Andy James – Metal Edge Part 3
** As featured in issue 3 **
Welcome to the next instalment of my metal guitar lesson series, where we're going to look at some interesting ways of playing extended arpeggios. Throughout my own learning process on the guitar, I've always found with playing arpeggios, like most techniques on the guitar, there is a trial an error process you go through to find out which techniques you gravitate towards as a player. Some players favour sweeping arpeggios, others prefer to tap them, but for the most part in this tutorial were going to look at using string skipping as a basis to play these patterns I've come up with for you to work through.
String skipping is a very clean and effective way of playing arpeggios and can give you a much more modern and up-to-date sound, as opposed to the older style of playing arpeggios straight up and down, relentlessly. This is more relevant to the first two examples, to really highlight the benefits of this technique. In these examples I hope to give you an idea of how to come up with some of your own ideas using this technique and, as always, try improvising some of these in conjunction with your own playing. Using a new technique in anyway possible is a good way of imprinting it into your general motor skills on the guitar. Let's face it, with this type of playing, if you had to pre-think every note individually at high speed, your brain would explode, so the as the old adage suggests, practice makes perfect. In this case, practice makes fluidity which is what you're aiming for, essentially.
This is a very good example of how string skipping can add a different sound to your arpeggios. It also shows how this technique can be incorporated into other more traditional ways of playing, which is more apparent in the descending part of both these examples. The first is a minor arpeggio, which basically means you flatten each third interval to give it that mean and dark sound to it. The same pattern applies to the major version, but the third is raised up from the minor third to give a more happy, positive sound generally associated with the major sound. The emphasis on this is always to opt for a clean execution, rather than playing it as fast as you can. It's important to practice both of these slow to get your brain and fingers used to the shifts. This will make it easier when you start to speed it up.
String skipping for this lick is less apparent but still present. The first position I have always favoured as an approach over sweeping this position as I've always found it to be cleaner. As I mentioned earlier, with some aspects of playing guitar there is a trial an error process and this just seemed to work. The next two positions are slightly easier positions to play as they don’t incorporate string skipping but use more picking. Then we are back to where we were in the beginning but an octave higher. This style of playing extended arpeggios was largely inspired by Yngwie Malmsteen, arguably the father of neo-classical shredding. I always struggled to play in the more traditional style in which Malmsteen plays, so this is a result of my interpretation of that style!
This a string skipping pattern I use quite a lot as its a great way of playing diminished arpeggios at a fast pace that isn’t to difficult to master. The great thing about diminished arps in this style, is the positions when you string skip are the same frets, so you don’t have to factor-in awkward position shifts. There are also taps involved which give these arps a more fluid sound. Just by practising in one of the positions will allow you to play the shifts just as easily as all the fret gaps remain the same.
As always, practice all these examples slow and cleanly and try and use this stuff in your own playing. Until next month, Rock on!