMILY HASTINGS




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" ACOUSTIC ARRANGEMENT BY THOMAS LEEB




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" GUITAR SOLOS BY RICHIE FAULKNER (pre-Judas Priest)




    PINK FLOYD: 1979 STUDIO VERSION


    Next: 3) "Free Bird"

    Additional Content

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    Followers of Joe Bonamassa's Facebook page know the gear-loving guitarist likes to shoot quick, spur-of-the-moment videos backstage at his shows.

    These videos usually show him playing rare, oddball or just plain insane stringed instruments. As evidenced below!

    In one of his latest (although not the latest) backstage videos, Bonamassa is playing a 1919 Gibson Style U harp guitar.

    "Some backstage fun with a 1919 Gibson Style U harp guitar," Bonamassa wrote on his harp-guitar Facebook post from March 3. "Please keep in mind it was recorded on an iPad and not in Abbey Road Studios. Enjoy!"

    Harp guitars like this one (we're not sure if it belongs to Bonamassa, who has a lot of rare guitars—and a lot of rare-guitar-owning buddies, it seems) are early relatives modern doubleneck guitars, offering two stringed instruments in one, even though it's played as a single instrument. The top neck sports 10 sub-bass strings (earlier versions had 12 sub-bass strings).

    For more information on these guitars, visit americanhistory.si.edu and harpguitars.net (You might as well try here too.)

    Additional Content

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    Take the ultimate jazz master class with Guitar World columnist Vic Juris and the Vic Juris: All That Jazz DVD. These video lessons teach you everything from Coltrane changes to unusual uses for the minor pentatonic scale, and they including standard notation and tab.

    With more than 90 minutes of lessons, All That Jazz is guaranteed to improve your jazz-playing skills. Buy this DVD now at the Guitar World Online Store for $14.95!

    The DVD includes:

    • Chapter 1: Best of Both Worlds: Improvising with the Lydian-dominant scale
    • Chapter 2: Alternative Routes: Implying a tritone substitution over a ii-V-I progression
    • Chapter 3: Any Color You Like: Creating modal chord scales from interval stacks
    • Chapter 4: Inner Stirrings: Creating movement within a chord voicing
    • Chapter 5: Smooth Moves: Step-wise voice leading in a cyclical chord progression
    • Chapter 6: Made for Guitar: Cool and unusual applications of the pentatonic scale
    • Chapter 7: Blues Detours, Part 1: "Extreme" chord substitutions for the first four bars of the blues progression
    • Chapter 8: Blues Detours, Part 2: "Extreme" chord substitutions for bars 9-12 of the blues progression
    • Chapter 9: Blues Detours, Park 3: Applying "extreme" chord substitutions to the first and last four bars of the blues progression
    • Chapter 10: Blues Matrix: Applying "constant-structure" chord qualities across the 12-bar blues form
    • Chapter 11: Out of Dorian: Shifting fourths in and out of the Dorian mode
    • Chapter 12: Take Your Pick: Comparing and combining alternate picking, sweeping and slurring
    • Chapter 13: Onward & Upward: Transposing melodic sequences through the cycle of fourths
    • Chapter 14: New Pathways: Sequencing arpeggios with double-stops and Coltrane changes.

    The DVD is available now at the Guitar World Online Store.


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    John Butler Trio reminds you to "spring forward" this weekend as Daylight Saving Time begins.

    Their single “Spring to Come” is the perfect song to help usher in Spring, commencing March 20 (and much needed relief for most of our country).

    John Butler Trio won the ARIA—Australia's Grammy—for Best Roots & Blues Album of the Year for Flesh & Blood. Their album was named one of the Top 10 releases of the year by Acoustic Nation. JBT kick off their tour in Australia this weekend and will return to the U.S. later this year.

    "Spring To Come" shares the message that hope is ahead and pulls us forward: "out of the darkness, only light can come." Conan O'Brien's Team Coco premiered John Butler Trio's beautiful music video with over 1 million impressions. That's in addition to the 156,000+ YouTube views for the music video.

    Click to watch!

    This past year, JBT played the Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Voodoo, and Wakarusa festivals. The band also headlined their own shows that sold out Red Rocks and Central Park in the US, venues as large as 4,500-seaters in Europe, and even larger ones in their home country of Australia.

    Find out more at johnbutlertrio.com


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    Some days I feel like a multinational corporation in cargo pants.

    In the past decade, I’ve set up shop four times: twice in the U.S. and twice in England.

    As far as running my business is concerned, this was fairly easy; I’m a writer, so my camera and laptop are about my only physical corporate assets. But as part of the process of relocating back and forth between countries, I’ve had to re-prioritize the things I could move with me, liquidate as needed and generally downsize my holdings—all very conglomerate-like.

    This means I’ve been through three waves of reallocating my GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome); and aside from a music store that folded with my guitars as well as my guitar money in their possession (a story for another day), it's been a positive experience.

    Until I had to move to England, it was easy to justify having lots of guitar stuff as (A) I bought it years ago, (B) I didn’t spend that much buying it in the first place (my entire outlay was probably equivalent to a single nice vacation) and (C) storage wasn’t a problem, as I was a homeowner with a garage that managed to contain everything except the car it was intended for.

    Life was good, at least in my own, guitar-centric and highly acquisitive way.

    But then 10 years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to live abroad for a year. That meant significant lifestyle changes.

    In short order we rented out our house and I sold off some guitars and two decades' worth of guitar magazines. The only things we brought with us for the year were four suitcases and a cat. When I arrived in London I bought a cheap acoustic and an even cheaper electric, along with a tiny solid-state amp, all found on the local version of Craigslist. When it was time to go back to the U.S., I simply put them on consignment at a guitar store and left.

    Shrunk to a single sentence, what I learned was that it's more important to play guitars than own them.

    Of course, it was easy to say that, as being down to two guitars was just a temporary situation. I figured anyone can live without 17 spare guitars for a year. If Leadbelly could spend more than a decade serving time in Southern chain gangs with just a 12-string Stella, I could manage 12 months in a three-bedroom flat in Maida Vale with two guitars and a Fender Frontman amp.

    But what about downsizing for the long-term?

    This brings me to the most recent time I went through this exercise, in 2012, when we moved from the U.S. back again to England. This round, we didn't know if it was going to be permanent, but we were going to be there for several years at least.

    After junking, donating, selling or storing most of our things, the day came when the international moving company picked up our few remaining household essentials that would make their way by boat to England. On the guitar end of things, “essential” included several guitars and two pedals. No amps. I haven’t seen most of my gear since I locked the door at the storage company three years ago. It’s possible I may never see any of it again.

    When I had to narrow things down to what I would take with me, what I truly enjoy playing the most, it made for a few unexpected choices. Of course, I took some old Fenders with me. But I left behind a '66 Tele in favor of a Squier '51—worth the merest fraction of the Tele—simply because ultimately I had more fun with the Squier.

