Guitar Techniques - - Play: Hot Blues -

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!

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