SIXTY SEC­ONDS WITH...

With the re­lease of his new, mostly in­stru­ment al­bum Wall Of Sound, one of metal’s vir­tu­oso gui­tarists got to­gether with Ja­son Sid­well to dis­cuss tone, tech­nique and song­writ­ing.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - (gui­tarist/vi­olin­ist of Black Veil Brides - Ed)

...Marty Friedman, who talks track by track to mu­sic ed­i­tor Ja­son Sid­well about his brand new al­bum, Wall Of Sound.

Anew Marty Friedman al­bum is al­ways some­thing of an event here at Gui­tar Tech­niques. So when Wall Of Sound hit the GT door­mat, a chat with Mr Friedman was high on our wish list.

Marty is one of those gui­tarists who em­bod­ies real rock at­ti­tude along­side phe­nom­e­nal tech­nique and a deep melodic un­der­stand­ing. He doesn’t hold back on what he con­sid­ers con­sti­tutes good mu­sic and great mu­si­cian­ship, ei­ther, so a con­ver­sa­tion with Mr Friedman is bound to keep you on your toes.

Us­ing mostly his sig­na­ture Jack­son MF-1 gui­tar and its pro­to­types, as well as var­i­ous Engl amps - the In­ferno pro­duc­tion model and pro­to­types, along with the Artist and Spe­cial Edi­tion Marty has in­deed cre­ated a wall of sound on...Wall Of Sound.

Be­fore we got into our track-by-track ex­am­i­na­tion of the new re­lease, we quizzed Marty on var­i­ous as­pects of his tech­nique, and be­gan with a ques­tion about his string bend­ing - notably the very vo­cal sound­ing ‘quick bend, drop, slower bend up’ ap­proach.

“This is only one of maybe a hun­dred or so dif­fer­ent ways that I may bend a string,” he says. “I tend to bend strings in an ef­fort to con­trol the notes with more depth than just a cool-sound­ing vi­brato. Even a wicked vi­brato would get stale fast if you ap­plied it on ev­ery note you play. I of­ten play like a vo­cal­ist, who may con­trol his or her sep­a­rate in­ter­pre­ta­tion of each note, de­pend­ing on the feel­ing to be por­trayed at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment. It is important to be able to play each note ex­actly the way your heart wants to ‘sing’ it. To do that, I sup­pose I am very in tune with each lit­tle sub­tlety of bend­ing a note. I’m not sure what in­flu­enced this, but I think since I play an ab­nor­mal amount of melodies, at times I ex­press my­self like a singer more than a gui­tarist.”

Any­one that’s watched Marty play will have no­ticed his rather un­usual method of pick­ing, where the pick­ing hand is po­si­tioned away from the strings. We won­dered how did he de­velop that and how does he re­duce un­wanted string noise? “I’ve never thought about it,” he tells us. “Un­til that is I be­came pro­fes­sional and was asked con­stantly about it. And then I re­alised that I could not give a real an­swer. It just hap­pens. I hate the way it looks. The only log­i­cal an­swer is that I hate the typ­i­cal ‘muted gui­tar solo’ sound which was big in the 80s. You will no­tice that keep­ing my palm away from the strings al­lows the strings to ring loud with­out be­ing muted. About the un­wanted noise: a lot of it has to do with where you are stand­ing in re­la­tion to the amp, and find­ing the sweet spots where the un­wanted noise is least. Play­ing ac­cu­rately helps but I am way, way more in­ter­ested in hav­ing an emo­tional per­for­mance than an ac­cu­rate one. Both to­gether is ideal, though.”

Marty is known for unique note com­bi­na­tions, some­times slightly un­usual Pen­ta­tonic choices such as Am6 (A-B-C-E-F#). Does he find Pen­ta­tonic vo­cab­u­lary a strong foun­da­tion, we won­dered?

“There are no home bases for me,” he re­torts. “Each melody or phrase is unique unto it­self and solely ex­ists for the pur­pose of where it is in a given song.”

