gets 18 And Life for some guitar-related Monkey Business as he explores Scotti Hill and Dave Sabo of Skid Row’s style.
The two-pronged guitar attack of Scotti Hill and Dave Sabo has remained unchanged since Skid Row began in the late 80s. Prior to this Sabo was briefly with Bon Jovi, but left for Richie Sambora to resume guitar duties. When Skid Row’s self-titled debut album came out in 1989, Jon Bon Jovi helped his old friend by taking Skid Row on a worldwide stadium tour, lifting them to instant success. Having anthems like 18 And Life, I Remember You and Youth Gone Wild was an important factor too. The heavier sounding 1991 follow-up, Slave To The Grind cemented the band as one of the biggest hard rock acts of the time. The album debuted at No 1 thanks to those aforementioned classics. Although the band continues to tour, they never reached that level of success again. As usual in this series we have five riffs for you and a solo in the style of classic Skid Row.
The first riff uses double-stops on pairs of strings, reminiscent of those early days. The perfect 4th shape is a good substitute for a traditional powerchord as it’s essentially an inversion of the same two notes. It also means the shape can be played with one finger, allowing for quicker chord changes. Example 2 shows Skid Row’s heavier side and is played in dropped D tuning like several of their riffs. Simply tune the sixth string down a tone.
The third riff is inspired by the raunchier side of the band. Double-stops once again play a huge part in the riff as they give a focused sound, which works well with a high-gain tone. When playing these riffs you can add semi-pinched harmonics at your discretion to bring out more character in the riff - brush the side of your thumb against the strings as you play a downstroke. The technique is commonly used with single notes, but works very effectively with double-stops too.
Riff number four is at the power ballad end of the spectrum. This riff uses a repeating, ringing chord played on the treble strings and changing bass notes played on the lower ones. A less high-gain tone is suitable here as it can become muddy and messy with too much distortion; try rolling down your guitar volume to lessen the gain. Example 5 shows the heavy Blues-scale riffs the band loves to use. Although the riff is simple, the delivery is what makes it sound full of attitude. The pinched harmonics at the 7th fret should be enhanced with a wide vibrato of around a tone. For the most effective vibrato turn your forearm and wrist to bend the string back and forth. Also notice that a lot of the notes are preceded by grace note slides, which also add to the drama of the delivery.
The Skid Row lead guitar style is classic 80s hard rock, using minor Pentatonic and Blues scales as the basis of most of the soloing. Break the solo down into two-bar sections and repeat each one slowly, ensuring that the phrasing is even and the notes are all played cleanly. Gradually build up the speed until you can play along to the backing track while remaining loose and relaxed. We want to make it sound flashy – but effortless.
the Skid Row lead Style is classic 80s hard rock, using minor pentatonic and blues scales as the basis
Dave ‘The Snake’ Sabo and Scotti Hill of Skid Row