Feast your eyes on Steve Vai’s Ibanez JEM guitar he named “Evo” after the Dimarzio Evolution pickups installed in it. Photographed by Lisa S. Johnson in Los Angeles, August 28th, 2010, for the pictorial masterwork, 108 Rock Star Guitars, “Evo” was hand-selected by Vai. Guitars are like snowflakes in that no two are exactly alike. Steve tested four identical production models of the Ibanez Jem before choosing this particular one to be his main squeeze. There was just something about her feel that moved him.
I could never overstate the importance of a musician’s need to develop his or her ear. Actually, I believe that developing a good “inner ear” — the art of being able to decipher musical components solely through listening — is the most important element in becoming a good musician.
The mind of a songwriter is often wired differently than that of a guitarist. Though the two cross paths often, it’s rare to see a pro-level guitar player (particularly a lead guitarist) and a successful songwriter embodying the same human being. Some exceptions might include Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Clapton and Brad Paisley. But usually it takes two.
Before getting to the “Sevens” lick, I’m going to break down the technique involved so that you will be able to apply this idea to creating riffs of your own. The genesis of the lick was in trying to find a new way to play a major-seven arpeggio. I started out by breaking it down into two notes per string, as shown in FIGURE 1a.
You don’t need to go very far to find a cool-sounding scale that can jazz up your blues solos in no time. We’ll be looking into the mixed blues scale, which combines the notes from the minor and major blues scales to outline the underlying blues chord changes, while retaining a healthy dose of the blues at the same time.