I’m currently reading “Relentless”, the memoir of Yngwie J. Malmsteen, father of neoclassical metal shred guitar, and that has me digging back through some of his earliest recordings. Which leads to the 80s hair metal band Steeler – which Malmsteen joined when he moved to the US from Sweden as a 19 year old guitar wunderkind – and their 1983 debut album simply called “Steeler”.
Surprisingly, I find the music actually rather good! Malmsteen’s playing (both rhythm and lead) is of course excellent, even though he was at stated above, only 19 at the time. Most of the jaw dropping guitar pyrotechnics he is well-known for today, were already on full display back then, as was his brilliant phrasing, vibrato and note choice.
But the rest of the band, especially singer Ron Keel, put in strong performances as well and the song writing, at least for the hair metal style of that era, is very very good.
My favorite track is probably the 6 minute long stairway-to-heaven inspired “Serenade” which closes out the 9 song album. Apart from Malmsteen’s absolutely soaring lead lines, Ron Keel really shows his range and powerful voice on that moody minor key epic rock ballad as well.
Here is my cover of Joe Satriani’s “Ten Words” from his album Super Colossal. It’s one of his easier tunes to play, as far as not having any extreme guitar pyrotechnics involved, but nonetheless, I really love this song as it’s just such a sweet melody line.
I played all the lead parts in a single take, but did not create the backing track. You can get the backing track I used from this link.
Hope you like it, and I hope I did this beautiful mid-tempo rock ballad justice!
*** GEAR USED ***
Suhr Classic Pro
Kemper Profling Amp
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Logic Pro X
iPhone 6s Plus
In an early May 2018 interview, rock guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow) made some comments about guitar wizard Joe Satriani that really are somewhat less than complimentary. I won’t repeat the whole thing here as the interview is linked below and you can listen to it yourself.
But basically after saying that Satch is a “brilliant guitar player”, he goes on to make the declaration that Satch plays it too safe (code words for “no feel”) and that “worries” Blackmore. He says he never hears Satch “searching for notes” and playing “wrong notes” – he always plays the right notes, going so far as to say “something is wrong” with Satch’s “playing from the head” versus from the heart approach.
Well in my humble opinion Blackmore, great player and composer no doubt, is WRONG about Satch.
Yes Satch is technically almost always perfect and polished, but that’s his style and the result of the fact that he has mastered the instrument in the ways that he wants to play. He could intentionally sound sloppy (to sound like a “feel” player as per Blackmore) if he wanted to, but that’s not his normal way of playing.
That said, take a listen to the outro solo on Revelation from Professor Satchafunkalis and the Musterion of Rock. You can definitely hear Satch on there searching for notes, almost veering out of control at places, gloriously so at times, producing a wonderful blend of safe melodicism and verging on chaos exuberance.
Or listen to Andalusia from the same album for more examples of Satch in “search of notes”.
Sorry Ritchie Blackmore, it is your opinion of course, but you are wrong – you probably haven’t heard enough of Joe’s catalog of music to make the statements you did.
I came across The Wizard of Shred recently, which despite the slightly cheesy name, turns out to be a site with really really good info.
The owner is Claus Levin, who has a popular YouTube channel and several paid and free guitar courses available. I really like his way of breaking down challenges into bite sized manageable chunks and providing detailed steps to conquer those challenges, whether it’s alternate picking, sweeping, legato or anything else you want to achieve on the instrument.
Unfortunately it appears that he stopped updating this site as of Nov 2013, probably to focus his efforts more on his YT channel and other sites he runs. Nonetheless there’s still quite the treasure trove of insights to be found on The Wizard of Shred. Do check it out!
Oooo…. this sort of thing surely doesn’t come along too often. We have up for sale a 1962 Fender Stratocaster that was apparently at one time owned and played by Eric Johnson. Of course, it doesn’t come cheap but collectors will know the value of this Sunburst beauty.
Suitably road worn and scarred of course. Even if it wasn’t owned by Eric previously, it’s still a 1962 Strat! Gorgeous!
Looks pretty legit judging from this picture below:
As of time of writing, this is apparently still available for immediate purchase (for just south of $80K no less) on reverb.com.
A guitar backing track I recorded for Andy Wood’s gorgeous guitar instrumental ballad The Hardest Goodbye from his album Caught Between the Truth and a Lie.
Rhythm guitar, bass and drums only (no lead guitar). Done in the original key of Gm/Bmaj and tempo of 48 bpm, pretty much exactly as on the record.
If you record yourself jamming over this track, please post it in the comments, I’d love to hear what you come up with! This is a great track to improvise over, even if you don’t want to cover it exactly as Andy played it on his album.
*** GEAR USED ***
Suhr Classic Pro
Ibanez SGR Electric Bass
What is the best way to improve your ability to figure out guitar solos by ear?
Use a slow downer app, such as Transcribe (available on Windows and Mac, but not IOS), or Anytune (available on Mac and IOS). I own both and use them all the time. Transcribe has the added feature of being able to slow down video as well, which is super helpful in cases where you have a video of the guitarist playing the solo (Anytune can slow down the audio portion of the video but won’t show you the actual video playing in slowmo whereas Transcribe will give the audio with the video).
Learn your major, minor and major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales all over the neck, in all the common keys. You don’t have to memorise them all just yet. Google for scale diagrams for each of the above mentioned and keep the diagrams somewhere handy. When tackling a song, know that most pop and rock music is in one key for the entire song. So once you figure out the key, you have a pretty good idea that most of the solo is probably taking notes from one of those aforementioned scales. Since you have the scale diagrams handy, you won’t have to aimlessly peck at each note on the neck trying to find one that matches the solo – you will realize that the solo probably follows certain predictable patterns that correspond to the scale the guitarist is using.
There are deviations from #2 but that will get you there for probably at least 80% of the cases. Now Jazz solos are a whole other story, but I am guessing you are asking more from a rock and pop angle.
Ultimately, the more you do it, the better your ear will become. You will surprise yourself what you can figure out with time, especially with the help of the slow downer apps!
Pinball and Telecaster fans, fire up your engines for today’s guitar eye candy!
The $80K price tag on this custom shop Tele means it’s purely collector’s only territory. The body it seems was built from plywood taken from a genuine 40-year old Bally® pinball machine. Talk about attention to detail!