Here Char­lie Grif­fiths takes a Jour­ney of dis­cov­ery into the style of the great Neal Schon. So, what­ever you do, Don’t Stop Be­liev­ing!

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths looks at Jour­ney’s stun­ning lead guitarist, the ever-bril­liant Neal Schon.

Early in his ca­reer Neal Schon was part of Car­los Santana’s band, and the Latin and fu­sion in­flu­ence he ab­sorbed here is ev­i­dent on Jour­ney’s self-ti­tled, prog rock tinged de­but in 1975. Later in the ‘70s and early ‘80s the clas­sic Jour­ney sound emerged, blend­ing ra­dio-friendly hits with un­for­get­table rock so­los. Schon is the only mem­ber of the band to have ap­peared on all 14 re­leases, from the de­but in 1975 right up to Eclipse, re­leased in 2011.

We have five riffs and a solo to give you flavour of Neal’s ap­proach. Our first riff is in the style of a Jour­ney mega-clas­sic from the 1981 al­bum Es­cape. It fea­tures Ma­jor triad stabs in var­i­ous in­ver­sions, played over palm-muted fifth and sixth strings. Note how the bass re­in­forces the root notes and the synths en­hance the stabs.

Riff two ex­plores heav­ier ter­ri­tory as found on the ‘83 al­bum, Fron­tiers. It uses just two notes, but the syn­co­pated rhythm, open notes and palm-mutes cre­ates a driv­ing feel.

Our third riff is an­other typ­i­cal Schon-style cre­ation. It’s based in D Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic (1-b3-4-5-b7)

and uses an open D5 power chord cou­pled with open strings and ham­mer-ons and pull-offs to cre­ate a riff with a lot of notes but very eco­nomic move­ment.

Ex­am­ple four is rem­i­nis­cent of Neal’s playing on tracks from Raised On Ra­dio. The de­scend­ing arpeg­gio pat­tern is played with a palm muted tone through­out with a three against four feel. Al­though the sub­di­vi­sion is 16th-notes, the melody is grouped into threes.

The fi­nal riff is in­spired by var­i­ous cuts from the 1996 al­bum Trial By Fire. In the key of G (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#) it’s played en­tirely on the third string us­ing the open root note as a pedal and the melodic notes plot­ted along the length of the fretboard.

Our fi­nal ex­am­ple is an epic sound­ing solo, which tips its hat to some of Neal’s most fa­mous lead per­for­mances. The solo is in C (C-D-E-F-G-A-B) and shows Neal’s skill at playing melodic lines that could just as eas­ily have been sung by a vo­cal­ist (a great ap­proach to de­velop in your own so­los). Sus­tain and vi­brato are the main fea­tures in this solo, so aim to make those notes sing out and emote. Neal also uses legato to cre­ate rhyth­mic ten­sion be­fore re­leas­ing with a slower, more di­rect rhythm. He of­ten shifts be­tween sub­di­vi­sions to de­velop an idea and in turn to keep the lis­tener in­ter­ested.

Play through all the riffs and solo slowly at first, fo­cus­ing on ac­cu­racy be­fore speed­ing things up and playing along to the back­ing tracks pro­vided.

sus­tain and vi­brato are the main fea­tures in this solo, so aim to make those notes sing out and emote

NEXT MONTH Char­lie takes a look at the twin gui­tars of Brum­mie rock­ers Ju­das Pri­est

Schon has used a host of gui­tars, par­tic­u­larly Gib­son and Kramer, but nowa­days he has a sig­na­ture PRS with Dun­can Cus­tom Cus­tom in the bridge and a Fast Track 2 at the neck. A Fer­nan­des Sus­tainer is used for those soar­ing melodies. Neal uses PRS Ar­chon and Diesel VH4 amps and an Ax­eFXII for ef­fects. Use your bridge pickup and a high-gain tone with plenty of mids plus re­verb and de­lay.

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