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Articles on this Page
- 05/27/15--07:16: _B.B. King’s Death t...
- 05/27/15--07:33: _The Aristocrats Pre...
- 05/27/15--08:15: _Cracking the Code w...
- 05/27/15--08:30: _Review: EarthQuaker...
- 05/27/15--09:53: _B.B. King Tribute: ...
- 05/27/15--11:12: _LessonFace with Joh...
- 05/27/15--11:48: _Want a Career in th...
- 05/28/15--07:49: _Bent Out of Shape: ...
- 05/28/15--07:50: _Guitar Chalk Sessio...
- 05/28/15--08:31: _The Rolling Stones ...
- 05/28/15--08:35: _Hear Metallica's "M...
- 05/28/15--09:03: _July 2015 Guitar Wo...
- 05/28/15--09:10: _The 25 Greatest Pan...
- 05/28/15--10:25: _Pat Metheny's 42-St...
- 05/28/15--10:34: _“The Star Spangled ...
- 05/28/15--11:40: _Shred City! Santa C...
- 05/28/15--12:37: _Stevie Ray Vaughan,...
- 05/29/15--07:38: _The Chris Robinson ...
- 05/29/15--08:25: _John Petrucci Demos...
- 05/29/15--08:31: _Wild Stringdom with...
- 05/27/15--07:16: B.B. King’s Death to Be Investigated As a Homicide
- 05/27/15--08:30: Review: EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath Reverb Pedal — Video
- 05/27/15--11:48: Want a Career in the Music Industry? Six Things You Should Consider
- 05/28/15--09:10: The 25 Greatest Pantera Songs of All Time
- 05/28/15--10:25: Pat Metheny's 42-String Manzer Picasso Guitar — Video
The Nevada coroner’s office said Monday it will investigate B.B. King’s death as a homicide.
King died May 14 at age 89 in Las Vegas, where he lived. His daughters have expressed concerns that his death might be the result of foul play.
"Our coroner takes jurisdctn over #BBKing body, performs autopsy. Results:6-8wks min. Homicide investgtn w/ @LVMPD," the Clark County, Nevada coroner's office announced May 25 via Twitter.
Two of King’s daughters allege that his business manager, Laverne Toney, and King’s personal assistant, Myron Johnson, hastened their father’s death by poisoning him.
“I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances,” his daughters Patty King and Karen Williams said in identically worded sections of affidavits provided to the Associated Press by their lawyer, Larissa Drohobyczer. “I believe my father was murdered,” they say.
Patty King, Williams and another of King’s daughters, Rita Washington, sought control of King’s affairs in the weeks before his death. In that claim, they contended Toney stole $20 to $30 million from King along with watches and a ring and denied him his medications and medical care.
Those claims came within days of King’s hospitalization for a heart attack on April 30. According to Patty King, her father was not eating and was dehydrated, and Toney refused to take him to the hospital. Patty called the police, who sent paramedics to King’s residence, who agreed he needed medical attention.
A Las Vegas judge said he found no reason to believe King lacked the capacity to manage his own health-care decisions. In addition, police and social services uncovered no evidence that Toney was abusing King or taking advantage of him.
These new allegations that Toney poisoned King come days after a public viewing of King’s body, held May 22, and a family service, held May 23.
King’s death was attributed to his two-decade struggle with Type II diabetes. In the days following the guitarist’s death, Clark County coroner John Fudenberg determined said King died from multiple small strokes that resulted from reduced blood flow due to diabetes.
King is scheduled to be buried Saturday in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi. The investigation into his death should not delay his burial, Fudenberg said Monday. The coroner said an autopsy was performed Sunday. Test results will take up to eight weeks and should not be affected by embalming.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of a teaser video for Tres Caballeros, the new album by the Aristocrats.
This latest album by Guthrie Govan, Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann will be released June 23 and is available now for preorder.
“We’ve learned a lot since we started this band—four years, three studio albums, two live DVDs and about a billion notes ago—and I think our latest offering reflects this in all kinds of ways,” guitarist Govan says.
“The decision to road-test our new material in front of a live audience before commencing the recording process; the choice to record in a studio that had some thoroughly inspiring rock and roll "mojo"; our sudden urge to become more bold and experimental with overdubs rather than feeling any pressure to record exclusively in a strict “trio” format … all of this has had some kind of positive effect on the way the new record came out.
"Plus, I think the material on this album is some of the most interesting stuff we’ve ever written for each other, so … here’s hoping our noble listeners will like the finished product as much as we do!”
After two fairly raw trio albums, the Aristocrats set up camp at Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood, where Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Van Halen recorded landmark albums.
The result: Nine new compositions of greater sonic depth and breadth than ever before, with unique textures and lush layering augmenting the band’s preternatural ability to improvise individually and as a group at the highest levels possible. But it’s all still tempered with a steadfast refusal to take themselves too seriously, and The Aristocrats are still having more fun than a fusion band has any right to have.
An eight-week Tres Caballeros North America tour starts July 6, with the Aristocrats supported by fellow rock/fusion power trio the Travis Larson Band. Details on each date can be found right here.
Tres Caballeros Track Listing:
01. Stupid 7
02. Jack’s Back
03. Texas Crazypants
04. ZZ Top
05. Pig’s Day Off
06. Smuggler’s Corridor
07. Pressure Relief
08. The Kentucky Meat Shower
09. Through The Flower
We recently gave Cracking the Code viewers a cool homework assignment: find a way to play ascending fours, against the pentatonic scale, using the Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson downward pickslanting system.
The assignment seems simple enough.
After all, the pentatonic scale is nearly ubiquitous as a cornerstone of modern rock lead playing. And fours is a common rhythmic grouping, especially considering that most rock songs are written in 4/4 time. As a result, we hear pentatonic fours patterns in rock leads all the time, especially in keyboard and horn parts.
Just not very often on guitar!
In fact, if we make a mental list of the most famous pickers of the last 50 years, I can think of none of them who play sequential pentatonic fours, fully picked, across the neck, at elite levels of speed and accuracy.
And while I'm sure that out there in internet-land there are talented players who can do it, the fact remains that this feat is simply far less common than we'd expect.
And it turns out, there's good reason for this. The complicated picking patterns that occur as we cycle the box in units of four can make life woefully difficult for the picking hand. On top of this, the barre fingerings that arise as we do this can make it tricky to avoid overlapping notes, which can sound messy on a high gain amp.
Pickslanting to the Rescue
But with a basic understanding of downward pickslanting mechanics, we can design a couple of really nice solutions to this problem that pay fantastic creative dividends.