    I haven't bought anything guitar-related since, other than strings and a micro-tuner. I still don't use an amp. I just plug into an old copy of POD Farm on my laptop and run a line out to the standalone TV speakers. It works fine.

    What I've found is that it's more important for me to have a few pieces I really love than a lot of pieces most of which I merely like. So what’s the takeaway on all this? Yeah, I’d still rather have all that gear at hand. But good things have come out of downsizing as well:
    More playing time. The hours I now spend with guitars are mainly about playing, not shopping for. Even with the gazillion simulated choices in POD Farm I don't expend nearly as much time deciding which pedal, guitar and amp combination to use. I just grab the guitar, plug in and play.

    More space. Fewer possessions equal less clutter and a happier spouse.

    More focus. I concentrate on the things I have, not those I don’t.

    More practicality. I hesitate mentioning this in a guitar magazine—but it’s been good to give my GAS (and wallet) a rest. It was easy to just keep buying gear for buying’s sake. But downsizing let me take a breather from all that and rethink what gear I really want. It doesn’t mean I won’t want to get any more. But it helps me understand which gear will do the job 99 percent of the time, rather than spending half my time chasing down that final 1 percent.

    More quality gear. I know acquiring gear sounds the opposite of what I just said in the previous paragraph, but it’s not. It actually follows from it. If you have lots of stuff you like but hardly use, why not sell it and buy one quality piece you love and will use a lot? (Hopefully the advertisers at Guitar World have read this far and are welcoming me back right now.) I once converted three modern Strats that didn’t suit me into one glorious ’63 Strat that did and have never regretted it.

    And so it turns out that as with any corporation, my own downsizing has given me a chance to reflect on and revise my goals. I’ve let go of less-productive instruments and retained only those that work best.

    Not surprisingly, in the end I’ve found that the right guitars make the best company.

    William Baeck is a writer, photographer and hack guitarist living in London. You can check out his webpage at williambaeck.com and reach him on Facebook and Twitter.


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    Below, we present a quick clip of John 5 shredding on this weekend's upcoming edition of That Metal Show.

    The new episode, which also features Philm drummer (and “the godfather of double bass drumming”) Dave Lombardo, will air 9 p.m. ET/PT Saturday, March 7 (and again at 11 p.m. ET/PT) on VH1 Classic.

    Lombardo, the ex-Slayer drum maestro, discusses his influences, how he never warms up before gigs and how he feels better than ever now at 50. The hosts ask him about his departure from Slayer and if he’d ever consider a reunion, to which Dave replies, “Let’s just say if you see me on stage with Slayer again, all of the issues have been resolved.”

    John 5 does double duty as an interviewed guest and the guest musician. He discusses his trio, John 5 & The Creatures, recording with Rob Zombie and his long friendship with David Lee Roth (and the album they've recorded together that has yet to be released).

    Motörhead checks in from the studio via the “Metal Modem." Lemmy, Phil Campbell and MIkkey Dee update fans on their new album and tease an upcoming U.S. tour.

    Fans can watch previous episodes and bonus clips at ThatMetalShow.VH1.com and on the new VH1 app. For more information about That Metal Show, visit vh1.com and follow That Metal Show on Facebook.

    Additional Content

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    Sock-puppet band Socknot have released the video for their song “Wait in Bleach,” which hilariously parodies Slipknot’s “Wait and Bleed.”

    Check out their video, made by SockPuppetParody, below and let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook.

    If you just can't get enough sock puppets, check out this sock-puppet parody of Metallica's "Master of Puppets." Of course, it's called "Master of Sock Puppets." Enjoy!

    Additional Content

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    How do you reason with two guys who once went to court over the artistic ownership of a big rubber pig?

    That was Bob Ezrin’s mission when he agreed to co-produce Pink Floyd’s The Wall with guitarist David Gilmour and bassist/vocalist Roger Waters. The legendary tensions between the two feuding Floyds came to a head during sessions for The Wall in 1979—which was why Ezrin was called in.

    “My job was to mediate between two dominant personalities,” recalls Ezrin. However, the producer turned out to be no mere referee, but contributed plenty ideas of his own.

    “I fought for the introduction of the orchestra on that record,” says Ezrin. “This became a big issue on ‘Comfortably Numb,’ which Dave saw as a more bare-bones track. Roger sided with me. So the song became a true collaboration—it’s David’s music, Roger’s lyric and my orchestral chart.”

    Gilmour’s classic guitar solo was cut using a combination of the guitarist’s Hiwatt amps and Yamaha rotating speaker cabinets, Ezrin recalls. But with Gilmour, he adds, equipment is secondary to touch; “You can give him a ukulele and he’ll make it sound like a Stradivarius.”

    Which doesn’t mean Gilmour didn’t fiddle around in the studio when he laid down the song’s unforgettable lead guitar part.

    “I banged out five or six solos,” Gilmour says. “From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen back to each solo and make a chart, noting which bits are good. Then, by following the chart, I create one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’”

    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" BY DAVID GILMOUR, LIVE IN GDANSK




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" GUITAR SOLO BY TINA S.




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" GUITAR SOLO BY EMILY HASTINGS




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" ACOUSTIC ARRANGEMENT BY THOMAS LEEB




    "COMFORTABLY NUMB" GUITAR SOLOS BY RICHIE FAULKNER (pre-Judas Priest)




    PINK FLOYD: 1979 STUDIO VERSION

    Additional Content

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the April 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    This month, I’d like to demonstrate the primary riffs in the Revocation song “Labyrinth of Eyes,” from our 2014 album, Deathless.

    It’s a hard-driving song played in a 12/8 shuffle-type feel, and like much of the music I write for Revocation, it moves freely through different key centers.

    Personally, I love the sound of dissonance, which may be described as any combination of notes, either in a sequence or played together as a chord, that most people would find harsh or unpleasant.

    To me, the sound of unusual combinations of notes clashing against each other creates a tense, turgid musical effect, which is just what “Labyrinth of Eyes” called for.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the April 2015 issue of Guitar World.


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    Chris Haskett—a former member of the Rollins Band and a guitarist-for-hire for David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels and others—was looking for a guitar with the bottom three strings coursed like a 12-string and the top three strings left single for easy soloing.

    So Haskett, a longtime PRS player, took his idea to Paul Reed Smith.

    “He’s indulged my idiosyncrasies for a really long time,” Haskett says. “And also he’s just one of the greatest guitar makers in the world. So I approached him and said, ‘Do you think this is completely crazy?' And he said no.”

    The guitar started its life as a Custom 22 12-string, so it had a longer headstock, a middle pickup and a 12-string nut and bridge. Rich Hannon at PRS recut the headstock to maintain the PRS look and made all other necessary adjustments.

    The result is a guitar that produces the signature tonalities of a Gibson 1275 double-neck on a single-neck instrument.

    “One of the most important features of this guitar is the string spacing is correct,” Haskett says. And that’s really what makes it beautifully playable.”

