Over the following pages we will zoom in on the styles of 10 guitarists who qualify as members of the A-list shredder’s club. However, they all love to feature what we might call ‘bluesiness’ in their licks. So, while we will encounter some fairly advanced runs, including legato work featuring fast combinations of hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides - plus the occasional bit of tapping and hybrid picking - the equally important thrust of these licks is that they are musical and will sound ace at almost any speed.
Some of the world’s foremost hybrid pickers appear among our chosen 10, too, so prepare to become a great deal more familiar with this technique if you aren’t already. Pick and fingers may feel a little awkward at first, but if you persevere and add some patience to the mix, I promise that you will soon be hybrid picking your way into a whole new world of playing possibilities. It may even open up your playing to the extent of transforming it to a whole new level. Fact is, hybrid picking opens the gates to some exciting and fresh new ways of phrasing; not to mention that once you start feeling more comfortable with this technique it can be used to gain some truly impressive playing
Hybrid picking opens the gates to some exciting and fresh new ways of phrasing, and can be used to gain some impressive playing speed.
or less-than-related to the blues genre - jumping at the opportunity to express themselves in the context of the blues. Furthermore, the influence of blues today is incredibly pronounced. This is especially true in popular music, albeit often in a more polished and mechanical form.
For any guitarist, blues has such a deeply rooted, almost magical power inherent in it which - coupled with its ‘ease of access’ - makes it a great way to further explore the instrument – whether one is a beginner or a seasoned pro. In the words of the late, great Johnny Winter (himself something of a Texas Tornado): “I think the blues will always be around. People need it”.
So, without any further ado, our chosen 10 top blues-tinged shredders are: Richie Kotzen, Paul Gilbert, Greg Howe, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, Michael Schenker, Joe Bonamassa and Stevie Ray Vaughan. But don’t let that list intimidate you: these licks sound fantastic at any speed, and may even inspire you to get down to the woodshed!
We have 11 musical examples for you. One from each of our chosen 10 maestros, all in various keys and tempos; and finally one massive All-Star blues jam where scorching contributions from each of the 10 are played across four choruses of a heavy hitting 12-bar shuffle blues in E.
As always, remember the CD is there for you as a reference and guide, especially with those fast, fluid legato phrases that often look more scary than they really are. The backing tracks, too, are there for you to enjoy trying out playing all these licks on your own. Happy blues shredding!