Cracking the Code viewers are already familiar with the downward pickslanting system, where upstrokes are used to switch strings with extreme efficiency. In fact, we've written about this here at GuitarWorld.com before, with respect to both Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson's use of the technique.
In Johnson's case, his legendary accuracy derives from his focus on two-note-per-string picking sequences. By starting these two-note units on a downstroke, Johnson can ensure that the second note on the string—the final note—is an upstroke.
This is critical. In the downward pickslanting system, upstrokes "escape" the strings naturally as a result of the slanted picking movement. As long as that escape happens on the last note of the string, Johnson can transition effortlessly to the next string no matter how fast the picking hand is playing.
By harnessing the power of the escaped upstroke, we can reap instant performance benefits:
The key to this approach is position shifting. Each two-string, four-note unit is perfectly efficient thanks to the escaped upstroke. So by simply shifting up to the next position, we can maintain our two-note-per-string structure, and achieve the exact same efficiency for the next repetition of the sequence. After the second repetition, we simply move up to the next pair of strings, and repeat. Straightforward and elegant.
The challenge of this approach is the fretting. By using three-note-per-string fingerings, we encounter third- and fourth-finger combinations that you may not be used to.
But mastering these dramatically reduces the fatigue of always reusing the same two fingers. It also completely eliminates the error-prone jumping of the fretting hand between positions. Baking this coordination into your long-term memory is great exercise. And it also opens the door to all kinds of cool patterns and sequences you might come up with in the process.
In Season 2 Episode 2 of Cracking the Code, "Inside the Volcano," we encountered Malmsteen's famous expansion of the downward pickslanting system: sweeping. By using a single downstroke to move to the next higher string, we can completely sidestep the athletic challenges of switching strings with alternate picking.
Because the pick is slanted downward, sweeping in the Malmsteen system only happens only during melodically ascending string changes. That works out fine for us, since that's precisely the direction in which our pentatonic sequence is moving:
By combining Yngwie's mastery of sweeping with the escaped upstroke of downward pickslanting, we experience a double-dip boost in efficiency. The first unit of four uses a downward sweep for the string change. The second unit uses an escaped upstroke and a sweep. So in other words, we have a formula: sweeping in the ascending direction, and alternate picking in the descending direction.
This is the Malmsteen way. It's the key to the stunning speed of the "Volcano Lick," which we examine in "Inside the Volcano," and it's the secret to Malmsteen's seemingly impossible accuracy in playing ascending scalar lines.
Although it looks complicated on the surface, this Volcano-style solution is actually even easier to execute than the pure alternate picking method of the Eric Johnson-style approach. Gone are the awkward third- and fourth-finger fretting combinations.
In fact, although the Volcano solution relies on three-note-per-string stretches, it only does so only every other repetition, instead of every repetition. The fact that sweeping makes two of the string changes nearly effortless is simply the icing on the cake.
Whole Diminished Power
These clever mechanical solutions are only two of the many possibilities that arise as a result of pickslanting thinking. But how can we make use of all this picking power? Well, if the pentatonic scale is just a two-note-per-string fingering, then we should be able to apply these picking patterns to almost any idea that we fret using two notes per string. How about diminished?
Very cool. Malmsteen is famous for his use of diminished sweep shapes on the top three strings. But here we've discovered a way to take this exotic tonality across the entire guitar. No how about whole tone?
Also very cool. Like the diminished scale, the symmetrical nature of whole tone fingerings make them ideal for sequential ideas. And these shapes are even easier to reach than the diminished fingerings thanks to their more compact fretboard spans.
But there's no need to play favorites. All three of these ideas—pentatonic, diminished and whole tone—can live happily together in a modern blues context. Here's what that can sound like:
Diminished and whole tone sounds work well with blues riffing because of their inherent tritone intervals. By lining these intervals up with the tritones that already exist in the blues scale—between the root and the flatted fifth, for example—you can generate some really cool fusion sounds that seem to protrude just beyond what the listener expects. Mixing in little bits of the sequenced feel takes this one step further as a kind of counterpoint to the looser, funkier feel of box-style blues riffing.
And that's really the point. In Cracking the Code, mechanical explorations are never academic. Instead, finding interesting mechanical concepts and matching them with interesting tonalities is an incredibly powerful source of creativity.
If this kind of discovery appeals to you, you'll find much more of it in Cracking the Code, the show, as well as in our Masters in Mechanics Series, a monthly subscription series exploring an even wider array of fascinating topics at the intersection of mechanics and music.
Troy Grady is the creator of Cracking the Code, a documentary series with a unique analytical approach to understanding guitar technique. Melding archival footage, in-depth interviews, painstakingly crafted animation and custom soundtrack, it’s a pop-science investigation of an age-old mystery: Why are some players seemingly super-powered?
GOLD AWARD WINNER
While many reverb pedals can reproduce traditional spring-tank reflections or heavenly cathedral-like dimensions, reverb is most often handled as a “set and forget” effect, especially if you play splashy surf guitar or just add a smidgen of ambience to your overall guitar sound.
And while that common approach is sufficient for many guitarists, some of us crave the unconventional when it comes to exploring the depths of the effect’s cavernous sound.
And for that purpose, the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath is a novel stomp box that combines bottomless pits of reverb with self-oscillating warp-driven delays, which in turn, create spatial soundscapes unlike anything you’ve ever heard.
FEATURES One look at the pedal’s screen-printed wizard-in-a-cave graphic makes it instantly clear that some otherworldly magic will be conjured from it. The Afterneath is housed in a sturdy chassis with a heavy-duty footswitch, a bright pale blue on/off LED and six controls crammed onto its compact surface. The length, diffuse and reflect knobs independently govern the digital reverb parameters, while drag hastens or slows its multiple pinging delays, and dampen and mix act like tone and wet/dry mix controls respectively. The pedal is true bypass with mono input and output jacks, and powered by a nine-volt adapter.
PERFORMANCE Six knobs may seem like overkill for a reverb, but the way the controls interact allows for sweeping aural pandemonium that’s fantastic for creating background ambience, static white noise or atmospheric layering.
It should be noted that it’s difficult to coax traditional reverb sounds from the Afterneath. Even with the drag (short delays) and reflect (reverb regeneration) knobs fully counterclockwise, the pedal quickly begins to regenerate, with notes bubbling up to the surface and launching into a perpetual swirl. The effect is mesmerizing but what makes it even more intriguing is to turn drag clockwise as you play and hear how those same sounds start to stretch into hyperspace and ultimately get swallowed up into a black hole. It would be nice if drag had an expression pedal jack for hands-free control, but that’s just a minor quibble.