    As Haskett told MusicRadar, “The idea’s been kicking around in my head since the 1990s. I wanted to be able to play Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bring It on Home’ and Mahavishnu’s ‘Dance of the Maya’ but not have to have 23 pounds of mahogany ruining my spine.

    “I wanted to be able to get the sound of a 12-string but still be free to solo and bend on the high strings. The really signature sounds of a 12-string are the octaves between the E-A-D and G strings. Doubling the B and E just means you always have tuning problems and can't bend. So I thought this was a pretty good solution.”

    In the video below, Haskett discusses and plays the guitar. He plays the intro to the Byrds'"So You Want to Be a Rock And Roll Star," which we appreciate.


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    Someone recorded a semi-heavy metal version of "You're the One That I Want," the semi-beloved 1978 John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John duet from the film Grease.

    They even made a heavily choreographed music video to go with it. You can check it out below.

    The band, which is either called Tragedy or Tragedy: All Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees & Beyond (we prefer the latter because we like ridiculous things) has indeed pulled off a spot-on hair-metal spoof of the song, complete with a locker-room scene that takes place at Our Lady of Perpetual Decimation High School.

    There's even a reference to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video for some reason, plus a Black Sabbath riff or two. By the way, "Tragedy" is a Bee Gees song.

    For more about these odd fellows and their odd universe, visit letsmaketragedyhappen.com and/or follow them on YouTube. Enjoy!


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    This June, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang will hit the road together for the first time on a co-headlining U.S. tour.

    The tour will begin June 11 in Portland, Maine, and will head down the East Coast and into the Midwest and South, culminating with a show in Louisville, Kentucky, June 28. Both Lang and Shepherd will play full sets at each performance.

    Tickets for all shows go on sale March 13. You can see the full itinerary below.

    VIP packages will be available for all shows. Details can be found here.

    Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd Co-Headline Tour

    June 11 - Portland, ME @ Maine State Pier
    June 13 - Hyannis, MA @ Cape Cod Melody Tent
    June 14 - Wilkes Barre, PA @ Kirby Center
    June 16 - Westbury, NY @ The Space at Westbury
    June 17 - New Haven, CT @ College St Music Hall
    June 18 - Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theater
    June 19 - Lowell, MA @ Lowell Music Fest
    June 21 - Kingston, NY @ Ulster PAC
    June 23 - Northfield, OH@ Hard Rock Live
    June 24 - Huber Heights, OH @ Music Center at The Heights
    June 26 - Merrillville, IN @ Star Plaza
    June 27 - Columbus, OH@ Scioto Downs Casino
    June 28 - Louisville, KY @ Kentucky Center


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    We’re very excited to share this live video of Kaki King performing “Trying to Speak Parts 1 & 2” from the soundtrack to her multimedia masterpiece “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body.”

    Here she plays a specially prepared Ovation acoustic on which super cool images are projected during the show.

    King combines virtuosic fingerstyle chops with true artistic vision, resulting in a truly unique and delightful experience.

    If you have a chance to see the show live, go! And find out more at www.kakiking.com

    Until then, check this out:


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    AC/DC have premiered their new music video for "Rock the Blues Away." It's the third music video from their 2014 album, Rock Or Bust.

    The clip was shot in Los Angeles in February immediately after the band's Grammy Awards performance. It was directed by longtime AC/DC collaborator David Mallet and features a crowd of actual AC/DC fans, who came from around the world to be part of the taping.

    AC/DC have been announced as headliners at this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival April 10 and 17. The band will then kick off their Rock Or Bust World Tour May 5 in Holland. The already-announced dates for the tour run through September 28 in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.

    Rock or Bust was released December 2 and has sold nearly 2.8 million copies worldwide.

    Additional Content

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    Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of “Gone Gone Gone,” a new song by People's Blues of Richmond.

    It's the A-side of the band's new single (backed with "Outta My Mind"), which was released today.

    The single was produced and engineered by Mark Neill, the man behind the Black Keys'Brothers, at Soil of the South Studios in Georgia.

    “The reason we pursued Mark—we already had a pretty firm grasp on our frenetic live sound, but making a song sound beautiful in the studio is a whole other animal,” says singer-guitarist Tim Beavers.

    “Mark's sound doesn't come from a million digital studio tricks on his computer, but from a diligent setup, an intimate understanding of sound and a belief in himself, his gear and in the bands he’s recording. Working with him, we learned how to push ourselves harder than ever before.”

    People’s Blues of Richmond co-founders Beavers and Matt Volkes (bass, backing vocals) began playing music together in college as a way to grieve the loss of a mutual friend. Those bleak, drug-fueled days pushed the two into a maelstrom of songwriting and camaraderie that led to their 2011 debut LP, Hard-On Blues.

    “The whole concept behind People’s Blues of Richmond," Beavers says, "is that we all struggle, we all experience pain. Life is full of highs and lows, and we all work hard to survive. So we do the only thing we know how—we get out on the road, and we keep moving forward. We become a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

    For more about People's Blues of Richmond, follow them on Facebook and visit peoplesblues.com.


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    Is it a guitar, a keyboard, a violin or a drum?

    The Artiphon Instrument 1 is a universal MIDI controller that lets you play it however you want: as a guitar, a keyboard, a drum kit, a violin or anything else you can think of.

    Connect it to your smartphone, tablet or computer and Artiphon lets you play hundreds of apps, like GarageBand, using common gestures like strumming, tapping, bowing, sliding and more.

    Granted, it’s not a substitute for a real guitar. But a lot of people think this is going to be huge. The Nashville-based company doubled its $75,000 Kickstarter goal in a mere 24 hours. The campaign runs through April 10, and it's already up to $536K. We'll see where it is after today.

    The Artiphon should prove to be a handy composition tool, allowing guitarists to switch between guitar, bass, drums and anything else. And any traveling guitarist who needs a small instrument to record with could find the Artiphon is great for trips and tour buses. Spontaneous performance is also possible, since it has a built-in speaker.

    Check out the top video below and visit Artiphon.com for more information. If you find the video frustrating (like we do), head to 1:49 to see an ADULT play it like a guitar. Hopefully the company will make a real demo video at some point. It's kind of important ...

    NOTE: We've also included an Artiphon video from NAMM 2013; it's a slightly older-looking model, but you get the idea.


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    The all-new April 2015 issue of Guitar World is available now!

    Guitar World’s April 2015 issue features rock's super virtuosos, Tosin Abasi, Joe Satriani and Guthrie Govan. These three are the wisest of the wise when it comes to the art of guitar playing and teaching. Now they're joining forces for an epic four-day summer shred summit.

    Then, read up on GW's 2015 album preview. As Dream Theater, Anthrax, Jeff Beck, Iron Maiden, Joe Satriani and others gear up to release new albums, we take a look at the road ahead to see what's in store for 2015.

    Later, for more than 30 years, guitarist Gary Holt has kept Bay Area legends Exodus alive and thrashing. Here, Holt and co-guitarist Lee Altus get to the heart of the aggression heard on their most recent record, Blood In, Blood Out.