Track by Track

Marty was happy to di­vulge what went into each track on Wall Of Sound, from mu­si­cal ap­proach to tech­ni­cal is­sues and even scale choices. We go through each track in or­der, fin­ish­ing with the fi­nal tune and start­ing with the first...

Self Pol­lu­tion GT: This opener cer­tainly lives up to the al­bum ti­tle. How many gui­tar tracks were on this?

MF: Lots and lots, like all the songs!

Do you have any tips about mix­ing clar­ity with so many guitars?

MF: Limit un­pleas­ant dis­tor­tion, play as clean as pos­si­ble, and plan out your tracks well. Mute any­thing that cov­ers any­thing important up. Be hon­est about whether you need the part or not, no mat­ter how cool it is or how hard you worked on it. Be pre­pared to get rid of any­thing.

GT: There’s a lovely mo­ment when you go from in­tense Har­monic Mi­nor dis­tor­tion solo­ing to an am­bi­ent, cathe­dral-like sec­tion in­volv­ing slow bends and a clean tone. Nice tri­tone chord shift too (A-Eb).

Other gui­tarists can strug­gle with such an abrupt shift but your fans al­most ex­pect it. How do you com­pose and then ar­range this?

MF: I love abrupt shifts when they are ef­fec­tive. Mak­ing a strong con­trast like this takes a lot of trial and er­ror, as well as lis­ten­ing closely to find the best way to make the con­trast­ing parts re­ally work for each other.

Sor­row and Madness GT: The in­tro on this vi­o­lin and gui­tar piece is very ar­rest­ing; how do you travel into the world of clas­si­cal sound­ing mu­sic with in­tense gui­tar tones while still sound­ing fresh?

MF: Fresh is the key word. I don’t want to ever re­peat my­self, much less re­peat some­thing some­one else has done a lot. So I try many, many things un­til I come up with some­thing that sounds fresh to me. Jinxx

came up with this vi­o­lin melody, and that was all I needed to be in­spired to cre­ate a Franken­stein from it.

Street­light GT: Although much of your mu­sic is heavy, you’re not averse to us­ing Ma­jor key har­mony and em­brac­ing chords like ma­j7s.

MF: This is be­cause I am all about the melody and ar­range­ment. The fact that I do this with heavy guitars is the only thing metal about it. In the rhythms of this song there are some very ba­sic jazz chords like G Ma­jor over A spread out over sev­eral tracks. If you played them at once on one gui­tar they would sound aw­ful with dis­tor­tion, but sep­a­rat­ing them al­lows me to use these ‘for­bid­den’ chords in the world of metal, when they fit in with my ar­range­ment.

White­worm GT: A great climb­ing ar­peg­gio riff be­gins this track; can you tell us how it come about?

MF: A gui­tar in­tro has to make lis­ten­ers want to pick up a gui­tar and play it. These days, they are a bit more skilled than those who hopped onto the gui­tar via Smoke On The Wa­ter and Stair­way To Heaven. This in­tro, and Self Pol­lu­tion’s, also had that in mind. But the in­tro can’t just be an in­tro, it has to be a solid theme that you can flesh out a good song with.

GT: How many de­tuned guitars were tracked for the syn­co­pated thrash riff? What were they tuned?

MF: It was a seven-string in drop A. Noth­ing fancy.

GT: The Latin rhythms in the track, how did they come about?

MF: I had planned them in the first drafts of the song, but the pi­ano was an af­ter­thought which brought out the dras­tic shift that you hear there. I laughed the first time I tried it.

GT: The melan­cholic melody on this track is a trade­mark of yours. You’re ob­vi­ously com­fort­able with shift­ing from in­tense thrash gui­tar to touch­ing melodies...