For even more reverberation, diffuse adds washed-out spread when turned fully clockwise, and when it’s combined with both reflect and drag set close to noon, chords oscillate and ping into dense chaos. Twisting the drag control counterclockwise in this setting creates a pitch-bending effect of a descending alien spacecraft.
STREET PRICE $225
MANUFACTURER EarthQuaker Devices, earthquakerdevices.com
Twisting the drag knob spits out short, ping-pong delays that can be slowed down or sped up for warped-out sounds. At high settings, the reflect knob regenerates the reverb into frenzied self-oscillation that lingers.
THE BOTTOM LINE The Afterneath is a captivating special effects pedal that pumps out cavernous reverbs and shimmering short delays for total orchestral-sounding ambience.
Here's one we intended to share last month, when blues legend B.B. King was still in hospice, suffering from diabetes-related health issues.
It's a clip of 10-year-old U.K. guitarist Toby Lee performing an instrumental version of King's "The Thrill Is Gone" as a get-well tribute to his favorite guitarist.
The video went viral, thanks to Joe Bonamassa and Gibson Guitar, both of whom shared the touching clip via social media. At this point, the video has been watched more than 5 million times.
"I put up a tribute to B.B. King because at that moment he was my favorite guitarist," Toby said. "Joe Bonamassa helped. He's also one of my favorite guitarists, and he's really, really good, and I nearly fell down the stairs because I was so shocked [that he shared it]."
King died May 14 at age 89.
This video and article offer introductory electric blues guitar concepts from guitarist and music educator John Heussenstamm. Author and co-author of multiple widely distributed books and videos from major music education publishers, and recipient of more than 10 million views on YouTube, Heussenstamm now can be reached for live online lessons via Lessonface.
As you can see in the brief video below, the addition of certain key techniques can add a great deal of expression to your playing. In this video, I demonstrate some simple introductory concepts using the first position of the A minor pentatonic scale.
I also discuss how 7th chords allow you to interact with the major and minor pentatonic scales, and I briefly demonstrate the difference between these sounds.
Of course, there's a lot more to learn after you digest this video. Before we can explore all the possibilities related to the electric blues style of guitar playing, we need to be familiar with concepts that relate to positions and keys.
Even if we feel we are getting good at the techniques of the blues, such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, sliding, bending, vibrato, etc., sooner or later we have to focus on the different keys and ways to correctly position ourselves. For me, the most important thing to know is where the root notes are in the key the song is in. I chose the key of E for this lesson because there are more E notes on the fretboard due to open E strings. The first line shows E notes up and down the neck.
Did you notice an E note can be played on every string? Did you know the same E note or unison note can be played on different strings? The first five notes were all in the same register. The other E notes are organized in octaves.
For me the best way to remember where these notes are and the significance of knowing that is learning how to play the same melody in different positions. The following nine riffs or melodies are all the same but in different positions and some in different octaves.
This knowledge really can boost your confidence. When you know where the root notes are in any key, you have the foundation points for improvisation and chord building. If you wanted to play in the key of F move everything up one fret. It's as easy as that.
The next challenge would be to take a riff or melody and move it into other positions like I did without examples or any help. Find the E note within the riff and move it to another E note and repeat or recreate the same melody. If you succeed at this with full comprehension of what you are doing you're on your way to becoming a competent player. For me this became really important when I got interested in jazz.
Blues riff between two octaves. There's more to come in the future.
If you found this information to be helpful and wish to continue studying along these lines, please follow our future articles with John Heussenstamm and look for Heussenstamm on Lessonface.
John Heussenstamm offers live online lessons and classes on Lessonface.com. Learn more.
If you dream of having a successful career in today's competitive music industry, you'll want to start at the right place. That means thinking about gaining the knowledge, skills and experience that can only be taught at a music college.
Musicians Institute, the College of Contemporary Music, has a state-of-the-art campus in the epicenter of the entertainment industry: Hollywood, California. The school's newly revised, hi-tech curriculum was designed by MI's vice president of Academic Affairs—experienced touring musician, session drummer and educator Donny Gruendler.
Musicians Institute has a variety of programs to match your needs and interests. No matter where you decide to study music, knowing what it takes to have a successful career in the music industry should be your starting point.
MI's new e-book, 6 Things You Should Consider When Choosing a Music College, is full of useful pointers!
For more about Musicians Institute, visit mi.edu.
In this lesson, I'm going to teach you an arpeggio exercise that will help improve your music theory and knowledge of the fretboard.
Players often play exercises only to improve technique, but it's important to vary your exercises to focus on other important parts of guitar playing. Although this exercise is based on arpeggios, it is meant to help you visualize scales differently from the standard "three note per string" shapes.
How can learning an arpeggio exercise help with scales?
The answer is simple: Arpeggios are derived from scales. A big problem for guitarists is not being able to switch between the two in a musical way. When you listen to solos, particularly in rock/metal, when guitarists play arpeggios, they are usually played with a sweeping or tapping technique, playing exclusively arpeggio sequences. Then when you hear scales, it's the same problem, but usually they are being played as ascending or descending alternate-picked sequences.
Hardly ever will you hear a player integrate the two and sound musical and melodic. It all comes back to the age-old problem of guitar players whose solos sound like a bunch of exercises stuck together. There's the metaphor about players who sound like robots. These "robot" guitar players usually have two modes of lead playing: "scale mode" and "arpeggio mode." In the following weeks, I'm going to be working on a series of lessons to help you play less like a robot.
My exercise is very simple and based off building arpeggios from scales. A simple way to look at building arpeggios is by stacking third intervals or simply skipping notes within a scale. For example, from the A minor scale (A B C D E F G), you would make an A minor arpeggio (A C E). You skip the B and D notes to make the arpeggio. You can carry on skipping notes within the scale to make larger arpeggios until you have eventually used every note from the scale to make an A minor 13th chord (A C E G B D F).
This exercise applies that same system to every note within the key of A minor to make seven different 13th arpeggios. From every note of the A minor scale we build a 13th arpeggio by stacking thirds and play them in order.
When playing this exercise, don't just memorize the frets from the tab; learn each note you are playing and visualize how ascending and descending through each arpeggio relates to the key scale of A minor. The way I have arranged the notes on the fretboard is not important, and if you have a good understanding of the theory behind the exercise, you should experiment with your own fretting.
The goal of this exercise is to help develop your fretboard knowledge of scales. For that reason, each arpeggio is built strictly using only notes from the A minor scale. Some of the arpeggios in this exercise are not "normal" 13th arpeggios, which would usually involve flattening of certain intervals. However, if you can visualize how an arpeggio is derived from a scale, you can better incorporate them into your solos without relying on arpeggio shapes, which will usually end up sounding like exercises.