    Also, from amps to axes to pedals and cables, picks the most exciting new pieces of gear from the 2015 Winter NAMM Show. ?guitar>

    Finally, with their third album, Into the Wild Life, Halestorm's Lzzy Hale and her hard-rocking crew throw caution to the wind and come out more inspired than ever.

    PLUS: Tune-ups: Zakk Wylde launches Wylde Audio, Randy Rhoads tribute, Dear Guitar Hero with Jeff Loomis, Revolution Saints, Soundcheck: Taylor 618E guitar, Roland Cube 10GX amplifier, Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive pedal and much more!

    Five Songs with Tabs for Guitar and Bass:

    • Royal Blood - "Figure It Out"
    • Joe Satriani - "Surfing with the Alien"
    • Ozzy Osbourne - "Goodbye to Romance"
    • The Band - "The Weight"
    • Rory Gallagher - "Tattoo'd Lady"

    The all-new April 2015 issue of Guitar World is available now at the Guitar Online Store!

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    From Les Paul to Paul Gilbert, Johnny Winter to Johnny Hiland, and Paco De Lucia to Al Di Meola, fleet-fingered guitarists have made their mark in every genre throughout the modern history of the guitar.

    Guitar World exceeds the legal limit with this roundup—in alphabetical order—of the 50 fastest masters of the fretboard.

    Trey Azagthoth
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Summoning Redemption”
    ALBUM: Gateways to Annihilation (MORBID ANGEL)

    When a guitarist cites Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen and Mozart as influences, you could probably bet your life savings he’s a shredder.

    But guitarist Trey Azagthoth is not the typical fret burner, preferring the brute force and bludgeoning energy of death metal over the more rarified air of instrumental rock.

    Azagthoth’s rough and raw solos sound completely spontaneous, eschewing the technical precision of a prewritten solo for sheer emotion that comes directly from the gut.


    Mick Barr
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Part 1”
    ALBUM: Annwn (OCRILIM)

    He may look like some geek from a Tolkien fest who has an unhealthy obsession with Gollum, but precious few players can match Mick Barr’s intensity and speed, which has reportedly been clocked at up to 24 notes per second.

    The music that Barr records under the pseudonyms Octis, Ocrilim, Or:12r3 and Orthrelm is challenging, to say the least, for its avant-garde atonal melodies. But although it may sound like noodling to the untrained ear, Barr’s bizarre scales and lack of repetition prove that he’s working on another level altogether.

    It’s rock, Jim, but not as we know it.


    Michael Angelo Batio
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Full Force”
    ALBUM: Lucid Intervals and Moments of Clarity

    Michael Angelo Batio encompasses everything a shred guitar hero should be.

    Renaissance-inspired name? Check. Insanely fast, overthe- top (literally) ambidextrous technique? Check. Wacky, unconventional dual- and quad-neck instruments? Check and check.

    Casual music fans may consider Batio little more than an oddity or cult figure (allmusic.com didn’t even bother writing a bio for him or rating any of his seven albums), but real guitar fans know and appreciate him as the shred god he truly is. As generous as he is gifted, Batio has revealed the secrets of his incredible technique to players like Tom Morello and Mark Tremonti as well as to readers of his old Guitar World columns.

    Even with his help, we still can’t figure out how he plays so friggin’ fast.


    Jason Becker
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Seranna”
    ALBUM: Perspective

    A titan of neoclassical shredding, Jason Becker’s astounding arpeggios made him a youthful champion of the Shrapnel Records stable in the late Eighties.

    He went on to play with David Lee Roth but was stricken with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) while working on Roth’s 1991 album, A Little Ain’t Enough. The condition has left him almost completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but he continues to compose music via a computer program that can track the movements of his eyes and head.

    His courage, determination and continued creativity in the face of extreme difficulty are every bit as inspiring as the dazzling virtuosity of his youthful guitar work.


    Jimmy Bryant
    SIGNATURE SONG: “China Boy”
    ALBUM: Swingin’ on the Strings (JIMMY BRYANT & SPEEDY WEST)

    Jazz legend Barney Kessel once called Jimmy Bryant “the fastest and the cleanest guitar player I have known.”

    Listening to Bryant’s timeless instrumental duos with pedal steel guitarist Speedy West, one instantly realizes that Kessel wasn’t complimenting Bryant’s punctuality and hygiene.

    Bryant played a wild fusion of country and jazz equally influenced by Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz and Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys western swing, and he became an important figure on the West Coast studio scene, accompanying country artists like Tennessee Ernie Ford and Tex Williams as well as pop artists like Bing Crosby and Spike Jones.

    Bryant’s work with Speedy West recorded in the Fifties showcases his talents at their unrestrained peak.


    Buckethead
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Nottingham Lace”
    ALBUM: Enter the Chicken

    He may wear a KFC bucket on his noggin, but that ain’t no chicken pickin’ emanating from Buckethead’s amps.

    The guitarist known to his parents as Brian Carroll is one of the most eccentric players to ever master the six-string, one whose playing can shift in a 32nd-note triplet from downright weird computer meltdown noises to hauntingly beautiful arpeggios.

    While he’s become known to the general public through his soundtrack work on major films like Saw II and his collaborations with Guns N’ Roses and actor Viggo Mortensen, Bucket’s three dozen or so solo albums remain the best source for experiencing his mad genius.


    Dimebag Darrell
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Cowboys from Hell”
    ALBUM: Cowboys from Hell (PANTERA)

    Dimebag grabbed the baton from players like Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads and proceeded to shove it up the ass of pretentious neoclassical guitarists with his incredibly heavy, unapologetically raw pentatonic shredding.

    The solos Dimebag recorded with Pantera and Damageplan are impressive, but his true talents exploded on the concert stage, where he could let loose with wild abandon, inspired by hell-raising crowds and shirt-raising hotties.

    While most thrash bands did away with solos during the Nineties, Dimebag kept the shred flag flying like the stars and bars over the South Carolina State House.


    Paco de Lucia
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Rio Ancho”
    ALBUM: Almoraima

    Born into a family of Spanish flamenco performers, the late Paco de Lucia came to the international guitar arena with a background rich in colorful history, artistic passion and centuries of mesmerizing guitar technique.

    A traditional flamenco performer from the mid Sixties to the late Seventies, he crossed over to fusion, jazz and world music audiences via virtuoso collaborations with Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell.

    What De Lucia brought to the party was the rhythmic fire of flamenco, a stunning five-finger picking style and a dizzying repertoire of rasgueados, picados and other flamenco techniques. His forays into jazz, classical and other genres have also enriched his expressiveness within the flamenco idiom.

    In any genre, Paco de Lucia made those nylon strings burn like molten lava.


    Al Di Meola
    SIGNATURE SONG “Race with Devil on Spanish Highway”
    ALBUM: Elegant Gypsy

    A blizzard of dotted 32nd notes in the shape of an Italian-American guy from New Jersey, Al Di Meola was one of the premier guitar architects of the jazz rock fusion genre that started in the Seventies. He’s responsible for bringing the rich guitar heritage of Spain and Latin America into the fusion arena.