MF: The melodies here sound even more melan­choly and touch­ing af­ter hav­ing your head kicked in with a steel-toed boot by the pre­vi­ous part. By it­self, the melody might have only been so-so. i had been play­ing these songs For over a year so was able to track all the guitars in nine days

For a Friend GT: This is pri­mar­ily one theme that is de­vel­oped and ex­plored rather than be­ing a piece struc­tured with dif­fer­ent ide­ass. Do you favour one ap­proach over the other?

MF: No, the strength of the melody dic­tates the over­all ap­proach.

GT: When you vary your dis­tor­tion, as in this piece, do you favour pick­ing lighter or re­duc­ing your gui­tar’s vol­ume con­trol?

MF: I will play in what­ever way gets the notes to sound the way I hear them in my head. I’ll try ev­ery­thing un­til it all comes to­gether. But it takes a while some­times.

Pussy Ghost The main sec­tions are cin­e­matic with soar­ing melodies and doom-laden dropped tun­ing guitars. Do you vi­su­alise any­thing when writ­ing in­stru­men­tals?

MF: For this one, lit­er­ally an ema­ci­ated cat or a scary ‘pussy’.

GT: How do you keep drop-tuned guitars in tune and so rhyth­mi­cally pre­cise when riff­ing?

MF: By sim­pli­fy­ing parts to match the abil­ity I may have (or not have) to play the part. There is no room for er­ror when you are stacking busy things. It’s no time to be a hero. I sim­plify it and be sure I can play it tight.

The black­est rose GT: Your lead tone has just enough drive for bends to sing. How do you de­cide how much amp gain to use?

MF: I let the engi­neers and techs de­cide that kind of thing. I am too busy con­cen­trat­ing on per­form­ing.

The Sol­dier GT: This is an in­ter­est­ing track that is en­hanced by cello and shows you lean­ing to­wards beau­ti­ful Far Eastern sound­ing melodies. Is there a link be­tween the chord pro­gres­sions be­tween clas­si­cal and, say, Ja­panese mu­sic?

MF: On this I ac­tu­ally en­vi­sioned a more Chi­nese theme. I must have missed the mark! This is quite a sim­ple chord pro­gres­sion un­der the main melody. Oth­ers would have pos­si­bly done much more in­tri­cate things un­der it, but I pre­fer chords that are easy to di­gest.

Mir­a­cle GT: Your fans don’t of­ten as­so­ciate you with the acous­tic gui­tar but there is some ev­i­dent on this al­bum. With this up­beat, melody­driven piece did you al­ways en­vis­age the acous­tic strum­ming as the driv­ing fac­tor?

MF: That was the best way to not get in the way of the important melody in this song.

The Last Lament GT: This is a very cre­ative fi­nal piece with a lit­tle of ev­ery­thing that is on the al­bum; in­tense riff­ing, shred­ding so­los, up­beat melodies, in­tense gui­tar stacking, melan­cholic leads. It would seem to be quite a lengthy process to struc­ture and record this. How long did it take in to­tal?

MF: I can’t re­ally sin­gle out any song and say how long it took to record as the whole al­bum was done as one big project over about 18 months. Be­cause of the ex­haus­tive demo process, record­ing count­less new demos in dif­fer­ent keys, tem­pos and styles, by the time I hit the real stu­dio to track guitars, I had been play­ing these songs in one form or an­other for over a year. Be­cause of that, I was able to track all the guitars on the whole al­bum in nine days. Even I find that un­be­liev­able, but ac­tu­ally it felt like a young band who had been play­ing their best songs for a long time be­fore they got signed, and then banged out their de­but al­bum in a week. I re­ally can’t say enough about good prepa­ra­tion! Wall Of Sound is out now on the Pros­thetic la­bel. Buy it from good mu­sic stores or di­rect from www. mar­tyfried­man.com where you will also find in­for­ma­tion on other re­leases, buy mer­chan­dise and learn about live events.

Marty Friedman with one of his Jack­son MF guitars

Marty Friedman: loves mix­ing melody with violent tones!

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