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England who now lives in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and toured Japan, the US and Canada in 2012. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.
Power chords, once your fingers are comfortable with the stretching, are mind-numbingly simple.
That's not a bad thing and I wouldn't say that power chords are "cheap" or "too easy."
Because they get the job done, right? So why wouldn't we use them? They’re functional and adequate to the task.
In the right context, power chords are a beautiful thing. When music demands a heavy, smooth and easy-to-digest chord progression (like in modern rock, pop, metal, etc.), a root note, a consonant interval (perfect fifth) and perhaps an octave thrown in for good measure, are all you really need.
We can play as many chords as we want all using the same shape; just shift frets or strings.
But what if we wanted to dress things up a little bit? What if we wanted to make our power chords more dynamic and melodic?
Adding some flavor and variety to your power chord progressions can really take your playing up a notch and set you apart. It's an especially handy technique for those who fill the role of both a lead and rhythm guitar player.
There are two primary techniques you can use to do it; intervals and dyads. Let’s cover intervals first.
First Technique: Add Major or Minor Intervals
Assume you're lucky enough to be playing a chord progression that is entirely in a major key. Even better, let's just say you're going from D to A. Tabbing it out would look like this:
What if you wanted to add some melody or even just variety? We can use major intervals to do so, since we're theoretically dealing with two major chords. So where do we put these intervals?
You'll need to target areas where you have long pauses or holds on a single chord. So in this situation, we can assume (for illustrative purposes) that the D chord gets held for a short few beats, while the A chord is held longer.
That means the A chord is where we can move a bit more and add some creative intervals.
Use the open A note to play your second A chord (bracketed).
We can now start adding intervals to our A chord. Here are a few options:
It's a simple, but effective, strategy.
You can employ the same interval shifts with any other power chord. Say we don't have an open chord to work with, like in the case of this G:
We can still add intervals by shifting the note at the fifth fret, currently a perfect fifth, in relation to the root note at the third fret.
Here's what I came up with.
As you can see, the only note that needs to change is the interval of the root. The root note itself doesn't move.
That means you can use this tactic as often as you want within any power chord in any given progression.
If the progression contains minor chords, you'll have to make sure to hit notes that resolve to a minor tune. But that will come with habit, muscle memory and time.
Second Technique: Add Octave Dyads
A second strategy is to use simple, two-note dyads to add short melodies over power chords. This has become a widely used technique in the post-grunge era and has been typified by many modern guitarists.
To illustrate this example, I find it best to start with an open D chord in drop-D, like the following tab:
Start with your D root note on the second string (fifth fret), add its corresponding octave (third string, seventh fret) and reapply some of the intervals we already covered by simply moving the octave shape up the fretboard.
We can apply the same principle with the G chord as our base and the 2-3-5 fret climb is our melody.
Once you get comfortable, start planting these runs in between chords. Like this:
Not only does this break the monotony of a chord progression, but it adds some melodic flavor to what is otherwise a one-dimensional and linear sound.
Because sometimes a guitar player needs to handle both rhythm and lead, especially today when many groups employ only one guitarist. Being able to play heavy, while also having enough skill and musical awareness to add melody and variety to your chord progressions makes you a far more valuable musician.
And while they aren't all you need to accomplish that, dyadic octaves and intervals can give you a lot of mileage as they're excellent tools to work with.
If you play a lot of power chords you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
Just learn how to make them count.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of maury.mccown
The Rolling Stones have premiered an alternate version of "Dead Flowers" that will appear on the upcoming reissue of the band's legendary 1971 album, Sticky Fingers.
This newly unearthed version is an interesting alternate, in that it's both bluesier and more hard-edged than the country-fied take that ended up on Sticky Fingers.
The reissue of Sticky Fingers is due June 9 and also will feature a version of "Brown Sugar" recorded with Eric Clapton, an acoustic version of "Wild Horses" and alternate takes of "Bitch" and "Can't You Hear Me Knocking."
Check out the alternate take of "Dead Flowers" below, and let us know what you think in the comments and on Facebook!
Ever wanted to hear Metallica's "Master of Puppets" with the drum sound of "St. Anger"? Probably not.
But in case curiosity strikes you, YouTube user data_dreams 2000 has created a mix of "Master of Puppets" with the infamously dull drum sound of "St. Anger."
St. Anger is one of the least-loved items in Metallica's discography, and its flat drum sound certainly hasn't helped its standing. Ergo, hearing the much-criticized drums of St. Anger transplanted onto one of Metallica's most famed tracks is a strange experience, to say the least.
Check it out for yourself below, and let us know what you think in the comments and on Facebook!
Guitar World’s July 2015 issue features Lynyrd Skynyrd. As they gear up to release their latest live record, One More for the Fans!, guitarist Gary Rossington reflects on his career as the sole surviving original member of the Southern rock giants.
Then, in an excerpt from his new biography on the rise of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Whiskey Bottles and Brand-New Cars: The Fast Life and Sudden Death of Lynyrd Skynyrd, author Mark Ribowsky provides a harrowing account of the 1977 plane crash that rocked the music world.
Also, from "Free Bird" to "That Smell" and "Swamp Music" to "Call Me the Breeze," we pay tribute to the legends of Southern rock by ranking their 25 best tracks.
Also in the issue, Guitar World gets freaky with Kirk Hammett as the second annual Kirk Von Hammett's Fear FestEvil, the Metallica guitarist's star-studded celebration of all things metal and horror.
Finally, Guitar World presents a selection of 15 of the tastiest seven- and eight-string axes on the market today.
PLUS: Tune-ups: Whitesnake play Deep Purple, Slayer in the studio, Mark Tremonti, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and more, Soundcheck: Eventide H9 Max multi-effect pedal, EVH Wolfgang WG Standard electric, Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII amp and much more!
Five Songs with Tabs for Guitar and Bass:
• Lynyrd Skynyrd - "I Know A Little"
• System of a Down - "Chop Suey!"
• Grateful Dead - "Sugar Magnolia"
• 38 Special - "Hold On Loosely"
• Metallica - "Stone Cold Crazy"
Guitar World celebrates the heaviest of the heavy—from "Revolution Is My Name" to "This Love" ... from "Cemetery Gates" to "Cowboys from Hell" ...
Check out our guide to the 25 greatest Pantera songs of all time!
Note: This list is from GW's recent Dimebag Darrell tribute issue. To check out a video of our exclusive tour of Dime's guitar vault, home and recording studio, step right this way.