    His lightning-fast left hand is complemented by distinctive right-hand palmmuting techniques that some Seventies wags were fond of describing as “that rubberband sound.”

    Di Meola’s work with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, his solo efforts and collaborations with fellow guitar legends John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia have considerably raised the standard of excellence for both acoustic and electric guitar performance.


    Marty Friedman
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Hangar 18”
    ALBUM: Rust in Peace (MEGADETH)

    Marty Friedman played dueling neoclassical leads with Jason Becker in Cacophony before going on to make thrash metal history as the lead guitarist for Megadeth on their classic albums Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction, Youthanasia and Risk.

    His shredded arpeggios, hyperactive sweep picking and winning way with exotic scales have stood him in good stead, both in his Megadeth work and his current incarnation as an American expatriate who is definitely big in Japan.


    Cliff Gallup
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Race with the Devil”
    ALBUM: Capitol Collectors Series (GENE VINCENT)

    Cliff Gallup recorded only 35 songs as a member of Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps before he quit the band to focus on life as a family man, but that was enough to leave an indelible impression on players like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.

    With a jazzy style that fused the influence of Chet Atkins and Les Paul, Gallup developed a sophisticated sound that made most blues-influenced rock and rollers sound downright primitive in comparison.

    Gallup’s cascading triplets and chromatic lines still inspire the same awe as when listeners first heard his solos more than 50 years ago.


    Frank Gambale
    SIGNATURE SONG: “6 .8 Shaker”
    ALBUM: Passages

    In the Eighties Gambale proved that sweep picking wasn’t just for neoclassical rockers, using the technique to great effect on his progressive jazz fusion solo recordings and performances with jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and keyboardist Chick Corea.

    A graduate of GIT, Gambale returned there to teach for four years, sharing the secrets of his speed-picking technique with students.

    His unique approach to sweep picking along with his aggressive tone has helped him gain an audience beyond jazz fusion fans. Gambale remains an innovator, having recently developed an alternate tuning he calls “Gambale tuning,” which he says gives him greater liberty to voice any chord, including closevoiced chords.


    Synyster Gates
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Eternal Rest”
    ALBUM: Waking the Fallen (AVENGED SEVENFOLD)

    It’s easy for critics to dismiss Avenged Sevenfold because they look like a bunch of emo-punk kids who raided Axl Rose’s wardrobe, but no other band has done as much to introduce Generation Y to the shock and awe of a brilliant guitar solo.

    Justin Timberlake may be bringing sexy back, but Synyster Gates brought almighty shred to the forefront with his numerous extended no-holds-barred solos on A7X’s albums.

    A GIT graduate, Gates is a surprisingly versatile guitarist influenced by players ranging from Django to Dimebag.


    Danny Gatton
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Elmira Street Boogie”
    ALBUM: 88 Elmira Street

    It was always a treat to watch the late Danny Gatton’s stubby fingers dance like fire on the maple fretboard of his battered Telecaster.

    The “Telemaster” fused country, blues, rockabilly and jazz into a blue-collar virtuoso style that the man himself once called “Redneck Jazz.”

    His unique combination-picking technique (plectrum plus fingerstyle) propelled chicken-pickin’ riffs, muscular jazz chords, blue notes and open-string banjo runs, all of which he made dance gracefully side by side. Gatton took his own life in 1994, opting out of a world where instrumental prowess is no guarantee of commercial success.

    His legend and legacy live on.


    Paul Gilbert
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Scarified”
    ALBUM: Second Heat (RACER X)

    Paul Gilbert has always been a reluctant guitar hero. He’s humble, good humored, polite and obliging, but when he straps on that guitar, he becomes the biggest, baddest monster in the entire shred forest.

    Gilbert’s Eighties work with Racer X and Mr. Big paved the way for a varied and compelling solo career.

    His fleet and flawless fretwork has always been tempered by highly developed harmonic sensibilities born of his abiding love for pop music.


    Maestro Alex Gregory
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Heavy Metal Mandolin Boogie”
    ALBUM: 12 Jokes for Heavy Metal Mandolin

    Maestro Alex Gregory probably earned more enemies than fans in his time.

    He sued Ibanez over the seven-string guitar (he patented and developed a seven-string Strat with Fender in 1987, three years before the Ibanez Universe hit the market), took the title of “Maestro” (allegedly bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth in 1983) and released an album depicting himself pissing on the graves of Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai.

    Even so, he’s earned the respect of many heavy friends, including drummer Matt Bissonette, bass player Dave LaRue and guitarist Albert Lee, all of whom have participated in musical projects with the Maestro.


    Johnny Hiland
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Orange Blossom Special”
    ALBUM: Johnny Hiland

    Ten years after the untimely death of Danny Gatton, Johnny Hiland emerged with an album released by Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label chock full of impressive country/rockabilly/blues/jazz/rock performances that rivaled those of the Telemaster himself.

    Hiland has since broken into the extremely competitive Nashville studio scene, playing on sessions for high profile A-list artists like Toby Keith, Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis.

    Like Gatton, Hiland’s playing is as tasteful as it is flashy, displaying an uncanny knack for melody even as he burns up the fretboard at light speed.


    Allan Holdsworth
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Fred”
    ALBUM: Believe It (TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME)

    Allan Holdsworth developed a cult following of jazz fusion and progressive rock fans for his work with Tony Williams Lifetime and Bill Bruford’s side project U.K., but his name became a household word in the guitar community in the early Eighties when Eddie Van Halen cited him as one of his main influences.

    Holdsworth’s flowing legato lines are inspired by the sound of the saxophone and violin, and in his quest for the perfect tone he’s experimented frequently with guitar synthesis systems like the SynthAxe.

    The blinding speed of Holdsworth’s left hand is truly mind boggling, but even more impressive is his ability to perfectly improvise over incredibly complex and unorthodox chord changes.


    Chris Impellitteri
    SIGNATURE SONG: “17th Century Chicken Pickin’ ”
    ALBUM: Screaming Symphony

    It’s easy to dismiss Chris Impellitteri as another in a long line of Yngwie clones, especially since he plays neoclassical metal on a Stratocaster with a scalloped fretboard and he hired former Alcatrazz singer Graham Bonnet to front his band.

    But anyone who looks past Impellitteri’s hyperspeed sweeppicked harmonic minor scales will notice incendiary chromatic lines rivaling the precision and intensity of Steve Morse and bluesy phrasing that gives his playing distinct character.

    Impellitteri enjoys an impressive devoted following in Japan, where he still appears on the cover of guitar magazines.


    John 5
    SIGNATURE SONG: “The Washing Away of Wrong”
    ALBUM: The Devil Knows My Name

    It takes a sick and twisted mind to be able to play guitar with Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth and country singer k.d. lang.

