Charlie Griffiths taps, slides and picks through the style of one of the most underrated rock guitarist of all time: the great Vito Bratta.
One of the most forgotten hair bands of the 80s: White Lion and Vito Bratta gets the Charlie Griffiths treatment
The White Lion tale started when vocalist Mike Tramp moved from his native Denmark to New York City and met guitarist Vito Bratta. They formed White Lion in 1983, were signed in 1984 and released their first album Fight To Survive in 1985. The album had some success, but things didn’t start to take off until Pride, in 1987. Full of solid rock songs fuelled by Bratta’s creative and technically brilliant guitar style, the lead single Wait made the top 10 and coincided with tours with AC/DC, Aerosmith and Kiss. Two years later, Big Game achieved similar success, but 1991’s Mane Attraction would be the last Tramp/Bratta release. The grunge explosion led to waning interest in hard rock and White Lion called it a day in late 1991.
This was also to be the last music Vito Bratta released as, soon after the Mane Attraction tour, he withdrew from the music business and remains something of an enigma. Some reports cite that a wrist injury has left Vito unable to play, but fans still hope for a ‘classic line up’ reunion.
Vito cites Page, Hendrix, Robin Trower and Van Halen as his main influences, the latter being the most obvious comparison due to Vito’s mastery of tapping. But solos from songs like Wait, Hungry and Goin’ Home Tonight, prove that Mr Bratta had his own melodic sensibility; often tapping an octave or more higher than the fretted note and bending and sliding tapped notes. Our solo example explores some of Vito’s approaches to tapping in the key of G major (G-A-B-C-DE-F#). Notice that the solo is very lateral, using the length of the second string to play the notes, rather than the usual scale shapes.
Not only is Vito a bona fide God-like rock guitarist, but his songwriting is also top notch with some of the most catchy and inventive riffs in the genre. So let’s look at some of his most awesome riffing techniques.
Our first riff could come straight off 1987’s Pride and it demonstrates Vito’s creativity
the explosion of grunge led to waning interest in hard rock and white lion decided to call it a day in late 1991
when playing a simple progression. Rather than sticking to strummed chords he would spice things up with arpeggiated picking and jaw-dropping licks. Raunchy riff 2 is more akin to Big Game-era Lion, while example 3 is an old-school rocker in the vein of their 1985 debut and is a good test of string-skipping. Our final riffs are inspired by 1991’s Mane Attraction, which moved away from hairmetal towards a more modern approach.
Practise each example slowly and accurately before attempting to play along with the backing tracks at full speed.
Vito Bratta: retired from music after White Lion split