The Great Southern Trendkill (1996)
One of Pantera’s most haunting compositions, “10’s” comes into focus slowly, floating in on an ethereal, if crusty-sounding, bent-note Dimebag riff. The warped guitars and slow pacing provide an appropriately uneasy environment for a weary vocal from Phil Anselmo, who documents a man “disgusted with [his] cheapness” and destroying himself from the inside out through addiction.
An acoustic guitar interlude and a liquid Dime solo that, for a few bars at least, unexpectedly wanders into major-key territory, allow a few seconds of sunshine to poke through the black clouds. But overall, “10’s” is positively chilling and all-consuming in its atmosphere of impending doom.
24. “Goddamn Electric”
Reinventing the Steel (2000)
Pantera’s final studio album didn’t actually reinvent the steel, but thanks to tracks like “Goddamn Electric” they certainly reclaimed their title as the masters of metal heading into the new millennium. This song’s main riff stomps along like Godzilla slowly moshing to “Walk,” and the entire tune wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Vulgar Display of Power.
Dimebag’s solo is killer, but the thriller is a guest spot by Slayer’s Kerry King, who delivers a wicked whammy-bar blast to close out the song’s final 45 seconds. Pantera rarely featured guests on their albums, so this appearance by Dime’s blood brother is an unexpected surprise.
23. “It Makes Them Disappear”
Reinventing the Steel
“It Makes Them Disappear” kicks off with a psychedelic, cleanly voiced guitar lick, but from there the song quickly descends into a molasses-thick pit of sludge. The downtuned, wobbly guitars and bloated bass, not to mention Anselmo’s raw-throated delivery, suggest a song that could have been tackled just as appropriately by the singer’s doomy southern metal side project, Down.
And yet, the final two minutes of the tune are largely a Dimebag showcase, with the guitarist ripping out an incredibly bluesy and melodic solo, albeit one that sounds like it’s being delivered from the depths of a tar pit.
“The majority of Reinventing the Steel was recorded with the guitar tuned down a whole step [low to high: D G C F A D],” Dime told Guitar World in early 2000. “The cool thing about this tuning, besides sounding heavy, is that your guitar feels totally different—the strings are real loose and spongy, which means you can get some big-assed bends and killer wide vibrato happening.”
Power Metal (1988)
Pantera’s pre-Cowboys albums aren’t particularly highly regarded—even by the band members themselves—but out of all of those efforts Power Metal had more than a few worthy moments. “P*S*T*88” (“Pussy Tight”) is particularly noteworthy as it features one of Dimebag’s rare performances as lead vocalist.
The overall recording resembles a mash-up of Judas Priest and Kill Em All–era Metallica, and Dimebag even sounds like the mutant offspring of James Hetfield and Rob Halford, proving that he could have been a frontman if he so desired.
21. “Planet Caravan”/“Hole in the Sky”
Far Beyond Driven & The Best of Pantera (2003)
The list of Pantera influences is long and includes bands like Judas Priest, Slayer and even King’s X, Kiss and Van Halen, but Black Sabbath were their biggest influence.
They name-checked them in the lyrics to “Goddamn Electric,” and of the six cover songs they recorded in the studio during their career, three of them were Black Sabbath tunes. “Planet Caravan” was originally intended for the Nativity in Black tribute album, but when it was cut due to a record company dispute, they added it to the end of Far Beyond Driven.
Pantera’s faithful rendition of “Hole in the Sky” debuted on the Japanese 2001 “Revolution Is My Name” EP along with the non-LP track “Immortally Insane.”
The Great Southern Trendkill
Despite the fact that Pantera called the album that “Floods” appeared on The Great Southern Trendkill, this song sounds an awful lot like grunge (particularly Soundgarden), one of the many musical genres at which the cocky album title takes aim.
Regardless, it’s still a very good song, which was made great by what many consider to be the finest guitar solo Dimebag ever laid down in the studio.
The sweetly melodic main guitar figure in the intro and ending often gets overlooked, but it’s a fine example of Dimebag’s emotional range, proving that there was much more to his playing than his usual blunt-force trauma.
19. “Shedding Skin”
Far Beyond Driven (1994)
“Shedding Skin” continues the theme of emotional cleansing that Phil Anselmo began on Far Beyond Driven’s previous track, “25 Years.”
Only here the singer’s object of ire is not his father but rather a former girlfriend. The song comes crashing in right out of the gate with a choppy, staircase-like unison riff from Dime and Rex. But then it abruptly shifts gears into a mellow verse punctuated by Dimebag’s gently plucked guitar harmonics, over which Anselmo paints a vivid and disturbing picture of a relationship as a scabrous membrane needing to be excised from his body.
By the song’s climactic finale, Anselmo finds the only escape is to shed his own skin “to peel you off of me.” Dimebag then punctuates the singer’s cathartic metamorphosis with an appropriately anguished and squealing solo.
18. “25 Years”
Far Beyond Driven
Both this song and the same album’s “Becoming” are said to deal with Phil Anselmo’s difficult relationship with his father. But whereas the latter wraps the singer’s paternal purging in a catchy riff and an almost inspirational lyric, “25 Years” is a dark and twisted descent into the deepest recesses of his pain.
Anselmo delivers his lyrics to a “weakling” and a “liar” in a monotone bark, and each syllable he utters is backed by a similarly minimal one-note chord hit. It’s a brilliantly corrosive, almost claustrophobic arrangement that finally breaks four-and-a-half minutes in—Dime, Rex and Vinnie open up the song with a quicker groove and Anselmo turns the tables, announcing himself the bastard father to Pantera’s unwashed and unwanted masses of fans.
“We’re fucking you back!” he screams repeatedly, exorcising his demons and finding a little bit of redemption in the almighty power of the riff.
17. “Strength Beyond Strength”
Far Beyond Driven
Hardcore punk and thrash were always closely related, but rarely did the twain meet more effectively than on “Strength Beyond Strength.” Fans who popped new copies of Far Beyond Driven into their CD players in 1994 and were greeted by the initial sonic assault of “Strength Beyond Strength” can be forgiven for thinking that the Exploited’s latest album was mistakenly inserted in the case.
When the breakneck pace slows to a grind a little more than a minute into the song, the mood and attitude becomes unmistakably Pantera, especially after Dimebag unleashes an eerie harmonized guitar interlude about another minute later.
16. “War Nerve”
The Great Southern Trendkill
By the time of The Great Southern Trendkill, Pantera were bona fide rock stars. As such, their music and, in particular, Anselmo’s lyrics and actions as a frontman, had started to be put under a mainstream microscope.