    But John 5 has exhibited more than enough warped imagination and dazzling dexterity to shine in all these wildly diverse musical settings.

    Whether it’s a barn dance or a ritual virgin sacrifice to the Lord of Darkness, count on Mr. 5 to turn up with all the right licks, and the clothes to match.


    The Great Kat
    SIGNATURE SONG: “The Flight of the Bumble Bee”
    ALBUM: Beethoven on Speed

    It’s hard to know whether the Great Kat’s thrash metal interpretations of classical music compositions are meant to be taken seriously—especially when her albums have titles like Beethoven on Speed, Bloody Vivaldi and Rossini’s Rape—but when this Juilliard-trained virtuoso plays it’s certainly no joke.

    With a heavy leather dominatrix persona so over the top that she makes Yngwie Malmsteen seem like Tony Randall, the Great Kat would make a fine role model for young ladies who want to shred if she didn’t scare the living shit out of them.


    Richie Kotzen
    SIGNATURE SONG: “You Can’t Save Me”
    ALBUM: Into the Black

    Richie Kotzen made his debut at the tender age of 19, quickly establishing himself as one of the fastest young guns in the whole Shrapnel Records corral.

    From the start, his style has been admirably fluid, incorporating techniques like tapping and sweeping to create extended legato passages of daunting complexity.

    Kotzen has lent these skills to Poison and Mr. Big. In recent years, he’s emerged as an all-around classic rock talent, adding a soulful Paul Rodgers/Rod Stewart/Steve Marriott–influenced vocal style to his considerable resources as the Winery Dogs' guitarist.


    Alexi Laiho
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Needled 24/7”
    ALBUM: Hate Crew Deathroll (CHILDREN OF BODOM)

    An incredibly prolific guitarist who is the member of several bands—Children of Bodom, Sinergy and Kylähullut—as well as a frequent guest performer with bands like Annihilator, Godsplague and Pain, Alexi Laiho has probably recorded more notes than Bach ever wrote down on paper over his entire lifetime.

    Laiho has mastered the same sweep, tapping and precision picking techniques and neoclassical scales that placed his Scandinavian predecessors on the map, but unlike his cohorts he’s never shown any ambition to record a guitar concerto or metal opera.


    Shawn Lane
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Savitri”
    ALBUM: Good People in Times of Evil (HELLBORG, LANE AND SELVAGANESH)

    Many guitarists pursue speed for its sheer ability to impress others.

    For Shawn Lane, it was merely one of numerous avenues of expression that he discovered on a strange and twisted path to musical enlightenment that started when he joined southern rockers Black Oak Arkansas at 14 and culminated in his mastery of Indian music in the years before he passed away at age 40.

    Few, if any, guitarists can play faster than Lane could, and his arpeggio sweeps and precision-picked lines blasted more rapid-fire notes than the average human mind could comprehend, blending into a hypnotic blur that leaves listeners feeling intoxicated and disoriented.


    Albert Lee
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Country Boy”
    ALBUM: Heads, Hands and Feet

    One of the all-time greatest country guitar pickers comes not from America’s sunny deep South but from rainy, gray England.

    Albert Lee developed his own greased-lightning combinationpicking technique (plectrum plus third, fourth and fifth fingers) and a masterful command of country licks, open-string runs, B-bender gymnastics and all things that go twang in the night.

    He can unleash cascades of crystalline notes that fall on the ear like a gentle country rain and execute tear-jerking string bends that slither and slide like a moonshiner’s wagon down an icy stretch of road. Lee has played with everyone from Emmy Lou Harris to Eric Clapton to the Everly Brothers. Now 70-ish, he shows no sign of slowing down.


    Alvin Lee
    SIGNATURE SONG: “I’m Going Home”
    ALBUM: Woodstock

    Circa 1969, Alvin Lee was the fastest gun in all of guitardom.

    He wowed Woodstock with 11 minutes of fretboard frenzy called “I’m Going Home” and was duly rewarded with a large watermelon—presumably an organic hippie tribute to the unmitigated ballsiness of Lee’s playing.

    Lee and his band, Ten Years After, were among the cream of the mid-Sixties British blues boom—contemporaries and, some would say, co-equals of groups that featured Clapton, Beck and Page.

    More than just 10 itchy-fast fingers, the late Lee always balanced his six-string mastery with a strong singing voice, charismatic center stage presence and solid songwriting skills, making him not just another speed demon but an all-around classic rock contender.


    Jeff Loomis
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Born”
    ALBUM: This Godless Endeavor (NEVERMORE)

    Leave it to Dave Mustaine to light a fire under a guitarist’s ass.

    When Jeff Loomis auditioned for Megadeth at the tender young age of 16, Mustaine told him that he’d become a great guitarist one day but he was too inexperienced for Megadeth. Instead of giving up, Loomis persevered, and six years later he formed the band Nevermore with two ex-members of Sanctuary, with whom he had briefly played as well.

    Loomis’ trick bag is deep and diverse, including sweep arpeggios, atonal tapping, whammy pedal effects and tremolo picking, and his solos are like mini compositions within the songs.

    He may never find a spot in Megadeth’s ever-rotating second guitar spot, but he’s already established himself as a worthy player.


    Yngwie Malmsteen
    SIGNATURE SONG: "Far Beyond the Sun"
    ALBUM: Rising Force

    When Yngwie Malmsteen released his debut solo album, Rising Force, in 1984, he unleashed the fookin' fury of guitarists, who were already having enough trouble keeping up with Eddie Van Halen.

    Malmsteen's all-encompassing mastery of speed techniques like sweep-picked arpeggios, tremolo picking, legato, string skipping, tapping and more inspired guitarists to either woodshed or use their guitars as firewood.

    Although countless imitators have challenged Yngwie's speed-king crown, none can match the impeccable precision with which he plays each note and how he makes absolutely every one count from a melodic perspective.

    Even more frustrating is how easy he makes everything look when he plays onstage, performing kung-fu kicks and acrobatically flinging his guitar without ever missing a note. Bastard.


    Guy Mann-Dude
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Legend of the Loch Ness”
    ALBUM: Sleight of Hand

    Mann-Dude was the ultimate big-hair Hollywood Eighties shredder, but unlike the bulk of preening poodle boys who clogged the classrooms at GIT, he always seemed to have his tongue planted firmly in his cheeks (instead of sucking them in to highlight his cheekbones).

    Mann-Dude certainly had the pedigree to prove he wasn’t just a joke.

    He had previously played drums on a post-Zappa Steve Vai project and was one of only a handful of guitarists who released instrumental shred albums on a major record label (MCA). Ever since stonewashed jeans and K-Swiss high-tops went out of style, Mann-Dude has been missing in action. Dude!


    Larry Collins and Joe Maphis
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Flying Fingers”
    ALBUM: Flying Fingers (JOE MAPHIS)

    The modern-day shred guitar duos of Dragonforce, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold have nothing on the furious pace and precision of the performances by Larry Collins and Joe Maphis in the Fifties.