Among other things, the band and singer had been hit with charges in the media of racism and homophobia, and “War Nerve” was in a way Anselmo’s response to these and other accusations: “For every fucking second the pathetic media pisses on me,” he rants in the chorus, “Fuck you all.” The band backs him up with one of the leanest and most direct arrangements to be found in their post Vulgar-output.
In fact, “War Nerve” is a rare instance in which there’s no Dime solo to be found. That said, his brother Vinnie picks up the slack with a vicious and unusually busy drum performance.
15. “Mouth for War”
Vulgar Display of Power (1992)
“Mouth for War” is a prime example of Pantera at the height of their early Nineties powers: Vinnie Paul bashes out a machine-gun beat, Dimebag and Rex pair up on a wickedly intricate yet incredibly catchy riff built on sheets of sliding power chords, and Phil Anselmo barks out a self-empowerment lyric with searing rage and intensity.
And the music video, which presented the band mostly in stark black-and-white and with plenty of chaotic strobe lighting for effect, only further cemented their status as the new kings of metal. When people think of Pantera, it is most likely this iteration of the band, led by a shaven-headed, bare-chested Anselmo, that comes to mind. By the time they break into a ferocious double-time groove and Anselmo signs off with the line, “No one can piss on this determination,” only a fool would dare to disagree with the sentiment.
14. “5 Minutes Alone”
Far Beyond Driven
When the pissed-off father of a Pantera heckler who was beaten up at a show said that he wanted five minutes alone with Phil Anselmo, the band turned that threat into this song.
Of course anyone who knows Anselmo also knows that five minutes alone with him is the last thing anyone would want. The slow, ground-and-pound groove behind this song suggests that Phil would probably take his sweet time delivering the beat down, but while the instigator who influenced this song would probably be screaming for mercy by the song’s end, listeners are begging for more as the riff fades into oblivion.
Cowboys from Hell (1990)
Pantera are often seen as the progenitors of groove metal, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more defining example of the style than the first 30 seconds of this classic.
In fact, from the raging intro/chorus riff, to the stop-start verse, to the brutal breakdown that ends the song, “Domination” is basically one ridiculously savage power-groove after another. Given this fact, the song was also used as the band’s live set opener during shows in 1990 and 1991, as it was guaranteed to immediately whip a crowd into a batshit-crazy frenzy. As for what is screamed at the very beginning of the song?
General consensus points to “Fart stinks like a motherfucker!” Which might help to explain the ferocity with which the band then tears into the opening riff.
12. “I’m Broken”
Far Beyond Driven
Pantera wisely placed Far Beyond Driven’s three best songs (“Becoming,” “5 Minutes Alone,” “I’m Broken”) near the album’s beginning. “I’m Broken” was the last of this triple threat, neatly completing the band’s most devastating studio recording hat trick.
“I think that ‘I’m Broken’ is the riff of all riffs,” Rex Brown says, and for most Pantera fans it would be hard to disagree. Anselmo compares the song to the blues, but has there ever been a blues song with lyrics as cryptic and critical as “Too young for one’s delusion the lifestyle cost/Venereal mother embrace the loss”?
Far Beyond Driven
Anyone who went to a Pantera concert between 1994 and 2001 knows why “Becoming” is revered by the band’s fans. The combination of Vinnie Paul’s military drum corps–inspired double-kick rumble and Dimebag’s gut-pummeling riff instantly instigated the most violent mosh pits known to mankind, and the energy that filled the room was so electric that no one would have been surprised if thunder clouds suddenly formed.
Dimebag’s solo is the ultimate anti-solo, saying more in an obnoxious burst of noise than most players say in entire careers. The way he uses a Whammy Pedal to make his guitar sound like a howler monkey in a Vitamix is simply brilliant.
10. “The Art of Shredding”
Cowboys from Hell
A classic Eighties-style thrasher, “The Art of Shredding” combines the heavily scooped guitar tone and speed-metal attack of bands like Testament and Overkill with the type of meta subject matter and gang-shouted background vocals that have always been Exodus’ stock in trade.
In that respect, it’s hardly the most progressive moment on Cowboys from Hell. But with its rollercoaster ride of whiplash riffs and rhythms, it is one of the most enjoyable. Furthermore, Dimebag tops off the proceedings with a gonzo, whammy-filled solo that ably demonstrates that shredding is, in fact, very much an art.
9. “Revolution Is My Name”
Reinventing the Steel
While Dimebag’s atonal guitar howls on this song’s intro may be the weirdest sounds ever to grace a Grammy-nominated song, the remainder of this tune wouldn’t have been out of place on an early Black Sabbath album.
Anselmo even sounds a bit like Ozzy in a few parts—perhaps after Ozzy woke up hung over and gargled with benzene and razor blades. Beyond the classic metal melodiousness, what makes this song so damn good is the way it seamlessly darts between dramatic tempo and rhythmic shifts and somehow sounds cohesive.
After delivering a note-perfect metal solo, complete with harmonies, Dimebag returns to the groove with sounds that defy transcription, proving revolution was his name.
8. “Drag the Waters”
The Great Southern Trendkill
As one of the most straightforward and definitively Pantera songs on The Great Southern Trendkill, “Drag the Waters” was the obvious choice to be the album’s first single.
While it mostly treads familiar ground, it also finds the band growing in new directions. Dimebag’s guitar tone in particular is more massive than ever, and you don’t need to be Bruce Dickinson to love the cowbell that Vinnie Paul lays down with his drum track.
Anyone needing a track to explain what Pantera’s “power groove” means would be wise to choose “Drag the Waters,” as it’s heavy as hell, but you can still shake your ass to it.
The solo is particularly tasty, as Dimebag goes for more of a slow burn than his usual balls-to-the-wall explosions of speed. “That lead is kinda like an old Van Halen thing, where the band breaks to feature the solo,” Dimebag said in 1996. “Actually, on this one I ended up keeping a lot of the original guide-track stuff I laid down while we were cutting the drums. Sometimes you record something that you plan on redoing later, but then when you listen back to it you decide to keep it because you realize that it’s gonna be real tough to beat!”
7. “Message in Blood”
Cowboys from Hell
This deep Cowboys cut comes on like a demented sonic funhouse, replete with eerie atmospherics, detached voices laughing behind Anselmo’s vocal (with lyrics ostensibly about the Charles Manson murders) and constantly changing tempos and attacks.
The first half is an all-out creepfest highlighted by Anselmo’s blood-curdling screams. Then the tone abruptly shifts as Dimebag steps up with an intensely layered and textured solo, which only leads into more instrumental twists and turns.
A disorienting and disturbing prog-metal death trip.
Vulgar Display of Power
Pantera wasn’t the kind of band that radio warmed up to during the Nineties, but in the rare instances when Pantera did get airplay it was usually this song.
Dimebag often described Pantera’s music as “power goove,” and “Walk” may be the best example of what he meant, even though it swaggered along to an unorthodox 12/8 time signature. The chromatic open low E string and first-fret riff seems simpler than it actually is, thanks to Dimebag’s expert string bends, salacious swing and impeccable feel.
To match the menace of Phil Anselmo’s Travis Bickle–inspired taunts, he tuned his guitar down a little more than a whole step, until the strings growled through his solid-state Randall amps.
5. “This Love”
Vulgar Display of Power
Back in 1992, “This Love” was a staple video on MTV and even climbed to Number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
With a verse consisting of watery guitar arpeggios and Phil Anselmo’s crooned vocals offset by a mammoth, aggro chorus, the song signified Pantera’s big mainstream power-ballad moment—except other power ballads didn’t feature lyrics like, “I’d kill myself for you/I’d kill you for myself,” or a video in which a prostitute murders an overly frisky john in the back of a taxicab.
The song also wraps with a breakdown so crushingly slow and heavy that it could make a thousand metalcore bands wet their pants. But these moments still didn’t save the band from ridicule at the hands of the ultimate metalheads of the day, Beavis and Butt-head: “Is that a tear, Pantera?” taunted Beavis while watching the “This Love” video in an episode of the MTV cartoon. “Is daddy’s little girl upset?”
Cowboys from Hell (1990)
One listen to Phil Anselmo shrieking his way through the verses on “Shattered” might lead you to wonder whether somebody slipped a Judas Priest disc into your Pantera jewel case.
But the singer’s histrionics are just one of many ways in which this Cowboys track deviates from the Pantera norm. From Anselmo’s vocals to Dimebag’s nimble, racing riff to his uncharacteristically traditional-sounding shred solo, “Shattered” is three-minutes-and-twenty-one seconds of steroid-injected, Eighties-style Technicolor metal, and one of the few post-major-label nods to Pantera’s “glam era” output.
And yet, while the song is miles away in tone and temperament from, say, “Suicide Note Pt. II,” it’s hardly a puff piece. The jackhammer pace and explosive guitar pyrotechnics (both Abbott brothers shine here)—not to mention its sheer “otherness” in relation to the rest of the post–Power Metal Pantera catalog—make “Shattered” something of a hidden and enormously entertaining gem.
As an added bonus, the song is spackled with a nice helping of Eighties-metal cheese: Anselmo’s castrato screams on the song’s title (harmonized for our pleasure); Dime’s whiz-bang outro solo; and a finale that climaxes with the sound of—you guessed it—a piece of glass being shattered.
3. “A New Level”
Vulgar Display of Power (1992)
Though it was never issued as a single, “A New Level” is arguably as well known as any of the Vulgar Display of Power cuts that were. Its intro riff, built on a slowly ascending barrage of crushing chromatics, is as iconic as the opening of “Walk” or “Mouth for War.”
The song also features some subtle shifts in dynamics, such as the chromatic half-step modulation that occurs as Anselmo’s vocal enters at the verse, and the way Dimebag varies his attack on the intro, sometimes playing the chords wide open, at other times with slight palm muting and yet at others with an extremely tight chunk. Of course, subtle is hardly the word to describe “A New Level.” Rather, it’s a classic Pantera rager that finds the band in full-on anthem mode, with Anselmo issuing a call to arms for the shit-, pissed- and spit-on metal masses. But it was Dime’s riffing that also helped the tune reach beyond those metal masses.
On the 2008–2009 Sticky & Sweet tour, Madonna ended performances of her retro-disco hit “Hung Up” by leading her band through a few bars of the song’s intro. What’s more, the Material Girl herself even riffed along on a black Les Paul. A new level, indeed.
2. “Cemetery Gates”
Cowboys from Hell (1990)
As far as heavy metal epics go, “Cemetery Gates” belongs in the company of celebrated classics like Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Metallica’s “One.”
Clocking in at 7:03, it’s the longest studio song Pantera recorded. It’s also by far the pinnacle songwriting achievement of Dimebag Darrell, Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul when they worked together in Pantera, with a masterfully structured arrangement that seamlessly ebbs and flows to support the eerie mood before it builds to its dramatic conclusion.
Dimebag’s virtuoso performance, from his melodic solos to the harmonic whammy-bar screams at the song’s climax, features some of his finest work.
1. “Cowboys from Hell”
Cowboys from Hell (1990)
With its razor-sharp riff, pummeling groove and ominous “we’re taking over this town” refrain, “Cowboys from Hell” started life as a rallying cry for the reborn version of Pantera circa 1989.
As the first track on Pantera’s major-label debut of the same name, it quickly became the band’s anthem for the rest of its existence. The song proclaimed in no uncertain terms that Pantera meant serious business as the next contenders to metal’s throne, while Dimebag Darrell’s delicious solo boldly announced that a new guitar hero was in town and loaded for bear.
Although “Cowboys from Hell” was allegedly the first song that Pantera wrote for the album, by the time Pantera finished recording Cowboys from Hell they contemplated cutting it from the final version. The band felt that the song seemed too tame and commercial compared to the album’s other material, particularly the newer songs they wrote in the studio while recording.
Pantera’s manager, Walter O’Brien, convinced them otherwise. “I knew that Pantera were going to be called the Cowboys from Hell from then on,” he says.
“Every great band has a nickname. Bruce Springsteen is the Boss. ZZ Top is that Little Ol’ Band from Texas. Cowboys from Hell was perfect for them. I rarely insist on anything creative from a band, but I just knew it was a massive song. Dimebag put the CFH logo on everything, and he lived that persona.”
Below, behold the 42-string Picasso guitar!
The bizarre instrument, which was built for jazz god Pat Metheny about 30 years ago by luthier Linda Manzer, was inspired by the cubist paintings of its well-known-painter namesake (as in Pablo Picasso).
Besides the video below, the guitar can be heard on Metheny's “Into the Dream” and on the albums Quartet, Imaginary Day, Jim Hall & Pat Metheny, Trio Live and more.
For more about Manzer, visit manzer.com/guitars.
YouTuber Jared Dines and Anthony Vincent of “Ten Second Songs” have teamed up and collaborated to create a cover of “The Star Spangled Banner” in 10 different song styles, including one in the form of death metal.
Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments!
For more on Jared Dines, follow him on YouTube and Facebook. You can also follow Anthony Vincent on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter as well.
Earlier this month, Finnish shredders Santa Cruz visited the Guitar World studio in New York City to play "We Are the Ones to Fall," a track off their self-titled 2015 album.