    Even more impressive is the fact that Collins was only 10 years old at the time, yet he could keep pace with virtuosos like Maphis and Merle Travis without missing a note.

    Check out the videos of “Flying Fingers” and “Wildwood Flower” from vintage broadcasts of the program Ranch Party to witness some of the craziest playing you’ll ever witness, including Maphis and Collins attacking a single double-neck Mosrite at the same time.


    John McLaughlin
    SIGNATURE SONG: "Birds of Fire"
    ALBUM: Mahavishnu Orchestra

    Mahavishnu Orchestra guitarist John McLaughlin was the first guitarist to play jazz riffs with all the fierce intensity and brute volume of rock guitar.

    The world has never been the same since. McLaughlin's Seventies recordings with Mahavishnu pioneered the jazz fusion genre and rocketed electric guitar instrumental music into the Hot 100. His later acoustic work with Shakti was equally influential in forging the world fusion genre.

    The clarity, precision, profound conviction and blinding speed of McLaughlin's guitar work has always reflected the emotional depth of his lifelong spiritual devotion and the arduous discipline involved in serious spiritual practice. His dense note clusters propel us toward realms of bliss far beyond this mundane existence.


    Vinnie Moore
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Lifeforce”
    ALBUM: Mind’s Eye

    Vinnie Moore was one of the first contenders to challenge Yngwie Malmsteen for the speed-king throne, releasing the stunning solo effort Mind’s Eye on the Shrapnel label in 1986.

    While Moore sold respectable amounts of his solo albums, he never reached much of an audience beyond aspiring shred guitarists, who eagerly purchased Moore’s instructional videos in which he revealed the secrets behind his immaculate technique.

    Moore persevered as a solo artist through the Nineties, but in 2003 he took over the lead guitarist spot in UFO vacated by Michael Schenker.


    Steve Morse
    SIGNATURE SONG: "Cruise Control"
    ALBUM: Free Fall (DIXIE DREGS)

    People laughed back in the Seventies when Steve Morse first sought to combine fusion and Southern boogie with his band, the Dixie Dregs.

    Fans of the two respective genres here hardly on speaking terms back then, but the last laugh belongs to Morse, who is still going strong today.

    He has plied his lightning licks and tenacious technique in the service of numerous genres and bands, including latter-day lineups of Deep Purple and Kansas.


    Jimmy Olander
    SIGNATURE SONG “The Ballad of Conley and Billy (The Proof is in the Pickin’)”
    ALBUM: Diamond Rio

    Originally a banjo player, Jimmy Olander quickly shifted his attention to guitar when he realized he’d get more gigs, adapting his advanced five-string banjo playing techniques for the six-string guitar.

    In addition to mastering rapid flatpicked bluegrass lines and chicken pickin’ Tele twang, Olander performs amazing pedal steel imitations using a guitar equipped with Joe Glaser string-bending devices on the G and B strings.

    Although Diamond Rio’s radio-ready tunes rarely give him enough room to truly let rip, when the spotlight shines on him he never fails to impress with his taste and technique.


    Cary and Larry Parks
    SIGNATURE SONG: “You Really Got Me”
    ALBUM: Welcome to Howdywood (BOY HOWDY)

    Even the most diehard country music fan has probably forgotten the band Boy Howdy, which is best known for the hit ballad “She’d Give Everything,” but the sibling dual-guitar team of Cary and Larry Parks recorded several impressive dueling-guitar solos that deserved a much bigger audience.

    The sons of bluegrass fiddler Ray Parks, Cary and Larry grew up in the crossfire of Los Angeles’ country rock scene and the more traditional sounds they heard at home.

    As a result, their unique playing styles blend the chickenpickin’ twang of the Bakersfield sound, the clean cross picking of Kentucky bluegrass and the rowdy attitude of Hollywood rock, best heard on their blazing countrified cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” which comes across like Van Halen and Bill Monroe jamming at a Buck Owens concert.

    SORRY: NO VIDEO AVAILABLE!


    John Petrucci
    SIGNATURE SONG: "Pull Me Under"
    ALBUM: Images and Words (DREAM THEATER)

    There are those who swear that prog-metal pioneer John Petrucci has a few extra fingers on both hands that he craftily keeps hidden during photo shoots.

    How else can one explain the man's ability to make six- and seven-string electric guitars generate quantum-shifted note clusters exceeding the speed oflight?

    Maybe it's the six daily hours of practice he put in during his formative years, and his rigorous studies at Berklee, where he mastered the intricacies of sweep and alternate picking. Petrucci's guitar work with Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment and as a solo artist exemplify the present-day ideal of extreme guitar discipline.


    Les Paul
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Lover (When You’re Near Me)”
    ALBUM: Best of Capitol Masters

    The Wizard of Waukesha’s technological contributions to the electric guitar and multitrack recording are so great that people sometimes overlook his accomplishments as a guitarist.

    His recordings with the Les Paul Trio in the Thirties and Forties helped establish the jazz guitar lexicon, but he was equally handy with a cornball melody for a Top 40 pop hit.

    A formidable fretsman and crafty stylist, his highly active brain always seemed to be a little bit ahead of the next chord change, and his nimble fingers knew how to follow. Les’ “New Sound” recordings of the late Forties and early Fifties were the perfect merger of technique and technology.


    Django Reinhardt
    SIGNATURE SONG: “After You’ve Gone”
    ALBUM: Djangology

    A dapper Belgian gypsy with a pencil thin mustache and a miraculously nimble left hand, Django set the Twenties and Thirties alight via incendiary guitar performances with the legendary Hot Club of France Quintet and other jazz ensembles.

    It was a time when the very notion of the guitar solo was just being invented, and Django set a pace that guitarists today are still struggling to match.

    The astounding thing is that he did all this with just the index and middle fingers of his left hand—his third finger and pinkie had been seriously maimed in a caravan fire. Yet Django did it all: lightning-fast diminished scale runs, frisky double-stop passages and the most lyrical finger vibrato in all of guitardom.

    There’s a plaintive undertone in even the most jaunty Django passages, and likewise a playful wink lurking just behind his most heartbreakingly romantic playing.

    Django remains the original and ultimate gypsy king.


    Randy Rhoads
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Crazy Train”
    ALBUM: Blizzard of Ozz (OZZY OSBOURNE)

    Metal’s martyred boy-child, Randy Rhoads embraced the tapping, divebombing innovations of Edward Van Halen and brought these techniques to a new plateau in the early Eighties.

    He came out of Quiet Riot and the Hollywood hair-band scene to find fame with Ozzy Osbourne, but his life was cut tragically short before he had time to realize his full potential.

    During his brief yet stellar career, he played with the blazing intensity of a man who somehow knew he only had a few short years to share his gift with the world.


    Uli Jon Roth
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Sails of Charon”
    ALBUM: Taken By Force (SCORPIONS)

    Although Ritchie Blackmore gets most of the credit as a guiding light of the Eighties shred phenomenon, Uli Jon Roth established the blueprint for neoclassical metal through his highly sophisticated guitar playing with the Scorpions and with his own band, Electric Sun.