They also caused a bit of mayhem and destruction!
Check out the new clip below, which features Santa Cruz guitarists Archie Cruz and Johnny Cruz.
The recent passing of the great B.B. King has inspired a host of casual blues fans to dig deep into their record collections—or into the depths of their iTunes libraries—to take a quick refresher course on exactly what made King so special, so rare.
Oddly enough, I had actually started revisited his expansive catalog back in April, the week before he was reported ill.
Which then led me to look for seldom-seen clips of King and his beloved Gibson guitar, Lucille, in action—hopefully with my favorite guitarist of all time, Stevie Ray Vaughan, along for the ride.
Luckily, there's a handful of King-and-Vaughan clips available on YouTube. My favorite of them all, however, is this pro-shot video from April 22, 1988, when Vaughan, King and fellow blues legend Albert Collins performed "Texas Flood" aboard the S.S. President as part of the 1988 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
While I usually think of King as "the guitarist who says more with one note than most guitarists say with 20," he seems to have abandoned that philosophy in this clip in favor of some B.B. King-style shredding. Maybe he was inspired by the two fleet-fingered Texans on stage with him.
What we hear (and see) is actually a very exciting, fluid and extended solo by King, who kicks things off with one of the Albert King-style bends so strongly associated with SRV's studio and live versions of the Larry Davis composition.
Up next is a solo by Vaughan, who is his usual one-in-a-billion self, followed by a tasteful solo by Collins, who was known as "the master of the Telecaster" and "the Ice Man." It's fun to go from the tones of King's Gibson Lucille model to Vaughan's Strat to Collin's extra-pointy Tele.
There's a lot of great guitar playing in this video, and it's great to see all the smiling faces and beautiful gear. But it's also a sad reminder that some of the greatest blues players of modern times are gone forever. Vaughan died August 27, 1990, just before turning 36. Collins died November 24, 1993, at age 60. King died May 14, 2015, at age 89.
You can find Damian Fanelli's most recent liner notes in Sony Legacy's Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings box set from 2014. Follow him on Twitter.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of "Rosalee," a new live track by the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
"Rosalee" is from the band's new album, Betty’s Blends, Volume Two: Best From The West, which was recorded and mixed live from the board by legendary Grateful Dead archivist Betty Cantor-Jackson. The seven-track collection presents performances captured throughout the CRB's 2014 summer tour of the western U.S. It will be released June 2.
"Rosalee," which you can check out below, was recorded at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur.
“This edition has a second set kind of vibe," Cantor-Jackson says. "There are some tunes with experimental spaces and some with a very different feel from slamming rock to majestic and soulful ballads. The CRB are inventive, expressive and poetic. They hit so many notes that bring such delight. This is the joy I want to preserve. It’s the here and now of the moment. Nobody gets to fix it later. It’s already history.”
Betty's Blends, Volume Two will be issued by Robinson's own label imprint, Silver Arrow Records, as a limited-edition release with only 2,000 2LP sets, 2,000 CDs and 2,000 downloads available. The approach is true to Robinson’s farm-to-table aesthetic for the CRB.
“We’re running our band and record label as a mom-and-pop endeavor, so we're free to experiment with new concepts for how to get the music out to people," Robinson says. "The Betty's Blends series is just one way we're exploring that idea. This time around, it’s a small-batch release for connoisseurs.”
"Off we go on another sonic adventure through the ears and mind of the one and only Betty Cantor-Jackson," Robinson adds. "Clear some room, lay on the music and let the high times commence!”
Betty’s Blends, Volume Two: Best From The West is available now for preorder.
In this new video, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci walks you through the finer points of his signature JP100D guitar from Sterling by Music Man.
For more information about this model, check out the specs below and visit the guitar's page on sterlingbymusicman.com.
Nut Width: 42mm
Neck Width, 12th fret: 52mm
Body Wood: Basswood (JP100D-MKOA has a Mahogany body)
Body Top: Quilt Maple Veneer (JP100D-MKOA has a Koa top
Neck Wood: Maple
Fretboard Wood: Rosewood
Tuning Machines: Locking
Neck Joint: 5 Bolt
Fretboard Radius: 16”
Pickup Selector: 3 Way
Pickups: H/H, Dimarzio LiquiFireTM & Crunch Lab pickups
Bridge: Modern Tremolo
This month, I’m going to demonstrate how one can utilize simple triadic shapes and patterns in order to imply more complex and varied chord qualities.
I find this to be a very cool and useful improvisational tool, because you can apply it to playing over either a chord progression that you want to outline melodically or over a static pedal tone or one-chord vamp over which you want to superimpose shifting harmonic colors.
Let’s begin by outlining, and then combining, simple major and minor triads. FIGURES 1 and 2 illustrate the notes of a G major triad—G B D—played in seventh position. The relative minor triad of G major is E minor, and FIGURE 3 depicts an E minor triad played in the same position. Notice that both triads share two of the same notes, G and B.
The “magic” happens when we combine these two triads, and we can utilize and analyze the resulting sound within either a G major or an E minor context. FIGURE 4 shows the two triads combined, so in essence we’ve simply added the E note to the G major triad.
Adding E, the sixth of G, implies the sound of a G6 chord. If we play the same pattern over an E minor tonality, the resultant chordal implication is Em7, as shown in FIGURE 5, and the single-note triadic-based phrases evoke a different harmonic impression.
Let’s now apply this approach to a different tonal center. As shown in FIGURES 6 and 7, the combination of the notes of a C major triad—C E G—and an A minor triad—A C E—result in either a C6 sound, as shown in FIGURE 6, or an Am7 sound, as shown in FIGURE 7. The beauty of this exercise is that it demonstrates how the study of one theoretical concept and its associated single-note patterns can easily be applied to more than one tonal environment.
On a grand scale, this means that the study of one idea can be applied to many different harmonic environments, yielding a broader understanding of music theory as well as heightening one’s fretboard awareness.
Another great way to use this concept is to combine two different triads that are found within the same tonal center. For example, within the G major scale (G A B C D E F#), one can build a series of seven different triads by starting from each note in the scale and adding thirds above the starting note while remaining diatonic to (within the scale structure of) G major. If we start from B, the third degree of the G major scale, a B minor triad is formed by playing B D F#, notes that
are all thirds apart, as they occur within the G major.
FIGURE 8 illustrates a phrase that combines G major and B minor triads. We can then apply this approach to the relative minor of G, Em7, as shown in FIGURE 9. When looked at as a whole, combining G major and B minor triads implies a Gmaj13 chord, as shown in FIGURE 10.