    Roth undoubtedly has the playing and compositional skills to dominate as a shred guitar hero, but he pursued loftier goals in the Eighties and Nineties by devoting his ambitions to performing and composing classical music instead.

    In 2003, Roth recorded an interpretation of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and since 2005, he has frequently made surprise guest appearances with the Scorpions and Smashing Pumpkins.


    Joe Satriani
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Satch Boogie”
    ALBUM: Surfing with the Alien

    Shred was born in 1987 on the day Joe Satriani released Surfing with the Alien.

    Satch took all the rock guitar virtuosity that had gone before—Hendrix, Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, etc.—and brought it all a giant step further, adding a few new tricks to the lexicon of hot guitar moves and upping the land speed record for notes-per-nanosecond.

    But where earlier ax heroes employed techniques like tapping and dive bombing to dazzle and astound, Satriani’s mastery lies in his ability to subsume daunting technical maneuvers into beguiling, seemingly effortless melodic statements that appeal to guitar geeks and the general public alike.

    His secret? Satch is one guitar virtuoso who never lost touch with his rock and roll heart.


    Chuck Schuldiner
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Pull the Plug”
    ALBUM: Leprosy (DEATH)

    Chuck Schuldiner passed away in 2001, but were he alive, he would almost certainly be amused by the new legion of metal guitarists inspired by him that emerged in his absence.

    During the rise of his band Death, Schuldiner’s outstanding solos—which featured playing as melodic and precise as that of anyone who put out a record on the Relativity or Shrapnel labels—were often overshadowed by Death’s jackhammer rhythms and dark lyrics.

    However, anyone taking a look back at his work would instantly realize that Schuldiner could tap as tastefully as Eddie Van Halen and rip up a fretboard as well as anyone else. Eleven other guitarists shared the spotlight with Schuldiner in Death, including James Murphy and Andy LaRocque, but none shined more brightly.


    Alex Skolnick
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Practice What You Preach”
    ALBUM: Practice What You Preach (TESTAMENT)

    You simply have to admire Alex Skolnick’s dedication to the guitar.

    Right when Testament were ready to hit the big time, Skolnick bailed to pursue his love of jazz, preferring to make music in San Francisco clubs with players like bassist Michael Manring and eventually making his way to New York City to study jazz at the New School.

    Most players have trouble mastering one style of music, but Skolnick impresses whether he’s blasting out thrash metal solos with Testament (which he has since rejoined) or tearing up the fretboard with his jazz band, the Alex Skolnick Trio.


    Timo Tolkki
    SIGNATURE SONG; “Speed of Light”
    ALBUM: Episode (STRATOVARIUS)

    Maybe the harsh Scandinavian winters are the reason why Europe’s northernmost countries boast the most neoclassical shredders per capita.

    Finland’s Timo Tolkki and his band Stratovarius released their first album in 1989, about the time that shred mania reached its peak, and fortunately for them they established a huge following in—where else—Japan by the time grunge took over in 1992.

    Like Malmsteen, Tolkki’s ambitions reach far beyond power metal into classical music, and his precision fretwork is inspired more by virtuoso violinists than other guitarists.


    Herman Li & Sam Totman
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Through the Fire and Flames”
    ALBUM: Inhuman Rampage (DRAGONFORCE)

    When the first Dragonforce album came out in 2003, critics were convinced that Herman Li and Sam Totman’s outrageously fast guitar solos were the product of studio trickery.

    However, Li and Totman later proved that they were the real deal both onstage and under the scrutiny of skeptical editors right here at Guitar World headquarters.

    Individually, Li and Tottman boast jaw-dropping speed and precision, but when they lock horns in tightly synchronized harmonies they can make heads explode from sonic overload. Who needs amphetamines? Just put on a Dragonforce’s Inhuman Rampage to jumpstart your day.


    Steve Vai
    SIGNATURE SONG: “For the Love of God”
    ALBUM: Passion and Warfare

    Steve Vai can do things with a sustainer and twang bar that surely ain’t natural and certainly indicate a high tantric mastery of all documented and undocumented alien love secrets.

    Discovered by Frank Zappa and fostered by David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, Vai emerged in the Nineties as a solo artist and guitar hero of major stature.

    His astounding technique defies categorization. In his graceful hands, the guitar becomes a cosmic antenna, channeling other dimensions and parallel universes. His best work combines the swagger of a lifelong rock and roller with the romantic soul of a poet. As if this weren’t enough, he’s also a first-rate composer and has great cheekbones.


    Eddie Van Halen
    SIGNATURE SONG: “Eruption”
    ALBUM: Van Halen

    Though numerous players have surpassed Eddie Van Halen’s speed and precision, Ed deserves credit for developing and perfecting the techniques that have become essential elements of the shredder’s vocabulary ever since Van Halen’s debut in 1978.

    Eddie’s tapped triplets helped players with sloppy picking technique double and triple their speed, but his incredibly precise tremolo picking showed that you still needed excellent right- and left-hand coordination if you truly wanted to impress.

    Although players like Night Ranger’s Jeff Watson took tapping to ludicrous eight-finger extremes, no one ever sounds as good as Eddie when he’s in the groove.


    Ben Weinman
    SIGNATURE SONG: “43% Burnt”
    ALBUM: Calculating Infinity (DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN)

    Who says that hardcore punks can’t shred?

    The Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Ben Weinman pioneered a style known as mathcore, which isn’t as nerdy as the name suggests but certainly requires an IQ above 100 to be fully appreciated for its unique blend of punk intensity, technical precision and the anomalous jazz melodicism.

    Still think punks can’t shred with the best of them? We dare you to try and figure out one of Weinman’s solos.

    Go ahead, tough guy.


    Johnny Winter
    SIGNATURE SONG “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”
    ALBUM: Johnny Winter And

    Long before Stevie Ray, Johnny Winter was the original white-guy-from-Texas blues guitar demon.

    Critics have often remarked on the irony that a pale-skinned, crosseyed albino turned out to be one of the greatest interpreters of America’s seminal black musical idiom.

    Winter has the hardlivin’ outsider’s perspective that it takes to play the blues for real, but it’s matched with the rockera chops of a guy who came up alongside immortals like Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield.

    The best of Winter’s phenomenal playing is imbued with both fire and fluidity. Flurries of notes crawl all over the 12-bar grid at every conceivable angle, like a hoard of spiders fanning out in search of prey. In the whole vast river that is the blues, nothing quite possesses the eerie intensity of Johnny Winter’s best work.




    HONORABLE MENTIONS

    Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a few other speed demons, most notably Eighties neoclassical shredder Tony MacAlpine, Outworld guitarist and shred instructor Rusty Cooley, Gary Moore ("White Knuckles," anyone?), Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt, Australia's Tommy Emmanuel and, of course, Zakk Wylde.

    Additional Content

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